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Loving the Inner Self

Text by: Christine Pethel

Love is the miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives… having a great respect for ourselves and a gratitude for the miracle of our bodies and our minds.
-Louise L. Hay, Author of Best-Selling Book,
You Can Heal Your Life
No amount of external force can bring you happiness; you must first learn to be content from the inside out. When you begin to “Love the Inner Self,” all you desire will manifest itself unto you —finances will flourish, weight will disappear, and relationships will be fostered. Whatever the problem is, loving oneself works like magic, granting all that you wish for and all that your inner soul craves. Harmony will truly be found throughout your whole life. It is through the power of your own personal thoughts that the course of your life will drastically change. You need only learn to appreciate your accomplishments, respect your own needs, and rejoice in that which you have already received. Simply put, you need to like yourself better.

Learning to “Love the Inner Self” is a common term used throughout many subjects of study and belief systems. In the field of Psychology, it is termed as “Healing the Child Within.” In the spiritual discipline, there is a set of laws one follows to align themselves with the universe to achieve a higher state of inner being. In the world of Fine Arts, it is sometimes referred to as “discovering, nurturing, and protecting your Inner Artist Child.”

Whatever genre you devote your belief system to, the concept is still the same— “Love yourself from the inside out.”

How happy are you right now? Do you even know? Most women know what makes their parents, partners, or children happy. But when it comes to an awareness about the little, specific things in life that bring a smile to our faces and contentment in our own hearts, we often come up short.
-Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance

Many of us are superbly remarkable at giving to and loving those around us. We are keenly aware of their needs, and if there is any lack, we work overtime to find a way to fill the gap — our children, our bosses, our friends, our family, our community, and our society. We have an innate sense of exactness when those around us need to be cared for, but this is usually done much to our own detriment.

Have you ever heard yourself asking these questions (and giving these answers) about someone else?

-“What is it my (child, friend, spouse, boss, etc.) needs right now?” (Healthy food, clean clothes, a nice house, paperwork, a girls’ night out, someone to talk to, a meeting brief before a deadline, a job done with meticulousness, medicine for their sickness, my quality time, a new dress, etc.)

-“What can I do to make their lives better?” (Should I change? Do I need to give them more love? More of my time?)

-“What are their interests, so I can ensure I encourage them to follow their dreams?

-“What are some lifelong lessons I can teach them or learn from them to make their future better?

The current belief is that the measure of our success is dependent on how well, and how much, we have made another person happy by giving a piece of ourselves. What I’m here to tell you is that does not work. In the long run, you will be left feeling empty inside. It is true that we need to give of ourselves to others, but at what cost? It is imperative we continue to fill our own wells so we may, in turn, give of ourselves to others, and doing this long before we get to the point when there is nothing more to draw from.

You need to go for the sense of inner joy, of inner peace, of inner vision first, and then all of the other things from the outside appear.
- Marcy Shimoff, Co-Author, Chicken Soup for the
Mother’s Soul
, and teacher of The Secret
© Jessica Ceason Photography

Look at the same set of questions again. When was the last time you actually asked yourself the same set of questions?

-“What do I need right now?” (Healthy food? Clean clothes? A nice house? A girls’ night out? Someone to talk to? Writing creatively? A job done with meticulousness? Medicine for my sickness? More quality time with just myself? A new dress or shoes?)

-“What can I do to make MY life better?"

-“What are my interests so I can ensure I am following my dreams?

-“What are some lifelong lessons, books I can read, or classes I can attend and learn from in order to make my future better?

Loving the Inner Self is doing just that — asking these questions and taking care of yourself before anyone else’s needs.

There was a time during the early years of my twin daughters’ lives that I forgot to do this. They had so many needs that sometimes all I was doing was trying to guess what it was they wanted. I constantly felt myself drawing from an empty well. There were days when I didn’t even eat until dinnertime. On one particular day, I decided that if I was going to make it through one more day, I needed to take care of myself first. Early the next morning, while the girls were just beginning to stir, when I would have normally lain in bed until the very last minute, I decided to get up right away and make myself a quick breakfast. I had been visiting my mother’s house, and she was a bit confused as to why she heard the girls gurgling from the monitor, yet I was quickly eating a bowl of hot oatmeal. She said, “The girls are starting to make some noise. Do you need to get them a bottle?” I looked at her, and with a smile of resolve and a tiny spark of pride, I said, “Nope. I need to take care of myself first. It’s not an abnormal concept, you know. It’s one of the first things they teach you on an airplane in order to survive. ‘Take care of placing your own mask first before assisting with anyone else’s.’”

What a true and novel concept, to take care of ourselves first. So it’s odd, is it not, that we have been taught for generations to sacrifice ourselves for others, so much so that we forget ourselves. Yet logic tells us that if we do this, our own oxygen could be depleted, and it may someday lead us to becoming almost totally useless.

This is, however, a very hard concept for many to accept. We, as a society, have been instilled with a belief that it is selfish or prideful to take care of yourself, or to be proud of your own accomplishments. Please don’t misunderstand. I am in no way advising to set others’ needs aside completely and become self-absorbed. What I am suggesting is that you carve out some time to learn about yourself, taking care of yourself, and giving your own needs a lot more priority. The weights of life are frequently unbalanced in someone else’s favor. I merely suggest you tip the scales back a little bit closer to your own.

How do we love ourselves? Some of us think we already do. And while that may be true, it’s worth the effort to dig deeper, do the work, and make sure.

The worst thing we can do to ourselves is to self-criticize. Our thoughts are extremely powerful. What we choose to believe will come true. If you choose to see the good in people, you will be surrounded by good people. If you think money is never in your favor, then you will always be left with monetary needs. If you obsess about always being overweight, then you will remain that way. Our mind is like a blank record player, recording every thought we have. For a while, the thoughts are heard loud and clear. But the more they are recorded, they become quiet thoughts, ones we can’t physically hear in our mind anymore, but ones that are constantly being played back for us. Soon, we can’t hear them anymore, but we have just created our own reality and inner belief system.

What would you do if you saw your own child being yelled at and criticized all day and all night long? Screamed at. Shouted at. And brought to tears? Would your heart break for your child? Would you want to hold her and love her until everything was “okay?” You would probably dote all your love on her and work with her until all the bad was undone. By thinking all those negative thoughts about yourself, you are doing exactly the same thing to your Inner Self. And the way you would react to your own child is exactly what I’m proposing you do for yourself. To love your inner child. To want to love yourself until everything is “okay.” To dote on yourself and do the work that was needed until all the bad was undone. To train your thoughts to be only positive and to respect yourself enough to know you deserve the best.

Throughout the year, we will focus on new and simple ways within the monthly topic of “From the Inside Out,” to work towards the goal of loving your inner self, work that can be done with very little time needed at all, just a few hours a week, as well as some prioritized time given to yourself. Remember, it’s imperative to your own life, as well as to those around you, to take care of yourself first. By loving yourself first, you are, in turn, giving them a gift.

© Jessica Ceason Photography
“From the Inside Out” Inner Self Work

We have this month included below different ways in which we would like you to start changing your thought patterns. It is inner work that will bring the quiet recorded negative thoughts to the surface so you can begin to rerecording new, positive ones.

  1. Every day when you get out of bed, before you have even cracked your eyes open, begin by thinking words of gratitude. Instead of doing what most of us normally do—dreading the day ahead or wishing we could go back to sleep—start by thanking the Universe* for the day ahead and for the sleep you were already able to get. Throughout the rest of the day, continue finding things to be grateful for. Start off by giving yourself a goal of finding at least 20 things to be grateful for, and then challenge yourself each day to find more.
  2. At the end of the day, write five of the things you gave thanks for that day into your Gratitude Journal (see the Abundant Living article in the February 2011 issue on how to keep a Gratitude Journal).
  3. Throughout the day, if you find yourself hearing a negative thought, stop immediately and re-word it into a positive one. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it. The only reason you don’t believe it is because the negative thought has been recorded so many times that it’s now regarded as truth. The more you record positive ones, the sooner they will take the place of the negative. Below are a few examples of self-sabotaging thoughts I used to have and the thoughts I used to replace them.
    1. Negative Thought: “Ugh! It’s raining outside. And of course it’s gray and gloomy. It’s going to be a horrible day.”
      Positive Thought: “I love the sound and smell of the rain on my roof. I might just throw on my raincoat and rain boots and go find some puddles to jump in with my son.”

    2. Negative Thought: “My house looks like a catastrophe! I’ve already cleaned three rooms, but have so many more. I wish I could keep it clean like __________ does.” Then I go on to compare myself to all the people I know who keep a better house than I do.
      Positive Thought: “I have a beautiful home filled with love and happiness. I cleaned the kitchen and three rooms today! Look how much I got done. Tomorrow I will work on a few of the other rooms. I need to remember that I choose to spend my time on the floor with books reading to my children, or cooking homemade meals. I am having a great and successful day.”

    3. Negative Thought: “I’m such a loser. What have I even done with my life? I hate my job. I hate my house. I never have enough money. I’m 35 years old and not where I thought I’d be at 35 years old. Is this how it’s going to be the rest of my life? I’m such a loser.”
      Positive Thought: “I have done a lot with my life. I have two kids and am a great mother. I have worked my way up in the corporate world and have created a happy life with a great home. There is so much I can do with my life, and I look forward to enjoying every minute of it.

    4. Negative Thought: “I have gotten so fat. I look horrible in all my clothes, and I’m sure everyone thinks I’m huge. I’m such a loser that I’ve been on a diet for two years and haven’t lost the baby weight. Why can’t I get my act together?
      Positive Thought: “I am beautiful and others see me that way. I have a smile on my face. I have a sparkle in my eye. I will be thin someday, but for today, I am okay.” (This one was especially hard for me to change around, because I didn’t always believe it at first, but I said it, and I truly believe it now.)

Remember, by changing your thought patterns, you will change your life. I have seen it in my own life and can’t wait for you to experience it in your own. You will prosper. I can promise you that much.

*The term "Higher Power" or “Universe” is most often referred to as "God," but also identified as whomever, or whatever, a person refers to as their "Higher Power," such as "Spirit," "Universe," "Energies," etc. Polite Society recognizes the diverse beliefs that everyone has in a higher power. Throughout most all of our articles, unless specifically deemed differently, when any term that refers to a "Higher Power" is used, it is considered interchangeable with each reader's own personal belief