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11 Steps to Loving Yourself More

One of the things that really troubles me is when normally smart and attractive women accept subpar treatment from the men in their lives.  Or when they permit family members to take advantage of their generosity.  And when they continuously work late nights and weekends instead of taking time to enjoy their lives and the fruit of their labor.  Can you relate to this?  Do you know anyone like this?  Is this you?

Part of this madness is that many successful women still have a misplaced sense of loyalty and finding worth in the wrong places.  However, it may be that many of them just don’t love themselves.  Think about it? Would you encourage someone you love to regularly skip lunch to do their boss’ job and not ever request a raise?  Yet, even if you don’t do this yourself, you may have a friend that lives her life like this regularly.  And to top it off, so many women are rewarded for this type of behavior.  They are called superwomen.  This behavior should not be applauded.  It is often a sign that she is not valuing or loving herself. 

This lack of self-love can stem from many sources.  Such as a parent giving or withholding love based on behavior,  never witnessing healthy loving relationships, experiencing rejection or abuse early in life or many other things reasons.  The effects of these heart breaks can reach well into adulthood and prevent women from truly experiencing self love. 

So what do you do when your friend is not loving herself?  Or worse yet when its you?  There is no quick fix to hurts that run this deep, however there are steps that you or the women in your life can take to start experiencing more love in her life. 

  1. Acknowledge and mourn the source of pain and hurt in your past.

This can be difficult since many times these hurts happened to you when you were a little girl therefore your memory may be dim.  An exercise that may help is to give yourself an hour of uninterrupted time.  You may take a walk in a park or sit in your living room with a journal.  Begin to think back to your earliest moments in life that love was withheld.  This is not about blame but it is about you being honest with yourself.  Try to recall as many moments as you can manage at that time.  Repeat this exercise as often as it takes.  As you acknowledge these moments take the time to get in touch with the emotions you experienced and recognize that it was awful, it was not your fault, and it shouldn’t have happened.  Allow God to comfort you in that space. 

  1. Forgive the individuals that may not have loved you well.

This may sound like a crazy suggestion.  But trust me, unforgiveness keeps you as an emotional prisoner in someone else’s jail.  In order to fully release yourself from the damaging effects of heart break you must forgive and release that person to God.  Allow God to fight your battle.

  1. Make a list of the people by whom you feel most loved.

The same way there are people who have hurt you there are also people who truly love you.  Make a list of anyone in your life, dead or alive, who has shown you love.  They don’t have to be perfect people.  This is an important step because the human mind is selective.  For some reason we remember negative experiences more clearly than positive ones.  Give yourself the gift of remembering being loved.

  1. Identify how you experience love.

This can be tricky for some women because we have been so busy taking care of everybody else that we often don’t even know what makes us come alive.  Take the time to figure out when you have felt most loved and what did that person do to make you feel that way.  In Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages he makes the point that each of us give and receive love through the following ways: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.  I would highly recommend reading the book if you haven’t.  For right now, just think about the top two ways that you receive love. Now love yourself that way!

  1. Pretend you are a little girl

Women are natural nurturers.  It is one of the ways that we are created in God’s image.  Use that to your advantage.  Pretend you are a younger version of yourself.  Even go as far as calling yourself by your childhood nickname.  When you find yourself working through lunch, take a moment and pretend your are a little girl and ask yourself the question– “would I encourage my six-year old daughter, niece, or God child to skip a meal because she had homework?”  The answer is no.  Take care of yourself as if you were a child.

  1. Date Yourself

We often wait around for men to ask us out on a date before we decide to go somewhere special.  Start doing it yourself.  Make a list of all the places you enjoy going and things you enjoy doing.  Schedule a date with yourself in your planner and just do it.  Even send yourself flowers afterwards. 

  1. Forgive Yourself

Learning to forgive yourself is an important step in self love.  For some reason women are really great at forgiving others but will hold a grudge against themselves for a lifetime.  Just drop it.  Yes, you may have made a very poor choice when you were sixteen but don’t you think its time to let it go?  I don’t want to make light of what can be very difficult burdens but I want to encourage you to say the words “I forgive you” to yourself at least five times a day.  Even if you don’t feel it when you say it, eventually it will seep it.

  1.   Compliment Yourself in the Mirror

The next time you walk by the mirror, instead of saying I need to lose weight or what is going on with my hair, compliment yourself.  Just say something.  Look yourself in the eyeballs and tell yourself “girlfriend you are hot!” or “nice butt” or simply “you are beautiful.”  The power of life and death is in the tongue so choose to speak life to yourself.  Choose to love yourself.

  1.   Start Saying No

I know its difficult, but the next time a family member asks you to do something that they can do themselves and is way beyond the call of duty JUST SAY NO!  Seriously, start saying no to the things that are draining you of your zest for life. 

  1. Get Help

We were meant to live life in community.  Having a good friend, a counselor, or a life coach who will keep you on track in loving yourself is an effective strategy to moving towards self love.  The clients I coach benefit from me truly standing with them in their quest to experience more love in their lives and so I am relentless in keeping them true to their goals.  Grab a friend or hire a coach and give them  permission to help you love yourself more.

  1.   Take your Time

Lastly, learning to love yourself after years of not doing it will take time.  Cut yourself some slack and just take one step at a time. 

Now tell us in the comment section one or two additional ways you show yourself love and what are the challenges you face in doing so.  Remember your comments are very important.  We want to hear from you. 

Easy Steps to Planning a Family Reunion

When I was growing up my cousins and I would spend summers together at one of our Aunt’s homes.  We all lived in different countries, yet we are all very close because of the efforts our parents made to keep us connected.  As we have become adults and some of us have children it has become even more important to keep the family closely connected.  But how do you do that when our lives are so busy and we all live so far away?

I used to hear about my friends whose families would have these major family reunions each year with t-shirts, family meetings, and all the trappings of what seemed like an annual convention.  You may be one of those families yourself.  I always felt like planning a major event like that would involve too much time, money, and frankly frustration.

Over the past six years my family has slowly inched its way closer to a large scale family reunion without us even realizing it.  This year I hosted as many as fifty family members here in Washington, DC and it was amazing. 

So how do you get started on planning a family reunion without all the stress that can be involved?  Here are a few steps we used.

  1. Identify a compelling reason

I hate to admit it but my family did not get serious about connecting each summer until my father passed away.  We had always spent time together as a family during Thanksgiving or Christmas or a one off event during the year.  But after my father passed away everyone became very aware of the importance of spending time with the ones you love.  I hope no one has passed away in your family but think of something that will compel your family members to take this seriously.  It will be the glue that keeps everyone committed to attending.

  1. Squash the Drama

Every family has drama.  There is always going to be one person who is upset with another person.  My biggest tip to you is to not allow those interpersonal challenges to deter you from bringing the family together.  Do what you can to assist in reconciliation but at the end of the day everyone is an adult and responsible for their own actions.  Enjoy your family even in the midst of the messiness.

  1. Start small

If you have never planned a family reunion, start small.  Begin with maybe just a one-day event at someone’s home and expand from there.  We started by celebrating July 4th at my brother’s home for a few years.  Then it moved to other family members’ homes.  Then this year we did the first multi-day event here in Washington, DC. 

  1. Plan time to connect

I know this sounds like a no-brainer.  However it is easy to spend the day planning and organizing that you don’t actually connect with your family.  Depending upon the natural vibe of your family you may want to consider incorporating organized games.  Our family loves Scrabble, Dominos, and Taboo.  So we make sure that those games are present and it takes on a life of its own. 

  1. Plan for the children

Making sure the children connect is very important.  Their relationships will carry the family forward into future generations.  One year we rented a Moon Bounce and hired a puppeteer.  You don’t have to go that elaborate but planning activities that will allow the children of all ages to have fun and to get to know each other is vital. 

  1. Food is important but not everything

My brother and several other people in my family are amazing chefs.  The menu we typically have at our events is crazy good.  But please know that you don’t have to slave over a grill or in the kitchen all day in order to have a great time.  If your family doesn’t like to cook just order out.  If you have the resources have it catered.  The bottom line is no event is fun without good food but don’t make it so complicated that you miss the purpose of the reunion.

  1. Create a website or Facebook Page

This year we created a website so that family members can stay connected throughout the year.  We have family in the UK, Canada, Jamaica, Bermuda, and all over the US.  In order for us to stay connected and foster the relationships set up a member site or a Facebook Page that will allow your family to communicate throughout the year.  Be aware of older members of your family that may not be comfortable on the internet. 

Have you ever planned a family reunion?  Share some of your ideas below in the comment sections. 

How to Eliminate Boredom and Get your Groove Back

Every once in a while one of my girlfriends or my clients will say to me “I am bored.”  In the midst of successful and very active lives these women are experiencing the  emotion of boredom.  I believe that boredom can be an indication that you just need to mix things up a little bit.  It can also be our hearts calling to our heads that something serious needs to change in our lives.  How do you know if this is just a phase or if this is a serious issue? 

I always recommend starting with the assumption that just making a minor change will snap you out of it.  Then I suggest raising the ante until you are more in touch with what is going on inside.  Here are some suggestions of things you can do in order of least to most risky. 

  1. Get a new hair do or manicure.

Sometimes all we really need is to shake things up a bit.  Getting a new hair cut or hair color or changing the color of your manicure might do it for you.  This is about reengaging the creative part of you.  Waking the sleeping giant can then lead you to being reminded of the things that get you going.  Then the snowball begins.

  1. Read a controversial book.

I have found that with many of my clients their boredom is simply a lack of intellectual stimulation.  Once we leave the university setting and become successful in our careers we tend not to encounter many opportunities to expand our brains.  Picking up a controversial book on a topic that interest you is a great way to begin tickling the part of you that yearns to be intellectually challenged. 

  1. Take a class on something in which you are interested.

Have you always been interested in photography or curious about interior design?  Maybe you have an obsession with issues around global peace making.  This may be a great time to look into taking a class at your local university or community art center.  A class will simultaneously engage the part of your brain that is hungry for new information and the part of your soul that is hungry for new social connections. 

  1. Try a new ministry at church or volunteer opportunity.

Inevitably when we step outside of ourselves and focus our energies on other people we begin to come alive.  It is a mixture of the gratitude we feel about our own abundance and the sense of purpose we feel in helping others.  Serving in a cause that is bigger than ourselves is very effective in providing us with perspective and a less inward looking focus.

  1. Take a tour around your city as a tourist.

It has been said that familiarity breeds contempt.  This may be true.  In this case I believe familiarity breeds complacency which leads to taking things for granted.  I live in Washington, DC and every day I drive to and from work I can behold the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol.  It may seem silly, but I have developed the habit of looking at both structures everyday and telling myself how lucky I am to live in our nation’s capitol.  So many people live in locals that have interesting things to appreciate.  But because we see those beautiful lakes or impressive sky scrapers every day we have become bored.  Take a day and just tour your city with a fresh eye and see if you can rediscover the beauty around you.  It may awaken something inside.

  1. Spice things up in your love life.

When was the last time you went out on an adventurous or romantic date?  Has your love life become boring, drab, or nonexistent?  If you are married or have a significant person in your life how about introducing some spice and adventure.  If you don’t have anyone in your life right now try putting yourself out there.  Open a dating profile on Match.com or eHarmony.  Maybe you can sign up for a social event in your city and go alone without a wing-man or woman.  The bottom line is what is going on in the heart can sometimes affect our mindset.  Try something new.  Put yourself out there.

  1. Go on vacation

A change of scenery is a sure way to shake things up.  In this case however select a location that is going to really feed your soul.  If you are craving adventure do something that will push you outside your comfort zone.  One year I decided to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and then go on a five day whitewater rafting and camping trip down the Colorado River.  What an amazing experience.  Most years I spend at least a week on Martha’s Vineyard lazing on the beach with a mindless book and my journal.  Be sure to give yourself what you need. It doesn’t have to be elaborate just a few days can do wonders. 

  1. Get a new job.

Now we are getting into risky territory.  Some of my clients who have tried all the suggestions above come to the realization that the real source of their so-called “boredom” is a lack of stimulation in their careers.  If this is you then I would first start by seeking out new projects or opportunities in your current job.  Maybe you can volunteer to lead a strategic committee that will genuinely effect the way things are done in your organization.  The next option would be to seek a promotion.  Or even more dramatic…a  job outside your current place of employment.  Don’t make any rash decisions but seriously explore this option.

  1. Move to a new city or even country.

I promised that my recommendations would get even more out-of-the-box.  So here it is.  Is your family mobile?  Is your job transferable?  Are you one of the crazy people who would consider leaving everything familiar for a new adventure?  I am planting a seed in this recommendation to give you permission to think about what your dream life could look like.  Too many times I see it in my clients where once they hit 30 or 35 they stop dreaming.  Have you always wanted to live in Paris or Thailand?  Millions of people move to different cities and countries every year.  Why couldn’t you be one of the millions?  Just think about it.

  1. Talk to someone.

Whether you are just a little bored or facing a midlife crisis having someone to help you talk it through is vital.  Family, friends, or a life coach are great options to consider when you feel that things are not as they should be.  Boredom is not just a silly emotion to be ignored it has the power to impact your health and the quality of your life.  Abundance living is about being honest with yourself and seeking the support you need to make the difficult decisions that will lead you to the life you were born to live.