8 Ways to Foster Self–Love

By Debra Landwehr Engle

Imagine that a three–year–old says to you, “I’m bad. I don’t deserve to be loved.” How would you respond? Without hesitation, you would scoop up that three–year–old in your arms and say, “Of course, you deserve to be loved. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!” You would have no doubt about this. Despite any misbehavior on the child’s part, you’d have pure conviction and clarity when stating the obvious: Of course, you deserve to be loved!

Your ego mind is like that three–year–old. It has taken on messages, programming and self–talk that say it’s bad and not worthy of joy, peace, love, success, abundance or well–being. But, that’s not true.

So, here’s what I want you to do: Start reacting to your own ego just the way you would to that three–year–old.

When you hear your ego voice saying, “I’m not worthy,” say instead, “Of course, I’m worthy.”

When your ego voice says, “I’ll never lose weight,” say instead, “Of course, I’ll lose weight.”

When your ego voice says, “I don’t deserve to do work I enjoy,” say instead, “Of course, I deserve to do work I enjoy.”

When your ego voice says, “I don’t have anyone I can count on,” say instead, “Of course, I have people I can count on.”

This does two things: It shows you how preposterous the ego’s claims are, and it affirms that there’s no need to live according to the ego’s limited view of who you are—not when you’re the light of the world.

Loving your Self means deciding what’s going to have power over you and what’s not. This comes down to what you value. If you value wrongly, A Course in Miracles says you won’t have peace. Value rightly, and joy is yours. This means you have to make a choice about what you want to rule your life. Will it be anger? Blame? Overwhelm? Illness? Scarcity? Poverty? Oppression? Despair? Or will it be hopefulness? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Gratitude? Prosperity? Abundance? Faith?

For instance, is your anger toward politicians going to rule you? Or are you going to respond to their actions by expressing your light? When your kids leave their dirty dishes in the sink, are you going to react with snarkiness or find a peaceful resolution? If a coworker tries to sabotage you, are you going to retaliate or have an honest conversation?

Love your Self enough to value rightly, because what you choose as your overriding ideals will determine the quality of your life. You can be in what seems to be life’s lowest circumstances, but if you climb onto a higher ideal, you can soar.

The most powerful and Self–loving thing you can do is decide who and what you are and what’s right for you, then claim it. Once you do that, you’re invulnerable to other people’s judgments and opinions.

So, what can you do to foster Self–love?

1. Build trust by talking to Spirit every morning and night. In addition, say “thank you” for spiritual guidance at least a dozen times throughout the day. Develop your relationship with Spirit so it becomes as tangible a source of support as your friends and family.

2. Surround yourself with joy. Place at least one message of joy—a plaque, a river rock, a poster, a refrigerator magnet—in every room of your house. Create an environment that reminds you of what you are.

3. Get honest with yourself. Ask yourself questions that will give you clarity: Am I doing this to win people’s approval? Or because it’s what I want and believe? Is this an expression of my light? Or am I going along with what the world says, even though it doesn’t serve me? As you ask and receive answers, you’ll build a relationship with your Self, becoming better acquainted with the light that you are and how to express it.

4. Practice using and sharing your unique gifts. If you love to paint, do more of it and sell your creations or give them away. If you’re adept at fixing things, find others who want to learn and teach them. If you’re great at organizing things, help a friend clean out her kitchen cupboards. As you express your gifts in the world, you’ll be blessed by the sharing, which will strengthen your sense of Self.

5. Prepare more meals with love, and bless everything you eat. These simple actions literally nourish you with light, energizing your Self and your connection with others.

6. Apologize when you’ve spilled your fear all over someone. This will wipe the slate clean for both of you, so you’re not carrying any guilt, anger, or regret.

7. Identify a situation in your life that has been stewing or left unattended for a while. It could be a conversation you need to have, a bill you need to pay or an argument you need to resolve. Leaving things unattended saps your energy and indicates a lack of trust and self–worth. So, remember the light that you are, ask Spirit for help, and allow your Self to be led to a resolution. When you bring love to the situation, you can take care of it more easily than you might think.

8. Remember that you’re always talking to yourself. Any time you express thoughts, words or actions that are meant to hurt others, you’re always hurting yourself. There are no exceptions. That’s why the Golden Rule isn’t just a moral commandment, it’s also good mental health. If you call someone an idiot in your mind or aloud, you’re disrespecting yourself. If you watch TV and think to yourself, “Wow, she’s ugly,” you’re talking to yourself. If you condemn the driver who just cut in front of you, you’re punishing yourself.

The way you respond to others will tell you a lot about your own light and Self–love. If a guarded person causes you to shut down, you’ve got your own blockages to look at. If a guarded person prompts you to send blessings to them while you stay in a place of peace, then your light is shining freely. Since you’re always talking to yourself, listening to what you say—or want to say—to others will be a good benchmark of your own Self–love.

If you’re always seeking approval or love from the external world without feeling it in yourself, you’ll spend your life wandering, looking for permission to be who you are and searching for external validation of your right to exist. One minute your partner sends you flowers and you feel loved. The next minute someone elbows past you on the subway and you feel invisible.

This is why we see the world as an ugly and dangerous place. We’re hoping to trust it with our Self–worth, and it continually disappoints us. Your Self–worth is not “out there.” It is in you and your connection to Source. Whenever you start looking for it in a relationship or a possession or a belief or an institution, you’re setting up a love–hate relationship with the world and yourself.

Remember that the light is in you. Look inside. Look inside. Look inside. Don’t be afraid. Your ego will post guards at the door and try to convince you not to go in, but there is nothing but light inside you.

Debra Landwehr Engle is the bestselling author of The Only Little Prayer You Need, and Let Your Spirit Guides Speak. Her latest book, Be the Light that You Are: Ten Simple Ways to Transform Your World with Love, gives readers concrete ways to put their spiritual practice in action. Deb leads classes and workshops in A Course in Miracles. Additionally, she mentors aspiring writers through one–on–one coaching and international retreats. Learn more at debraengle.com.

This is an excerpt from Be the Light that You Are: Ten Simple Ways to Transform Your World with Love, published by Hampton Roads Publishing and released April 1, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

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