1. Know yourself.
If you would have asked me who I was a few months ago, I could have rallied off a list of values and characteristics of who I am with ease. However, the more I opened my awareness to myself the more I realized that some of the values I had were actually defense mechanisms I held to safeguard me. I realized that most of the characteristics I would describe myself as were actually how other people would describe me. I realized a lot of my anxiety stemmed from pleasing other people’s ideas about myself or how the certain dynamics should work instead of standing firm in myself – because I never really knew myself on a deep level. Developing a sense of self is the single most important thing we can do. We are individuals who take on many roles and expectations of others. But, at the end of the day we truly only have ourselves. We have to get through life by ourselves. Be so deeply rooted in yourself that when life happens to you, you will blow with the wind but you will not be uprooted.
2. Hear yourself.
We have all experienced that small voice that guides us. It could be a strong gut feeling telling you not to go somewhere or that something is wrong, or it could be a quiet whisper telling you something. The more we strip ourselves of the dominant analytical brain, the easier it is to hear the voice within us. This voice will never lead you astray. It may be so drowned out that you cannot hear it anymore but the more you let your layers unfold the louder this voice will become. Trust it.
3. See your value.
I always was someone who believed I valued myself; how could I not? But, when looking deep within myself I began to realize the huge war I was having against myself. Through meditation I had deep realizations about myself that showed me how hard I really was being on myself. My negative self talk, blame, and guilt all were reinforced because I believed I wasn’t worthy or good enough. I was able to see patterns in romantic relationships where I stayed too long when I wasn’t being treated well. I stayed because I unconsciously felt I deserved to be treated that way. Every single living being on this planet is important. We are born good and with everything we need already inside of us. We are so important and we need to believe that. When negative thought cycles appear, don’t push them away but observe them and allow yourself to see that those thoughts are not you.
4. Give support.
You will never get self love from being hard on yourself. Every time you notice yourself being hard on yourself or not giving yourself the resources or time you need to be successful, then think, would I be saying this to my friends or family if they were going through this too? More often than not the answer would be absolutely not. We need to talk to and support ourselves the way we do the people we love. We cannot support the people we love if we are not loving ourselves first.
5. Work towards forgiveness.
This is an extremely hard thing to do, especially when you have been living in patterns of self blame and guilt. It is hard to forgive yourself when you are able to see the suffering you inflicted on other people as a result of your own suffering. But, you didn’t know any better. You were doing the best you could with what you had at the time. Self forgiveness is a process and it doesn’t have to be linear. Be gentle with yourself. If you can work towards even forgiving yourself a little bit that is a victory.
6. Be patient with yourself.
There is no timeline for this inner work. It is an ongoing process. We may understand something one day but then notice another day we are falling into the same cycles. This is okay. The fact that you are even aware of these patterns and can see yourself doing it is incredibly insightful. You are not going to be better right away. You are not going to understand everything right away. That is okay.
7. Trust yourself.
Do you find yourself constantly needing the advice of other people? If you’re making a big decision, do you need people to weigh in on it for you? Do you need approval before you can move forward? I would. I needed to hear that other people agreed with what I was doing before I committed to it. And if I wouldn’t get that answer I wanted to hear I would doubt myself. Now, if there is something I want to do or am thinking about doing, I look inward. I ask myself all the questions I would ask others. Once I make a decision I am comfortable with, I will share it with others. Or, I’ll share once I have already committed or done something. The person who knows you best is yourself, contrary to what others will tell you.
8. Learn through your life experiences.
No experience is a waste if you were able to learn something from it. Good or bad, there are always things we can take away from experiences. Some experiences are harder to learn from and you may need to repeat them a couple times before you can finally take the lesson from them. While others are so easy you will be able to see it right away.
9. Appreciate who you are and what you have in your life.
We are all incredibly special. We are all formed from the dust of the stars. How incredible is that? We are all born with so much light in us. We all have special gifts. We all serve a purpose here on Earth. Gratitude is one of the most grounding tools I have experienced. Even when we are in dark places there is always something to be grateful for. Somedays for me my gratitude list is a page long and others I am just grateful I was able to accomplish one thing on my to do list.
10. Face your feelings and find the root problem.
I have had depression for almost five years now. Accompanying it was anxiety and panic attacks. These episodes of depression were so gut wrenching I would do everything in my power to get ahead of them. I started supplementing my diet, eating better, exercising, I read self help books, I learned coping mechanisms. Whenever I felt an episode coming on I would try even harder to stay ahead of it. If I could always stay a step ahead I would never have to experience the episode. But, that gets exhausting. It is like running a marathon and eventually your legs giving out. No matter how hard I tried and fought it would catch up with me. So eventually, I surrendered. After five years, I waved my white flag. It is only once I let these feelings happen did my healing begin. I welcomed it and was ready to listen.
I truly believe that when we have emotional issues that are not dealt with they manifest as mental health issues. It is only once I stepped into that pain did I realize it was trying to teach me something. Allowing yourself to feel that pain is truly the only way to heal. You have to go through it. There is no other way. It is painful and hard but it is so much easier than the way I was living before. So many of my problems stemmed from unresolved feelings from my childhood. I didn’t think about my past in order to come to this conclusion. I felt and experienced it. Once we surrender and start opening our awareness we take away the blocks that allow us to truly see the root problem. It opened a flood gate of emotions that were repressed and manifesting as depression.
11. Develop your own gifts.
I realized the more I look inwards the more I am able to see gifts I always had but never took the time to cultivate. I have always been infatuated with reading and writing. As a little girl I would sneak a flashlight into my bedroom at night time to keep reading or go sit in the bathroom pretending to use it while reading. I would write books and short stories for fun on my computer. As I got older I stopped doing those things and now as I allow my inner voice to become louder I hear it calling me back. I am gifted with children and being with them comes so naturally to me. I am gifted in artwork. I am gifted with feeling deeply. I fought being sensitive and feeling so much and resisted it because sometimes it was too much to bare. Once we stop resisting things in our lives can we begin to see they may really be blessings in disguise.
12. Develop your own spirituality.
This is something new for me. Whichever God you choose to identify with or not identify with is your own choosing. I fully believe spirituality is something that can only be experienced and not forced upon someone. If it is, it will be empty and surface level. Whatever resonates with you is your own journey and nobody else’s. As you build a deeper sense of self you will not feel the need to have people join you or prove it’s value to others. It is deeply yours.
13. Contribute to the world.
We all have a responsibility to develop and use our gifts to contribute to the world. There is a general sense that one person cannot change the world. But, if we all contribute in whatever way we can it will create a ripple effect.
14. Take time alone and develop your intuition.
For us to uphold these responsibilities to ourselves we need to take time alone. We need it as much as we need to eat, drink, or sleep. It allows all of your layers to unfold and connect to your true and deep self. Fifteen minutes a day sit with yourself. Through daily practice you will hear the chatter in your head start to get quieter and your inner voice and intuition get louder. You will connect with your true self.