How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
In my novel, The Aloha Spirit, the main character learns that in order to find aloha in the world around her she must first find it in herself. People are all capable of learning to believe in themselves, and those who can do so take better care of themselves. As a result, they are more self-confident and more positive. They worry less about comparing themselves to others, and they exude happiness. It seems everyone has tips for learning to love yourself. Here are my favorite five.
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
FIRST, Acknowledge yourself. It’s easy to be so overwhelmed by the negative aspects of your life that you forget the positive. Keep a journal where you make a list of everything you’ve accomplished, large and small, to remind yourself what you’ve already achieved. Every morning, write down something you already have that you are grateful for. Recently I made a comment to a friend, speaking of the awe I held for a writer who’d written several successful books. My friend reminded me I had also written several books and that was something to be proud of. It brought me up short. I am very grateful for the success of my books, but I too often long for more rather than celebrate what I have.
SECOND, Reward yourself. Do you give yourself the attention you need? Many people are so involved in caring for others they forget about themselves. Remember to give yourself the love and respect you give the people in your life. If you set aside time for yourself, you will learn to enjoy your own company. Your time can be used for everything from a restorative nap to exercising, eating healthy, or watching a movie. Take care of your mental, physical, and spiritual needs. My favorite way to treat myself is to snatch some time to read. I take my book to a quiet corner of the house, or into our beautiful backyard, and lose myself in someone else’s words.
THIRD, Forgive yourself. Everyone makes poor choices. You can only learn to love yourself if you can accept those mistakes and move past them, move forward. Be honest and know that sometimes you are filled with negative emotions like jealousy and rage. Embracing these emotions is the first step to letting them go. My mistakes that hurt the most are usually caused by things I say. I love to tease people, to laugh and joke, but not everyone appreciates that. I always feel terrible when I realize I’ve hurt someone’s feelings because it’s always unintentional. And it’s always difficult to forgive myself.
FOURTH, Empower yourself. If you have friends that drag you into dark emotional places, that put you down and disrespect you, give yourself permission to find new friends. Find people you actually like and admire. Uplifting friends will help you feel better about yourself so that you can develop the humor, the empathy, and the love that will take you further along your journey. It’s especially important for writers to surround themselves with positive friends. It’s easy for people to be critical of your work, but it takes a real friend to encourage you on your dark days when nothing is coming out right.
FINALLY, Surprise yourself. Get to know yourself by saying yes to new experiences. Get out of your comfort zone and you might find you enjoy something you’ve never tried before. Start by writing down activities that make you nervous. Start small and try one. Every time you achieve something new, you build self-confidence. This is why so many people love to-do lists. Checking off things empowers you. Deciding to publish my first novel was definitely outside my comfort zone. Pushing myself to do it, however, has opened a door to a wonderful creative world.
No one promises that you can love yourself in five easy steps. It’s definitely a fragile ongoing process. The rewards, though, are worth it. People who are outgoing and happy spread joy to others who are struggling. People who love themselves can love the world around them and embrace aloha. So when I say, “Aloha!” I mean more than hello or goodbye. Aloha means I wish you the strength and joy that comes with the spirit of aloha.