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How to Actually Start Loving Yourself, Part One

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Everyone talks about loving yourself. But actually, truly loving yourself is a pretty big deal. And it takes practice. We live in a world where self-criticism is a way of life, constant background noise in our minds. We are deluged with messages in advertising and media that sell us our inadequacies. We spend so much more time thinking about things to fix about ourselves. In a world filled with self-help, where does this endless quest to be better ever end?

We rarely stop to celebrate ourselves as the incredible creatures we are.

Today I am challenging you to write a love letter to yourself. Yes, you! The one who is reading this blog post, you!

I have been on a quest to find practices that actually help us to love ourselves more. I want to share the things that have actually worked for me and my clients. This is part one. In future posts, I'll share other practices that I have found that works to cultivate self-love.

Loving ourselves is an inside job.
When we think about being happy and feeling content, we may think the salvation lies in finding just the right person to love us. We dream of a great romantic relationship, or when we are already in one, we dream of feeling totally accepted and adored. Of being seen and loved just for who we are. When we find this wonderful person who loves and accepts us, we will finally arrive.

Indeed, it's wonderful to be seen for the beautiful creatures that we are and to find people who appreciate us. I love it when someone sees the beauty in me. But if we never give this kind of love to ourselves, it just won't work. Outside validation is not enough. Every relationship unravels if we don't truly stand for our own value. We just can't expect that someone to create that center of self-love for us.

To shore up the foundation of every relationship, we need to learn how to stand for our own value. So how do we do that? Today we start with a fun exercise. Writing a love letter to our fabulous selves.

Write a love letter to yourself
Writing a love letter to yourself might sound a little cheesy. But trust me, this practice works. And it will have longer-lasting effects than self-loving things like taking a bubble bath or getting a massage or pedicure. You'll be massaging your soul!

When you write this letter to yourself, you are filling yourself up with the fuel of self-love, and that will fuel you to shine and to operate in a stronger place in every relationship. We're giving ourselves the love we dream of.

In fact, by falling in love with ourselves, we train other people about what to notice. Every day, we are training other people about how to treat us. If we show up habitually putting ourselves down, we are training other people to devalue us. When we show up knowing our value, we train people to treat us as valuable too.

Instructions for Writing a Love Letter to Yourself
Find a moment to sit down with some peace. Maybe with a cup of tea, or just some minutes by yourself, with a special notebook or computer.

Take out your notebook and write yourself a love letter. Write an ode to your fabulous self and your quirks, the things that make you special. Write a love letter to the essential you, the best you, the parts that you want to keep alive as your flame. Keep writing continuously and messily for as long as you can.

Why would someone feel so blessed to be in a relationship with you?

What about your things or quirks that you sometimes wonder about -- are they really lovable or likable? Give them lots of love too. Be sure to include at least one quirk that you may fear may not be lovable or likable.

Make your letter as long or as short as you want.

Here are two actual love letters. One that I wrote and one that my friend and co-teacher Sue Vittner wrote.

Here's mine:

Sasha, you are a fox.

I love the way you are so intimate with yourself, the way you twirl your hair and touch yourself, the way you naturally pleasure yourself in your skin, in your body. You are someone who wants to enjoy life and suck the pleasure out of life like you suck the pleasure out of a mango or a maracuya, the passionfruit.

By the way, you are a passionfruit. You are a fruit of passion. You are a collection of seeds that are blossoming one by one, every year giving the world a new treasure with your ideas and your creativity. You deserve the absolute best, you know that. You deserve to be treated like a queen. You are a marvelous beautiful creature who only gets more radiant and gorgeous with age. You are filled with life and wisdom. You have so much sensual joy in your body and confidence too.

You empower others to enjoy their lives and their bodies. You inspire others to embrace their quirks. You are touching many lives with your creativity. You are delightful even in the mornings, even when you were feeling bad after a night of sleep -- oh yeah you can be grumpy but that's okay.

You can be messy sometimes, and you really resist washing the dishes, but you know how to laugh about that. You leave teabags in teacups all over the house and are totally absentminded and drive your mother crazy with that. So what? That's a quirk too.

You are nearly the mid-point of your life and you have done an incredible job so far. You pay attention to your health, you worry about health stuff but ultimate you know how to enjoy life and stop worrying and put pleasure first. You have really figured some stuff out and you are going to figure out even more stuff over the course of your lifetime. You are an awesome being!

Here's Sue's love letter to herself.

Oh my gosh Sue, you are soooo amazing. I love how unique you are, how quirky you are and how you brighten up people's day with your smile. I love all the crazy things you do like... sleep with a teddy bear and need to only wear clothes that feel good on your skin... or none at all! I love how natural you are and your ability to know that your beauty comes from inside out. I love how you listen to people and can see a big vision for them and can think outside the box and wear rose-colored sunglasses in the world. I love how you wear funky rain boots and bright winter hats and at the same time wear black all the time because you know you can't get it dirty.

You are an amazing aunt, sister, daughter, lover, friend, coach and massage therapist. You have a gift of connecting with energy and trusting in the universe. You have been through a lot and have done so much to grow and learn about yourself, how to communicate and love yourself and others. You have had many ups and downs and around the corners with relationships and still have managed to keep your head up.

You are strong and flexible, inside and out. I love how you dance and sing... even if others laugh! I love how you have so many ideas, you're this constant stream of business ideas and try to multitask and try and fit so much in a day and get the house so messy because you're busy doing so much, and still you can do nothing and relax and hang out and play. I love how you've designed your life to only work about 10-15 hours a week and you have life as a priority and not working to live. You are wicked awesome and I am so excited for what's in store for you! I LOVE YOU!

What about you? Share your love letter as a comment here. Inspire us.

Sasha Cagen is the author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List; From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate What Our Lists Reveal About Us.

She believes personal growth can be FUN and that once we become friends with our unique quirky selves, we start to really shine. In our social lives. In our creativity. In our work. She helps people uncover and celebrate the quirky parts of themselves in her online course GetQuirky: 21 Days to Celebrate the Quirky in You.

The next GetQuirky starts in September. Click HERE to get the details.

Find Sasha at sashacagen.com.

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