It really can, says Dr David R Hamilton. Why? Because how much we love ourselves – and by love, David means ‘respect’, ‘care for’, ‘appreciate’, ‘value’ – conditions how we think, how we communicate, and how be behave…
Our level of self love affects how we interact with people, whether we speak our mind or not, or whether we ask for what we need. It affects whether or not we have the courage to be vulnerable in the act of asking that our needs be met or in showing ourselves to the world.
It also affects our self-confidence and whether we push beyond our comfort zones in the pursuit of happiness or success.
If even affects whether or not we feel we are entitled to happiness or success in the first place. And these things shape our relationships, both personal and business, our career, our finances, and our happiness.
Low self love can put unnecessary strain on a relationship, for instance. It can manifest in an unconscious feeling that we are not deserving of love, that we are somehow ‘not good enough’. In this case, we might interpret a partner’s wish to spend time with friends or family as meaning they don’t love us.
We might even find that we are simply unable to accept the genuine affections of a partner, assuming deep down that we are just a temporary fling until they find someone better, even if the supposed ‘fling’ has lasted months or even years. As these inner feelings of our own worth affect our behaviour, we sabotage the relationship so that we manifest for ourselves what we always secretly expected…that ‘I am not enough’.
Taking the example of career, low self love can make it harder to succeed as it gradually unravels our self confidence and then effectiveness. Every time we fail or get a bad result, it affects our perception of ourselves. ‘It must be me’ or ‘I’m simply not good enough’ are common mantras we repeat in our private moments. Even when success does come it is often fraught with stress as we overwork ourselves in the act of proving to someone (a parent, a partner, or a boss) that we are, in fact, worthy.
But there is hope.
The brain is easily trained. Just as we can do a workout in the gym and build strength in our muscles, so we can also train the brain and, in effect, build self love muscles, as you will learn to do in the following exercise.
Think of the following exercise as visiting the ‘self-love’ gym because the exercise is designed to give self-love areas of the brain a regular workout.
The Self Love Gym
The key to using the self love gym is consistent practice, just as it’s also the key when we work out in the gym at the sports centre. Nobody ever became Olympic champion after going to the gym just the once. Training takes consistent practice.
The self love gym practice is this:
Simply become aware of your body language throughout the day, especially in situations and around particular people where issues with self love show up. For example, if you lack confidence, feel self-conscious, are shy, or are usually eager to please because you need everybody to like you, you might notice that your posture is submissive at these times. You might tense or round your shoulders, curve your spine, have tightness in your facial muscles, dip your head slightly, avert your gaze, and shallow breathe. You might do all of these things or just one or two.
In effect, it’s like your body is a projection of your feelings of worth, like you are ‘wearing’ your feelings about yourself.
You might be familiar with the term, “It’s written all over your face,” meaning your face is showing what you’re really thinking or how you really feel. This is because unless you are consciously in control of your body language (including your facial muscles), it always conveys how you feel.
So the key with this particular self love gym exercise is to consistently correct your body language as often as you can remember to throughout the day. Correct it to what? This is where a little pre-practice comes in.
Get up 10 minutes early one day and practice standing and walking in a way that says,’ I am enough’, meaning ‘I am good enough’, ‘I am important’, ‘I have value’, ‘I deserve good things’. Think of it as a game of pretend, like a child would play.
Spend this few minutes simply practicing your posture and movement. This ‘I am enough’ posture then becomes what you consistently correct to throughout the day.
Now, just as muscles strengthen and tone through practice at the physical gym, so you strengthen and tone your self love muscles as you work out in the self love gym.
The reason this improves self love is because your muscles are connected to your brain. Muscles involved in body language and posture are connected to areas of the brain involved in self love, so as you correct your body language and posture you directly impact, and change, the brain in areas associated with self love.
It’s called ‘neuroplasticity’ in that areas of the brain receiving the workout actually change. In effect, they strengthen and tone. And because you’re causing changes in the brain, if you practice consistently, the results are likely to be long lasting.
So, really, learning to love yourself could be the best thing you ever do and the way to learn it is like you learn anything: consistent practice.
And with consistent ‘self love gym’ practice you could see amazing results in your relationships, your career, your finances, your happiness, and in many other ways that self love affects your everyday life.
About the author
Dr David R Hamilton is an author and motivational speaker actively flying the flag for kindness and self love. Check out his fabulous book, I Heart ME: The Science of Self-Love, for more great advice.