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The Importance of Loving Yourself First (Part 2)

Loving yourself can be a pretty challenging concept, especially since we've grown up in a society and a working world that applauds us when we think of ourselves last.

There's nothing wrong with service. It's why we're here.

But we can't serve others when we ourselves are depleted. (The flight attendants say to put your oxygen mask on first, right?! You can't help the person next to you if you're dead.)

So how do we start loving ourselves first? We take small steps.

One of my favorite small steps is practicing gratitude.

If it feels hard to love and value yourself right now, focus on looking for things to be grateful for.

The sun coming up.

The friend who calls out of the blue to check on you.

The stranger who smiled at you.

The free car inspection when you thought they were going to charge you for it.

The more you look, the more you'll see.

That's the magic of neuroscience.

In every moment, our brains take in way more information than they can process. So they take shortcuts. They look for patterns and familiarity, and filter out the unfamiliar.

Ever notice that when you buy a new car, suddenly you see that same car all over the place? There aren't suddenly more of those cars on the road. You just notice them more because they’ve become familiar.

It’s the same with gratitude. The more you practice it, the more familiar it becomes, and the more comfortable (and just plain fun) it feels.

So here’s the next question: What do you appreciate about yourself?

Maybe it’s your sense of humor, your smile, your adventurous spirit.

Expressing gratitude for parts of yourself creates space to express gratitude for your whole self.

Gratitude is the key. It's the gateway to love.

As we venture through that gateway and learn to use gratitude as a starting place for allowing more love and appreciation into our lives, we become more aware of what's happening inside us.

We become more conscious of our conditioning. More proactive in choosing a different path. (And hopefully not beating ourselves up when we wobble temporarily into old patterns.)

As we grow in awareness, the ironic challenge is that we can start to feel overwhelmed by all the inner work we have ahead of us.

The spiritually evolved trap you may fall into at this point is feeling like you have to finish your spiritual growth before you can do things differently.

You think you have to wait until you fully believe in yourself, or until you’re fully healed, or until you fully love yourself, to live your best life.

That’s just a sneaky form of egoic procrastination.

Your ego, though well-intentioned, wants you to stay small so you'll be safe.

Your soul knows that your true safety lies in the full expression of who you are.

Spiritual growth is a lifelong journey. We will never be done.

Instead of waiting until you feel ready, ask yourself:

"If I fully trusted myself; if I felt fully confident and powerful; if I fully loved and valued myself; what would I do/be/think/feel/believe/say right now?"

Act on THAT.

Don’t wait until you fully believe in yourself to love yourself.

Don’t wait until you fully love yourself to allow others to love you.

Don’t wait until you fully believe in yourself to take a leap of faith.

Don’t wait until you fully believe in yourself to live your dream.

Do it now.

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