The Greatest Love of All

Learning to love yourself ....

As Whitney Houston sang all those years ago, learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. Below we outline five steps you can take over this Christmas and New Year period to boost your self-regard, and be fit to thrive in 2011.

1. Value yourself

Make a list of all the things that make you who you are. What makes you special? What gives you your character? You may have some interesting hobbies, or the story of your life might be one of survival against the odds. Write down all the things you can think of that mark you out. And value them. We meet so many people who take their stories for granted. They don’t see that the fact that they have got to where they are shows strength and determination. When you’ve got your list, pick your top three characteristics. For each, write a positive affirmation that starts with the words “I value myself because”. It could be “I value myself because I work hard”, “I value myself because I overcame my family’s disapproval of who I am to celebrate being a gay man” or even “I value myself because I am kind”. Write three affirmations and repeat them to yourself as often as you can.

2. Be positive
No matter what happens in life, you control your attitude to it. You can choose to see events as confirmation that you are destined to fail and to be unhappy. Or you can choose to see the same events as spurs to hasten you on the path to greater success and fulfilment. It’s all about your attitude. Listen to what you tell yourself. Are you telling yourself that you’re a failure, that you don’t deserve to be loved? If so, decide to change the script. Make a list of the thoughts and beliefs you have about your life that hold you back. Rewrite them as positive beliefs. You can decide to change that inner voice in your head that says, “I don’t deserve to be loved” to “I deserve to be loved”. “I’m never going to succeed” can become “I will succeed”. Catch yourself whenever you have a negative thought and consciously replace it with a positive one. Our experience is that, with practice, this will become a habit that will help you to flourish.

3. Believe in yourself
Believing in yourself moves you closer to valuing yourself and being positive. What are you good at? What can you do well? We had one client who told us he was no good at anything, and yet he’d completed a degree and learnt to speak several languages fluently, despite great problems with his family. Make a list of what you’re good at. Believe in your own abilities.

4. Take control of your life

The happiest people we know are those who have taken responsibility for their own lives. They don’t blame others for who they are. It is such a waste of energy to rail at the world, your family or the gods. Instead, accept where you are and take responsibility for changing it. If your job drives you up the wall, what are you doing about it? What steps are you taking to find another one? What is your attitude to the tasks you have to perform? Do you do them grudgingly, or do you do them to the best of your ability? Even dead-end jobs can be opportunities for growth and learning if you decide to use them in that way. Nobody else can make you happy, healthier or more fulfilled. Catch yourself if you are tempted to blame others and take control. You will see the results.

5. Take action
Steps one to four all lead to this point. What are you going to do to change your life for the better? How would your life be different if you really did love yourself? What are the steps you need to take to bring this about? It’s important to start with small things, things that will give you a greater sense of being in control. You could look for ways to make your work more of a challenge. For example you could decide to offer a smile to those you meet today, or to be civil to that colleague you loathe. The important thing is to do something.

As you take actions as Christmas and the new year season come and pass, your sense of being in control of your life will grow and you’ll deepen your belief in your abilities into 2011. You will find it easier to have a positive attitude and value yourself.

And before you know it, you will have learnt the secret of Whitney’s greatest love.

For more advice on gay relationships and how to make them work, see the Gay Life Coach website.

Click on the following link to download our self-coaching course on esteem on the scene.

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