in: Dating & Relationships

Cultivating a Year of Self Love in 2016

Alright, Daring Hearts. Before we set our intentions on manifesting your one and only, let’s turn inward, shall we? Let’s make 2016 the year of self love.

Looking for love? For 2016, challenge yourself to a whole new level of finding love within yourself.

Can you commit to a whole year of self love? Whether you are single and struggling to focus on yourself or newly in a relationship and struggling to find balance between self care and your partnership, self love is something to cultivate and maintain throughout your life. Try incorporating these New Years intentions:

Kindness Toward Your Own Shortcomings

I often hear people saying “I beat myself up a lot” or “I’m really hard on myself.” Are you harder on yourself than anyone else could ever be? Do you find yourself with tons of negative self-chatter in your mind, filling in quiet mental gaps with self flagellation? You may not even be aware of speaking with yourself in this way.

We sometimes think that we need to beat ourselves up as a response to making a mistake, like this is somehow what we deserve or is necessary to make sure we don’t do it again. This is often leftover learning from earlier experiences where you may have been punished for making a mistake, instead of being given compassion and understanding. These punishing ways of being with ourselves have a detrimental effect on our well being and begin to reflect poorly on how we feel and think about ourselves.

Most of the time, it is not helpful to magnify our mistakes. It makes us feel much worse and instead of being somehow masochistically motivating, it is usually just plain damaging. Now is the time to be compassionate and understanding toward yourself. The next time you catch yourself calling yourself “stupid” or “an idiot” for something as ridiculous as dropping your keys at the door, STOP. Recognize what you are doing when you beat up on yourself for shortcomings, however small or big. Try being compassionate instead. Try saying to yourself “I made a mistake” or “this is a challenge for me” or even “maybe I can get help and support from someone”. See how it feels. It might just become addictive.

Forgive Your Inconsistencies

Accept all parts of yourself this year. The parts you don’t like. The parts you pretend not to have. The seemingly hypocritical parts or incongruences, parts that don’t seem like they go together at all. Try to forgive your inconsistencies. We all have them.

Trouble usually comes from rigidly fitting ourselves together in a way that seems like a coherent whole, where all of our values, ideals, beliefs and actions follow from each other. But for most of us, this is pretty hard to do all of the time. Once, when I was moving and very stressed out, a good friend of mine who knows me well, upon witnessing my impossible task of sorting through boxes, cans, papers, and milk cartons suddenly pronounced, “you are allowed to not recycle when you move.” I was so incredibly relieved as I threw out all of my tuna cans and juice boxes. Now, I do recycle and am not advocating for everyone to implement this rule; but I needed to let myself off the hook and give myself a break that time in order to make it through an incredibly difficult time.

When we try too hard to achieve mastery over ourselves, it can end up being rigid, false and forced. Part of respecting yourself is knowing yourself. All of yourself. Even the parts that feel unacceptable or ugly.

Self-Pampering vs Self-Restraint

Depending on your personality tendencies, you may need to incorporate excessive self-pampering or introduce more intense self-restraint. Help bring yourself into self love balance by figuring out which style is more typical of you and introduce the alternative solution.

If you are someone who works incredibly hard, spends time doing mostly for others, or is rigid or restrictive with yourself, 2016 is the year of self pampering for you. Go to the spa! Send yourself flowers! Go get a professional barbershop head shave and massage! Binge on a mindless Netflix series. Spend half a day wandering aimlessly. It may feel wrong at first, but notice if you feel more relaxed afterwards. Likely, you have a fear of being lazy and self indulgent, and likely… you are anything but. Go ahead, pamper yourself.

On the other hand, if you are the more permissive and indulgent type, switch it up. Introduce some self-restraint in some important areas of your life which may be lacking or uninspired due to a lack of focus or discipline. It can be incredibly loving to introduce some important and healthy boundaries for yourself to promote personal growth.

Safety vs Risk Taking

Only you know the answer to what you need with this intention. Are you someone who plays it safe much of the time? Do you live the important parts of your life with excessive caution and/or a good dose of fear?

Try to find at least one area (start with an less important one) where you can live a little bit more dangerously. It could be as small as driving down a different street on your way home or it could be going on a vacation alone to somewhere you have never been before. Let your self take a few risks and see how it feels.

On the other hand, if you live more like a daredevil and take excessive risks in many areas of your life, your task is the opposite. Help yourself create a good foundation of safety this year. Notice where you take unnecessary risks with yourself and ask yourself why you do it. This could be a big thing, like gambling away parts of your life savings. It could be something much smaller, like waiting until you have pulled out of your driveway and are down the road before you plug in your seat belt. Take stock of where this shows up for you. In some area of your life, cultivate more self-protection and care taking as a route to self love.

A Bill of Rights

Create your own Self Love: Bill of Rights for this year. Get really creative and ambitious. Personalize it to your strengths and challenges and post it up somewhere in your home or carry it around with you so you don’t forget. Tell other people about it. Who knows, maybe they will be inspired to do the same.

Good luck and Happy New Year. Heres to a full year of Self Love in 2016.

About the Author:

Leslie Malchy

Leslie Malchy is a Relationship psychotherapist working in private practice, Soft Landing Therapy, in Downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada. She is an experiential therapist working from a bio-psycho-social-spiritual and strengths based framework of change. She holds a Master of Science degree in Psychiatry from McGill University and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch University Seattle. When Leslie is not working, she is busy writing creative and literary fiction, tending to and growing kale in her community garden plot or jogging along Vancouver’s gorgeous Stanley Park seawall.


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