What is it with us and self-love? Even the most advanced practitioners and spiritual seekers seem to struggle with it and specifically the thought of being judged by others. The infamous “what will people think” is a big one. For some people, what they think others will think or say dictates how they dress, behave, live, what they say and do, or don’t do.
Why do so many of us have this deep rooted sense of unworthiness? What is the source of the lack of self-love so many of us – even those who grew up in a happy childhood and abundance – suffer from? How does this happen? I don’t know and plan to learn more about this one day. Today I wanted to share five practical tips and methods that I found useful in gradually learning to love myself more and worry about what others think less.
First, there was a study, I’ve read about it somewhere, in which scientists monitored people’s thoughts for a considerable period of time. It was found that 90% of the time people thought about themselves and specifically worried about what others thought about them. Isn’t it ironic? I remember how liberating it felt learning this. While I was spending 90% of my time worrying about what others would think, they were doing precisely the same!
Getting out of one’s head is always a good method. “Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.” Sen T’Sang
Second, one of the interesting methods to care less about what others think and people pleasing in general is rejection therapy – check out what this chap did when he had enough of his fear of others.
Positive anticipation is a good one. When we encounter a stranger, we tend to assume the worst because our brains are wired to do so. However most of the time our negative expectations are completely unfounded. So one can practice positive anticipation instead. Instead of worrying about being judged, one can anticipate to be warmly received. Instead of worrying about what others will think, one can decide that they will form positive opinions.
Speaking of positive anticipation, work on re-programming core beliefs is essential. You can keep telling yourself positive affirmations and go on self-love retreats but unless you tackle the deep-seated beliefs such as “the world is dangerous” or “everyone is out to get me”, cultivating self-love will not work. Search for DULL or Lissa Rankin on this blog and read the Pranoia post that comes up. Or look up Lissa’s Ted talk on the web.
Devotional practice (bhakti yoga) makes practicing self-love easier, as bhaktis aim to love others and ourselves, and when you see yourself, humanity and the planet as one, it becomes really hard to feel being judged, separate or not loved. Self-love practice then becomes a daily service, an offering to the One.
So this is your sign to love yourself more and worry about what others think less, fellow nomads! Light and love.