Every human being has worth -- and this includes you. Kathleen McIntire, creator of Guiding Signs 101, had her "aha" moment when she realized that she needed to love herself in order to quash the self-abasing feelings that were robbing her of happiness. "I saw that God had created me and I was perfect," she explains. "I saw that all there is is love ... I loved others. I could love myself too. I could accept myself exactly as I was." Once you start seeing yourself as worthy of love -- God's love, love from others, your own love -- you'll start to see that hopelessness in your heart turn to joy.
Seriously, do you know anyone who is perfect? Of course not! So stop expecting flawlessness from yourself. "When you constantly expect every aspect of your life to be just so, you inevitably end up judging yourself, blaming yourself and resenting yourself," says McIntire. You're going to make mistakes -- we all do -- but look at your "flaws" as learning experiences. "Give thanks for the opportunity to grow and become wiser. This attitude will keep you from dwelling on limiting and punishing thoughts and sabotaging your intention to love yourself," she adds.
Though you may be faced with daily challenges (and who isn't?), there are still many wonderful blessings in your life. But you have to intentionally turn your attention to them -- and be grateful. "Consciously focus on your blessings, successes and joys, instead of dwelling on disappointments and failures," suggests McIntire, who recommends doing an evening review of each day to see the positive aspects of your life. Instead of going to bed focusing on the things you didn't get to do or weren't satisfied with, you go to sleep feel satisfied with what you did do and feeling thankful for the people you had an opportunity to be with and love.
McIntire says we allow "should" and "supposed to" rule our lives, and as a result, we avoid authentic feelings and reactions. This doesn't mean you get to explode in anger when someone cuts in front of you on the road, but it does mean you should acknowledge your emotions and experience them instead of stuff them into oblivion. She explains that allowing yourself to feel an emotion opens the door to feeling another and then another. "That's where many people have trouble," she adds. "They don't realize that by cutting off one feeling, usually an unpleasant one, they cut off all feelings -- that includes love, joy and happiness, as well as the sadness and anger that they don't want to feel."
McIntire points out that a lot of our suffering comes from trying to make ourselves (or another person or situation) different from what simply is -- which is an exercise in futility. "Look inward and identify old beliefs that are no longer serving you and that are holding you back from living your best life; for example, "I am unlovable." Allow yourself to feel one more time what carrying each belief is like, then let it go," she advises. Gradually, you will discover who you really are and find happiness and appreciation in that.
How often do you feel the urge to do something you find fun and enjoyable, only to find a reason you can't? You're holding yourself back and you're limiting your ability to be happy. McIntire reminds us that we all have passions, strengths, talents, interests and curiosities that are unique to each of us, and when we are in touch with those things, we will feel inspired and more readily capable of feeling fulfillment and love. "It's never too late to resurrect that childlike feeling that your world is truly wondrous," McIntire assures. "Build new rituals and traditions around whatever you find meaningful and you'll experience renewed joy and nourishment with the people you love … and most importantly, with yourself."
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