image002Love is everywhere.

You can find it in a stranger’s smile or kind words, in a flock of birds that flutter in hypnotizing synchronistic rhythm, in the doting, watery eyes of an adorable puppy, and it’s always there in your heart.

But the most important kind of love is one we often don’t see, think about or cultivate.

That’s the love of self:  kind, non-judgmental, unconditional love of self. This is the love that opens up doors to wider spaces, to loving connections beyond self, and obliterates the fear of being alone or losing something or someone we cherish.

In 2001, when my daughter was diagnosed with autism, had horrible tantrums, barely ever slept and was experiencing severe, inexplicable tummy troubles, not only was she hurting, but I too was exhausted, in pain and lost. Feeling helpless and alone, what made me most uncomfortable was trying to control the uncontrollable.

Like with many irrepressible things, my natural urge was to want to make it (autism) disappear. If only I could control it, fix it, bring her back. In attempt to comfort, I’d tell myself, It could be worse. And it could have been. But it still sucked.

Then somewhere along the way, I had an epiphany. What I realized was that what I wanted more than anything else was for her to be able to feel love. That mattered more than correcting any missed milestones, reading or math delays, gaps in learning or social cues. We’d still work on those things, but I’d lead with love first.

That revelation is what changed my life on every single level, including opening up to loving myself in a radical way. Love became my guiding light, compass and check point.

Once I opened up and surrendered to the power of love, that’s when all the magic started to happen. That’s when I saw the blessing, the beauty in her, in everything. By simply loving her, I could feel free and so could she. In my upcoming book, I talk about this journey and the surrender, surrender to simply loving, letting go of control, expectation or fear.

Love starts inside us but vibrates outward through a tiny yet powerful thread that connects all of us. We need self love to access this power beyond self. Though sometimes finding it outside yourself will help bring it inward.

This year I ask you to invite more love into your own routine, more ritualistic loving kindness for yourself. Like many things, self love is a habit, a mindset shift. Once thoughts drift toward love first, it gets easier and easier to lead with love.

Here are some tips on how to encourage more love towards yourself. Remember this is not being selfish, it’s embracing acceptance and loving kindness towards yourself, nourishing your unique and beautiful spirit which in turn will trickle love outward to all those around you.

Eight Ways to Love Yourself Every Day

  1. Accept your uniqueness. Let go of expectations, yours and others. Instead focus on inner wisdom and guidance. Trust yourself to be you, to follow your heart.
  2. Surrender to the uncontrollable. Life’s greatest wonders are often packaged in the unexpected. Know you are part of a bigger plan, a divine symphony.
  3. Focus on how you want to feel, not what you think you need to accomplish. Then align your efforts with those desires.
  4. Release past regrets, hurts or disappointments. Know that you are where you need to be right now. Each day is a new day with miracles happening every minute.
  5. Find the good in everything. All behavior is motivated by a positive intention. Find that intention and adjust your behaviors with more loving kindness. Feel gratitude for all that is good, even the tiniest things.
  6. Look deeper, past what you see in the mirror. Feel the glow inside you, watch as it grows brighter with every loving step you take. Then reflect that outward bringing you more love. Now, that’s way more beautiful than a wrinkle free face!
  7. Explore. Get out and get lost. Go for a hike or walk through the city, see where your feet will take you. Dance, sing, paint, write, cook and create the wonders of your soul. Nurture your self with inner stroking.
  8. Get healthy. Not just because its right but because it feels good. When you eat real food, making choices that are good for you, you are honoring your soul, loving yourself. There is no food that tastes as good as feeling good. Love yourself with colorful, delicious nourishing choices, reward yourself with love.

Love is the one thing you will never run out of and will always be there for you.

Above all clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony ~ Colossians 3:14