Better self-love equals better decisions. Creating an ongoing experience of self-love for yourself keeps you operating at a higher level. Like all things that you do to take care of yourself, loving yourself makes it easier to make better choices simply because you are feeling better when you make them.
Helps determine your real needs. If you do not give yourself the love that you need, you may end up getting confused about what your real needs are. If you do not even fulfill this most primary need how can your really know what your other needs are.
You know how to do it best. While it is wonderful to receive love from others, we actually know what we want and need better than anyone else. Sometimes, if we are feeling a lack of love or care from an outside relationship, we can focus on giving/showing this love to our self in exactly the way that we know we need.
Sets the tone for the people in your life. We teach others how to treat us. When we love ourselves, we show others how to love us, thus setting a standard for the other people in our life.
Self-love is the best form of self-protection. When you act lovingly toward yourself, you are unlikely to tolerate unloving behavior from others. As a result, many problems can resolve themselves without effort, and certain predatory types will find the presence of your self-love less appetizing.
You are the root of positive change. Whether you are a professional caregiver or trying to have your impact be a positive one, giving yourself a steady dose of self-love keeps you healthier, happier, and in the game longer. If you shirk your responsibility to love yourself, you will lessen your overall ability to make a difference.
You are a role model. You are teaching your friends, partner, children, and others how to love themselves each time you show up for yourself in this way. We can all use some extra support in the direction of loving ourselves even more completely. You doing this for yourself helps those around you to do the same.
Do you ever feel compassion fatigue? Read more about caring for yourself here >>> “4 Ways You Can Stop Burnout When You Care a Lot.”
I hear it all the time from people who work with others in any helping or healing capacity: “I am exhausted. I am not sure I can do this anymore. I need a vacation. Maybe I should go into another line of work.” This same fatigue also affects those who are caring for other people in their lives. It is the result of actively attending to other people’s pain at the expense of your own self-care. It even has its own label: compassion fatigue.
One of the first things that I talk to practitioners about when they start to work with me is their own self-care. The more that you care for yourself, the more you are able to assist other people. The problem is that many helpers and healers get into the work because of their own wounds. This is fine overall; however, you will continue to deplete yourself to the extent that you have not healed.
If you find yourself stressed, with little energy to put into your work, or have noticed your behavior deteriorating in other areas of your life because you are caring a lot for others and little for yourself, try some of the following tips.
Boundaries. You may need to rewrite the way that you do the work you do, or work in a different way. You may need to learn to say no to those you love so that you can do some things for yourself. If you are feeling fatigued and possibly ready to quit, your boundaries are not in the right place. You are giving more than you have to give. Ask yourself: what do you need to make this a healthy arrangement?
Time out. One of the best ways to figure all of this out is to take a break. This can seem like a really big request when you feel like you are barely keeping up as it is. BUT—and it is a big “but”—it can be the smartest and easiest solution to your dilemma. Take as much time as you believe is possible and then take just a little more. The space will give you the perspective to help you see new ways of doing things.
Therapy. As I said, very often we get to this point because of our unresolved issues. Get some help from someone outside of your situation who can help you examine and shift the underlying patterns that are creating your over-giving.
Vision. First, connecting to your vision can be reinvigorating. However, it can do more than that. Take a look at how you are represented in your vision. Is it possible to have a vision where not only are you helping others but you are also well cared for? Write or rewrite a vision statement with this in mind, and read it regularly to keep yourself on track.
Perhaps most importantly, know that this can just be a passing phase. You can offer your amazing gifts to others in whatever way you do and you can be healthy while you do it. Look for new solutions, and don’t settle!
Take a look at my article here for more ideas on why loving yourself is so key >>> “7 Reasons to Love Yourself First.”
When people think about self-care, they often imagine a list of things that they need to do for themselves. So, they check the boxes, making sure that they’re exercising, drinking enough
water, sleeping enough, eating the right food. All of these things belong to the basic category of self-care. If we are doing these things, then it must mean we are taking care of ourselves, right?
There is some truth to this. These are the basics. This is what we need to do in order to sustain our health.
However, self-care is much deeper than checking these boxes. Our self-care is more about how we are able to take care of ourselves in each and every moment – this includes all of our behaviors, thoughts, and emotional experiences. It is more than diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, and the occasional massage. Each and every act in our life either cares for us and supports us, or it does not.
Our ability to care for ourselves is also a sign of how much we have healed ourselves up to this point in time. So self-care is both a way of seeing how much we have healed ourselves and a
way of healing ourselves.
When we give ourselves something that we didn’t have in the past – if we take care of ourselves in a way we weren’t taken care of in the past, or if we love ourselves in a way that we weren’t loved in the past, or any other way that we give to ourselves something in the present that undoes or rebalances what was done or not done in the past – it is powerfully
healing. So as we give ourselves the care that we may have missed out on, it lifts us to an entirely different place, a whole new level of healing.
However, there are a number of things that get in the way of receiving this deep healing through our self-care. For example, we may have learned ways of caring for ourselves that we were taught were helpful but actually are less so. Someone could think that they’re eating in a healthy way because that is what they’ve been taught is healthy, unaware that what they’re eating is actually really harmful for them. This type of misconception can happen in every area of our life. What we eat is just one example.
Another way that we become limited in our ability to care for ourselves is through our thoughts and perceptions about who we are and what we deserve. We cannot care for ourselves if we believe that we’re not worthy of it. These beliefs, which we often learn in our childhood, teach us to cancel out our wants and needs. We become blind to what it is that we need. We become out of tune with what it is that we’re wanting or needing in any given moment.
Because of this, we might reach out to various different things that are maybe less healthy, less useful, less caring of ourselves. In part, self-care is actually learning what it is that we need. Like, what are these things that maybe we’ve lost sight of yet are truly supportive of who we are and who we want to be and how we want to live our lives: one is the habits that we develop, another is the way that we have lost sight of what is good for us.
There are also institutional structures in place that actually lead us away from caring for ourselves. We’re taught to evaluate ourselves based on our ability to persevere and work really hard. We are taught to evaluate our own goodness according to how much we sacrifice for those around us. As we become aware of these cultural influences on our ability to care for ourselves, we can peel back another layer of what has been getting in our Way.
Self-care is a foundational element to doing personal development work. It is both an act that keeps us healthy and one that heals us. There are a number of challenges to being able to really care for ourselves. Recognizing the obstacles that are in the way of our self-care will help us to be more prepared in our efforts and proud of our successes.
For more about self care take a look at my article >>> “On Self Care”
1. Savor it! Actively focus on the parts of your life that are pleasurable. Receive the pleasure that is there. Do you ever notice that it is much easier to remember what went wrong? Counter this tendency by really allowing yourself to experience and remember the parts of your day that are pleasurable.
2. Start small and the pleasure will build on itself. Don’t make it a burden on your to-do list. Choose things that you can easily incorporate into your daily life. The pleasure and confidence that you receive from those small things will give you an energy boost in the direction of more pleasure.
3. Give yourself permission to do what you want, rather than what you think you should do.
4. What sparks you most regularly? Identify what brings you into your body and your senses. Is it deliciously flavored food? Soft fabrics? Beautiful artwork or surroundings? Find ways to surround yourself with that. Maybe you get an extra-ordinate amount of pleasure from having super soft sheets, using a fancy pen, having beautiful boxes for organization, or doing computer work outside. Find those small shifts that regularly please you and do that more.
5. Feeling more pleasure is not just about doing things – it is also about removing things. Tune into and adjust the things that add to the stress and tension in your life. Oftentimes, we feel stuck in these situations and let ourselves endure them. However, upon examination, another path appears. Look at the areas of your life that cause you the most stress and tension. Then, meditate on whether there is a way to add more spaciousness and joy to it or whether you need to cut it out altogether.
6. Do something you really love in the morning to start your day off right. If you are feeling good and centered in your heart and your senses, chances are you will find more opportunities for that during the day.
7. Experiment! Sometimes, we can have a hard time including pleasure in our life because it feels like we don’t have time or it will cause other problems in our life. Try an experiment for a day or two so that you feel comfortable letting go into it. Let yourself do everything you want to do that authentically brings you pleasure (think beyond overindulging in sweets and T.V.) and see what happens!
8. Regularly listen to music that you love. Intersperse music or dance breaks throughout your day.
9. Do something sweet for a stranger or someone that you love.
10. Find and incorporate something that ignites your childlike, playful spirit. Maybe it’s wearing a wig for part of the day, blowing bubbles, talking in gibberish, or rolling down a hill. Give yourself permission to play.
For ideas on designing a more pleasurable life, take a look at my article >>> “How to Bring More Pleasure into Your Day-to-Day Life”
Dedication to our path, whatever that looks like for us, is necessary for our continual advancement. However, this dedication, which gives us the inner resolve to stay the course regardless of what comes our way, needs to be in balance with our dedication to our self, which shows in how we care for ourselves in each and every step we take.
I have been blessed with unparalleled stamina and a resolve matched by few others. While that has been a backbone on which I can rely, it has been much more challenging to learn how to deeply care for and nourish myself.
I look around and see that I am not alone with this challenge.
When self-care is left out of the equation, we experience burnout, apathy, depression, and illness. Without self-care, we are unable to truly enjoy our lives, reap the rewards of our hard work, or experience real happiness.
Lack of self-care is nothing short of a denial of self. It is a strong statement of self-negation and has many roots. It is passed down through our lineage. It is taught to us through religion. It is born of our personal wounding.
Because of this, self-care is no small act. It turns centuries of indoctrination on its head. It lifts the weight of our negative childhood conditioning. This simple act of loving and caring for ourselves can be both an act of healing and an act of revolution all in one.
Our lack of ability to care for ourselves can look like many things: not allowing ourselves to rest when we are tired, eating the wrong foods or not eating the right ones, putting ourselves in bad environments or with less than ideal people. Regardless of whether you do not exercise or you stay in a job that is not right for you, there are underlying reasons why you do things this way. Some of these came from your childhood.
As a child, you may have been told that your tears were silly, or your requests for things may simply have been unanswered. These repeated messages told you to ignore your needs in order to to be safe, get approval, or maintain love. Even if you were not directly told to ignore your own needs—which many of you were—when you experienced any kind of wounding, the implied message in the wounding was that your needs did not matter.
This is a message that you likely believed.
As a result, you may continue to act as if your own needs are not important; you may continue to believe those who tell you that this is the case. Because of this, you may, in many small or large ways, not care for yourself.
But, the problem is even more than just devaluing your own needs. Through this process, you lose the fundamental mechanisms of meeting them—you forget how to receive and you forget what it feels like to be someone who is full and whole.
Your wounding creates a deep sense of unworthiness. And wherever you believe that you are unworthy, you will not allow the necessary care and nourishment for your expansion.
In the places where you are unable to attend to your needs, there is an emptiness, a frailness, a primary lack of ability to receive that blocks you from receiving the benefits of all you do. In essence, there is an unhealed place that is incapable of experiencing the joy, wonder, abundance, and other fruits of your life.
When you learn how to care for yourself, you heal the parts of yourself that were wounded in the past. You give yourself what you were unable to get at this other point in time. You show yourself a reality that is different than what you once experienced as possible.
As you commit to radically and completely caring for your needs, you are able to deeply feel not just the results of your specific efforts but all of life in a more deep and profound way. As you learn to deeply care for yourself, you unlock the door to your own happiness and return to the fullness of who you truly are.
For motivation to create self-care rituals in your life, take a look at my article >>> “13 Reasons Why Sensitive Souls Need Rituals”
One of the simplest ways to make really radical and fast changes in our life is to be intentional. Specifically, we should set an intention each and every day for how we want that day to go, what we’re going to focus on, what ultimate result we’re looking for, or how we want to feel. Setting such intentions is the difference between an undirected, unconscious day and having focus for our energy and a frame through which we can become more conscious.
Intention serves a couple of different purposes. Foremost, it helps us more easily and more readily get from point A to point B. Furthermore, it helps us create more of what we want as we become more aware and conscious of our wants and needs. It also helps us get clearer about what is in our way.
Overall, by being intentional, we become more conscious. One of the things that I have clients do is to develop a practice—a specific activity that you do in order to raise your consciousness. This works because you craft the specific activity, time, place, and frame, allowing you to see things more completely. For example, if you are practicing compassion, you might choose a daily activity that helps you understand what compassion really means and how to be compassionate more effectively. Instead of being compassionate “just because” or only when the mood strikes you, you are now doing it in a specific way at a specific time; this frame allows you to see compassion differently.
The foundation of any practice is being intentional. So, if there is a way that we would like to move through our life, if there is a result that we would like to see, the easiest and best way to get there is to be clear about it beforehand. If you were traveling to a town that you had never been to before and you didn’t know its name, even if you knew what direction it was in, it would be very difficult to know when you arrived there. You simply would not have clear knowledge of it. When we clarify what we want from a specific period of time, being intent not only helps us to get there—it helps us to see that we are there.
When we set an intention, it helps to align our heart, mind, and energy with that intention. This means that we are more likely to act in ways that are in alignment with our intention without even thinking about it—setting an intention is like laying down a track for where we want to go.
The best way to work with intentions is to experiment with them. This can be as simple as waking up in the morning and writing down what your intention is for that particular day. You could establish a specific designated time to spend at your altar or some other special spot in your home where you clarify how it is that you’d like to move through your day or what you would like to feel. This experiment will lead you to a deeper understanding of intention and its benefits.
As you experiment with your intentions, you may notice moments in which reactivity overtakes intentionality. Check out my article “When Reaction Beats Intention” for clues on how to turn reactions into responses –> When Reaction Beats Intention
When we react rather than act with intention, it shapes our experience and our outcome. When we are reactive, we simply respond to a stimulus that we have encountered. This can be a person, place, or thing. Usually, our reaction is unconscious. We just do whatever happens as a result. For example, a person comes into the room, they say something to us, and we immediately respond with whatever is true for us in that moment. This could be something beneficial that really makes the situation run quite smoothly. Or, it could be the type of reaction that’s more defensive or problematic, and as a result it creates a disruption or challenge. Either way, it’s simply a response that is not considered.
On the other hand, being intentional means that, regardless of the stimulus we experience, we have a reason for our response. So in other words, if we want to build connection, or clarity, or what have you, then we respond in a certain type of way to accomplish that desire. Intention requires that we know what it is that we want to do in a particular moment and that we guide our actions accordingly. It is the difference between flying by the seat of our pants and guiding the experience.
As you can probably quite easily see, there are times when being more intentional might be very beneficial and help to shift things in a positive way. In our life, we can pay attention to where our intentional efforts might benefit others and ourselves the most. Then we can put a little bit more effort and consciousness into those areas so that we can create more of what we want in life. Conversely, if we do not take the time to be intentional, especially in important situations, our outcome can be hit or miss.
As much as intention is a tool to create more of what we want, it is not as simple as just coming up with a scenario we would like to create and then moving forward. Being intentional is a much more nuanced skill than that. Intention is about bringing our whole self into alignment with what we intend. The first step is getting clarity about how we would like things to go. Then, we have to bring ourselves into a state of being that is in alignment with this clarity. And, once we have, our final task is to surrender our expectations and our need for control and allow our actions to be guided. This final step is of extreme importance. If we do not surrender, we are merely managing the situation—not being intentional. This is just a sophisticated form of reaction.
To put this in action, we need to take the following steps. If we are going about our daily life and we want to be more intentional, we only need to get clear, bring ourselves into alignment, and surrender—but if we have already become reactive, it requires a couple more steps. For example, if someone says something to you that makes you feel activated or triggered, then the first step is to clear the negative reaction. We have to get out of the emotional reaction first before it is possible to take actions to be more intentional. When we are triggered, it may be impossible to know what it is that we would like to have as a positive outcome, let alone how to best create it. Regardless of whether or not you know, the first step is to clear the negative reaction—then we can start being more intentional.
Finally, we need to add skills to the mix. Setting our intention is essential; however, if we are lacking a certain skill that would help us act in a way that would bring our intention into being, we may still fall short of our mark. So, part of our process is also learning skills that support our intention becoming a reality. All of this this allows us to actively construct our life in a way that is most pleasing, satisfying, and beneficial.
If you’re looking to dive deep into your intentions and what might be obstructing them, you may be interested in a Breakthrough Intensive. Find out more here –> Breakthrough Intensive with Dr. Kate
Intention is the tool that takes us from the way things have been—the way we have been operating—to where it is that we want to go. Within our intention is the understanding that something else is possible, whether this is a change in direction entirely or a more continuous experience than we have experienced in the past. Our intention aligns us with our deepest truth and most intimate longings.
Often, when we look at ourselves, our lives, or our behaviors, we do so because we are evaluating how we got to a certain point. We ask ourselves questions such as “what has been true for me” and “what has contributed to where I am in this moment?” These types of questions have us looking at who we have been and how we got to the present moment, regardless of whether the present moment is great or not so great. It is actually much more productive to examine ourselves in a forward-reaching way, rather than retrospectively through our prior behavior.
Our intention focuses on where we are going to go and what is it that we want for the future. How is it that I want to construct my moments moving forward? Our intention might lead us into an entirely different experience or solidify a newfound one. Intention directs us to what we want, what we desire to create, and our next phase of evolution. Because of this, it is an incredibly helpful tool to guide us through life.
Additionally, as we set our intention, we create a frame for our understanding, providing a tool for us to evaluate what it is that we are wanting and doing. It helps us to become that much more informed about who we are and what it is that we want. When we form an intention, it allows us to see where we are in line with that intention and where we might be off track. For example, we might set an intention and then realize that it was not exactly what we wanted. In this way, setting an intention helps us learn about ourselves and the directions in which we want to advance. So the more that we are intentional, the more we can understand our desires, their impacts, and what is in our way. This brings a high degree of awareness into our lives.
So my suggestion is to find a way of bringing more intention into your day, whether that means setting an intention to start your day or any other certain period of time—for example, before your meals, before you leave to go somewhere, as you’re getting in your car, before you begin a new task, before you reach out to someone, or any other time that is a beginning or a moving forward. Any of these initial moments can be a time to get clear and to get intentional; then you can watch how that shifts your perception and how it also changes your outcome.
If you need a little encouragement on your way, take a look at these 16 Quotes on Positive Intention That Will Inspire Your Soul.
I. Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.
II. “Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.” — Brenna Yovanoff
III. “Intention is not something you do, but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy- a power that can carry us. It’s the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and don’t let go of it until you make it a reality. Inspiration is the reverse- when an idea gets hold of you and you feel compelled to let that impulse or energy carry you along. You get to a point where you realize that you’re no longer in charge, that there’s a driving force inside you that can’t be stopped. Look at the great athletes, musicians, artists, and writers. They all tap into a source.” — Wayne Dyer
IV. “In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link” — Carlos Castaneda
V. “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” — Bryant McGill
VI. “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” — Seneca
VII. “It is not good enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” — Walt Kelly
VIII. “You’ve got to know what you want. This is central to acting on your intentions. When you know what you want, you realize that all there is left then is time management. You’ll manage your time to achieve your goals because you clearly know what you’re trying to achieve in your life.” — Patch Adams
IX. “The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.” — Gary Zukav
X. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” — William A. Foster
XI. “Energy is directed by intention into action. If the action is not happening, if you’re finding excuses to not do whatever you set out to do, revisit your intention. Perhaps you were not being honest with yourself. Where is your energy flowing instead? That is where your intention sits.” — Akiroq Brost
XII. “Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it.” — David duChemin
XIII. “Gratitude in advance is the most powerful creative force in the Universe.” — Neale Donald Walsh
XIV. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” — Wilfred Arlan Peterson, The Art of Living, Day by Day
XV. “Intention is more than wishful thinking—it’s willful direction. It is a philosophy of the heart put into practice, a consistency of conscious patterns of thought, energy, and action. Through intention, we see more and create with more clarity, passion, and authenticity. Our attention then becomes a spotlight for every shred of supporting evidence that we’re on the right path.” — Jennifer Williamson
XVI. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” — Henry David Thoreau
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.
A lot of times when people think about being happier in their life, they think about “having something”—having a sense of purpose, having the right relationship, having some quality of life that’s going to result in them feeling happier. In reality, having these things doesn’t always equal feeling happy. What does make us happier is incorporating the experience of pleasure into our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life.
When we learn what it is that we like and enjoy—and we learn how to do it more and more—we become happier.
Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to live the majority of our time in a state of deprivation, only occasionally providing ourselves with rewards. A classic example of this is to work all week so that you can enjoy yourself on the weekend. The idea is that you put in time being disciplined (“doing the right thing,” being responsible, making sacrifices) and that buys you some time to do what you actually enjoy.
When we live life this way, we can fall into the trap of having less and less pleasure in our life and thus less and less happiness. People who live this way often experience burnout. They report feeling a sense of fatigue, experiencing a flat emotional state, and wondering what the point of it all is.
To fix this problem, we start to turn things on their head. We ask the questions, “How can I bring more pleasure into my existence on a regular and consistent basis? What happens if I question the notion that pleasure is a reward rather than a state of being?”
It is helpful to start small. What are some easy ways to bring more pleasure into your life? It can be anything from bringing a picture into work that reminds you of something pleasurable to eating your favorite food or taking a moment to see something that’s beautiful in your environment. We can start with these simple methods and then build on them.
Then, we can start to ask bigger questions, such as “Am I engaging in work that is actually pleasurable to me? Do I enjoy myself when I spend time alone? Does this person in my life bring experiences of pleasure?”
Pursuing what brings us pleasure does not mean that every single aspect of life will now be enjoyable or that we will no longer experience difficulty, pain, or challenge, but it will start us working in a way that creates a life that feels good. By doing this, we start undoing the habits and patterns that keep us in a place of deprivation.
Pursuing more pleasure in our life helps ensure that we are happier on a regular basis. It feeds us at a very deep level. It takes care of us in a way that we cannot address through goals and plans. It ensures our happiness in the moment to moment.
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.