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Fall in love with yourself this February

An Austin-based psychologist and anxiety specialist, gives us lessons on self-kindness and self-love this Valentine's month

Article by Marianne Stout, PhD

Photography by El Mike

Originally published in Austin Lifestyle

We take care of what we value.  If we value ourselves we are more likely to take care of our physical bodies, relationships, thoughts, and emotions.  If we don’t value ourselves, why should we wake up in the morning let alone go to school or work or engage with other people?

Self-kindness means being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate instead of beating up on ourselves. If your kid was struggling with T-ball would you rather they had a coach who berated them all of the time or one who supported them offering extra practices and encouraging words?  Treat yourself how you would treat your T-ball struggling kiddo!  Offer yourself words of support and encouragement. 

Four practical ideas for boosting self-love

 

1 Mindfulness as introduced in self-compassion research focuses on the balance of not ignoring or suppressing our difficult feelings, but not exaggerating them either.  Observe your thoughts and feelings, but also bring your attention back to the present moment. 

2 Create a self-compassion statement.  This often looks like what you would say to a loved one if they were in your shoes and experiencing your struggle.  I encourage clients to first validate their feelings/experience (This is really hard right now, this sucks, I’m really struggling…) and then offer support (You can do this, you’ve done hard things before and you can get through this now, I love you and I’m on your side).

3 Practice a loving kindness meditation; it enhances feelings of goodwill toward yourself and others.   First, picture yourself and say, “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, and may my suffering ease.”  Next, picture a loved one and say the same thing offering this kindness to them.  Then, picture an acquaintance, someone whom you don’t know very well, and say these same words for them.  After that, picture someone whom you actively dislike and offer those very same words to them (this one can be hard!).  Finally, offer the same words to all living creatures everywhere.

4 Write a gratitude journal.  Write down three things each day for which you are grateful or that went well.  Do the same thing the next day, but pick three NEW things.  Each day work toward identifying three new positives.  Clients love this exercise because it can make a big difference in mood and attitude in a relatively short amount of time and doesn’t take too much effort.

Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin

8701 Shoal Creek Blvd, Suite 404, Austin TX 78757

(512) 436 3225

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