How a Self-Love Experiment Can Help You Become Your Own Best Friend

Photo credit: Miranda Jaynes

I HAVE WHAT I refer to as a guru. But he is also my life coach, adviser, and healer. The last time I met with him, he told me, “You will find lasting love when you love yourself. Your only homework is to Love Yourself.” I felt like a helpless child watching as an adult dangled candy in front of me. The sweet thing I wanted so badly in my life was right there in front of me yet completely out of my reach. His words echoed in my mind: “All you have to do is love yourself and you will have everything you want.”

Sigh.

I thought to myself, “I am trying. I’ve been trying. But when will it get easier?” You see, at the time I met with my guru, I was about to embark on an inward journey. I had already been focusing on knowing that me matters. But it was fleeting. Some days I felt great, I enjoyed my own company, and I liked who I was, but most days I felt unworthy, ugly, and off track in life.

So I created a Self-Love Experiment. What is it you might ask? The Self-Love Experiment is a challenge I gave myself to become my own best friend. It was born out of a desperate need to feel more connected to my life and myself. I wanted to know what it was like to live at peace with myself in my body and finally end the war I had been carrying on inside myself for more than three decades. Was it possible that this battle might finally subside? I wanted to find out, so I set out on a giant adventure.

Before my Self-Love Experiment, self-criticism formed the backbone of my relationship with myself. I was always attacking myself in my mind, overanalyzing everything I did. Nothing I ever did was good enough for me.

I wanted to know what it would feel like to go an entire day without criticizing myself or feeling like I didn’t measure up. “Heck,” I thought, “it would be nice to go even an hour without this inner critic beating me down.” So I set out to work on myself, for myself, and by myself.

Creating a “Self-Love Experiment,” or practice is essential for our happiness. It is the foundation for everything we truly want in life. There are certain steps you can take to create your own fulfilling practice.

Step 1: Identify Your Patterns

For over three decades, I didn’t just dislike myself—I actively went out of my way to sabotage myself. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was indeed treating myself like dirt. All through my twenties I picked inappropriate men who were not right for me in myriad ways: drug addicts, unavailable men, or men who were super clingy and liked the idea of me rather than who I really was. All my relationships were superficial. I overspent, overate, overworked, all in an effort to avoid the sinking sensation that perhaps there might be a gentler, kinder, and more compassionate way to live. I first had to identify my patterns in order to break them and free myself from the self-sabotaging behavior. Identify your patterns, the situations you keep finding yourself in, that no longer serves you. As you recognize them you will begin to see how they are no longer helping you and you can release them for good.

Step 2: Talk About and to Yourself in a Positive Light

When I looked around at my circle of friends, my family, and in society, it became obvious that most people don’t really love themselves. It’s not that we don’t want to. We just don’t know how. And most of us aren’t talking about it. We aren’t walking around saying we don’t love ourselves; rather, it’s in our behavior, our way of existing. It’s in our constant quest to be happier, skinner, smarter, and richer— outward expressions of achievement that we reach for, based on some notion that we just aren’t enough as we are. We try and we try to be enough. It is fleeting, the sensation of getting there. How you talk about yourself matters. Start to only talk about the good things and what is going well. See yourself in a more positive light by actively having conversations around your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

Step 3:  Address Your Inner Critic

But it’s not just women who are seemingly unable to love themselves. It’s men, too. And who is the culprit? It’s that mean part of us that says we aren’t worthy, or lovable. The inner critic that creates a playground for lack of self-love. It is the judgmental, critical, and belittling inner dialogue that virtually every person hears running through their mind every day. It became clear that, in order for me to find self-love, I had to look at what was blocking me, which was my own inner critic and the beliefs about myself and how others perceived me. Our inner critics try to sabotage us, they tell us mean things to keep us playing small. To truly build your own self-love practice start by addressing your inner critic and turning the negative voice into a more kind and compassionate one.

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These tips are from Shannon Kaiser’s new book The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen The Self-Love Experiment by Shannon KaiserPrinciples for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself.

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Shannon Kaiser About Shannon Kaiser

Shannon Kaiser is a bestselling author of Adventures for Your Soul and Find Your Happy. She’s an international speaker, retreat leader and teacher. Her newest book The Self-Love Experiment will be released in August 29, 2017.

She’s been named “Top 100 Women to Watch in Wellness,” by MindBodyGreen. Shannon's the founder of www.playwiththeworld.com
named “Top 75 Personal Development Websites,” and “Top 100 Self Help Blogs” by the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Everything Shannon does is to help you connect to your true self and unapologetically live your authentic purpose.