Anna Barnes, author of How to Fall In Love With Yourself: A Self-Acceptance Journal, shares her actionable advice on how to dismiss negativity and focus on what’s good for you.
The following is an extract from How to Fall In Love With Yourself: A Self-Acceptance Journal, by Anna Barnes.
How do we know what’s good for us and what we should think, feel, say and do? Do we learn this from parents, school, peers? From what we read or see on screen? Or from all of the above? It’s certainly a conundrum that has become all the more difficult due to the constant bombardment of points of view, standards, morals and general information overload we experience these days.
Sifting through the junk to discover our true selves and what’s good for us can be like searching for that proverbial needle in a haystack. It can lead us to feeling like we’re treading water and not really going anywhere.
Not knowing what to do with your life or what to do next can hit you at any age. But it doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause (although it can feel like it). This chapter will help you to navigate your way out of the brain fog and get moving in the right direction toward a happy and fulfilled life.
Good stuff/bad stuff
Lists are a great way to bring clarity to your thoughts and help find a clear path to sustained happiness. Writing a list of the good and bad things in your life can be cathartic and revealing. Remember, this is your journal so you can write whatever you want – don’t let any niggling worries about what other people might think try to alter your view on what’s good for you – this is for you.
When you have finished your list, rate each thing out of ten and then order them by score to give you a Top Ten of the best things in your life and a Top Ten of the worst things in your life. What would your life be like if you had more of the best things and fewer of those bad things?
Ask yourself: are those bad things useful? (There will always be things in our lives that we are not keen on but are necessary or good for you all the same.) And if they’re not, can you drop them? Self-care is about recognizing the things that aren’t working, the things that drain you, or the things that have just hung around and you’ve brushed to the side for too long. It’s time to deal with those things, and live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Think of self-love as though it’s a plant needing to be nourished and nurtured. A little watering and loving care each day helps the plant to flourish and maintain its strength and longevity. In exactly the same way, self-love needs tending to help it grow and bloom.
And it can’t be done in isolation; fulfilment so often comes from helping others, building relationships and being part of a supportive, like-minded group. Sharing your skills with others, providing an empathetic ear to someone in need, or simply volunteering your time to a good cause, can all help to grow your self-love and feelings of goodwill in your life as a whole. Research has shown that people who help others have improved self-worth and even live longer!
What acts of kindness could you do for others today? Think about the people in your life who would appreciate a phone call, a funny meme or a small pick-me-up, whether it’s a compliment, a homemade gift or a bar of their favourite chocolate. Little things can really make a big difference. Reach out to your friends and family and feel your self-love soar.
Celebrate your uniqueness
Being your authentic self means living for you rather than for or through anyone else. It’s about forging your own path and living up to your own expectations, rather than those imposed upon you.
But where do you start? It doesn’t always come naturally, as we worry that the world won’t accept us if we are true to ourselves. In a recent study by psychologists on self-awareness, the results showed that only ten per cent of us are self-aware and therefore in alignment with our true selves. How can this number be so low? Are we all too scared to express ourselves? It would seem so. So how do we change that?
This is where self-acceptance comes in – when you love and accept yourself fully, and embrace the fact that you are perfectly imperfect, you can begin to celebrate your wonderful self.
Here are some affirmations to live by:
♥ I am true to my values.
♥ I will not shy away from speaking my mind.
♥ I will seek support when I need it.
♥ I admit my mistakes and they won’t stop me from reaching for my dreams.
♥ I am guided by what is important to me.
♥ I know my strengths and I am proud of every one.
♥ I say no to the things that sap my energy and happiness.
♥ I feel all my feelings.
Stop looking at others and thinking, “I want what she’s got!”
Continually striving for perfection, which in itself is an impossible goal, will prevent you from being happy and deny you the opportunity to feel good about everything you have achieved. One of the most common traits of perfectionism is comparing yourself with others – feeling inferior because someone has a better job, a bigger house or more money than you… the list goes on! This steers you away from looking at all the positive things happening in your life.
Everybody is on their own journey; we can only try to be the very best versions of ourselves. Take the opportunity to recognize and list what you are good at, and areas in your life that could be improved. Writing these things down can help you to see where you are on your own journey – how far you’ve come, and where you want to go next.
How to Fall in Love With Yourself: A Self-Acceptance Journal, £10.99 is published by Summersdale Publishers and is available to buy from 23 August.
Images: Getty, Summersdale Publishers