This week I got some very sad news. I heard of the unexpected and early death of one of my most important mentors, Graham Browne. He died in his Australian home last Sunday of a heart attack. It was really shocking news not just for me but for all the people he had helped over the years delivering his personal development courses including the Turning Point, Point of Choice and Point of Mastery.
All week Facebook has been busy with an outpouring of love and shared experiences for this wonderful man and condolences to his wife and young children. I am sharing this with you because it was Graham who switched on the light for me around self-esteem and self worth.
I attended his workshop over 20 years ago and right in the middle of it had a moment of enlightenment. I suddenly “got” that I was a worthwhile human being, I didn’t have to prove it and I was (and still am) worthy of love. That was the first moment that I even liked myself let alone loved myself.
The idea of loving yourself is often uncomfortable to embrace. Many of our social injunctions go against self love seeing it as self centred or selfish. We may have received unhelpful messages in childhood about not showing off when all we were doing was expressing our joy of life or wanting to connect. When we recognise our own value as a human being we are much more likely to treat our bodies well resulting in health and vitality.
Sadly many of us will have said things to ourselves like “I’ll love myself when I’m thin”. Or we have believed our life will improve based just on a number on the scale. Paradoxically we need to do it the other way around. As we live a fulfilling life and get engaged in doing things we love we often lose weight. When we love ourselves in that we recognise our intrinsic value our bodies often respond by letting go of that protection I talked about last week because we have new ways of staying safe.
Here is the most startling news of all, people who love and respect themselves are often the least selfish people of all. When we recognise our own intrinsic value it allows us to recognise the value of other people too. We treat others with love and respect. As my old mentor Graham would say, “when we let go of the need to be special and different we become special by being ordinary”. In other words we are all special.
Selfish behaviour arises from self loathing where we can only feel better at the expense of someone else. Loving yourself may result in you deciding to put in boundaries that were not there before. This may cause other people to react negatively. Such negative reactions say more about the other person than you. If you are standing up for yourself you are treating yourself with respect, if people are used to taking advantage of you they may try to get you go back to your old ways. Sadly when we have spent a life treating ourselves with disrespect we may have chosen to spend time with people also treat us badly. Sometimes we need to change who we spend time with, at other times the people around us respond positively and are inspired to make similar changes in their own lives. As I have often said my parents have not been on any personal development courses and yet they seem to have changed!
It is as if we all pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, as we change shape the other pieces around us change shape too or fit into a different puzzle.
So how do we move in a space of loving ourselves?
This may surprise you, on one level you just need to decide to do it! And then act as if you do love yourself already by treating yourself with care and respect. Often we will need support from others however the first step must come from within. We need to accept our own unique value and appreciate what we have to offer to the world. We all have something to offer even if we haven’t up until now put ourselves out there. Engage with others and engage with yourself.
And if you are reading this and thinking “that doesn’t apply to me because I am unlovable” then hear this. You are lovable! It is merely outdated thinking and programming that has convinced you otherwise, you have as much value as any other person born. No more, no less. It is an illusion that we are different, we are all the same in terms of value and worth. What you get to decide is what you do with that value and worth.
Start small if you like and today with every action you take whether it is preparing a meal or spending time in an activity or with others ask yourself a question.
“Is this respectful and loving to me in a way that nourished my spirit and well being?”
If the answer is “no” consider doing something else.
The workshops I experienced with Graham are still around in the UK today led by his successor, Mark Reeves. If you would like to know more check out their website.
If you would like to know more about the personal development courses we run details can be found on our website