The One Ingredient Necessary for Accepting Yourself

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Recently I was surfing an online forum, and I came across something that almost made me cry. Somebody had dug up an old, old post of mine and replied to it. Sometimes new users on a forum don’t look at the date on a old post, and they respond to it as if it were still relevant, so the post goes to the top of the first page in the list, even if it’s years old.

Those of you who read online forums have seen this happen many times, I’m sure, and so had I. But this one gave me an instant lump in the throat.

The post was called, “My Struggle.”

The desperate tone of the post stunned me. I couldn’t believe it was me.

In it, I had spilled my guts to everyone who would listen, over my dissatisfaction with myself and my life. I hated how I never finished anything, never got on a roll, never got good at what I wanted to be good at. I was not able to accept myself, because to accept myself meant that what I was doing (and failing to do) was fine. 

Of course I wasn’t fine with it. I knew I was squandering my time and my talents, and it was killing me. I didn’t feel like I could get anywhere until I loved myself, and I didn’t feel like I could love myself until I got somewhere.

People advised me to decide to accept who I was, right now, and then I’d be free to live the life I want. I tried to do that. In fact, I did it a lot. I would get so worked up with enthusiasm about myself that I felt unstoppable.  But enthusiasm fades.  After a few days, the same patterns emerged again, and I was back to square one.  This went on for years.

I’ve seen countless others describe the same problem. You can’t just decide to suddenly feel good about yourself. It won’t work.

I can see now the mistake people make in trying to love themselves, it’s exactly what I did. They confuse self-love with how they feel about themselves. They want the warm, comfortable feeling of being loved. They are focused on receiving love from themselves, rather than giving it.

If You Have Trouble Loving Yourself

Know this:

Love is action.

Self-love is not how you feel about yourself. It’s what you do for yourself. You can only love yourself by doing, not thinking. Execute feats of love, feats of respect, for your own benefit.

First of all, worship your body. There is nothing on this earth you will ever do that does not require its cooperation.  Be nice to it. Get it into great shape. Don’t poison it, don’t abuse it, don’t neglect it. An unwillingness to worship your body will undermine any attempt to love yourself. Love it with your actions, or it won’t love you back. If you are rude to it, it will hinder you, embarrass you, and even kill you.

Learn. Endow yourself with skills, languages, abilities and arts. Developing skills is the most immediate and liberating way to shoot your self-esteem through the roof. What qualities would make you love or admire someone else? Kindness, humor, thoughtfulness, ability? Cultivate and improve those qualities.

A lot of people seem to think indulging or gratifying yourself is the same as loving yourself. Magazines and commercials say “Love yourself,” or “You’re worth it,” and then tell you to buy something or eat chocolate cake. Finding some reward and indulging in it is not love. Often it’s just abuse. Comforting yourself is not loving yourself. Beware the draw of comfort; seeking comfort is often a response to fear, not love. Don’t appease yourself, revere yourself.

Do work you love. Even if you make less money. Even if you disappoint others. Working a job for which you have no passion is betraying yourself, for eight hours a day. Nobody can love themselves while they subject themselves to forty hours of uninspiring work every week. If it isn’t practical to leave your current line of work just yet, start planning your escape now. That’s love. Do not resign a third of your life to someone else’s purpose. Dignity is worth any pay cut. If you don’t like your job, you are only getting better at being resentful.

The Respect Habit

The quality of your actions matters. Do everything with care. Pick up and put down objects as if you respect them. Don’t just drop yourself into a seat, sit down with purpose. Respect everything you buy, borrow, give away or dispose of.

Respect your time. Spend your time on things that put you into a better situation in life, on things that make you more capable, rather than on things that make you feel good for the moment. You will love yourself for doing this.

Respect other people.

Respect their skills and their virtues. Their flaws too. Respect their thoughts. Let them finish what they are saying, don’t interrupt, don’t be dismissive. Try to understand what they’re getting at. Let them be who they are. I am convinced that people are exactly as judgmental about themselves as they are about others. Find the value in others, or you will never see it in yourself. Forget the ways in which you would like other people to be different. Forgive them, and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself every time you wake up, and every time you go to bed. Forgive yourself every time you screw up.

Respect the world around you. The spectacles, the scenes, the details. Respect buildings and the people who built them. Respect businesses and the people who run them. Respect the trees. Respect the tiny, yellow-flowered weed that vehemently persists in thrusting itself up through the cracks in the sidewalk. It invests all its energy in growing, and it absolutely insists on being itself.

Love is picking up the dumbells the moment you start making excuses. Love is doing your scariest task first thing in the morning.

It’s not quitting early and treating yourself to a beer.  It’s not telling yourself it’s okay for your apartment to be a pigsty.

There is a choice in every moment, between acting out of love, or out of fear.  At any instant, you can stop and look at the moment, and it is clear which action is which.  You will make a habit out of choosing one or the other.

You won’t be able to have respect if you do not make a habit of recognizing value.  There is value in every person, object, place and moment, but you may miss it if you hold faults to be more important.

Find the endless value in the world around you, and it will be easy to find the endless value in yourself. Eventually you will no longer see a difference between the two.

Photo by DerrickT


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{ 114 Comments }

Nadia - Happy Lotus March 24, 2009 at 7:38 am

Hi David,

I used to struggle with the whole love yourself concept too (I think we all do but no one admits it). I felt that other people had it and I could not wonder why I didn’t have it. The more someone told me to love myself, the more I hated myself for not loving myself.

Then as life would have it, I realized that I was trying too hard to be something I wasn’t. Thus began a journey to discover me, the true me. So much stuff happened on that journey such as traveling all over the world, taking care of my mom as she dealt with terminal cancer and so on. Then one day, I realized that somehow along that crazy journey, I had made peace with myself and felt love for myself. The interesting thing is that once I felt that peace, it made it so easy to truly love other people without condition.

I think we all have to accept who we are but we don’t know who we are unless we try. The steps you mentioned are perfect!

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Kim March 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

David, this was beautiful and inspiring…as I’ve always found you to be of course.
Love is action indeed. Towards you, towards others and the Universe will give it back as deserved.
I found myself nodding my head as I was reading and vaguely remebering some of these points coming up in our conversation the other night.
Love and respect are qualities that don’t get the credit they deserve in this consumer driven, media oriented society. Treating every aspect of our lives from people to objects this way rather than just indulging empty desires could radically change this world.
I adored that you mentioned respect of growing things as being important too as ‘man’ seems to believe we are so above nature when we are all quite a part of it.
I hope to see a great deal more love and respect happen globally in my lifetime.

*hug*

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Sumedh March 24, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Dude…I absolutely love it…

I had been treating myself like shit and basically doing the opposite of most of the things in this post for the last month or so and I just became determined to change the pattern…this post put so many of my thoughts (and some new great thoughts) into clear words….

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Frances March 25, 2009 at 8:18 am

It’s interesting when you read something you forgot you even wrote. You have a new perspective and you can see the situation so clearly, both as the person who was in it, and the person who has moved past it.

I’ve only just come upon your blog, but I’m finding that the more I read, the more I realize how similar our experiences are.

Great post.

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David March 25, 2009 at 8:44 am

@Frances — It was actually really creepy to read that old post. It made me remember how we’re all constantly becoming different people as time passes. I feel bad for the young man who wrote that post.

@Sumedh — Yeah, I can relate. It’s some kind of sick irony: the times in my life when I wanted to love myself the most were the times when I was the most disrespectful to myself.

@Kim — You always have a way of making me think I’m awesome. Thanks! :)

@Nadia — You’re right, trying to be what you aren’t will sabotage any attempts at self-love. Can you believe there was a time when I was certain my calling was to be in the Air Force? Hah!

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Nadia - Happy Lotus March 25, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Air Force? Wow…so why did you go with being an anthropologist? I just have to ask! I love to hear about how people find their calling. I hope you don’t mind. :)

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David March 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I thought airplanes were cool. When I was a teenager I couldn’t think of anything cooler than the thought of flying a jet for a living. I figured that meant I was supposed to be a pilot.

At the time, I had an aversion to people in general that prevented me from being interested in them the way I am today. Now they fascinate me.

Before that I thought I wanted to be an archaeologist because I like Indiana Jones so much. I remember being disappointed when I looked at archaeology books and didn’t see any pictures of rolling boulders and exploding jeeps.

It’s all a learning process.

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Nadia - Happy Lotus March 25, 2009 at 3:56 pm

You are right, it is a learning process. I can relate to how you had an aversion to people. I went through that too as a teenager and now I think people are so beautiful…each in their own way. Where ever I go, I end up talking to all kinds of people and it is great to see how each of their lives has an interesting story.

It is interesting that everyone I meet who has found happiness, pretty much have similar experiences. Pretty cool.

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Lisis March 29, 2009 at 7:51 am

Hi, David! I love this post, like all your posts… you have such a soothing, old-sould tone in your writing. I have always kept diariest (the pen and paper kind) so I often come across things I wrote a long time ago and, like you, feel so sorry for that younger me. Still, it’s nice to consider how far we have come.

I have an example of the Respect Habit you mentioned, “The quality of your actions matters. Do everything with care. Pick up and put down objects as if you respect them.” While I was in Costa Rica my sister in law commented that she loves to see me preparing food because it happens almost in slow motion. I carefully select the ingredients, removing any little part that isn’t as I’d like it to be. I gingerly place the items on the cutting board and slowly slice through them, making sure each piece is the way I want it. The opposite of fast food, to be sure, but it is a meditative process for me. I pour TLC into the meals I prepare and it is palpable to those who consume them.

As an aside… I am impressed with your spirit of adventure (Air Force? Indiana Jones exploding jeeps?) Awesome!

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David March 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Hi Lisis,

Welcome to Raptitude. I’ve been enjoying your blog too.

Yes, cooking is an awesome way to practice the respect habit. I love the process; simple tools, colorful foods, rich smells and textures… I find it very easy to stay mindful when I cook.

I think you are right: you can taste the care and respect that is put into a meal. If more people included TLC they wouldn’t need to use MSG.

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Andrea Owen March 30, 2009 at 10:59 pm

“I can see now the mistake people make in trying to love themselves, it’s exactly what I did. They confuse self-love with how they feel about themselves. They want the warm, comfortable feeling of being loved. They are focused on receiving love from themselves, rather than giving it.”

I read that paragraph 4 times until I understood what you meant. Beautifully said.

I think what you call self-love, I call self-care. To me, they are two different things. We must care (emotion) and take care (action) before we can love ourselves.

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Daniel Edlen May 26, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Is as does, indeed. Something great about this blog… I also like how you respond to comments as much as you do. Great, GREAT to meet you.

Peace.
@vinylart

Daniel Edlen’s last blog post..Baby News(letter)

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David May 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Thank you Daniel, that’s quite a compliment, and it means a lot to me. That’s what I like to do: find people with whom my work resonates, and get to know them better. I know there are a lot of them out there, and I love it when they speak up. If I can make some people smile a thousand miles away, it means I did something awesome.

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Mike June 23, 2009 at 8:28 am

This is an awesome post. Very helpful for me. Stressing taking action is huge – something that I think most people neglect. Good intentions are great, but they get you nowhere without quality invested time and action.

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David June 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Hi Mike, I’m glad you found it helpful.

Action was what was missing my whole life. I was trying to reason my way to self-acceptance, but the real problem was that my behavior was disrespectful to myself. I didn’t use my time well, and I couldn’t possibly feel good about myself until I stopped being so thoughtless with my life.

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Lee August 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Your article was amazing. God could not have said it better. I will take it to heart and use it for inspiration. I think I might pin it to my refrigerator or somewhere I’ll see it everyday. It was just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

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David August 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Wow, thanks Lee. For most articles I really have to roll up my sleeves to write, edit, and revise them. Once in a while they just come out whole, like this one, and I know that I was able to find exactly what I was trying to say. This is one of my favorites and I’m glad it meant something to you.

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Chantal October 3, 2009 at 6:43 pm

I just discovered your blog and I am really enjoying reading through your posts. A lot of what you’re saying rings so true to me. I hope you are in a better frame of mind that you were in your original post… you have certainly made an impression on me and I will be bookmarking this post to remind myself to be good to myself and others. :)

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Nea | Self Improvement Saga November 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm

David,

This was such a wonderful article. I, too, have struggled with the concept of true self love. People often tell you to love yourself as if it is something that you know how to do. But, as you mentioned, it is a very involved process. Your article is a great guide to help those who aren’t sure where to start. Keep inspiring!

Nea
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..Positive News Stories – A Welcome Change =-.

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David November 15, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Thanks Nea. This is one of my first articles, and it’s still a favorite.

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Anton December 5, 2009 at 1:31 pm

You’ve done quite a great job on your blog. But dont you think that those who spend a lot of time writing can not physicaly have a time for the actual action? With the exception of the greatly effective individuals.

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David December 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Hi Anton. I’m not sure what you mean. We all have the same 24 hours every day. Everyone has time, just different priorities.
.-= David´s last blog ..Two Simple Tricks to Be More Comfortable in Your Own Skin =-.

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DeAnna December 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm

I just read your blog entry today and must say that I was in exactly the same situation not but two years ago. I’m always amazed: everyone lives life almost the same ways (people go through similar life events & make similar revelations) and yet are insistent in focusing on differences between themselves and those around them.

I came to love myself in a way that probably was not healthy yet it happened. I planned to commit suicide in the summer of 2009 I made that plan in Oct. of 2008. I was very depressed and saw no reason to live my relatives could get on without me. I knew my student loans were voided if I died so I set out over the next 7 months to plan. But most importantly I breathed the air more deeply…I enjoyed the bird songs more…I enjoyed everyone single second of the meager life I lived because I knew that it was my last holiday season…my last christmas, my last new year’s celebration, my last spring solstice. Over those months I spent money on myself in ways that I would never have done before. I’m a big penny pincher and I hate to spend money. But for the first time I bought frivolous things like flowers and needed things like clothing that I had put off buying.

When my planned date arrived I looked around and the depression had lifted, I enjoyed my own company and I truly loved myself. I no longer wanted to end my life. I have my ups and downs but spending quality time enjoying Life for what it is lead me to enjoy myself and all my flaws.

It has been an amazing year and I have transformed. I hope other people find ways to transform themselves and learn to love themselves. Hopefully not in the same way that I did but hopefully in some way.

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David December 29, 2009 at 12:00 am

DeAnna, your comment left a lump in my throat. Thanks for sharing. It’s been said suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Some people don’t survive the hard times. Congratulations, you made it.

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Jan January 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

David, you are positively amazing!! If I had asked for the exact help I needed it couldn’t have been more right on. I’ve been doing everything I could think of to love myself more, but it took your post to dawn on me that what I’ve been doing to myself is much like spoiling a child….as much as you love them and want them to be happy, giving into their whims is not really showing them love….and what you get in return is not love and respect from them, it is whining spoiled brat!
What a big difference this is going to make in my life. Respect for myself and doing the right thing for myself …..it seems so simple, but it took your gentle, yet powerful post to bring it to my attention…Thank you so much…I will post this (and some of your others) on the wall by my computer to re-read often.
As an earlier commenter said, you do seem like an wise and kind old soul….I wish I could give you a hug.

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David January 14, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Hey thanks Jan. I’m glad this post struck a chord. I hope it opens a door for you.

You can hug me anytime, you just have to come to New Zealand and track me down :)

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Nemo January 28, 2010 at 10:58 pm

You seem to point out one profound truth after another. ‘wise and kind old soul’ is exactly how I would have thought of you before seeing your picture. Be glad you have discovered these truths early in your life rather than in old age, when you would have nothing but regret for not acting on them in your youth. Your are fortunate for having figured this out.

by the way thanks for sharing with the rest of us who probably never would have figured it out.

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SUNNY February 24, 2010 at 12:57 am

you have written good article but it tells you have to learn more and then comment on self love because you are preaching like you know all about self love and nobody knows more better than you . self love. you are passing frustration off self love off you . i think you need more peace off mind and love to become more beautiful as human being. all the best for your life let gods unconditional love shines from you.

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David February 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Who needs more what now?

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Sunny February 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm

woah, I clicked because it said “sunny” left a comment on something, and I was like, “I don’t remember commenting on that article…” and lo and behold, someone else under that name.
.-= Sunny´s last blog ..Tuesday Night Tunes =-.

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Sunny February 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm

also, I disagree completely with the other “sunny’s” comment.

No one knows everything about self love, its a personal journey for every single person, and I really don’t believe he’s acting as if he knows everything, but rather writing and suggesting based on his own experiences.
.-= Sunny´s last blog ..Tuesday Night Tunes =-.

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David February 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Haha, it sure didn’t sound like you.

It’s funny… most of the hostile comments I get are from people who tell me I need God’s love.

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Karo June 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

“Respect other people.

Respect their skills and their virtues. Their flaws too. Respect their thoughts. Let them finish what they are saying, don’t interrupt, don’t be dismissive. Try to understand what they’re getting at. Let them be who they are. I am convinced that people are exactly as judgmental about themselves as they are about others. Find the value in others, or you will never see it in yourself. Forget the ways in which you would like other people to be different.”

I know this is sort of an old post, but I forget things alot, so I revisit them eventually… often having new variables to factor into the equation.
In this instance, I read an article today that legitimately bothered me. Not the kind of “irk” you move on from, but a genuine weight of disgust and hopelessness.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1211104/Think-men-unfaithful-sex-A-study-shows-WOMEN-biggest-cheats–theyre-just-better-lying-it.html

Assuming you do get a chance to read all of that, note the obvious tone of this post. It is suggesting that lying and cheating are virtuous. I know this person doesn’t speak for ALL women. But they certainly give the impression that MOST do feel this way. Even my OWN girlfriend, who preaches the importance of honesty 24/7, I’ve caught trying to hide things from me several times.

I identified with this comment:

“So the gist of this is cheating on your partner is Ok, lying to them is Ok and if you do both these things without them finding out then you’re not a cheater or a liar but ‘psychologically sophisicated’? And all this cheating and lying is good for everyone?
‘k.”

- Dee, Newcastle, 06/9/2009 13:08

So as much as I do want to respect others and give them the benefit of the doubt, I’m always stumbling across more and more reasons not to. And if that unified respect is such a vital help in the journey to accept oneself… I most certainly need some help over here.

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hZ June 28, 2010 at 4:05 am

if women are the biggest cheats, then a lot of them must be lesbians, because it takes two to tango!
maybe men are just the biggest liars in surveys.

greetings from mare is.

ps. your wisdom is beautiful. i do not think i am strong enough to do it, though. wishing not to wake up again

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Cara June 30, 2010 at 9:13 am

What they say is true: When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

I discovered your blog a couple of days ago and am suddenly sitting attentively at my desk, notebook and heart open, pencil in hand.

Finding this is just more reinforcement that there are no accidents. Life is amazing.

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David July 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Glad you finally found me. I’ve been waiting ;)

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caolila July 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Hi David,

I just wanted to thank you for this. Before I met my husband I didn’t know anyone who was even close to considering that loving yourself was an option (that’s a west-coast of Scotland upbringing for you). My husband set me on the right path, (having learnt so many lessons so young himself) and I feel I am heading absolutely in the right direction now. We are conscious for a reason and I am relishing this journey I am on. But it’s helped so much by posts like yours, I am looking forward to the point where I can love people for their weaknesses as much as their strengths. And I LOVE what you have written about looking after our bodies. It is key to a healthier, brigher mind, a clearer perspective and even makes food taste better, am sure of it! Thank you for this, I hope you are having a wonderful week.

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caolila July 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Not sure I meant this as it reads… ‘I am looking forward to the point where I can love people for their weaknesses as much as their strengths’ … but hope you get the sentiment x

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David July 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I am having a wonderful week, now that I think about it. Thanks caolila, same to you.

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Noah September 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Your post is refreshing . . . but it sounds a lot like what Jesus would say. Why not embrace Him and get an additional impact of love and understanding from the Holy Spirit. Then you could love yourself without any guilt of the past and find your joy new every morning.

(I do realize that just because I used the name Jesus, that some people will completely miss the point of what I’m saying and rant about Christianity – go ahead -we won’t be bothered.)

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David September 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

You might be on to something, but I don’t think it’s important to embrace Jesus. I think there is a lot of wisdom in Christian teachings but I don’t understand why they find it so important to get attached to the symbols of the teaching, like the cross, Jesus, and the church. It’s near-sightedness, IMHO, to revere the faces and names and overlook the teaching.

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Noah September 26, 2010 at 6:25 pm

The symbols of Christianity that you are speaking of are representations of complete surrender and unbiased love. In surrender, everything is lost and complete freedom is attained. It is that complete freedom, absent of past personal definitions that allows for your life to completely change shape. You sure are entitled to your opinion, since it is your blog post and all.

I just find it interesting that you have this wisdom yet deny the complete attainment of it through discipleship with Christ. Your post is alluding to the finding a flaw in Christianity. What do you find hard to accept about the free gift of salvation and the chance for complete life renewal? Just a polite question.

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David September 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Christ’s ideas don’t only come from Christ. All the major religions and eastern philosophies point to that same truth. Christ is not important, IMHO, it is what he tried to teach that is important. So I avoid getting attached to any one spiritual tradition. I don’t reject “the free gift of salvation,” I just call it something else and I do not believe that membership in a religion is helpful to that end.

Priyanka Borpujari October 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Hi David, a friend who has been on a spiritual journey as I have been in since the last 7 months (the most difficult and yet as I look back, much-needed and beautiful time of my life), posted your latest article to me. This was 5 hours ago. And while doing other work too, I haven’t for a moment closed the window to this wonderful blog of yours. And this post had to come to me in the perfect time.

The last 7 months, as I look back, have been about plans for me, made Up there, by someone. So all of the learning came to me when I was most ready, and again this post of yours. I loved this particularly because I see myself in that situation of “how do I love myself?” This is tough to admit to the world outside, which perceives me to be someone who is brave, does great work, etc. So it all felt fake because I never saw myself that way. But as you have rightly said, loving is a verb, not a noun. It is a cycle — I work, make myself happy, love myself, hence motivated to work more, which will make me happy, and the cycle continues…

God bless you for your honesty and your desire to let others grow too to their full potential, with the help of your life example.

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Derek R. October 19, 2010 at 12:10 am

Hey David-

Thanks for the wisdom. I too believe that self-love (any love, really) only comes into this world through action. Unfortunately, many people don’t possess an acute self-awareness that can “know” and then potentially intervene in the cascade of self-deprecating thoughts and attitudes that express themselves in our minds. That’s why the development of mindfulness and nonjudgmental awareness seems so key- how can we hope to blunt and change that which happens unconsciously/automatically? A friend of mine also gave me this tip on how to increase self-worth and self-respect: when making decisions (especially when you’re about to make unskillful decisions) ask yourself this question, “what decision would allow me respect myself more?” We almost always know the answer to this question, and every time we act on behalf of our own self-respect its incrementally leading us down the path of self-love.

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janet November 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Maybe you can help me find an answer to the constant question in my head – How do find your passion? i find no interest in anything and if I do find something that interests me, I’m certain I cannot do/succeed at it -

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David November 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

That’s a good question and the only answer I have is to try a lot of things. I didn’t have an identifiable passion until I started this blog and went traveling. Traveling did more for me than anything else. It is a different type of person that you meet when you’re traveling than the ones you tend to meet at home. They’re often very passionate individuals who will give you lots of ideas.

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Barry December 13, 2010 at 8:15 am

Janet
I can really identify with your thoughts because I once felt that way. I was actually pretty successful at most things I did ( so other people told me ) but I personally felt so little satisfaction or fulfilment that I descended into a sort of ‘whats the point of all this?’ mentallity. After many years I realised that all I was doing was coming up with fake solutions. It wasnt the answers I was coming up with that were wrong, it was the questions I was asking myself. Wrong question will never give right answer I finally realised. Seems blindingly obvious but it took me half my life to realise it.
Us humans are absolutely genius when it comes to finding an answer to a problem. Let 99 things out of 100 be perfect and we will give our total focus to the 1 that isnt in order to restore equilibrium to our lives. That may well be a quick patch, which means that when the thin veneer of our temporary solution wears off, lo and behold the problem is still there.
For me happiness came from asking myself the right questions, the right answers seem to have automatically followed.
ps Your already well on your way to happiness because you are questioning yourself in a very fundamental way. Pat yourself on the back Janet!
pps I hope this was ok. Its the first time I have ever done this

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Tobi February 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Hello…

May I start by saying, you are one impressive, inspirational man. I’m new here, and I’m struggling with self hate right now. I don’t feel like it’s hopeless, since I love my body and firmly don’t believe I’m stupid or anything (though I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, lolz). The more I read, the more I realize how much I’m doing wrong! And everything you say makes sense. Thank you for blogging and sharing what you know, so that people like me can stop going about things the wrong way…

I’ve been recommending this blog left and right and I will be coming here all the time. Thank you so much.

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David February 9, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Thanks Tobi. I don’t want to make you feel like you’re doing anything wrong, because we’re all just figuring life out bit by bit, but I’m glad to hear you find this helpful. Thanks so much for recommending Raptitude to people.

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vedapushpa April 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Raptitude to me means . an expressed joy. Joy at being oneself and with a freedom to ‘adapt’ or change one’s attitudes and actions -so as to get Oneself on to a higher degre of one’s own inner Calling.

Thanks for this Page and its contributors. it helped me with ‘getting nearer to myself

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Lucie April 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Trust me, I have read a lot of self-development books and articles.. thousands of pages. And, this might be the best article about self love I have ever read.

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Grace May 6, 2011 at 3:07 am

This post makes a helluva lot of sense, the kind of sense I need right now. Thank you :)

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Soma May 10, 2011 at 11:28 pm

It was said that “You can’t just decide to suddenly feel good about yourself”

But wouldn’t you have to ‘just decide’ to take action? It’s generally the same thing, only David’s advice takes more time.

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David May 10, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Hmm… I have never been able to choose my impression of myself, but I am always fundamentally able to choose what my body does. The capability to pick the clothes up off my floor is always there, unless I convince myself that a good mood or good self-image is a prerequisite for acting in service of myself.

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Sera May 12, 2011 at 12:04 am

Hey David, I’d just like to thank you for your thoughts here. I return to this post often since the first I read it (over a year ago now?), and I always come away with renewed understanding and determination. I’m especially grateful because before I read this, I thought I was doing something “wrong” when it came to loving myself, and now I can see that it’s about loving actions, not just about “happy wishes”. For the first time in a long time, I could say I really love myself, and I owe a large part of this triumph to your words here. Thank you for taking a chance in your life to start a blog like this, and thereby changing a life (or many as the case may be).

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David May 12, 2011 at 6:37 am

It makes me happy to hear that, Sera. I know people read, but I don`t know what it really does for them if they don`t tell me.

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Darla June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

David, I read this aloud to myself twice. With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. So obvious yet so looked over these truths resonated in my soul.I find your writings and point of view inspiring. Even while reading I was like see, even the hurtful post that initially started this was a teacher not just for you but all who have been touched by you experience. Thank you hardly seems adequate. I posted this on my facebook asking all to read. Blessings, Darla

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David June 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

I’m glad it was meaningful for you Darla, and thanks for sharing it with other people.

Now that I think of it, I need to read this post again. Today, especially :)

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Kurt June 23, 2011 at 11:03 am

I recently came out as gay after being married twice over a period of 20 years. I have spent my whole conscious life up to recently fighting against and hating who I was deep down. And how I treated myself about such a fundamental issue also caused me to be short tempered and judgemental about others. I was forwarded this article by a friend and “self-care” is especially relevant as I move forward towards living an honest and accepting life. My immediate concern is in treating my wife as well as possible as we navigate our uncertain future. Although I have made a big mess to clean up, my spirits are up because of the direction I am now heading.

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David June 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

Wow, what a long 20 years that must have been. Good to hear you’ve taken the biggest step. Whatever happens, I hope this article does something to make it easier or at least clearer.

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VJ July 6, 2011 at 12:08 am

I loved this article. I am at a point in my life where I’ve realized that I am lost and need to find myself. Along this path, I’m trying to figure out how to love and accept myself, and simply changing my thoughts has not been helping. I came upon your article, and I am definately going to take your advice to take action. The suggestions you’ve given sound like they will work, but I think some of it will be challenging for me after so many years of habits! Thank you for sharing your insights and giving others a direction. Loved it.

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Robert July 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Hi, I have been fighting with self-love for a long time, resulting in a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress. Like you stated, I couldn’t suddenly decide to love myself and it hurt. As a result, I have spent countless hours ‘googling’ self-love, self-acceptance and so on. No one in the pop psychology (self-help) movement offered an answer beyond “letting go.” However, that time has not been wasted because I just read a self-help book within the few words of your submission. Thank you and wish me luck. I will now “do” not freak out about what I need to do or be. It’s okay to be afraid until the fear passes on its own??
Could you write descriptions of your personal journey that resulted in your current state. I have read the feeling of self-acceptance is wonderful. Do you remember such a moment? You should write a book. Thanks. A little hope feels good.

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dan July 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm

i have not had time to read all the posts today but i’m going to be back. i want to know what true self love is. i have searched many years and many ways only to fall short. thank you

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Alessio August 3, 2011 at 11:03 am

I have a question about a certain part in this post:

“Respect their skills and their virtues. Their flaws too. Respect their thoughts. Let them finish what they are saying, don’t interrupt, don’t be dismissive. Try to understand what they’re getting at. Let them be who they are. I am convinced that people are exactly as judgmental about themselves as they are about others. Find the value in others, or you will never see it in yourself. Forget the ways in which you would like other people to be different. Forgive them, and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself every time you wake up, and every time you go to bed. Forgive yourself every time you screw up.”

Does this mean you have to be friends with them? You forgive them, you respect them, you see their value, but do you have to like them?

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Jane August 30, 2011 at 2:24 am

I’m simplifying here but I’ve found loving yourself comes from trusting yourself, meaning if you lose trust in yourself and who you are, it’ll be extremely hard to love yourself without rediscovering that trust. As you trust yourself more, who you are, flaws and all, it becomes easier to take action, and from that action, as you say David, loving yourself comes.

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YJ October 16, 2011 at 7:37 am

Thank you so much for this post. Thank you, really. This is something I’ve been struggling with. This has been very insightful. I need to develop a bias towards action, and meaningful and productive one at that. I’m bookmarking this page to read everyday.

Thank you for writing this.

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Birgit November 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Dear David,

I found your blog about two weeks ago, when a friend had posted it on facebook. Since then, I have already started to connect to people better than ever before, and generally being happier.

I was at an absolute low this summer, almost to the point of seeing no future. But an amazing transformation has started to take place. I am now looking forward again to the things that might come, and to reading more from you :)

You are such an inspiration. Thanks on my behalf.

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Gert December 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm

What I like most about this post is that it’s so terse. I feel like you summarized every self-improvement text I read before in just a few paragraphs. Your last line “Eventually you will no longer see a difference between the two” is what drove it home for me. Not feeling good enough is what has troubled me, and you just made it clear and simple.

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Ika December 22, 2011 at 11:20 am

There is value in every person, object, place and moment, but you may miss it if you hold faults to be more important.

righteousness and then judgment in consequence- I think this is a bit unexpected legacy of my upbringing by my young, sweet, idealistic parents. ‘always do the good thing’ – so first you have to carefully distinguish the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’.

I am now experimenting with seeing ‘faults’ as just another piece of the whole. It’s there, let’s have it.

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Linda January 23, 2012 at 4:21 am

This morning i opened a book of quotes and landed on one about self acceptance and I tried to think of how I could turn that into something practical… and then I came across this blog and found the answer!
I think this is something we all struggle with at times, some more than others, and me included.
Love your honesty and your straightforward advice and will happily share with others.

Thanks.

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Sally March 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

I know this blog posting is a few years old now, but it’s new to me. I read it a couple weeks ago; it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. I especially liked the bit about how loving yourself is not the same thing as indulging yourself; loving and accepting yourself is really about the action you take to show that love. I have found your other blog postings to be insightful, relatable, and inspirational.

Thank you!
Sally

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Christine May 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Hi, I have only just found your words. I have been struggling with low self-esteem since I was five and I am now 37.
Much of my self-awareness has come from my own searching and reasoning and justification and self-sabotage! I have seen countless therapists seeking the answer to a question I didn’t really want to ask, yet I still went through the motions of believing I was getting closer to finding the happiness I sought.
Over the arduous journey I have single handedly managed to stretch and abuse my body with binge eating, vomiting, over eating and general laziness because I was seeking that comfort you spoke of.
The void within me has been so deep, and the need for filling that void so strong, that I poured years and years of comfort behavior into myself believing that I would eventually feel that fullness and peace happy people must feel!
Now, nearly at 38 I have stumbled upon your words and my life long question has been met with an answer!
I thank you for your wisdom.
I now have a choice to make.
My fear now has a face……mine!

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Dominic Brown May 13, 2012 at 2:48 am

I really enjoyed this writing. Really was food to my soul. Thank you!

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Daniel May 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Thank you. You truly made me think different today.I actually googled this, cause i do feel like this everyday.I just can’t get along with me( if that makes sense at all).While i was reading your post i realised i’m doing the exact opposite of what i should do.As of now i am starting to treat myself better, this being the most important thing.I realised that if i take care of myself and my actions i will be feeling better about myself.Today i just got 15 yrs old and i felt like – and if you excuse my word – shit!But back on the subject, thank you for your inspiring words! You helped me so much!
Oh, and i’m sorry if i’m not speaking english perfectly,I’m from Romania, Europe! Oh, and i’m sorry for bumping a post from 09! :D xD

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Da Young July 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I loved this. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

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londonundrground July 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm

8 July 2012. Better late than never, right? I couldn’t finish reading your article, only snippets. I shouldn’t be on the computer this late. That was one of my goals – not to browse for hours on the internet when I should be doing the dishes and going to bed! Googled Attention Deficit and found your procrastination blog. (Procrastination is Not Laziness) Couldn’t finish reading that one either. But I want to say quickly, thank you. Thank you for writing your feelings down. I hope I get to finish reading the articles one day. Love the Einstien quote: “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”

-Albert Einstein
Thank you.

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Jenn September 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Wow, I love your perspective on this and that you include relevant action rather then the general article that states all the problems you’ll have if you don’t love or accept yourself but no realistic ways to approach a solution.

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Ruth September 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I had just heard Martin Bayne on Fresh Air say that he had an epiphany about turning compassion inward.

I thought “How the heck am I gonna do that?”. I’m going through a rough time and everything kinda sux right now and I’m stuck.

He also said that you can only love others to the degree you love yourself.

So I googled and I found this post. Your blog is great.
And you’re totally right. Gotta love, gotta learn. Gotta do!

THANK YOU.

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hayley September 29, 2012 at 4:59 am

Thank you

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matt parkin October 17, 2012 at 5:48 am

well said …………… appreciation breeds love :)

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kathy January 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Thank you so much for writing this, among other posts. I get inspired every time I read your words. I truly appreciate your writing and I sincerely hope you keep doing this.

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Prudi January 11, 2013 at 1:39 am

Wow, Mr.You just said it well.

Love yourself- not pride yourself!

This thing start from within then it goes outside and then it spread….

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Lisa January 21, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Well! What else can I say, but that I’m blown away!!!!!
I learnt from the time I became aware of anything (about 2 1/2 years old), that I was no good as a human being, from my control freak mother. Every single thing I said, & every single thing I did,was very sharply critised. Nothing about me was acceptable, & I was punished constantly.
I’ve always known that I wasn’t happy, & couldn’t understand where the difference lay between my misery & everybody else’s seeming happiness.
I’ve searched many sites, read many books, seen a few psychologists, you name it – probably spent a few thousand hours, searching.
Now I’m 66, and today, I FOUND YOU!!!!!!!!! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE ????
What a blessing you are! Your whole article relates to me, & what I see
as my shortcomings, shortcomings that I hate, but that I’ve felt incapable somehow of correcting.
I’ll start practising, today, one paragraph at a time, & WOW, HERE COMES THE NEW SHACKLE-LESS ME!
Thankyou so very much for this article David. I’d hoped that I could find the answers while I’m still young enough to take full advantage of them. And thanks to you, I now have.
:) :) :)

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jaco January 27, 2013 at 3:36 am

All I can say is …. thank you ….

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Sarah February 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi/ Dear David.
This post is a breakthrough in my search for aid in healing and growing again. Your words are so meaningful to me and it’s nice thatthey don’t seem so recycled. It’s refreshing and more helpful to read something that isn’t rigid with guilt trips and bad reminders ie. “If you don’t do this you’ll suffer.” I’ve learnt a lot from this post about value and how to apply it. Thank you for sharing, I don’t feel hope usually, but there’s a spark now :)
I am currently and completely struggling to live in love, compassion and outside of my head. I’ve been racking the internet to find guidance and strong and helpful tools I can use to aid in finding the person who I remember, vaguely, I use to be; the person I truely am. I have just finished destroying my life and reflecting back back on it. I see a sickening and terrifying reality infront of me. Friends; close, beautiful loving friends are leaving, having had enough… the lonliness, inadequacy and obsession I had in my head, had openly manifested in my behaviour. Now i’m on the outside looking in, what a terrible person I’ve become. I can’t believe how much negativity I’ve created and poisoned myself and my closest friends around me with. I blamed those who were supposed to care about me but didn’t. Yet I was the one asserting inferiority and aggression and committing emotional and physical abuse. This is how I “coped” or “dealt” with feeling disrespected. Apparently a perfectly valid reaction to any “unjust” situation. People always see or saw the goodness in me and I believed that they were all out to get me or that i’m not worth anything. Or I would feel like a horrendous disappointment for not upholding the value they saw in me and go ahead and punish, punish, punish. Firstly myself and then my anguish in turn burdened others :/ I have done so many bad things and I’m trying to just damn stop and create a new history. Can it be done @ 25? I’ve made such a terrible image of myself my whole life. I wish I had never gone so far as to have given up on myself, it’s relentlessly painful. Thank you at least that I can find a start or an answer in your post

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Ani February 27, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Thank you for this post. Your post really summarizes a lot of things about self-love and helps in overcoming another block in my journey of self-love. I’ve been exploring self-love for a long time and have found great progress with it. Great work.

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David March 31, 2013 at 9:16 am

Hi David, Greetings from Brazil. Thank you very much for these words. They´ll help me a lot!

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Joules April 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Absolutely!

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Tom April 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Hi, I’d like to ask you what your thoughts are if not loving oneself is because of the following statement:

“If you are rude to it, it will hinder you, embarrass you, and even kill you”

What if this is the root cause and the fact someone has destroyed their body, their self-image and lost all respect for themselves and hinders them every day?

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Sarah April 22, 2013 at 9:25 am

I want to read these words every day until they become involuntary thought. Keep on, sir.

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http://mhelgarrido.blogspot.com May 13, 2013 at 4:32 am

It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve
read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or tips.
Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article.
I wish to read more things about it!

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Jaq May 14, 2013 at 1:59 am

I remember learning quite young that lots of people in my life paid lip service to love. It was entirely different when love was backed up by action. Thank you for your post, it brings to life what I feel I’ve known all along and now just realising.

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Jaq May 14, 2013 at 1:59 am

I remember learning quite young that lots of people in my life paid lip service to love. It was entirely different when love was backed up by action. It is no different when applied to self.

Thank you for your post, it brings to life what I feel I’ve known all along and now just realising.

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Galina May 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

That is amazingly beautiful! Pure magic! THANK YOU!

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Lauren May 25, 2013 at 3:13 am

This is exactly what I needed to hear after 4 mobths of not being sure if I’d ever return to what I had. Start of the year I was on ‘fire’ and really happy with where I was at. It was because I was doing things and injecting that self-love into my blood. Getting a lil distracted, which does happen to me quickly turned into being completely confused n allowing self-doubt back into my life. To think I knew the code to staying happy to completely losing all trust in my ability to ‘get back’ there was a scary feeling.. I’ve just come across this post and can’t thank you enough.. because it really has just given me thos no. to unlock the code again :) best wishes to everyone on their journey!

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James July 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Hello I’m very interested in reading the article you spoke about in the beginning and the comment you got for it, can you please send me the link… Thank you…

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Alex July 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Hey, just wanted to let you know that this is the best article I have read in a while. It moved me to tears. Thank you.

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jessica July 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm

hello, im only 21 and to be honest ive not had a great start in life. recently ive allowed life’s stresses and anxiety hit me more then once. i seeked help on how to love myself and to cancel any negative thought or comment i make about me. your post was the 1st one that popped up and i can now see why! your advice deserves recognition and gratitude from others as you are actually helping people for free. you have now become my inspiration and your words have now formed a place in my heart. I have become a shy but angry person through selfish and hurtful actions from others but starting from now i am going to brush away the dirt and start to live my life the way i should. people worry too much about the smallest yet simplest things. at the end of the day we all end up the same way. we all have life in common and caring for yourself as well as others helps to enjoy the ride and enjoy the memories created along the way. life is for living not hiding. thank you because you have opened my eyes, heart and soul. im now a new person! x

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Anna van Niekerk September 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Your words speak unbelievably clearly to me. I periodically reread this article just to find my footing again. Thank you.

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Anabelle October 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

This is amazing and very inspiring post. Thank you for spreading the good energy around the virtual world. I wish you all the best in life! :)

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Renee November 3, 2013 at 1:12 am

So very grateful for this post. It is exactly what I needed tonight. I’m so relieved to know I’m not the only one who has struggled in this exact manner. Specifically the dissatisfaction and squandering of time and talents. The ‘guide to self-love’ given was not only on-point, but user-friendly. So relevant, applicable. Now to encounter an “aha moment” regarding what to do with my life………

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Vivian November 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Loved this, and is exactly what I need to read. Offered a perspective for me – that self love isn’t just thinking it but acting on it. Thank you!

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Scott December 4, 2013 at 11:55 am

What an epiphany. Exactly what I needed to read just now. Thank you so much.

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Mike December 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I like to disseminate understanding that I’ve accrued with the season
to help enhance group functionality.

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情趣用品 January 1, 2014 at 2:01 am

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here on this post. I shall be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.

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chaithanya January 5, 2014 at 7:04 am

After reading this page. I could just say only word to you. Thank you.

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David Cain January 5, 2014 at 11:02 am

That’s two!

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d January 29, 2014 at 10:02 am

I have read every post on this site about loving and accepting yourself.

It makes me truly sad that there are so many that responded to this post who have gone through a part of perhaps their whole life not feeling good about themselves.
I know that I once felt like that because I had no spiritual upbringing as a child, and didn’t realize that their was a higher power that loved me or had my back.

I can tell you I wasted a lot of time with my negative thoughts, limiting beliefs how not being good enough, and it truly was a waste! Please hear this… even the author of this post says that he doesn’t believe in Jesus being the son of God, but somehow he believes in God?
I promise you that you have it all wrong. You don’t have to sit with your unhappy personal situation, because you don’t accept or love yourself. Generally people like that have such low self esteem, that their eyes are clouded from the truth.
You want to love and accept yourself? The ONLY way is to allow your higher power into your life so that you will feel unconditional love and know that you are worth every precious moment that you spend on this earth.
When the bible talks about accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and to admit your sins…sin really means (in the original Aramaic version of the Bible) miss the mark. so if you have missed the mark somewhere in your life, and cannot find peace and love for yourself, I urge you to go to this website and just read. You will find that there is a love waiting for you that will help you rise above all the negative thoughts that you hold for yourself.

Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin- (missing the mark) . Through Him we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our life.

He Died in Our Place
“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 5

He Rose From the Dead
“Christ died for our sins…He was buried…He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures…He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred…” 6

He Is the Only Way to God
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’” 7

This diagram illustrates that God has bridged the gulf which separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

God loves you and wants you to be whole. He designed you in a way that there is a void in your life that can only be filled up by God.
Please go to this site and you will see and discover the difference in living a unconditional loved life, rather than the one you have now.

http://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally/index.htm

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Erna February 10, 2014 at 3:01 am

Hi David,

Amazing post and old one. But good ones are everlasting. One thing I wanted to mention never mix self love with high standards or perfectionism as ” It’s not telling yourself it’s okay for your apartment to be a pigsty.” Yes it can be pigsty sometimes, accepting means you are flawed perfectly and you can be everything in good or bad days. Somedays doing what you like, somedays just sitting on your sofa and chilling and let yourself be. So is this comfort with fear in it? I don’t think so. As perfection for striving everything to be good or wrapped “self loving” also can be defense from your fear. I believe everything starts from your self image, what you think about yourself, not feeling. Self love in action comes along in this way ;)

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Julia Lagoutte February 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Hi David, thanks for this amazing post. All your stuff inspires me and is incredibly full of wisdom.
However, I am not sure about the idea that you should never do a job you don’t love. I feel this could be quite an elitist point of view. Many many jobs in the world that need doing are not going to be loved. An example could be a cleaner, a fast food worker, a bouncer… I’m not saying noone could love these jobs, but they are probably not the passion and inspiration of the people who have them.
I think this view can devalue ordinary jobs and engender a fairly elitist notion of what work is. I also think it allows an exploitative atmosphere in academia and the arts world whereby work is seen as reward in itself and workers are undervalued and underpaid. Even if you love being a lecturer – it’s still work.
This article explains it really really well: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/01/do_what_you_love_love_what_you_do_an_omnipresent_mantra_that_s_bad_for_work.html

thanks! all the peace and love, and thank you again for such a wonderful blog.

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David Cain February 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Hi Julia. I’m glad you liked it. I’ve read the article you mention and I actually had a lot to say about it, as well as the concept of doing work you love:

http://www.raptitude.com/2014/01/6-should-be-common-sense-realities-about-doing-what-you-love-for-a-living/

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Drago April 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Wow,this hits home…You have been very precise and open about life and love and us.Peace to you.

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