Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” Do you stand in your own sunshine? I have. And for that, I paid a price. In the past, I allowed the opinions, beliefs, and expectations of others to guide me instead of honoring myself and standing in my own truth. I even dabbled in self-sabotage.

But experience has taught me many things. First and foremost, loving myself is the key to ALL.

We’ve heard the words: “love yourself.” But to me, for a long time, they were just that— words. I mean, I knew intellectually: of course I love myself, but I never really felt it in my heart. That was the difference. And boy, it’s a huge difference! There’s a Sioux legend that says, “The longest journey you will ever make is from your head to your heart.”

Before cancer, I believed in my heart but lived from my head. It was only after the journey of cancer and almost dying that I learned to truly love myself and live from my heart.

So, how do we learn to love ourselves? There are many paths. Nurturing self-love is essential in order to raise your consciousness and vibration. One way I learned to love myself is from the wonderful book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitments to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. But instead of expressing heartfelt commitment to your mate, which is important, I’ve changed it to: how to express heartfelt commitment to yourself.

Chapman explains the five love languages that people use to express love to a mate. We can use his love languages as a way to love ourselves.

#1:WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

We can love ourselves by using encouraging and kind words, compliments, words of appreciation and gratitude, and positive affirmations. Listen to the language you use to describe yourself. Words carry energy so be mindful of the language you use!

#2: QUALITY TIME

Spend alone time with yourself doing what you enjoy, or sit still and just BE. Having alone time is essential for health and wellness. Make time for YOU.

#3: RECEIVING GIFTS

Treat yourself to gifts in whatever fashion you choose. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, although it can be if you can afford it. Gifts can be store bought, handmade, or symbolic. You work hard. Don’t deprive yourself. Cherish yourself.

#4: ACTS OF SERVICE

Extend the love for yourself to the world. Find ways to love and serve your community. Do something for others or the environment that lifts your spirit and helps the planet.

#5: PHYSICAL TOUCH

Focus on your body awareness. Take time to notice any areas of tension or pain. Massage your head, hands, neck, feet, shoulders, or legs to relax. Use heat, ice, or soothing oils. Hug yourself. When I get a cut on my finger, I kiss it and send it loving energy. You might also indulge in cashmere, soft pillows, or socks.

You can also display a photo of yourself as a child in your home. I have tons of framed photos of my son as a child, but what about me? I have pictures of both my husband and I as children to remind us to love and honor the child within.

There are many roads to nurture self-love. Find the ways that speak to your heart and DO them. It’s a combination of practices that creates unity and the feeling of coming home to you.