I'm sure you read a lot of times this sentence : you need first to love yourself.
But what does that mean? Is it about getting you a hot chocolate when you are cold? Is it about getting you a new dress when you feel like it? Is it doing whatever you want when you want it? Is it about putting warm clothes on when it's freezing outside?
Loving yourself means to learn to treat you like a loving parent would do with his child.
When you are an adult, and I assume you are, you still have an Inner Child inside you. These are your emotions. At that level you still react like a child of 3-4 years old. Your emotions can not get older or mature. But you can get mature. You can learn how to respect them and how to handle them. You can learn how to take care of this Inner Child.
When you are not aware of your Inner Child, you try to live in an adult world like a 4-year old boy or girl. You feel all alone, afraid of the big nasty world there outside, not knowing what to do, where to ask for help, how to protect you. This is a very difficult way of doing. You will always feel afraid, fearful, doubtful, tired. It is hard to try to survive as a child in a grown up world. You will feel angry and afraid most of the time, and lost.
Why is that? Because nobody takes care of that Little Child inside you.
Let's say your name is Charlotte. You are 42 years old. Inside you lives the little Charlotte. She's four. When you are busy in the outside world taking care of other people, of business, of getting around, of doing a thousand things every day, the little Charlotte will feel overlooked. When you're always running to help others, to make sure their needs are fulfilled, you will be exhausted every night and cry in your bed. Sometimes you will get temper tantrums. You will feel very angry without any reason (but still there is one, a big one!).
All these big emotions are attempts from your Inner Child to get your attention.
Imagine you have, besides your children, husband, collegues, parents, friends, a little four-year old girl named Charlotte. Nobody ever notices her. Nobody takes care of her. Whenever she tries to tell something and get some attention, you shout to her "Shut up!". You say "I have to take care of my parents, my work, my husband, my paperwork, my friends, my other children, my house… I don't have time for you!"
How do you think she will feel? What do you think she will do? First she will try to get your attention by showing big emotions. She will cry a lot, she will scream and shout, maybe she's getting aggressive from time to time. You think you're angry at the outside world, but it is Your Inner Child that is angry with YOU! She's sad and angry because you don't care about her! You act as if she doesn't exist! Nothing is worse than acting as if our Inner Child doesn't exist. This means trying to live as if WE don't exist.
The worst feeling in the world is being unloyal to one's self. Nothing is worse than this!
How many times did we ignore what we felt, to please someone else. How many times did we say to our Inner Child "Shut up, you are not important, the other one is far more important than you are, go away, I don't want to hear you, I don't want to see you"? Awful isn't it? And we do this every time we let come the desire of the other one before ours.
This little Charlotte inside, what will she do? She will give up after a while. After trying a long time to show her emotions, she will give up. She will get very tired of all this and she will say :"It doesn't matter, she doesn't love me, she doesn't want to take care of me, I'm not worth it", and she will get depressed.
Of course you will think you get depressed because of others, because of your work, because of your children, because of your husband or parents.
It is nobody's fault. But you have to learn how to take care of this Inner Child which is suffering from your lack of attention to her.
When, after getting depressed things still don't change, there's one weapon left to catch your attention : little Charlotte will get sick. Or she will get an accident. Maybe that way the adult Charlotte will learn to give finally attention to her Inner Child, which is as real (if not more) as a real child of flesh and blood.
You need to learn how to be a loving parent for yourself.
What does that mean?
First you need to develop an Inner Mother. If you were lucky and had a loving caring mother, you can take her as an exemple. Otherwise you need to invent, to create this Inner Mother, which is your feminine caring energy. Everytime you have an emotion, your Inner Mother should ask your Inner Child : "What happens, my darling?" Listen to what your Inner Child has to say. Than you go on with the dialogue. Inner Mother says : "Come here. Come in my arms, I love you as you are. I love you with what you feel."
Doing that, the heaviness of the emotions will drop pretty much. Than you say these words : "I understand". These words are very important, because most of the time we don't feel very "normal" having the feelings we have and we try to ignore or suppress them, which makes them heavier. "I understand, my darling, come here in your Mothers arms, I love you."
Stay with these words and feelings for a while, and than ask :" What do you need?"
Whatever the Child answers, you say : "We will ask this of your Father".
And here starts the task of your Inner Father, who is there to protect you and to act for you in the outside world. You would never send a four-year old asking for a raise at work or getting to resolve a conflict at school or with the neighbours, would you? So why do you try it? Send out your Inner Father to take care of whatever you have to do in the outside world. Your Inner Father is your male energy, which enables you to make decisions, to take action, to follow your inner guidance (which is located in you Inner Child, also called Intuition) and to manifest your Child's desires in the world.
When your Child has a need, for instance to call someone or to go somewhere to arrange something, imagine that your Inner Child stays at home with his Mother who takes care of his feelings ("I understand you're afraid…") and that your Inner Father (another part of your being) goes out there to act. Your Inner Father is that part of you which is able to handle stress, to take action, to arrange conflicts and all other stuff that has to do with the outside world. If that part is missing because you didn't have a good model when you were little yourself, you will have to create and develop it.
Of course your Inner Child, Mother and Father are all parts of you. It is all you. It is just a model to understand what is happening inside you and how you can learn to love yourself.
Loving yourself is listening to your Inner Child, taking his emotions seriously, understanding what he feels and taking action in the desired direction. Loving yourself is having this dialogue with yourself every morning when you open your eyes, every evening when you go to bed, and every time you have an emotion.
Loving yourself is building a strong inner connection with yourself.
It is creating your own loving family, inside you. You will never feel alone anymore. You are already three! Call it your Trinity. Wherever you go, from now on you go with your Inner Family. Your are not alone. You are loved and you are protected. You listen to yourself and take care of that precious little Child that has been waiting for so long to get your attention and love.
This is inner healing.