It has been said that the best way to love others is to love yourself first. The idea is that loving yourself first increases the power needed for you to share love with those around you. We did some research, and discovered that while many of us know that it’s important to love ourselves, few of us know how to actually do so.
“It’s not selfish to love ourselves. It clears us so that we can love ourselves enough to love other people.” This statement was made by Louise Hay, a near-saint, renowned as one of the founders of the “self-help movement.” (Do You Truly Know How To Love Yourself?, 2018) The idea behind her statement is that in order for us to love others, we must first love ourselves. Now, as a New Yorker, your first thought might be, “I’m too busy to start doing a bunch of new stuff,” however, you’ll find that the steps we’ll review in this article are quite essential for a healthier mind, body, and spirit, and that they are also pretty simple additions to your life if you’re looking to strengthen your love in any way. Let’s take a look at some steps you might consider taking to better love yourself.
Who are You?
In my last article, we got pretty real about some key steps in getting to know yourself better. You might even be surprised to learn how closely related these two subjects of knowledge and love can be, although they certainly contain very clear distinctions. If you haven’t already, pick up that photo and take a good look at yourself. What do you see? What stories can be read from your eyes? What can be determined by your posture? Do you remember what the photographer was saying during the shoot? Did you feel comfortable in your skin? Each of these questions will help you in better understanding what it is you do and don’t like about yourself. We are all so critical of ourselves, and while that is not inherently a negative thing, it can become negative if we don’t use that criticism to strengthen our self-love, and to build up feelings of power and joy in our lives.
Now that you’ve reviewed the photograph, take a look at yourself in the mirror! Keep in mind that what you’re looking at is a live story developing in real time- consider what it is you are seeing, and how it makes you feel. Try some different angles and poses. How’s your nose? Did you check out your smile? Try some graceful movements- skip the duck face. Whatever things you prefer will naturally become the features you want others to see in you, but rest assured, there are many ways to manage the things we tend to like less about ourselves. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing your hair, the way you walk, or the way you dress. For certain other features, there may be dedicated professionals ready to help you embrace your best self. Whatever it is, you must learn to be honest about it, and use your knowledge of yourself to put your best foot forward in every situation.
Who Is Around You?
Another important part of loving yourself is in your awareness of who you choose to surround yourself with. Take this note from psychotherapist, Ken Page, for instance; “Who has the generosity of spirit to encourage you towards greater self-expression? These people are gold.” (How To Love Yourself First, 2011) I love how well this thought speaks to the ideas I’ve been sharing with clients for decades, and that more and more people have access to this information now more than ever. Take a look at the people in your everyday life. What kind of energy are they influencing in your mind, body, and soul? What is your influence on them, and what energy do you build together? Whenever I’m shooting a couple, I always want to be sure to capture the intimacy they share, as it’s unique to the love experienced in any of their other relationships. The honesty portrayed in a session can sometimes be quite shocking!
Much like you did with yourself, take a moment to look at the people around you and determine the value they add in your life. What are the positive influences these individuals have on you? What is their posture like? Does their energy lift you up? Do their positive attributes outweigh any negative influences on you? Surround yourself with people who challenge you to be better. Spend your time with family and friends who encourage you to learn and to try new and different things.
Consult A Professional
I see from speaking to so many women who cringe at the very thought of having their photo taken, that there is a huge need for increased self-love in the world today. As a photographer, I find it sad that so many of us miss out on documenting some of the most precious moments of our lives, just because we “don’t like the way we look.” For yourself, you are cheating yourself the opportunity to cherish personal growth, and for your parents or grandparents, these photographs may be their only chance to share a tangible display of who you are with other family and friends of theirs. For your children, a lack of professional photos can rob them of the chance to appreciate the value of family history, and the love they have shared with you throughout their lives.
When preparing for family shoots and portrait sessions, I make it a point to hear any concerns my clients may have about the way they look, so I can coach them in putting their best foot (or face) forward. The reason I found it’s important for me to share my thoughts and suggestions with them, is because with all my years of experience, I’ve learned how to connect with people in meaningful and authentic ways. If you have any stories or questions, I would love to review them as I prepare to share a number of tips and tricks in my upcoming book on how to photograph better.
I hope this article has helped you in a tangible way! If you haven’t booked a session yet this year, I hope we can get you on the calendar, and I look forward to working with you soon!!
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