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How To Master Self-Acceptance

In 1969, the psychiatrist Thomas A. Harris, M.D., wrote a self-help manual called, I’m OK — You’re OK, which became a runaway bestseller and a catch phrase of the 70s.

“OK-ness” is a subjective assessment of the self, based on ideas and feelings — mostly from the past. If I had a family who praised, appreciated, adored and guided me, I’d probably end up feeling “OK” about myself, no matter what happened externally. But if I had parents who ignored, demeaned, shamed, or belittled me and my needs, I’d probably end up feeling bad and not OK about myself, no matter what happened externally.

As a psychotherapist for more than 20 years, I’ve seen supermodels doubt their good looks, and wealthy people feel financially insecure. “OK-ness” or self-esteem is like the rudder of a sailboat: when it’s deep, the vessel can endure huge waves; when it’s shallow or missing, the boat can capsize in puddle-deep water.

The road to mastering self-acceptance is long and winding, but here are four important reminders to help you along the way:

1. Know that whatever has been done can be undone, and vice versa.

I love this sentiment about human freedom, and I love that as a therapist. When I witness someone with an arid past and bad sense of self, recover or discover a fundamental sense of OK-ness, I like it. The hard-earned sense of OK-ness claimed through completing a 12-step program, or therapy, or just plain life-lessons, is so sweet.

Now here’s what I really like — in response to Dr. Harris’ statement, “I’m OK, You’re OK,” psychiatrist Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross came up with this: “I’m not OK, and you’re not OK. But that’s OK.” Now there’s a humanism I can live with! In her model, I don’t even have to be OK to experience OK-ness!

2. Admit your flaws, laugh at your quirks, and know that you will screw up.

Self-acceptance means knowing that it’s not a sin or stupid to not know what you don’t know. Self-acceptance says that maybe you’re not right about something, but you’re right within the core of your being.

How do you come by knowing this “core self,” you ask? In quietude, when the mind finally settles down — when each breath signals, “I am alive,” and you really get it and feel it at full measure. That means taking the time to be quiet, maybe on a regular basis. So yes, even though self-acceptance seems naturally sweet and easily attainable, it still takes effort to be with it. You still have to reach for it.

That’s where the age-old quest for enlightenment comes in; the element we seek out in everything we pursue: aliveness, fun, joy, depth, love and rest.

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3. Love and accept other beings.

I see this firsthand in therapy groups week after week: people sharing and accepting the supposedly unacceptable things about each other. That kind of concentrated love and support can bust through years of wall-building, through negativity and self-condemnation. That kind of kindness that heals hearts and lives fully. When others reach out to us with unconditional acceptance, it helps us reach in and find it there, too.

Outside love from others can help, but is not the final measure of successful self-acceptance. The true flower of self-acceptance grows in a deeper garden, in a place inside of us beyond any layers of holding back or hiding out. It’s a precious flower planted long ago, when we were innocent and original. All we have to do to find our way back there is to become as simple and guileless as we once were.

To rediscover our innocence and reclaim it as our core — that is a solid foundation for full self-acceptance.

4. Accept the dark side, too.

Goodness and light are easy to accept because, well, they’re good, and it’s easier to feel good about goodness than it is to feel good about badness. We humans collectively honor goodness and dislike the dark side. But every yin has its yang. Every good thing about us and in us, casts a shadow, and we need to reckon with it and yes, make peace with it, to round out the self-acceptance picture. The Dark Side is important, and ignoring it can lead to problems.

For instance, did you know that Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi was far from the divine and perfect being we often look up to? In his autobiography, he fully confessed that he not only contained the seeds of violence within himself, but also acted on them in his life.

I honor the man who admits his to dark side, and then transforms it into humility and determination to be non-violent. I accept Gandhi as my hero because he kept on going beyond his mistakes. He continued to work on perfecting himself, flaws and all. He didn’t hide his imperfections, but challenged himself with them to reach new depths of personhood. Heck, if it turns out that not even Gandhi is OK, then that must really be OK!

by Andy Bernay-Roman     March 18, 2015
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How To Make Friends With Your Inner Critic

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to licensed counselor and intuition coach John Harrison. John has written a fantastic guest post about the benefits of negative self talk. Yes, that’s right! John shows us how to make friends with our inner critic and let it guide us back to authenticity.

by John Harrison, LPCC      Sharon Martin, LCSW

We all experience positive and negative self talk.

We’ve been alive long enough to have experienced viewpoints of ourselves that are negative, self deflating, and undermining and those that tell us we are limitless creators, lovers of life, and the masters of our own destiny.   One set of beliefs tells us we “aren’t”.  The other tells us we “are”.  How do we know which is the affirming view of our own reality?  Who are we, really?

Most of my clients come to see me looking for guidance to help them “get on the right track”.   One person in particular has a stretch of weeks where her life is really coming together for her.  She’s engaged, excited, and feeling she’s turned that corner.  Then, to her disappointment, she’ll have one of her negative interactions with her family.  They’ll tell her she’s being selfish.  They’ll suggest she’s wasting her time with her career and that “if she’d just change” she’d be able to find someone that would want to date her.

After these run-ins with her family she’ll come to my office completely devastated.   The self doubt creeps in.  “What if they’re right?  Am I being selfish?  Can I ever be happy with my decisions?”  She really feels that each time she has a setback she is starting over from scratch.  I know that it feels that way to her.  But she’s doing just fine.

Your inner critic doesn’t define you.

Although we all contain negative self talk, we are actually much more than this “self chatter”.  Sure, we carry the doubts and fears of our parents, our families, the experiences of failure from growing up.   We hear those “voices of the past” as we move into adulthood and even now in our current life experiences.   But this isn’t actually who we really are.  There’s a part of us that knows the “right way”.  A part of us that knows joy and peace.  So how do we tap into this?  How do we tune out the negative self talk and ignore those crippling, shameful voices that tell us we aren’t enough?

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You don’t turn them off.  You can’t completely stop that negative self talk.  But you can actually use those awful feelings you get when your negative self talk is at its worst to give you guidance.   You can learn from your negative beliefs, self talk, and feelings.  The negative feelings caused by negative self talk are the first indication that you aren’t in alignment with your true self.   Why?  Because you are worthy just by being alive.  You deserve to feel good.  You deserve to be confident, healthy, and thriving.

Self affirming thoughts and beliefs feel good.  They feel right.  And if you want to feel good, this is all you need to pay attention to in knowing you are “on the right path”.

You don’t need permission to feel good.

You are supposed to feel good.  You are supposed to be happy and get what you want.   Feeling good, alive, and engaged in life is what life is all about.  Sure we’ve all been taught in one form or another that we get love and acceptance as long as we “play by the rules”.  But I’m going to tell you this:  You are deserving of what you want because you are.  Period.  You don’t need permission to feel good.  You don’t need to be ashamed to feel happy and get what you want.

Your negative self talk can guide you back to yourself.

You have an internal GPS.  A guidance system that tells you when you are “off” and when you are “on” and where you want to be.   If you use those negative beliefs of yourself, or that negative self talk, to signal you that you aren’t where you want to be, the negative voices and stories in your mind can be a powerful ally.  Stop trying to look for proof that your self defeating beliefs aren’t your reality.  Stop trying to prove yourself and look for external affirmation.  Give yourself permission to accept that you can demand and get what you want because you say so.  And I’m assuming that you want more good in your life.  You want to be happy, content, and be in love with your life.

And here you are.  Living your life while going through the ups and downs.   But you’ve made it this far.  You know that for every self defeating belief, there is still a part of you who continues to seek something better.  There’s a “you” that’s constant through all of this.   The you that knows the contrast of life.  The pain, the shame, and the love and excitement of being happy and alive.  All of it.   The truth is you want to be happy, engaged, and in love with life.  But as life does, it gives us the negative experiences that bring those voices of doubt to the forefront of our conscious minds.  But “you”, the real “you” continues to tell you through negativity that you aren’t living your truth.   This is your intuition.  Your internal GPS.  It loves you.  It doesn’t lie.  All you have to do is listen to it.

John Harrison is a licensed counselor and intuition coach who works with individuals and couples helping them get “unstuck”. He shows them how to empower their lives, helping them see they are their own greatest asset. John counsels individuals and couples in Cincinnati, Ohio and coaches people from all over the country showing them how to use their “higher self” to get the lives they want. You can find out more about John and his services at johnharrisoncounseling.com.


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How to Be Happy Alone – 6 Tips to Use Today

By Frances Masters    Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Rarely do we associate loneliness with happiness, but is it possible to be alone and happy?

Loneliness and, in some instances, seclusion are things that millions of people grapple with daily. Loneliness can be imposed by circumstances such as the death of loved ones, family moving away, work obligations or social anxiety. Loneliness can also be self-imposed in situations where people withdraw from society into a secluded and “atomized” existence if they feel they cannot find “their place” in the world. Some people are also loners by nature and prefer living in an environment where they have all the physical and emotional space that they need.

Society often regards lonely people as remarkably unhappy and even awkward. We are wired to socialize and interact and that is why lonely situations can be viewed with a great deal of suspicion. But loneliness can also be disastrous on the individuals who find themselves in an enforced loneliness where outside circumstances beyond their control are the main causes of their loneliness.

In such situations, it is easy to lose your sense of proportion. For example, you might lose your sense of organization. Your thoughts will wander off and you are unlikely to get any productive work accomplished. In some cases, loneliness can even contribute to suicide when lonely people feel that their lives are not worth living if they are unable to build the social bonds that will make their lives meaningful.

Is it possible to be alone and happy? Here are some important tips on how to be happy alone:

Take Good Care of Your Home

It is very easy to neglect your home when you are not around other people. Before long, you might have dishes piling up, dirty cups all over the place, a mountains of dirty clothes.

Even when people are not constantly walking into your home, it is in your best interest to keep your living place clean, tidy and well organized. A clean home equals a clean mind. When your mind is disorganized and lacks focus, it will be difficult for you to get anything worthwhile done.

When your home is clean, well-organized and tidy, you will feel happy whenever you walk in and all you will wish for is to spend more time inside and savor the moments.

Create Something

Being alone without any distractions provides you with a great opportunity to bring forth your inner creativity to build something that you truly value. If you have the writing bug, you could blog, write a novel or an e-Book on a topic that you love. If you love painting, you could immerse yourself deep in the comfort and calmness of solitude and let those creative powers burst through

Solitude is particularly a fertile ground for the creative minds who love to work with intense focus and without any distractions. Isolation can offer you much inspiration to get something done and also boosts your productivity immensely. If you need something done that will require intense mental focus, then you better do it in an atmosphere of solitude.

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Treat Yourself to a Great Date

Who says people who live alone do not date or have some fun? Do not let your life slip into a monotonous routine. Find ways to break your routine by coming up with more creative ways to inject some fun. A date, even if it’s with yourself, can really energize you and inject excitement into your life.

Go out often and have some coffee. Dance, drink and be around other people. You can also go out on picnics, outings and other outdoor activities. If you work a lot indoors, consider shifting your work to more public places occasionally. The possibilities to form new networks, relationships or simply be happy around people are endless.

Cut Down on Mindless Consumption

When you are alone or lonely, it is easy to drift quickly into mindless consumption of things such as booze, the latest comedy series, Facebook or food. You do not have to keep track of every little piece of news that happens in the world. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t spend your time consuming meaningful media. Try watching documentaries, news commentaries or things that make you think.

Whatever you consume when you are alone, it is important to do it in moderation. If you are beginning to gain an obsession with something that adds zero value to your life such as social networks or sports scores, it is important to cut down so as to find new productive pursuits.

Eliminate the Noisy Thoughts

Your thoughts can be your best friend or your number one enemy when you are alone. It is therefore important to work extra time in order to eradicate those negative thoughts or negative energy that will drag you down.

One ugly aspect of negative thinking is that once a single negative thought takes hold of your mind, it spirals out of control to create the mental monsters that can simply shatter your life. When you are alone, you will also be highly susceptible to negativity. You, therefore, need to develop safeguards that will help you effectively manage your negative thinking and shift your mental attitude in a more positive diraction.

There are ways, both physical and mental, in which you can interrupt the negative train of thoughts and insert some positivity into the moment. For example, you can light some incense, take a slow nice hot bath, play some soothing music, do yoga, meditate or even get yourself some rest.

Create Beauty Out of the Ordinary

There is so much beauty in the world and you need to spot it in order to positively appreciate life. If you are alone, take some walks in nature, visit a lake or some naturally beautiful place – they have a profoundly restorative effect on our mental state. Visit a forest or some beautiful vista that inspires you. Appreciate the true magnificence of the world and you will begin developing a more positive attitude towards life.

About the author:

Francis Masters2Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience.
In 2009 she co-founded the charity Reclaim Life and trained volunteer coaches in a unique model which integrated for the first time powerful psychotherapeutic skills with holistic life coaching tools that assist people to reformat their lives for success. The extended training program is accredited by the National College of Further Education.
At The Fusion Model, Frances writes about how to live your best life, by combining mental, bodily and spiritual wellness.
You can follow her work at TheFusionModel.com, Twitter.com/fusioncoachuk or Facebook.com/TheFusionModel


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A Beautiful Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Shubhra Krishan    April 10, 2015

In Japan, people famously get to enjoy their great grand children and often die peacefully in their sleep.

What’s their secret?

Yes, they eat plenty of fish, fresh vegetables and fruit. And yes, they eat small portions, cook their food lightly, and present it beautifully. All of these are indeed conducive to a healthier and longer life.

But there is something else–something way more powerful and deep–that holds the key to their longevity.

It’s called ikigai, and it is not a health food you can buy or a martial art you need to learn.

Ikigai simply means “a reason to wake up in the morning.” It is a gentle way of nudging you toward nurturing; inspiring you to care for life other than your own. It could be the life of a plant, a pet, or your great-grand children. The philosophy of ikigai is simple: caring for others brings deep satisfaction to your own life and helps you discover the meaning of your existence.

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The concept is beautifully illustrated by this popular story from Japan:

In a small village outside of Osaka, a woman in a coma was dying. She suddenly had a feeling that she was taken up to heaven and stood before the Voice of her ancestors.

“Who are you?” the Voice said to her.

“I am the wife of the mayor,” she replied. “I did not ask whose wife you are but who you are.” “I am the mother of four children.” “I did not ask whose mother you are, but who you are.” “I am a school teacher.” “I did not ask what your profession is but who you are.”

And so it went. No matter what she replied, she did not seem to give a satisfactory answer to the question, “Who are you?”

“I am a Shinto.” “I did not ask what your religion is but who you are.” “I am the one who wakes up each day to care for my family, and nurture the young minds of the children at my school.”

She passed the examination, and was sent back to earth. The next morning she woke at sunrise, feeling a deep sense of meaning and purpose. She tended to her children’s lunches, and planned fun lessons for her students that day. The woman had discovered her ikigai.

I am inspired to reflect on my ikigai. Are you?


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21 Reasons to Love Yourself Exactly As You Are

“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.” – Buddha

Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves? We are often quick to forgive others yet we have a hard time forgiving ourselves. The truth is we can be our worst enemy.

Self-love is not about thinking you look good in your new outfit or feeling good about yourself because you just got promoted. Self-love celebrates and supports your growth through good times and bad.

One of the most important things contributing to your overall happiness is meaningful and loving relationships. And you can’t have solid relationships without love. You have probably heard the old saying, “we cannot love others if we cannot love ourselves.” Loving yourself as you are is necessary in order to give your love to others.

Still need convincing? Here are 21 reasons to love yourself exactly as you are.

When you love yourself …

1. You are on a constant quest to learn new things. You develop and use your mind to continue your personal growth.

2. You are brave enough to ask for and give help freely. Your compassion towards people fuels your spirit and touches many lives.

3. You can forgive, forget and move on. You have learned your lessons and use those lessons to stay in the present.

4. You are passionate about the things you do. You move throughout your day with purpose and positive energy.

5. You are flexible and open to change. You are confident in your choices and realize change is necessary to keep living life to its fullest.

6. You are optimistic. You know your approach to problem-solving will give you the strength to move through life’s challenges.

7. You are playful and spontaneous. You make joy a priority in your life and share that joy with everyone around you.

8. You are proud of the work you do. You bring the best of your mind and spirit to every project.

9. You are forward-thinking but present living. You have a vision for your future so strong you can feel it but you know you will only get there with the actions you take today.

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10. You are always looking for the silver lining. You know there is something positive that comes from every negative, you just have to keep looking until you find it.

11. You are strong and courageous and always stay on the side of right. You stand up for what you believe in and lend your voice to those less fortunate.

12. You are ready for challenges. You know life isn’t perfect, and there are plenty of tests along the way. You know, without a doubt, you can handle it and that it will serve you in the end.

13. You are respectful and courteous to other people and yourself. You realize there is a story behind every person and honor the people that cross your path.

14. You are accepting of other people and their challenges. You realize that judging other people only casts a shadow on yourself.

15. You are willing to ask for forgiveness. You realize you aren’t perfect and that mistakes happen, and you are willing to accept responsibility for your part.

16. You are open to love. When you love yourself, you open the doors for love to come into your life freely and without reservation.

17. You are more creative. Nothing fuels the creative spirit more than loving and accepting yourself. It gives you the freedom to nurture a wide variety of talents that might not have surfaced otherwise.

18. You don’t gossip. You realize the destructive force behind gossiping. Not only do you refuse to engage in it, but you also stand up for the people being gossiped about in an attempt to change behaviors.

19. You are engaged in your community and in causes that are important to you. You know that one of the best ways to serve yourself is to serve others.

20. You attack your problems head-on. You avoid blaming others and explaining things away. Instead, you focus on correcting your course.

21. You are motivated, and your persevere. You believe without a doubt your next success is just around the corner, and that is enough to keep you going until you get there.

You are a better person when you accept who you are and the journey you are on. Unconditional acceptance doesn’t necessary mean you can’t change or improve, it is just the realization that you are a work in progress. And you love yourself no matter what.

Loving yourself as you are has physical and emotional benefits too. According to Psychology Today, “Self-love is important to living well. It influences who you pick for a mate, the image you project at work, and how you cope with the problems in your life. It is so important to your welfare that it is important you know how to bring more of it into your life.”


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5 Simple Steps To Find And Follow Your Inner Wisdom

21 February 2015

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” ~Allen Ginsberg

One of the most painful realizations I ever had was that I’d become the sum-total of the expectations of everyone around me. I was good at school, cynical, and “always out to be number one,” like mom and dad wanted. I had tattoos, piercings, and a grimace on my face, like my friends wanted. I spent my money on killing brain cells and becoming sexy, like TV wanted.

But did I want those things? Did I want to live this life that I’d spent years building?

If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you know how painful it is to answer “No.” It goes down like a jagged little pill. And, I hear, the later you wait to do it, the more it hurts to swallow.

Avoiding that pain, more than anything, is what keeps people unhappy. What they don’t realize is that the pain of losing self-deceit is more than worth the incredible amount of joy that awaits on the other side. Once we stop taking guidance from all of those outside sources who tell us what we should do, we are free to explore what we want to do, what we’re meant to do, and what we’re truly capable of.

If you’re ready to turn up the volume on your inner voice and start following the deep, authentic wisdom of your inner child, here are five simple steps to get you started.

1. Learn to separate your inner child from your logical mind

Most people find this incredibly difficult at first, and laughably easy after some practice.

Inner wisdom is something most children have. The logical mind is something most adults have. Inner wisdom is something that many logical adults squash in their young children, never knowing how important it is, and then those same children go on to become logical adults who squash their kids’ inner wisdom. It’s coming close to an epidemic in our part of the world. In order for us to reconnect with our inner guidance we need to reconnect with our inner child.

More often than not, our inner wisdom child us by way of desire. Just like a bee is led to a flower by desire, so we are always being led towards our needs by deep, gut feelings. Children follow this kind of guidance without thinking twice. Their reasoning for doing things is “because it feels good,” “because it doesn’t feel right,” and other completely irrational reasons that make logical adults’ heads swim.

Our logical mind guides us by way of analysis. Its optimal functioning is to find the most efficient ways to fulfill our needs. A mind that is united with the inner wisdom will become more and more efficient at fulfilling our deepest, most authentic desires. Without such guidance, however, the mind must find some other desires to fulfill, such as the desires of our parents, our peer groups, and, too often, the highest paying advertisers.

The art of separating your inner child from your logical adult mind, then, is the art of separating your authentic desires from your conditioned ones. It is the fine art of knowing the difference between what you really, truly want and what you’ve been trained to want.

Girl on swing at sunset

2. Make mental personalities for both

On this journey, you will need to shift authority from your logical mind to your inner child. After some time, they will learn to work together, but at first, there will be a power struggle.

The easiest way to know whom you’re speaking to is to give a real, human personality to both of them.

When your mind begins to brew up anxiety and drawn out “What if…?!” stories, you’ll take it much less seriously if you imagine those words coming from an overworked and unappreciated office worker who hates her job and hasn’t slept properly in days.

Likewise, when your inner guidance speaks to you in a soft whisper, you’ll follow it more faithfully if you imagine that you’re being beckoned by a wise 100-year-old man under a cherry blossom tree who speaks to you in riddles and never raises his voice.

Even better, find real people in your life who represent these two factions within you. Your relationship to your logical mind – the pattern of you submitting to reason-based authority – might be perfectly reflected in your relationship with your boss, parent, or spouse. Likewise, your relationship to your inner guidance – the pattern of you ignoring its “childish” or “irrational” ideas – might be perfectly reflected in your relationship with your child, sibling, or grandparent.

When you hear either voice speak to you, see its personality in your head. It will make it much easier for you to decide whom to trust.

3. Listen when your inner child speaks, don’t talk over it

Imagine ignoring a person for 10, 20, 30 years and, then, when you need their help, showing up to their doorstep asking for favours. The chances of them jumping up enthusiastically are slim to none.

If you have not been hearing your wise inner child, this is because you’ve ignored it for too long. You’ve instilled silence into a relationship that’s meant to be a lifetime conversation.

It will take time to rebuild that trust.

The good news is – your relationship with your inner child is never irreparably damaged. No matter how long it takes, your intuition will return to you. All you have to do is listen, with patience and presence, every time it speaks and not just when you need it to.

Again, imagine your inner child as having a real, human personality. Each time you listen to that inner voice, acknowledge it, respect it, and do what it says, you will strengthen your relationship with it. Its voice will become louder with each conversation.

4. Realize that reprogramming your mind will take time, mistakes, and self-forgiveness

When I first began this journey, I would imagine my logical mind as a tiger – wild, powerful, and ferocious. Taming it, I got bloodied up many times.

Reprogramming a lifetime of conditioning is difficult. It’s even more difficult to get your logic-loving brain to accept the notions of faith, love, and happiness. It will take time, no matter how hard you try. You will make mistakes. You will falter.

Since there’s no way to avoid mistakes, you may as well learn to laugh at them. I can honestly say that learning the fine art of not taking myself so seriously has made more of a difference than anything else. No matter how long it takes or how many mistakes I make, I am doing my best and that is enough.

5. Make self-discovery into a necessity

You know that old adage that tells you to accept the things you can’t change and change the ones you can? Well, the fact that self-discovery is essential for healing and happiness is something you can never change.

No matter where in the world you go or what new people you’re around, you will always need to be your own best friend in order for your happiness to be sustainable. So, commit to that. Commit to discovering yourself and rekindling your relationship with your inner child with awed curiosity and ceaseless passion.

You already commit to eating and sleeping each day, because you know you need those things to live. Accept your self-discovery as a basic need too. Make it a lifetime commitment.

Go to the mirror, look in those striking eyes of yours, and say, “I promise to do my best to understand you, care for you, and listen to you, for as long as you shall live.”

And I promise you that, if you explore yourself with the same curiosity as you would explore a new lover, you will not only find your sense of inner guidance, you’ll also find a deep happiness that is unshakable by chaos, criticism, or circumstance. And isn’t that something worth searching for?

Vironika Tugaleva is an inspirational speaker, self-love and healing coach, founder of The Real Us, and author of the award-winning bestseller The Love Mindset. Vironika helps people cultivate self-love, heal mental and emotional suffering, develop healthy self-care habits, build deeper relationships with others, and unleash their inner potential to change the world. You’re invited to read more about Vironika and get a free sneak preview of The Love Mindset.