Success & Abundance
Self-love is a good start.
Published: July 13, 2012
Teaching kids to be their own best friend.
Within the past year, there has been a lot of media attention on the issue of bullying among youth in our society. In my opinion this is not a new issue; it is an old issue getting more attention than it used to. If you ask your parents or grandparents if bullying existed when they were kids, their answer would undoubtedly be yes, but for most of them this type of behavior was often swept under the rug and brushed off as a part of growing up. Many consider bullying as the biggest challenge that our youth face today. I believe, however, that bullying is not the problem, but more a symptom of the true epidemic in our society – a lack of self-love.
If you take a look at the behavior of your typical school yard bullies you will see that their actions, words and even thoughts all resemble those who have very little love for themselves. The bigger challenge is that they most likely don’t even know that’s their problem, nor do they have any tools to remedy the situation. I believe that a lack of self-love is the root cause of many if not all conflicts in our society, not just bullying. My response and solution to bullying is teaching our kids at a young age how to become their own best friend.
Think back to when you were a child in grade school and how simple life used to be. Most of us were lucky enough to have a childhood best friend who we cherished deeply and treated us well. In many cases we actually treated our best friend with more love, respect and kindness than we did ourselves. From a young age we were taught that if we treated others this way, then they would reciprocate by treating us the same way back. However, there is a very important missing step in this equation. We need to treat ourselves that way first! We can’t give to others what we don’t have within ourselves first.
Step 1: Love Yourself
The first step in becoming your own best friend is learning to treat yourself the way that you treat your best friend. In order to do so you need to cultivate a foundation of self-love, self-respect, and self-acceptance first. The best place to begin is with your thoughts and words. If you examine how bullies think and speak about others they often come off as being harsh, hurtful and abusive. The reality is that most of their thoughts and words are beating themselves up first.
The best way to transform your negative and unkind thoughts and words into more loving, supportive and accepting ones is by practicing positive affirmations. The more you think and speak in a loving way the more love you will feel in your life. (If you want to learn more about using affirmations and other strategies to become your own best friend, sign up for my online program here.
When you truly start to feel that self-love, the next step is putting that love into action. This means taking the love that you are now expressing to yourself, through your thoughts and words, and ensuring that your actions reflect the same intimacy and care. From the foods you put into your body, to the activities you engage in, to the people you surround yourself with; all areas of your life become rooted in self-love. You not only start to feel really good about yourself, but you begin to feel the same way about others in your life, too.
Step 2: Love Everybody
As you practice step one consistently and cultivate a strong foundation of love, respect and admiration for yourself, it will no longer require as much thought and effort to give it to others. When you truly love, respect and admire yourself, it naturally emanates from your being and easily transforms how you speak and how you act toward other people. You will no longer feel the need to beat others down in an attempt to build yourself up. You will treat them the same way you feel within. Doing for others becomes a blessing instead of a burden. Acting from love in every circumstance becomes a natural way of living!
Step 3: Everybody Loves You Back
The best part to this whole process is that what you give, you get back, and sometimes in even larger quantities. The more you love, respect and admire yourself, the more you will speak and act in a loving, supportive and kind way toward others, and the more you will be treated the same way back. But because you now have a strong foundation of self-love and self-respect, you will no longer depend on receiving it from others. You will no longer desperately seek approval or attention, and you will be much more self-sufficient and self-reliant.
When you seek love from others to fill a void within yourself, even if you receive it, it never truly fulfills what you are looking for. If you fill that void from within yourself first, when others give you love, you will actually feel loved, both inside and out. The less you are attached to being loved and accepted by others, the more love and acceptance flows into your life with ease.
The truth is, if we all felt understood, loved, respected and acknowledged; there would never be any need for behavior such as bullying in the first place. When we learn to become our own best friend we realize that all we are seeking from others is already present within ourselves.
When we put this 3-step process into practice more consistently in our own lives, we will be able to teach it to our kids at a much younger age. Bullying will no longer be an issue, and our world will transform into a kinder and more loving place to live.
Michael Eisen is the founder of the Youth Wellness Network (YWN), an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth across the globe to live happier and more positive lives. YWN specializes in creating and implementing wellness programs in schools and organizations, while offering additional assistance through online resources.