When you begin to pursue your spiritual path, it’s tempting to ask yourself, what do I believe? As in, what outside of myself, do I believe in? I am going to suggest that you start that project with an intent. And it’s an intent that will help you in all areas of your life: I intend to believe in myself first and foremost.
This sort of belief is not meant to negate the existence of a higher power. It’s meant to show yourself that you can’t believe in anything else outside of you unless and until you believe in yourself. And many of us walk around without expressly owning a belief in ourselves.
Here is what I suggest. Start saying “I am” as you go about your day. With this one affirmation, you claim yourself as existing. But if that seems too odd to you, here are some other ways to cultivate a belief in yourself.
- Do things that make you happy. If looking at stamps makes you happy, do that. If setting big goals gets you excited, do that. Whatever it is, do that. And then say, I am doing this to please only myself.
- Create a board of images that you like. You don’t even need to know why you like the image or what it represents, and still it would be fun to collect it. Add in as many images that you enjoy and then say, I am doing this because it makes me feel good. I am satisfying myself.
- Cook a meal that is entirely to your liking without regard for what your housemates prefer to eat. Say, I made this meal for me and me alone.
- Go out and buy something that makes you feel luxurious, happy, or alive. Tell yourself, I did this for me.
- Make a list of qualities about yourself that you admire. Note, to yourself, I have and like all these qualities about myself.
- Treat yourself to time away from other people and do something that feels good to you in that moment. Say to yourself, I make time for myself and do what feels good to me.
- Take a pen and write out all the ways that you have helped others. Write at the end, I am a good person and I like myself.
- See yourself walking along a beach alone, and visualize picking up shells, rocks, or sea glass, and marveling at the water, the waves, and the clean air. Say, I am taking this walk for my own benefit.
- Create a color palette of hues that make you feel good. Hang it up near where you work, and say, these are all colors I enjoy.
- Take a look at things you have created and say, I made all of this for me.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Noticing yourself, caring for yourself, and being nice to yourself are all essential steps to cultivating a belief in yourself. Contrary to popular wisdom, making yourself do hard things is not the path to self love. That’s the path to doing more hard things.
So often, we go on a journey of spirituality expecting to figure out what else is out there. My thesis is this: you can’t believe in anything else until you believe in yourself. I would go one step further as well: you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.
These practices are intended to reset your relationship with your true essence. Their simplicity may cause you to overlook them. So here is my suggestion: pick one exercise from the list and practice it for a week. Make sure to do the self talk that concludes each exercise. See how you feel about yourself, about life, and about your outlook for your journey.