“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” ~ Margo Anand
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my healing journey so far is gratitude for self. As a nine on the Enneagram, this is one of the vital lessons to learn before moving forward. In general, Enneagram 9s just go along with other’s needs and passions. At their unhealthiest, they merge with someone and make decisions based on that person. What passions they do have at an unhealthy level are often “hobbies” that help them numb out like TV and movies, drugs, alcohol and food. So a nine must 1) discover who they are and 2) learn to cherish how special that person is.
“The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else.” ~E. E. Cummings
If you ask an Enneagram 9 where they want to go to dinner, what they want to do that evening, they will answer, “I don’t know.” And they probably don’t. It is hard for 9s to figure out what they want in the presence of other people. Instead they are waiting for you to decide where you want to go. 9s are happy to go along with what everyone else wants. Because of this, they have rarely stopped to think about what they want.
So, in my early healing days I would “take myself out on a date.” I would sit and decide what I wanted to do. In the beginning, these dates were dinner and a movie. I would stop at Blockbuster to pick up a couple of movies and then pick up some dinner. Then I would snuggle up on the couch and have a wonderful evening in front of the TV.
Now, this is a total numbing thing for 9s to do. BUT, my attitude about it was different. I was treating myself. I was making a conscious decision to pamper myself. It wasn’t mindless watching TV, watching whatever show was on, and the one after that, and the one after that. That is the REAL numbing out of a 9.
Later, I would look forward to days I had off all by myself that I could plan date days. My dog and I would go for a long walk or a hike. Then stop for a bagel on the way home. Then I might clean the house a bit knowing that I had a nice dinner and movie planned at the end of the day. Or, I might start the day by going to a café and writing in my journal while sipping on coffee. Then sit outside somewhere and read my book or go for a walk. Regardless, I knew the day was MINE and I could do whatever I wanted to celebrate me.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” ~Jean Shinoda Bolen
This attitude is so important for everyone, not just nines. You are with yourself every second of your life. What a misery if you don’t like yourself. Especially when you are such an awesome person!
Gratitude for self is essential in learning to love yourself. And learning to love yourself is #1 on the list of 7 Truths About Healing. You wouldn’t spend time helping someone you didn’t like, so why would you if you didn’t like yourself?
You have to love yourself to feel worthy of healing. And self-gratitude is one of those vehicles to self-love.
You might be saying to yourself, “I don’t even know where to begin to find gratitude for myself.” Hopefully, I can help with that.
Here are some exercises in self-gratitude:
#1 Take yourself out on a date – By taking yourself out on the town, you learn that you are a pretty cool person to hang out with. You are interested in some cool things and have some fun hobbies. You might discover you have an adventurous side to you and try something new. We are grateful for the things we enjoy, the things that make us smile. If you can make yourself smile, you are ahead of the game.
#2 Ask some friends for help – This is an exercise I did with a therapist years ago. It left quite a mark on me. She told me to ask three people in my life to write down 10 things they liked about me. Those people were to write the 10 answers down and then put them in a sealed envelope. I was to bring the sealed envelope to my next therapy session to open and read in front of her. I asked my boss to be one of the people and I’ll never forget her answer, “I’d rob a bank with her.” I thought that was fantastic. It said so much.
This is a great exercise to do to realize how other people see you. To realize that other people are grateful for you. You learn things that other people see in you that you don’t see in yourself. And these are often very good qualities. Qualities to be grateful for. It’s easier to be grateful to yourself when you realize how special you are.
Oh, one more thing…my therapist told me to do a list of 10 things I liked about myself and bring that as well. Do that part, too.
#3 Write a list of lesson and accomplishments – An aspect of being grateful for yourself is being grateful for your life. An easy way to do this is look back on your life. You’ve come a long way, baby! Write down everything you have accomplished.
Now, you probably haven’t won a Nobel Prize. But, you have become an adult. That’s a big deal. You have created a life for yourself. Another big deal. Think about the dreams you have manifested in your life. For me, one dream I always had as a kid was to have my own dog. It was one of the first things I did when I was out on my own and the place I was renting allowed dogs. Look around at your life. Notice everything you are grateful for. And then realize YOU created it. You are pretty amazing. Be grateful.
Also remember times in your life when you learned a huge lesson. Think how that lesson has changed your life. Maybe it was from a bad relationship. Or maybe it was something from your grade school days. Or maybe it was an encounter with a co-worker. We learn important things as we walk through this life. We learn important things that we take to heart and make us who we are and help us navigate through life. These are definitely things to be grateful for.
#4 Compliment yourself every day when you look in the mirror – This is a fun exercise that does wonders for your self-image. You usually look in the mirror every day while brushing your teeth or when brushing your hair. These are the prefect times to look yourself in the eye and say, “You have amazing eyes,” or “That was a kick ass dinner you prepared tonight. Good Job!” Maybe what you say is different every day. Maybe it’s a phrase you have carefully crafted. One of my dear friends would say to herself, “You’re a cool chick with a hot ass!” to herself every day when she looked in the mirror. I love that.
#5 The Metta Prayer – Metta in Buddhism means loving kindness. A Metta meditation is one where you think of different people in your life and wish them well by saying:
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you find joy. May you find peace. May you be free from suffering.
One of the people you think about in the meditation is yourself.
I’ve turned this saying into a type of prayer. When I know someone is hurting and I don’t know how to help, I’ll simply say these words. It is a powerful daily prayer to say to yourself.
May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I find joy. May I find peace. May I be free from suffering.
It is a very empowering thing. Maybe you say it when you wake up or before you go to sleep. Maybe you say it when you are having a hard time during the day. And the words don’t have to be exactly those. You can wish yourself anything. I’ve often thought of adding, “May I be safe” to the prayer.
To wish this for yourself is wishing the best for yourself. It is saying, “I am worthy.”
By finding gratitude in ourselves, we learn how special and important we are, how precious. We learn to love who we are, the good parts and the bad parts. We become more forgiving of ourselves when we mess up. And we are more accepting of praise from ourself or others when we do something right. When we are grateful for ourselves, we have the same love and respect for ourselves as we do all the other people we love in our life. And, hopefully, we begin to treat ourselves with the same love and compassion.
“Simply give to yourselves that which you need – which is love and appreciation without judgment.” ~ Rene Gaudette
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