7 ways to start loving yourself the way you deserve to be loved

1. Know you are not broken. No matter what you've been through, no matter how bad things might have been for you, there is something inside you that is constant and whole. You don't need "fixing" you just need to remember that you are made of stardust, you are a miracle and there is no-one else quite like you. You might need some help sometimes, but reaching out for help is not the same as needing to be "fixed". I have worked with people who have experienced unimaginable traumas and difficulties and without a doubt their spirit is still whole. You are more resilient than you realise.

2. Take care of yourself. Nurture yourself in whatever way feels good for you, but there is a good evidence to show that certain things impact our wellbeing in a positive way, things like eating natural, unprocessed foods, getting outside as much as you can, moving your body, mindfulness and meditation. If you love long baths, take them, read, listen to your favourite music - make time for yourself everyday to do something that is just for you. How do you care for others in your life compared to how you care for yourself? I have sometimes thought I have taken far better care of my dog, than I have myself! For me, I took an exponential leap in loving myself when I stopped drinking alcohol. That leap wasn't smooth and benefits weren't immediate, but was so worth it in the long game.

3. Make connections and love people as whole-heartedly as you can. It doesn't matter how many friends or family you have, love them all as unconditionally as you can. Loving others without conditions is a huge step in the direction of self-love. You are love and it will freely flow in all directions when your personal thinking gets out of the way. We think ourselves out of loving kindness all the time

4. Let go of shame. One of the biggest issues I see in my clients (particularly women), that obscures their true beauty from themselves, is shame. Shame is when we believe that we are bad in some way, as opposed to feeling guilty which is feeling bad about a behaviour. When we feel guilty this often drives us to do something about the behaviour that we regret, perhaps we apologise for what we've done. Shame, however, can leave us feeling like the last thing we want to do is talk about it, because we feel like we cannot change who we fundamentally are, or perhaps we've tried to change things about ourselves, for example our weight, and it hasn't worked, which can leave us feeling deeply ashamed, that there's something wrong with us. Shame is a pattern of thinking that can feel very visceral and can cause us to hide. Brene Brown has researched and written extensively about shame and her books and talks are a great resource. Shame thrives in dark, shadowy places, so begin the process of letting go by sharing how you feel with someone you trust.

5. You are not your thoughts. Just because you have thought the same thing many thousands of times, that doesn't mean it's true. Your thoughts are energy and you don't need to grab hold of all of them and treat them as facts. You are more than your thoughts. Who is it who notices the thoughts? If you don't fixate on a pattern of thinking, it will pass, it will change and some new thinking will be along soon enough. Create, don't ruminate. The same part of the brain that is creative, is also the part that ruminates, so if you' find yourself getting stuck on recycled thoughts do something creative to move the needle off that groove. Sing, draw, dance, write, doodle, create a new connection with someone, do something, anything that is creative.

6. Feel gratitude. When you spend more time focussing on what you already have, rather than what you don't have, something shifts inside. We live in a society that is obsessed with lack and it can be hard to ignore the messages that come at us from all angles that we don't have enough, or that somehow we are not enough without striving for more or spending more money on ourselves. You might want to keep a gratitude journal in the beginning, as you re-learn to focus on all the things we take for granted every day. Every night when I get into bed, I can't help but feel intense gratitude that I am safe and cosy, with the most comfortable bed, knowing I am loved and that my family can sleep peacefully through the night without fear for their lives. When I am grateful, my personal thinking quietens down and there is more space for love to flow through.

7. You are not fixed. Our beliefs change all the time, it only takes one thought to see something completely differently. Remember that many of the things about yourself, that perhaps you don't like are simply habits of thinking that were formed many years ago. Underneath our negative behaviours there is a positive intention and many such behaviours were created initially as a way of keeping you safe. Because of the brain's neuroplasticity, you are constantly evolving and changing and we have a huge capacity to change our minds and point ourselves in a new direction.