Dr. Andrea Pennington is an Integrative Physician, TEDx speaker and bestselling author of I Love You, Me. Here she shares her 5 core steps to build a framework for true self-discovery and appreciation to help you achieve real self love.
Can you look in the mirror and say, “I love you, me”? If you can’t imagine saying those four words to yourself, stick with me. A few years ago, when I was facing severe depression, I would never have dreamed that I could say those words and mean them, but now I can. You can have the same empowered feeling of freedom and true self-love.
Over the last decade I have taught 5 core steps or principles, which provide a framework for true self-discovery, it’s called The Cornerstone Process. It is a 5-step framework for creating a stable foundation of real self-love, which you can use today. Achieving real self love comes through making your deepest dreams a reality.
Here are my 5 steps to set you up for a life of discovery, adventure, growth, meaning, and real self love.
Step 1 – Awareness
Discover the real you: Start with learning who you really are. Revisit the beginning, your birth. At birth the human infant has no sense of self. We are pure Beings, with no concept of self as a separate entity, and have no self-consciousness. The sense of a separate self develops gradually, from the interaction with our environment, generally parents and caretakers. How you perceive yourself is largely based on how you were programmed to see yourself.
If you had highly conscious, emotionally aware parents and caretakers who saw you as a being full of potential, possessing innate gifts, and with a unique mission to express in the world, then your current self-description may be “accurate.” But if you’re like most people, then who you think you are is just a fraction of your potential self, at best.
So discover the real you by asking yourself questions such as ‘Who am I? Are there any family quotes or sayings that still impact me today? What in my life, body, or thoughts am I judging? Am I acting or reacting to life, situations, and ideals?’ This will help you look into how the programmed you and real you appear in your life. This is the first step before you can transform, and love who you are.
Step 2 – Acceptance
There is more to you than your list of accomplishments — or failures. There is a core part of you that is connected to every other being on earth. There is a part of you that is more pure, perfect, strong, and whole than the little human mind can conceive. In order to live a life that is filled with happiness and satisfaction we must come to know the presence of and recognise the value of our True Self. The physical realm is only one aspect of your existence, it is not the definitive factor determining your self-worth or self-expression.
Now, in this second phase of awakening, learn how to allow “what is” to be, without resistance or judgment. Make a conscious effort to accept the vessel you were born into, not as a limiting factor in your life, but as an ally. When you come to accept the present circumstance as it is and realise that the past is behind you, you’ll feel the power you have now, in this present moment, to consciously architect your future. This will help you stop judgments of right and wrong about your past, your parents, or who you are, and ease into acceptance of what is present in the here and now.
Rather than fighting your natural impulses because you fear what others will say or think about you, you’ll learn to accept your desires as they are. Once you accept yourself, you become mindfully aware of your human tendencies and can heal your wounds and reclaim your perfection .
Step 3 – Accountability
Next, aim at thriving. It’s up to us to create a life we love. Accountability shifts the ownership and stewardship of our life back to us. This can be terribly frightening and tremendously freeing. You are free to create a written description of the you that you desire or intend to be. You may consider this your ideal Self, if you like. This version of you may not be perfect or flawless, but this version of you lives an authentic life attuned to the energy of love and is fully aligned with your personal values, motivations, and ideals.
Accountability is the process of taking personal responsibility for your life without guilt, shame or “pity parties” and move on to creating a life you’ll love. It may be scary to no longer assign blame on others, and just realizing that your future is your total responsibility may fill you with a heavy sense of dread. But know this, you can and will get past this fear. And soon you will re-experience the childlike wonder and joy of having a world of possibilities open to you.
Step 4 – Inspired Action
One can and should become master of their whole life to enjoy optimal wellbeing of body, mind, spirit, environment and relationships. We can do this by living in harmony with the natural energy of Life, and become masters of our energy and emotions, and take inspired action. By embracing self-care as a way of life, we proactively nurture and nourish ourself with regular energy sustaining practices that in turn enable us to keep our mood high and our motivation strong to take action.
And remember this: When you can’t change the situation, change your perspective. Personal peace is one decision away. Acting on inspiration is all about having a wide open mind. Wait for inspiration to take action: You will either take action when you’ve been truly inspired, or you wait and do nothing. When you get that sense of calm, and open your mind and heart, then you can take action on inspiration.
This is the principle behind the popular practice of ‘sleeping on it’ before making a major decision. Allow your transformation to unfold with inspired action while remaining open to change. Focus on a positive emotion-filled productive future, and create a personalised plan. Your plan will take into account potential pitfalls and actions to take in times of distress to prevent setbacks on your journey to a life of purpose and joy. On the way to real self love, you’ll learn to remain detached from negative outcomes so you flow through life with more ease and grace.
To take inspired action on your life, start by asking yourself this: What would inspire you to get up in the morning? What is it that gives or would give your life meaning? Do you feel a sense of purpose in what you are doing?
Step 5 – Appreciation
Beauty, altruism, awe, and humour can all be found in every life situation and you play a major role in them. When you experience your direct connection to the things in life worth appreciating you’ll not only enjoy the direct physical benefits such as increased happiness, lower stress, better sleep, and more intimacy but also a greater satisfaction for life and your indispensable role in it!
To fully appreciate yourself and your amazing work on self-love, start by charting your progress to see how powerful you really are, and to recognise the small steps and big leaps you make along your journey. You’re invited to commit to celebrating your success and spreading your joy to others. Practicing gratitude will help you in your relationships with others, and your relationship with yourself.
I like this little exercise that fits even into the busiest schedules: each day, whether at night before going to sleep or first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, write down three to five things that you are grateful for. By practicing gratitude for who we are and what we have, we increase our sense of self-worth.
Following this framework can stimulate and encourage your awakening, set you free from addictive patterns, and help you align with your deepest desires, ideals, and motivations to live a full, abundant, healthy life. This approach to self- awareness also leads to immense inner peace and acceptance.
Love is the very essence of life. It doesn’t have to be earned, you don’t have to wait for someone to give it to you, and you can never be found undeserving of it. Love is never in short supply. It is abundant, inexhaustible, easily accessed and FREE! So start today and apply these steps to build your life on a foundation of real self-love.
About the expert
Dr. Andrea Pennington is an integrative physician, acupuncturist, meditation teacher and conscious communication specialist. She is also a #1 international bestselling author, highly acclaimed 2x international TEDx speaker, invited professor at the University of Monaco, and mentor for the Global Institute for Extraordinary Women. As a sought-after media personality for the last two decades, Dr. Andrea has shared her candid, empowering insights on vitality and resilience on the Oprah Winfrey Show,the Dr. Oz Show, iTV This Morning, CNN, the Today Show, LUXE-TV, Thrive Global and HuffingtonPost and as a news anchor for Discovery Health Channel. In her role as a documentary filmmaker she has produced a 4-part documentary series entitled Simple Steps to a Balanced Natural Pregnancy. Dr. Andrea has also written or contributed 10 books and her latest book , I Love You, Me! explores her personal journey from depression to real self-love. To learn more go to www.realself.love