Last week, we talked about how acceptance of our current situation helps us set the right motions for our actions, that is, the work towards our goals, our resolutions. However, to sustain these “actions”, we need to make these new habits easy to do or build, so that we feel like repeating them. In this final edition of the Mind Gym column, I’ll talk about why cultivating self love will help you build the habits to become who you want to be.

Make your resolutions easy and rewarding to repeat

We create our new identities by focusing on repeating them rather than perfecting them. Because “I am” is much more powerful than “I do”. We do what fits the identity of who and what we are. This way, we will become the person who acts the way we want in that resolution. Our brain is biased towards behaviours that give us immediate satisfying sensations. In short, we can make our resolutions much easier to accomplish and become a reality by making our new habits rewarding so that we are likely to keep them up.

healthy foods to build healthy habits
© Element5 Digital via Unsplash

Instead of dramatically changing your diet, start by adding a small item of healthy food each day to your diet, while reducing a tiny portion of low nutrition food. This can be just a shot of healthy juice a day or a piece of chocolate less. Immediately, you will start feeling like someone who is working towards a healthy diet, which will bring you satisfaction. In addition, it will take you little effort so that you can repeat it every single day. Soon, the ratio of healthy food will become greater than junk food, while your brain has already started to form a new network of signals that would drive your body into a default mode to lean towards a healthier diet.

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Build self love with the five F’s

Yet, as human beings, we live in a realistic world where there are constant daily disruptions. Many people who have a great start cannot sustain the good habits because when interruptions happen, they beat themselves down, rather than picking themselves up and starting again. Hence, we need a strong force to keep us on track.

The root cause of all our personal problems is a lack of self-love. This vacuum creates countless limiting beliefs as we grow up: “not good enough”, “not worthy”, “good things only happen to others but never me”.

When we love ourselves, we are naturally kind to ourselves. We will have a gentle inner voice that will encourage us to get back on track, just like that pleasant voice in the GPS to help us reroute again. Having self-love is to BELIEVE we are good enough to deserve good things happening to us, and we can become whoever we put our minds to be.

To build self-love, I suggest these Five F’s.

Feed your body & mind

When you are getting ready for the day, taking a shower, on your commute, try to listen to motivational YouTube videos, guided meditations or inspiring audio books. The purpose of this is to feed your mind daily with positive and powerful thoughts. Ever since my son was diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer, I religiously go to the YouTube app and listen to any motivational audios that pop up. After a few days of listening to such content, the app automatically feeds me with motivational videos, so I can face challenges of every single day.

woman listening to motivational podcast
© Samuel Rios via Unsplash

Soon, my subconscious mind becomes filled with these empowering self talks. Whenever I have doubts, worries and fear, especially concerning my son’s conditions, my subconscious mind immediately takes care of the negative messages. To date, it IS the main drive of my positive mindset.

Metaphysically, our blood represents joy in our emotional state. For example, we often feel a mood boost after exercising. When we keep our blood flowing, we feel more joyful. Mind and body don’t function separately. If you feed your body with movement, nutritional food and positive energy, it will reward you, big time.

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Focus our energy in the future

The past is the past, and we cannot change it. Instead of dwelling on the negative past, it is better to use your energy to focus on the future. If you make a mistake, do not punish yourself. Instead, learn from it and see how you can benefit from it going forward. We simply cannot avoid failures, so Fall Forward, Not Backward. If you want to have something you never had, you need to do something you’ve never done. Failures are inevitable, as they are stepping stones to success.

Five second window

woman contemplating
© Kevin Turcios via Unsplash

Whenever we want to do something, there is always a window that lasts about five seconds before our brain talks us out of it. Our brain is like a computer; it immediately processes and analyzes based on experience or information we have read, heard and seen in the past and comes up with “arguments” why we should or should not do something.

My husband and I have been trying to brave a cold shower for health benefits. After learning this research-based principle, we found out that as long as we turn the shower on and go under it for at least five seconds, we will NOT back out. Similarly, we are learning to pause for five seconds whenever we are about to snap at each other, so we can let our mind talk us out of it.

Play this five second window to your advantage.

Fill your bucket first

Have you ever been to a water park? There is always that big bucket, pivoting while being filled up. Visitors wait for the water to pour over them with much anticipation. When the bucket is full, it tips, and water pours all over, effortlessly. It is like the love in our life. When we fill our bucket first, it is effortless to pour over love into those waiting for or demanding that. So do something daily that shows self-love, which can be as simple as giving five minutes of me time to yourself. Do it every day, to create a new identity that you are someone who has abundant self-love.

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F what other people think

person holding out their arms in front of lake
© Leohoho via Unsplash

The last F is also the most crucial F in my book. It is to F What Other People Think. The only thing that matters is what YOU think. What you think generates the emotions that make your decisions, determines your behaviours, and then alters the outcome. Besides, what other people think is really what YOU think other people think about you.

Self-love is such a big topic and important in our life. In the next four weeks, I would like to invite my fellow life coach Shobha Nihalani, who will cover topics related to self-esteem in ‘Turn Critical to Compassionate’.

💡 Read more advice from Shirley Johnson on mental fitness 💡

Shirley Johnson is a certified transformational life coach and award-winning inspirational author. Her qualifications in yoga, pre and postnatal wellness, neurolinguistic programming, hypnotherapy and Reiki allow her to guide people in healing their past and building the future they truly desire.

With a background in luxury retailing, Shirley has a “thing” for beauty and aesthetics, which led her to a career in designing eco-friendly fashion accessories. A dedicated mother of two, her son’s brain cancer journey has taught her that the right mindset can conquer all. She shares her learnings to help others turn adversities into opportunities, and suffering into healing.

Learn more about Shirley Johnson at or contact her at

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of The HK HUB.

Header image credits: De’Andre Bush via Unsplash

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