“Self – Love” – so what’s that meant to mean?? It sounded a bit woo-woo , hippy dippy to me to me for years…what does it mean to you?
The online dictionary.com states:
‘The instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well – being, especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.’
The Cambridge Dictionary doesn’t even list it!
So, I’m not surprised that not many people, myself included, never really understood the meaning behind this expression for years. It wasn’t until I seriously entered the world of yoga and self-awareness 4 years ago that I began to realise what self-love was really about. My recent illness has brought this need even more to the forefront
The Untruth of self-love:
In fact self-love was frowned upon in my upbringing and galvanised by an incident in my art class at around age 11 when the most popular girl in the class (you know the sort – pretty, athletic, cool even in a bottle green school uniform) shouted out across the room at me ‘Oh look at her…she so loves herself!’, just because I happened to pick up the drawing I had been engrossed in and was holding it up to admire. So that was that. The following class laughter and humiliation trapped me into a life of forever thinking I should never, ever love myself, it was wrong, it was self-centred and selfish, I wasn’t not worthy of such high esteem. Exactly what the online dictionary puts across.
The Truth of self-love:
It is, in fact, obligatory that you love yourself – for without self-love who are you really? Self – love is organic and dynamic. It grows naturally through actions that make us who we truly are. Not having self-love led me to not value myself, not appreciate my body, always looking to others for appreciation and acknowledgment of my worth. All in all, not a great place to be living in.
Our culture instils the belief that kindness is being kind to others, however you can’t be genuinely kind to others if you’re not being kind to yourself. You need to know your limits, know when enough is enough physically, mentally and emotionally and turn to your ‘inner me’ for refuelling. Once you become more aware of your inner needs and feelings, you can become stronger, you get to know your boundaries and are more able to be open hearted and genuinely kind to others.
So, if you’re in a space of non self-love or maybe just don’t quite ‘get it’, I’d like to share with you:
6 Key Steps To Discovering Self-Love...
These have helped me and I believe will help you focus on yourself – if you regularly try one, you’ll begin to notice a shift…
It really is all about YOU!
You are what you eat: I know it’s a cliché but it’s true! Be intentional about what you put into your body. If you feed yourself nutrient poor food, your body cannot function as well as it would so love to do for you! Cut out the processed ready meal, preservative heavy supermarket crap. Drop that fast food burger habit. Increase your daily vegetable intake. Drink more water ( fill your water bottle with slices of fruit and mint for flavour) and less coke. You don’t have to cut out your occasional treats but eating better will truly make you feel better about yourself – you’ll have more energy, better moods, clearer thinking and healthier looking skin. Your body and digestive system will thank you for it long term and once you feel the difference you’ll be surprised how easy it becomes to avoid the unhealthy stuff.
Nothing compares to you: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else… at any time… ever… got that? You are unique – no one on this fine Earth has had the same life experiences, relationships, thoughts, talents and skills as you. Don’t get into the habit of comparing yourself to feed your negative thoughts on a bad day… Everyone has bad days, it’s part of life. Don’t believe all the amazing things people are doing posted on Facebook – it’s not the full picture!
I am amazing: Create a self-gratitude list. Sit down with a cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine and spend 20 minutes listing all that you think is OK about yourself and what you’ve achieved in life so far. Physically, mentally, any moments of courage you’ve had to have, any exams you’ve passed, things you’ve done for family and friends, however small , any awards you’ve won (even that three legged race at school or that badge in the Girl Guides – carpentry was my proudest – odd choice I know :)). Then read it back to yourself out loud…see how far you’ve come and praise yourself for being you – see you are pretty cool!
Love & Respect: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Be kind and smile at people – even if they think you must be mad, look at you oddly or don’t return the compliment …some will and it will open your heart.
Letting go: We all have bad memories and tend to store them, locked away thinking that they may prevent us from future harm or maybe we are still trying to understand what happened. Well it’s time to forgive yourself and others for whatever it was that happened and let those bad memories go. No one is perfect, cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself and others. Let those memories go. They serve you no purpose now nor will they in the future. They are subconscious weights dragging you down and anchoring you in the past which no longer exists. Let them go and move forward into your yet to be discovered, exciting future…..
You talkin’ to Me? : Be aware of your inner dialogue – notice how you talk to yourself when you make a mistake, trip over, drop something. Would you talk to a friend or a family member like that?! Be kinder, more patient, supportive and encouraging towards yourself.
Your future loving self:
As self- love grows, you begin to accept both your weaknesses and strengths, no longer feeling the need to explain your short comings. You can feel more compassion for yourself and your body, becoming kinder and more patient as you navigate yourself through life’s maze. You’ll become more focused on your passions and find your life’s purpose and values. You won’t look to others for the authorisation to feel good about yourself or to know what to feel and think. By becoming even slightly more self-aware we naturally become more open to others around us. After all, we are an interdependent species living on an interdependent planet.
So looking back – sadly, that girl in class wasn’t full of self-love either….I wonder if she ever found it?
If this has been of interest to you and maybe inspired you to take even one step I’d love to hear from you!