“Do you want to meet the love of your life?
Look in the mirror!”
– Byron Katie
With Valentine’s Day here and romance in the air, it’s understandable we would focus on our feelings of love for others and how much we are loved back by them. This Valentine’s Day, I invite you to consider the concept of loving yourself.
What would it be like if you simply devoted the next year to loving yourself more? Being gentle with yourself, to forgive yourself more readily? How would this impact your life, your relationships, your career and leisure time? How would it look and feel if every decision you made was based on your unconditional love for yourself?
To embark on a journey back to the inherent self-love you were born with. In Rumi’s words, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
“To love ourselves is the beginning of a life-long Romance”
– Oscar Wilde
For so many of us, the very idea of self-love conjures up thoughts of vanity and selfishness. However, this is the furthest thing from the truth. In order to love others, we need to be able to love ourselves. To be able to properly care for others, we need to first ensure we are being properly cared for ourselves. It is only when we have our own unconditional love and self-compassion, that we do not need to search for positive reinforcement and validation from external sources, and we can fully live our true life’s purpose, standing confidently and humbly in our power.
In her research, Dr. Kristen Neff found that the biggest reason people aren’t self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten this wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way you should be.
Self-love is often confused with self-worth. Self-worth is dependant on external circumstances or self-judgement. Your self-worth can fluctuate according to what is happening in your life, moment to moment, day to day, year to year. It can vary according to what you have, or don’t have, your ability to do a certain thing, or be a certain way. It can be easily influenced by other people’s opinions, even if they are not congruent to your own. Whereas self-love remains constant, regardless of what you may or may not have, whether you have achieved your goals or not, and irrespective of what others think or say about you. Your self-love is not at the mercy of the inevitable highs and lows of life. Self-worth is conditional, whereas self-love is unconditional.
Self-love is asking yourself what you need – every day – and then making sure you receive it. This may not always be what you want. A parent who loves their child will feed them fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables, even when the child is screaming for ice-cream. They do this, as we all know, because the child will not be healthy only eating ice-cream, even when it takes a lot of effort (believe me, it would be much easier just giving them the ice-cream!) We need to do the same with ourselves – know your goals, your ambitions and, even if it takes more effort, and is incredibly challenging sometimes, do what it is you know will lead you to success – this is self-love. And just as a child grows into an adult and is grateful, upon looking back, that their parents made the effort and showed their love by ensuring they ate well, you too will look back and feel gratitude for all that you did to ensure you were successful in your endeavours.
Demonstrate love by giving it unconditionally to yourself. And as you do, you will attract others into your life who will love you without conditions.
4 STEPS TO ASSIST YOU ALONG THE PATH TO SELF-LOVE :
- EAT LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF
- MOVE LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF
- SPEAK LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF
- ACT LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF
EAT LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF :
We are all familiar with the saying “You are what you eat”. We know that the food we ingest is what goes toward making every cell in our body. It is what fuels us, giving our body energy for activity, digestion, thinking, repairing, for every single process our body undergoes.
So what does it say about our opinion of ourselves if we abuse our body and have no regard for the food we eat? Each time you make a choice of what food you are going to consume, you are making a statement – ‘I am grateful for my body and love who I am’, or ‘I neglect my body’s needs and am not showing love for myself right now’.
We are all vibrational beings. Every cell in our body is resonating at various frequencies. A person who is unhealthy, unwell, depressed, or compromised in some way will be vibrating at a lower frequency than someone who is vital, healthy, happy, passionate or the ultimate in high vibratory energy, enlightened. The food we eat also has a vibration and is an excellent way, along with exercise and meditation, to elevate the frequency with which our body is vibrating. Fresh, organic, local and seasonal foods and spring water (with no added chlorine and fluoride) are high vibratory foods, along with organic herbs (such as those you will find in our tonics – Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Astragalus, Maca, He Shou Wu, Gynostemma – just to name a few).
The foods to avoid due to their low vibration are processed and chemically laden food (most packaged food) Tap water (at the very least invest in a water filter) Sugar and alcohol (Sorry!). Not only do these foods have low vibration, but they have very little nutritional value plus they place stress on your body as it is quite challenging for the body to filter and eliminate. So, essentially, a lot of hard work for no reward!
MOVE LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF :
The way we move is not only a reflection of our self-love, but it can also enhance our ability to love ourselves!
Our posture, the way we hold ourselves, is very influential to how we feel about ourselves. It can demonstrate to others how we are feeling – if we hang our heads, eyes down and shoulders slouching, it indicates that we are feeling negative, lacking confidence, we may be ashamed, feeling guilty, unworthy, sad. This posture will also exacerbate these feelings which will only cause us to feel these emotions more acutely or, if habitual, could become chronic. Correct posture, standing or sitting tall, erect, open, proud, are all congruent to feeling positive about yourself and the world around you.
An athlete who has excelled will stand on the podium with chest lifted, shoulders back, even as open as having arms extended to the heavens – this shows us their elation, happiness, ecstatic, and pride. If we can emulate this posture, it can lead us toward feeling these feelings, even without the external circumstances of success.
Recent research has shown that your posture even affects your longevity.
Physical activity is well known for it’s myriad of benefits to our health physically, mentally and emotionally. Choosing movement every day is a gesture of self-love. Whether it’s high intensity, mind-body, stretching, calming, simple, complicated or meditative, it is all medicine to your whole self. Whether you choose to walk the dog, hike in nature, train for your chosen sport, or committing to a variety of classes here at Total Fusion – starting a regular yoga practice, Pilates, cycle, run, playing tennis with friends, shooting hoops down at the park, or ultimately, a smorgasbord of all of the above and more.
A variety of movement will enhance your ability to love yourself and feel good about all that is happening in your world, due to the endorphins released while doing this, as well as the physical improvements exercise promotes. Sharing your exercise experience with others promotes strong connections which is another basic human need we all need to meet, so further highlights the benefits of our movement regime.
SPEAK LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF:
This is mostly in relation to self-talk. Yes, it’s important to speak to others in a way that demonstrates your self-respect, however, it’s the way you speak to yourself that has the most impact on your overall well-being.
So how do you talk to yourself?
What is it you regularly tell yourself?
Is it along the lines of ‘I’m too fat’, ‘I’m hopeless/stupid/unloveable?’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘who do I think I am?’
If or when you find yourself talking harshly to yourself, try and practice self-compassion This means relating to yourself kindly, encouraging rather than harsh negative talk – like the way we would talk to our good friends. Also, try and practice mindfulness – being with what is in the Present Moment. Oftentimes we aren’t even aware of our own suffering as it’s usually coming from our own harsh criticism that is so habitual we do not even realise it is happening. So be gentle and kind in the way you talk to yourself.
ACT LIKE YOU LOVE YOURSELF:
“Love yourself. Enough to take the actions required for your happiness. Enough to cut yourself loose from the drama-filled past. Enough to sort a high standard for relationships. Enough to feed your mind and body in a healthy manner. Enough to forgive yourself. Enough to move on.” – Steve Maraboli
*Be uniquely you.
The most important action you can take toward loving yourself unconditionally is to be authentic. To accept yourself as you truly are, which means valuing your imperfections as well as your perfections. We can all tend to get caught up in today’s world with how things look on the surface, the physical appearance of something. This only leads to constant judgement of ourselves in comparison to others – and unfortunately, all too often, in our own minds, we come up lacking. The idea that “if they are good, I mustn’t be”, or “if they are right, then I am wrong” is a concept that can only lead to dissatisfaction.
True beauty means to be yourself – your very individual, unique, maybe quirky self. You do not need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
So, listen to your inner-voice, acknowledge how it is you truly feel about every aspect of your life, and make choices that are congruent to your following your passion, your joy, and your bliss in all aspects of your life; relationships, career, leisure time, spirituality.
This could look very different for us all. For some, to nurture yourself would mean enjoying a massage or spa treatment, others curling up on the sofa with a good book. It may be finding time to watch Netflix, getting out in nature, sleeping in, a day at the beach, visiting friends/family, taking dancing/singing lessons, learning a musical instrument/another language, the list is endless. What brings you joy? What does your soul cry out for you to do? The important thing here is to own it. Love it. Enjoy it. Without the need to justify to yourself or others why you have done this.
“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.” – Andrew Matthews
*Love yourself enough to set boundaries.
Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.
*Create good daily habits/rituals.
Small, seemingly insignificant lifestyle changes that are conducive to you becoming the person you aspire to be. Just because we love ourselves unconditionally, and are compassionate to ourselves, doesn’t mean we are not striving to grow and improve physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. On the contrary, it’s BECAUSE you love yourself that you take action and make the effort to do those things required to achieve your goals/dreams. Again, this will be a very individual thing, so research and learn what it takes to improve in whichever direction you wish to head in and commit to it.
Physically – could be implementing a morning ritual of drinking lemon water/ginger tea/spring water/apple cider vinegar upon waking. Committing to an exercise regime, oil pulling/dry skin brushing/bouncing every morning to assist with detoxing, avoiding computer/phone screens 1hr before bed/finish eating 3hrs before bed to encourage a better night’s sleep.
Mentally – Commit some time each day for further education, allocate time each day to read, allow time for rest/mindfulness/meditation each day.
Emotionally – Begin to journal your thoughts and feelings (sometimes just writing these down eases the worry that you have about a situation) Practice Gratitude daily, experiment with EFT (emotional freedom technique/tapping) daily, making time each day to nurture relationships,
Spiritually – Practice yoga daily (also, take yoga off your mat – there are 8 limbs to yoga and Asana (physical postures) are just one of these. Studying the philosophy of yoga is a beautiful way to grow your spiritual health) Take time for contemplation/reflection daily
The trick is to make small change/additions and progress from there. Be gentle and forgiving toward yourself – this in itself is practicing self-love. We are our own true best friend, all too often we become our own worst enemy. Simply being aware of our tendency to criticise ourselves, or put ourselves down is a giant step toward eradicating that habit and, in its place support and encourage ourselves.
Some of my favourite books on this topic:
The Gift’s of Imperfection – Brene Brown
Loving What Is – Byron Katie
The Mindful Self -Compassion Workbook – Kristen Neff & Chris Germer
– Michelle McNiece