Self -Love is an interesting topic, most of us have heard the term but most of us are not sure how greater self-love can help us. Since this term seems so misunderstood I want to take a moment to bring clarity to its meaning from my perspective but first let me tell you a couple of stories.
I remember a time where a friend picked me up to hang out for the day. I remember that I was not feeling my best, uncomfortable in my own skin, not taking care of myself. She asked me what I wanted to do and I responded that I did not care I would go with the flow. For some reason this memory always comes to mind when I think about self -love because I think it is a time when I didn’t understand the value of putting myself first, taking care of myself and defining how I wanted to spend my time. In that moment instead of doing the things that would have allowed me to show up as my best self and as the person that worlds need me to be I took the path of least resistance and allowed my time to be spent using someone else’s judgement. I gave my power away. I suppose self-love is in many ways about empowering yourself.
Another time when self-love was not in my playbook, I noticed that I was good at taking care of others and not myself. I was young mother to three children spanning from 5-10 years old. I would shop for them, make sure they got to school on time, attended their sporting events, and made it to doctors and dentists appointment. In general, it was very clear that I prioritized everything about their needs and well-being above my own, even to the point where I was not doing those same things for myself. Anyone else? I would place money on it that most mothers do this at one point in time in their parenting career. My hope is that mothers around the world have an “aw haw” moment like the one I had around that time in my life. As I walking through my home picking up toys and clothes, I flashed on the airplane ritual we all know where the flight attendant briefs us about the oxygen mask and that we need to put our mask on before we help others. I also recalled hearing a snippet of parenting wisdom that went something like, “your children don’t learn from what you do for them as much as they learn from watching how you treat yourself.” There was absolutely no way I was going to not give my children guidance to know how to take care of themselves, how to prioritize themselves and how to love themselves. I knew I had a whole lot of learning to do for myself so that I could show them how to do those things.
Let us just say that you relate to these stories or maybe they stir up some other memories that you have been thinking you want to change and are ready to work on this thing called self-love. The question is how does self love work and how do we put it into action in our lives. There is little concrete information available to us and for that reason, I want to share a bit of science and some building blocks of a self-love practice.
Studies show that self-love is an aspect of healing and transformation. One particular study was focused on women recovery from bulimia found that women who developed a self-love practice were more likely to overcome their eating disorder.
The study went on to say that, their practices were focused on their practices of writing, art and music and that intentionality played a part in these women developing these practices. (2001, Orbanic)
I have to stop right here and call out a couple of things about this research. For one, the intentionality being cited as an aspect of self-love I find to be so important. Cultivating intentionality cannot be over emphasized in the art of self-love, if you go back and look at the stories that I shared there was zero intentionality in terms of how I took care of myself. I was more in a survival mode then anything, just existing, just checking the box, showing up enough to meet my basic needs and take care of others. Why was this my first instinct? Because it was what I had been modeled by my family of origin, it was what I saw my mother doing. Now of course I love my mother dearly but it was true and it all ties back with why I decided to start my own self-love journey.
Specialize in yourself; too often, we rely on other people, social media or other cultural influences to tell us what is right for ourselves. Creating our life path or strategy in this way does two things that are not really working for us, first we disconnect with ourselves and stop tapping into our own inner wisdom that we all innately possess and secondly we start rely on what others think of us to be some sort of guiding light. In truth, both of these effects are harmful, lead great suffering, and in fact become obstacles that we end up needing to overcome.
Self Love Step #1 – Take the time to be with yourself. This means taking daily time to listen and tune in to your personal wisdom. This could mean starting out with 5 minutes a day. Taking this time will allow you to become clear as to what you want to create and how you want to feel. I know this sounds so simple but importance of creating a clear vision of what you want and desire cannot be overstated. It is also so important to review this list routinely and keep it in mind when you are creating your daily, weekly and monthly goals and plans.
Some prompts to inspire:
- Pick the space you will spend your alone time ensuring that it supports peace, creativity and connecting with your inner voice
- Ask yourself what you need
- Ask yourself what you would like to create
- Select a journal or place that you want to record what you need and what you desire
- Schedule your day to support these truths and desires
Self-Love Step #2 – Create anchors throughout your home and daily schedule. Staying true to the intentions that you are going to be creating takes discipline and persistence to stay true to them. For this reason, I recommend creating anchors in your life that will draw you back to intentions, dreams and truth.
Some inspiration to assist you with creating anchors:
- Create space in your workplace, home and car – wherever you are spending time and might need these reminders – place symbols that you associate with your desires, peace and truth in these spaces
- Make your spaces beautiful and inspirational
- Exercise – this is a wonderful practice that has so many wonderful benefits but also promotes mindfulness and awareness to yourself
- Practice prayer, meditation or stillness in your beautiful inspirational spaces to reconnect with and empower yourself
There is so much to say about self-love and while it is a simple concept it really take a great deal of practice to operate from this space. Because this practice is the equivalent to working out a very out of shape muscle for most of us, I will be back to add more tips, inspiration and information – stay tuned.
Much love, Chloe