I get asked regularly how I have got through all the many difficult things in my life and have created the life I am now living. The answer is: I learnt to love myself. It was and is as simple and complicated as that. Self-love is something I’m deeply passionate about, so forgive the longer than usual newsletter, but I’m so excited to share it with you because it’s life changing!!
There seems to be a lot of confusion about self-love: if I love myself does mean I’m selfish, arrogant, or that once I love myself, that’s it for the rest of my life?
The answer to all of that is NO.
Self-love is a daily practice that is the key to unlocking to all that you want and impacts the world is a positive way
We are in an epidemic of people who do not love themselves, in fact, a lot of people do not even like themselves, in part, because of the myths above. We are scared to allow ourselves to shine or make ourselves important, for fear of what people will think. This has a huge impact on all areas of our lives, but also on society as a whole.
Self love is essential when it comes to living a life that you love. As great as goals/visions and aspirations are, without self-love we tend to sabotage our attempts at love, success, health and happiness and look for evidence to confirm whatever our fears are. We become stuck in a cycle of “see, I told you I am worthless, not good enough, people don’t stay around…”, accept things that make us miserable and then behave in ways that are often not very kind.
The good news is that we can chose to practice self-love at any moment and everyone around you will benefit. If we want a better world, we must first take responsibility for ourselves.
Self-Love Changes Everything
It took me a long time to learn to practice self-love as more than a one-off event, but once I did, everything in my life began to change. I stopped needing drugs and alcohol to feel confident, I could accept and receive love which meant I found love, I believed I deserved both success and to be paid well for it, I trusted myself so make decisions that were good for me and I built up a solid support network of people who believe in me.
But I still have to work on this, I catch myself trying to be perfect, freaking out when I’ve made myself too vulnerable, criticising myself for not being “there” yet, (who knows where “there” is??) and can fall into this “push, push, push” mentality. The difference is now I am much quicker to become aware of it and rectify it.
So all that’s great but HOW do we love ourselves? Here are the active practice of self-love…
How much do you love yourself?
Go through each section of loving yourself and rate yourself out of 10.
Highlight the 3 lowest areas (even if there are more, just start with 3 to prevent overwhelm)
What would your 10/10 be if you believed you were loveable in these areas?
What needs to change in order for you to move towards this?
The active practices of self-love:
Forgiving and having compassion for yourself
We all get it wrong, do things that aren’t good for us, get stuck, hurt people or misjudge a situation sometimes because we are human. When we realise that we all doing the best we can with the information and resources we’ve got at that time, it enables us to be more compassion and forgiving towards both ourselves and others. We can only start from where we are and once we have both more awareness and resources, we are all able to make better decisions and choices.
Saying ouch! Self Preservation and Protection. Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are the bottom line behaviour that you will accept. This includes your finances, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Boundaries keep you safe, well, and confident. They are also inform others how to treat you, and also keep them safe. We do this by communicating how we feel and if harmed take action that protects us.
Look after your body
No dream, interest, goal, person or amount of money is worth killing yourself over. This is something I have to continuously remind myself of and is a learning curve! Long term stress is not funny. It suppresses our immune system, making us susceptible to all sorts of illnesses. You are in control of your life and your schedule; don’t wait until you burn out or have panic attacks to stop. Take breaks, sleep enough, spend time in silence, drink water, breathe. You only have one magnificent, incredible body that is doing it’s best for you. Health is wealth. Take care of it.
Allowing and Expressing your emotions safely
A range of emotions are normal, if you don’t you are either highly medicated or a sociopath 🙂 Emotions work in different ways to thoughts, in that they need to be validated to be let go of. Therefore supressing or trying to get rid of them doesn’t work! It takes more energy and we have to find dysfunctional ways of dealing with our feelings which takes much longer to rectify later on.
Practice feeling your feelings, expressing them safely (without hurt to yourself or others) and then take them as information about what you need to do to feel better.
Learning to receive
This is a biggy that a lot of people struggle with and was a big problem for me! Healthy relationships are an 50%-50% exchange of give and receive. So when we don’t allow ourselves to receive not only does this mean we run on empty and push away sources of suppport, we also reject others and deprive them of the joy of giving.
The right to say no
Self-love is the right to say no to yourself and others. I’ve noticed that anxiety, panic disorder and bi-polar have been the most searched terms on the counselling directory for a long time. One of the main reasons we are all so stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed, is because we find it hard to say that small but powerful, two letter word, “No”. We don’t want to be the bad guy, or be seen as the flaky person, or to be the first person who leaves the office on time.
The problem is that has catastrophic effects on our lives. If we want life to be more than a series of to-do lists and obligations, we have to be realistic about our limitations and honest about what we need to thrive.
Allowing yourself a voice
Ironically the fear of success can actually sabotage us from being successful, because it means standing out and being different. A lot of us have actually got punished, left out, hurt or attacked for being who we are, which is beautifully unique and different. This creates a real fear of revealing the true us, for fear that we will again face the same pain or trauma. The way to heal this is to move through this fear and give ourselves the permission to be us and chose people, careers, and circumstances that reflect this. You have a right to a voice.
Kindness: having your back
Life is difficult enough without you being your own worst enemy. Whatever happened to make you feel you are not enough, worthy enough or not deserving enough, be willing to heal it. Say nice words about yourself, be on your side, motivate yourself with passion not criticism. Believe in yourself. Make decisions that are nurturing. Go after your dreams. Nothing will change until you change. Gift yourself a nicer world and as a result make it better for us all.