I talk about self-love a lot. Getting to the bottom of what self-love truly means wasn’t easy at all and unlocking that has probably the most important work I have ever done for myself. The funny thing is, I thought for sure I DID love myself! Turns out I had it wrong.
I’ve spent the past many years unwinding all the “you’re selfish if you love yourself” scripts in my head. It was like clear-cutting a giant forest of trees and laying bare the fresh fertile earth of my heart to be reclaimed….by me, for me.
Louise Hay was an early inspiration for doing the beginning work of self-love. Her affirmations and what she called “mirror work” (where you look into the mirror each day telling yourself you love you) sounded so trite and easy, and yet, I found it so awkward and difficult! Have you ever looked yourself lovingly into your own eyes and said I love you in a real way? It’s a powerful and profound exercise that I strongly recommend. The beauty of this exercise seems to lie in the vulnerability and awkwardness of it. That could be said of life as well, but that’s another post!
Guided meditations and mindfulness practices were also a great help in allowing me to sink deep into my subconscious programming and heal those gaping wounds and false messages.
What happens over time when we find true self-love?
⇒Our resentment heals and our relationships – all of them – improve. When we start giving ourselves what we are looking for from everyone else, we no longer need to live in resentment and victimhood. With the love and quality support of minding our own needs, we are whole. We see everyone in our lives as the beautiful unique people they are and we stop looking at them for what they can give us. We start enjoying the people in our lives in a real and authentic and loving way. We stop keeping score, stop the endless judging, comparisons, and simply enjoy our time together. We appreciate people for who they are right now, not how they can improve and be better for us.
⇒We get motivated for all the right reasons. No longer needing to be shamed into eating healthy, working out, losing the weight or toning down the drinking. All of a sudden we do good things for ourselves because we have our best interests at heart and we know what’s best for us. We’re also no longer caught up trying to project and manage a perfect picture to the outside world of how wonderful, beautiful and awesome we are. We don’t need any of that outside validation (it becomes a nice bonus) and suddenly we are free to live our lives and be fully present and connected with the people we care about most. What a relief. Tons of energy gets freed up from incessantly crafting and managing the “story” that we project to the world around us. Energy we can then put towards things that we value, people we love, and projects we care about.
⇒When we love ourselves our self-confidence soars! Being nurtured by the powerful force of your own love and self-respect drives you to consistently make better choices for yourself which leads to greater self-confidence. Doing things that are right and truly meant for us is like confidence rocket fuel. Dreams and goals begin to come into focus, and you begin to see a clear path where before there was a fog of confusion fueled by self-doubt.
⇒You go deeper into being your authentic self. Every action and each word begins to align with who you are in a very real way. Now that you’re showing up for yourself every day, you are curating your experience – an experience that serves the best version of you. The best people for you, the best food, the right amount of exercise, and work you love. Anything that doesn’t serve this “best you” falls away.
I love this quote attributed to the Buddha: “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”