Self-love. Not the superficial, disconnected, unemotional idea of what we have been told is self-love, like taking yourself to the movies or buying yourself some new clothes. Or the idea that one is arrogant or full of themselves because they love themselves. What I’m referring to when I talk about self-love goes much deeper.
For me, it is the complete acceptance and respect of myself; through the calm and through the storm. In the face of fear, as well as in the face of love. At my highest point and at my lowest point. Giving to myself on a daily basis with practices that nourish my mind/body/soul. Giving love to others and receiving and accepting love given back to me. Today and every day; infinitely and unconditionally.
This is not always easy and is a continuous journey. Some days you may not feel love or respect for yourself and other days you may be on top of the world and totally loving yourself.
I realised recently that every practice which I choose to make a priority in my life and that I value is a reflection of self-love. When I nourish my soul with beautiful, life giving food, that is self-love. When I protect and prioritise my sleep on a consistent basis, that is self-love. When I feed my soul with connection and meaningful relationships on a regular basis, that is self-love. When I take myself for a walk in nature and in the sunshine (one of my favourite things to do), that is self-love. When I give love and support to those that I love, that is a reflection of self-love. When I receive and fully accept love from those who want to give it to me (instead of deflecting it or not knowing what to do with it), that is self-love. These kinds of practices have really helped me be mostly consistent with my self-respect and acceptance.
There are many ways for each of us to practice self-love and I believe it starts with what we inherently and deeply value. Getting to that place of complete acceptance and respect of oneself takes it a step further and can be the challenging part. Some things that have helped me on my journey in progress are:
- Realising that everything we need is already within each of us. We are already “whole” on our own. Everything else is a bonus and a pleasure.
- Letting go of external pressures, attachments and societal based expectations, such as being or achieving something by a certain time-frame or age.
- Feeling the fears of not being good enough or worthy, then moving through them and releasing them. This has helped to largely dissolve the unnecessary insecurities related to these fears.
- Being aware of and identifying everyday life lessons whether from situations I find myself in or from people in my life. When one can learn, process and strengthen through life lessons on a constant and consistent basis, this helps to peel back each layer at a time and helps get you closer to being more secure, respectful and accepting of yourself.
- Surrounding myself with supportive, beautiful people – a sub-culture of sorts, of like-minded souls whom I connect with and love deeply.
What I also try to be mindful of are the things that I do or ways that I handle particular situations in my life that are not conducive to self-love. This could be suppression of my own feelings or happiness at the expense of someone else. Doing the opposite of this is not selfish, it is self-love. It could also be saying yes to something that I really don’t want to do, or not choosing to be myself in certain situations.
Having self-love and being selfish, can quite often be mistaken for the other. Having rituals or practices that put yourself first is not selfish, it is self-love. If you work on yourself first and do things that are going to move you forward and lift you up, you can then in turn be your best self and be there fully for others that you love.
The following are some examples of ways we may not realise are a barrier to self-love:
- Self-doubt – questioning your worth, thinking you are not good enough
- Taking on too much in life – Stress is a huge part of the equation. Not making time for yourself and letting your body know that it is safe.
- Holding onto expectations and attachments to yourself, others, negative thought patterns and behaviours
- Putting unhealthy food into your body. This is a reflection of your own self-respect, self-love and self-worth.
- Letting things in your life fall to shit because of some external situation or person.
- Not allowing yourself to be just what you inherently are, a human “being”, not a human “doing”. Sometimes you just need to stop and “be”.
What things in your life do you value that are practices of self-love? How are you being or what are you doing that may not be conducive to self-love?
As with most things, having the awareness to identify what you value, followed by intention and belief are powerful first steps. Integration of rituals or practices in your life are helpful. A great place to start is looking at what you put into your body. As I’ve mentioned before, food is information and not only effects how you feel, look and perform, it also impacts how you think, view and feel about yourself and the world around you. Feeding yourself nutrient-rich food is a great way to begin loving and respecting yourself more.
Having complete and utter self-love is the underpinning foundation of reconnecting to your human and wild nature. It is also a reflection of how you are showing up in the world. For me, it is one of the secrets to continually moving towards reconnecting, being the best version of myself and living the greatest love-filled life possible!
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DISCLAIMER: All content I share here on my blog is written from my own personal inquiry, experiences, thoughts and opinions and is not intended to replace medical or lifestyle advice from a practising professional.