I think it’s safe to say that we could all use more love in our lives.
Everywhere I look people are searching for love, either with their parents, a partner, or more friendships. As women, we crave love. Even if we feel that we have been blessed with loving relationships, we sometimes feel that something is missing. Something doesn’t quite feel right.
As a society, we have forgotten how to love ourselves first.
How are we expected to accept and give love in our lives without first really loving and accepting ourselves for who we are? We can’t. It’s that simple. Loving ourselves is at the root of not only love but also our measures for happiness in our lives.
This past weekend I had the amazing honor of attending a conference that has opened my eyes wide on this very topic. As women, we are so worried about loving our children or our partners that we often don’t take the most important time to really learn to love ourselves. The results on our health and our life are monumental.
We get sick.
We push away new relationships.
We feel fat.
We get angry for no reason.
We feel stuck.
Well, it’s time to stop. Stop the hate. Stop the judgment. Stop standing in your own way.
Self-love is a process. It takes time to get started and to develop true love and acceptance of yourself. But, I guarantee the journey is more than worth the time and effort.
It has to start today, right here, right now, with yourself.
There are 4 areas of your life that you need to begin cultivating love for yourself: physically, emotionally, mindfully, and spiritually. Practicing self-love in each of these areas will ensure a proper balance of love and happiness in your whole life. You can’t love one part of yourself without loving the others.
This will be different for everyone, depending on your needs and beliefs. The best ways to practice loving your body (which is just a vehicle for your soul by the way, it’s not who you really are) are:
- Feed it only natural & nourishing foods. Ask yourself next time you eat or drink something “am I loving my body by eating this”?
- Move your body. We all know how good exercise is to keep our bodies strong and healthy for the duration of our time on this planet. Next time you find yourself parked on the couch watching Netflix all day ask yourself “am I loving my body right now”?
- Limit or avoid chemicals. This is a difficult task in today’s busy and ever moving world. But, it’s not impossible. Pay attention to the chemicals found in your food, in your water, and even in your household. Next time you clean your home or choose to run along a busy exhaust filled street ask yourself “am I loving my body by doing this”?
- Cherish your physical body. This is a tough one for us women. I struggle with issues here too, as we all do. What good are we doing to ourselves by judging, hating and criticizing that beautiful person looking back at us in the mirror? Ask yourself, “do I love the way my body looks and feels”? Most of us regretfully say no. Some days I do too. It’s not our fault. Society has trained us that being different or looking different is bad. It’s not. It’s our gift and what makes the human race amazing and beautiful. We are all supposed to look different! Imagine how scary the world would be if we all looked like identical twins! Sounds horrible to me! So, start today by looking at your naked self in the mirror and ask “what 3 things do I love about my body”?
- Take time for self-care. Look after your body. Take a bath. Scrub your hair for an extra 2 minutes because it feels good. Sit in the sun. Walk on the grass. Do something that makes you feel good and is just for you. How can you build self-care into your daily life?
The second area of your life that needs some love is your emotions. I’m not talking about walking around in a state of “lovey dovey” feelings all day long. I’m talking about respecting and loving every emotion that arises and loving yourself enough to know how to deal with them.
To help us love and respect our emotions we must:
- Acknowledge how we are feeling in any particular moment. If we can find a place where we can acknowledge how we are feeling (angry, jealous, happy, frustrated, betrayed, disappointed, free, excited…) we can really understand ourselves and what we need.
- Find outlets to express our emotions and feelings. If we can understand and respect what we are going through, we can find ways to deal with and express what we need to. It may be to talk to someone about something they do that makes you upset, it may be expressing to someone why you love them, or it may be learning to physically let go of anger and stress by screaming and jumping (a very powerful exercise that I plan to build into my life for physical emotional release).
- Speak your feelings. No more holding it in ladies. Sometimes it’s hard as we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. But, we have the right as humans to feel how we feel and express that to those who make us feel that way, good or bad. Let it out. Be kind, speak about how they or it makes you feel, and keep it about you and your journey.
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes. That is not who you are. We have all done stupid sh*t in the past. Those who can learn from it and grow from it are truly practicing self-love. Let go of the past and love yourself for all that you are.
After this weekend I am more aware than ever that I don’t deal with emotions like I should. As women we add emotion after emotion onto our backs without ever letting them go. No wonder we all feel heavy, bogged down, and sick! No more keeping your feelings inside. As women we’re emotional, which means we have feelings, and this is our amazing gift. Let it out. If you feel sad, let it out, cry or scream or do whatever feels like what you need. If you feel disappointed, express those feelings to the person involved. If you feel judged, talk about it.
Let it out for the love of yourself!
Love your mind
Our minds are magical. They are capable of rational thinking, analyzing, processing thoughts, learning new things, and more! Our minds are also capable of bringing us down. They allow us to talk negatively to ourselves, to tell ourselves stories that aren’t true, and to get in our own way when we don’t feel worthy.
Practicing self-love in your mind means to be kind to yourself.
- Tell the negative self-talk to F*%K off. We all do it, hundreds of times per day, usually without even noticing. We tell ourselves negative things that do not serve us. Our inner critic is always saying “you’re not pretty enough”, “you’re not thin enough”, “you didn’t handle that situation well”, “you did a shitty job at work today”. I want you to start paying attention to that little voice in your head (who isn’t you by the way… that’s just someone put there to challenge us). Next time you hear yourself saying something negative in your head ask “is that really true about me”? “Is this really helping me love myself”?
- Stop telling stories that aren’t true. I’ll never succeed. I’ll never be outgoing. I’ll never find my passion. I’ll never find someone to love me for who I am. I am poor. I am damaged. Stop. These stories are just that, stories. They are not our truths. We tell ourselves stories based off past events and what others have told us. They’re not always true. We decide. We decide who we are. We decide who we want to become. Time to tell these old and tired stories to take a hike. Next time you tell yourself you can’t do something because of your past story ask “Is this really true about me”? “Does this story help me love myself”?
- Learn to deal with stress. I know you’ve heard this a million times already but, I’m going to say it here again. It’s time to start loving our minds and treating them with some respect. Our minds can only take so much of this horrible thing called stress. Find something that works for you and do it every single day. Take a walk in nature, meditate, have coffee with a close friend, laugh, garden, spend time petting your dog, do what works for you and let that moment be a release for you. Breathe and just be in that moment.
- Voice your love to yourself. Look yourself right in the eye (mirror needed) and say “I love you” 3 times every morning and night. You can say it out loud or to yourself. If you aren’t near a mirror wrap your arms around yourself, close your eyes, and repeat the same. Writing it down in a journal is another great way to express and begin to believe in the love of yourself. I love all of myself. Smile.
We are not the physical body we see in the mirror.
We are not the emotions we feel.
We are not the thoughts and stories in our heads.
Sure, these all make up how we perceive ourselves and make it through life on this beautiful planet called Earth. But, we are at essence something much greater than all of that. We are, if nothing else, energy put on this beautiful earth for a reason. Each of our reasons will be different, but we must find our own connection to the bigger picture. We are all connected.
Can you feel it?
Taking care and loving your spirit and the essence of who you are is a personal journey. Before I found the part of my spiritual self, I believed that the only way to be spiritual in this life was to either follow a very specific religion (which I didn’t) or to be a yogi or monk (which I wasn’t). That is so far from the truth. I don’t know where I learned that. Spirituality is simply acknowledgement of something bigger than you on this planet. For some that’s a God, for some it’s Mother Earth herself, and for others it’s simply an energy that they feel carries them through their day.
Whatever it is for you, find a way to love that part of yourself and nurture it on a daily basis.
- Be grateful for what you have in your life. A daily gratitude practice will train your brain to be thankful and see the positive things you hold in your life. Whether it’s writing down 3 things you are grateful for or telling one person every day you are grateful for them, make it a daily ritual and bring positivity to your life.
- Find your purpose. Yah, OK. I’ll get right on it. Yah, I know it’s not a simple task, but it’s a task that we are responsible for. We were all put here for a reason and it’s up to us to find out what that is. Try new things, talk to people, discover what you love to do, and start tapping into why you were put here in the first place. What drives you? What do you love to do? What are your talents? (Mine is wine drinking, obviously). Just start experimenting and learning to reflect and search within yourself for whatever that passion is. Then follow it. Your passion and purpose could be walking your dog every morning or it could be making others feel beautiful through hair styling. Whatever it is, get out there and do it. Even if you can’t do it for a day job, then find a way to do it on the side. Love yourself by finding your purpose on this Earth.
- Take time to get lost in thought. Let yourself just be on a daily basis. A fancy word for this is meditation. Taking time, even just 5 minutes, to just be with your own mind is a powerful de-stressor and connector to your inner self. Whether you use this time to reflect and plan your day or to connect with your spirit on a deeper level, spending time in thought has immense power over every aspect of your life, especially self-love. Take whatever time you can and just be with yourself in that moment where nothing else matters.
Self-love is a personal journey.
It’s NOT about what other people are doing or where they are on their journey.
It’s about YOU.
It is about how YOU choose to view yourself and the world around you.
If you want to invite more love and meaningful relationships into your life, it’s time to start taking the steps towards fully and wholly loving yourself first. If you can love yourself, you will forever be loved.
In the great words of Carrie Bradshaw – “Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first”.
Self-love & Happiness,