By now we all know that we need to love ourselves. After the initial pioneering work of self development gurus like Louise Hay, ‘self love’ has become a buzzword. When life gets tough well meaning friends, family and even (some) therapist throw it around willy nilly. “You need to practice self love”, “you can’t expect someone to love you until you love yourself”, “I need to take care and love myself more”. You have all heard these phrases. And although there is alot of truth and good intention in them without truly knowing how to practice self love then they are about as useful as a chocolate fireguard.
In the past year I have been really working on self-love. I have been battling my demons, putting my needs first, journalling, working with my inner child and of course pampering myself whenever I really needed it. It’s an in depth journey and is one that constantly evolves, reshapes itself and is a continuous lifelong process. During this journey I have had some realisations about the process of practicing self love, that no-one has ever told me about. It surprised me when I began to experience it that when we work towards achieving self love we actually have to go through a period similar to grieving, followed by a choice to honour yourself building up to the place of a strong and loving center. I have found that to really go in depth, to close the doors on patterns of self loathing and to arrive at the so advertised zen like state of acceptance and truly loving yourself there are 7 stages we need to go through. (A guide if you like to the emotional roller coaster you begin to ride when you truly set out to love yourself.)
Now I am not finished with my journey of self love (not by a long shot). However I feel as though I have cracked the key to creating a conscious relationship with myself coming from a place of self love. So if you have heard or thought recently, that it maybe that self love is the key to your healing follow my guide to self love and take the steps towards building a strong loving relationship with yourself. Oh and I highly recommend you get a notebook for this journey, you will want to look back through your thoughts and reflections during this journey.
Finding and facing your demons
What is it about yourself that makes you not love yourself? In you there will be somewhere negative patterns of behaviour, ways in which you talk yourself down. In order to do something about these you first need to understand them. Also you need to understand where these feelings and habits come from. Often if you can find the root you will find it easier to know how to change this pattern or behavior. Brainstorm all the qualities you don’t like about yourself and then through journaling identify where your negative perspective comes from. As an example I have a drama or overwhelming feeling that I am not good enough, it comes from my childhood my parents rows and pressure to be academically better than I was. See where these demons come from in you.
This stage can be hard to do alone. It maybe easier to call in a counsellor, life coach or psychologist to support you. Facing our demons will have a powerful effect on you so call in a support network to take care of you in this part of your journey.
It can be hard to see your demons. I find that as something pops up in my journey of self love, it brings with it sadness. It brings grief right to the surface when I can see where it came from. This is normal and natural. Often things we don’t like about yourself come from a place of hurt or shame. And facing them seeing them for what they truly are hurts. Allowing yourself to grieve. allows you to release the hurt, the shame and the negative association you have. In a way your grief is the loss of something you didn’t have. The loss of what could have been, the guilt of how you could have done things differently. You have to let go of this in order to move forwards so cry it out, talk it out and please write it out. Writing out our sadness is a cathartic healing process. It stops your head an heart filling up with your grief. So write, write, write.
Just as in in any process of acceptance after the sadness anger often bubbles up inside us. It’s normal. It’s healthy. And like the sadness it needs to be worked through. One of my biggest challenges with self love had created a lot of anger in myself and it wasn’t until I figured out that actually I could have had help with the situation that my anger rose and release.
Express your anger. Write it out. Go somewhere far away from anyone in the woods and shout it out. If you can’t find a place to go and are scared to shout incase you upset neighbours or housemates then grab a pillow and scream your anger out into that.
Eventually if you are going to love yourself you have to forgive. Just as in any relationship when there has been an argument you have to be able to forgive to heal. Forgiveness is not easy and it takes practise. I find writing yourself a letter of forgiveness a powerful tool.
Also the Hawaiian practise of Hooponopono, is a powerful practice of forgiveness There are four simple steps to this method, and the order is not that important. Repentance, Forgiveness, Gratitude and Love are the only forces at work – but these forces have amazing power. Simply repeating again and again:
I am sorry
Please forgive me
I love you
You can read more about Hooponopono here.
Yes things could have been different. The things that created the hurt, the feelings of guilt, shame or even the frustration at a diagnosis you have could have been different. Your body could be thinner, your face different. However they are not. Things are as they are. Acceptance is simply that accepting things as they are. Not judging. Not trying to improve. Just simply as they are. Acceptance is the art of moving from feeling happy to being happy.
Making something meaningful can help with acceptance. By this I mean look for the teaching. What is the thing that it teaches you?
Acceptance is the practise of letting go. And in order to love truly we have to let go the past behaviours and negative thought patterns or treatment of ourselves. By letting go and accepting you will free up space within you that you can fill with self love.
Honouring is the start of self love
Honour yourself. How would you treat someone you love? That is how you need to treat yourself. When you feel yourself mentally beating yourself up or wearing yourself down ask yourself is that how I would treat my partner, my friend, my child? If not then why are you doing it to yourself. Your relationship with you is the most important relationship you will ever have, cultivate it as you would a relationship as someone you love.
Appreciate yourself and what you have. This is a great way to honour yourself from a place of self love. Write a list every morning of ten things you’re grateful for, you’ll start feeling more love and appreciation for yourself.
Becoming your rock
If you, like me, are a huge fan of the book Eat, Love, Pray there is a moment in the story where her internal self promises to be there for her. To always be there for her. To love her unconditionally. To be her strength. It is beautiful and true. We often look for security outside ourselves and yet here we are always there and waiting to be trusted enough to be relied upon. Allowing yourself to live from a place of integrity, living your truth and being honest with yourself will allow you to see how strong you are. You are enough. You can trust yourself to guide yourself. So live in according to your principles and you will see how strong you are.
Kindness and caring
Be kind with yourself and care for yourself. One of the greatest ways to do this is to speak to yourself kindly. Become more aware of your harmful negative internal voices and gently set them aside. Thank them for raising concerns, but let them know you’ll do just fine without them. Be aware of how you treat your body do you take care of it ? Do you allow yourself rest? Do you set boundaries as to how other people treat you? Stand up for yourself, respect yourself and be nice to you. After all if you treat yourself well it stands to reason that others will do too.
As I said earlier I am not finished with my journey of self love. And in a way I never will be. Nor will you. Loving ourselves is a lifelong mission. ANd is one of the most important missions we will ever have. Being conscious around creating self love and building a healthy loving relationship with ourselves is the most important gift we can give ourselves. It builds a strong foundation for everything in our lives be it career, family or a lover. It is never too late to start a journey of self love, to give yourself the gift of the most loving, supportive friend and guide who will always be with you every day of your life.
Have a beautiful week and enjoy your journey <3