“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Self love is vital, it is crucial to your health, well being and emotional state. It is essential for a happy life and good relationships.
What do you think is happening to the body and mind if we keep absorbing the harsh criticism we put upon ourselves or take on the distortions others put on us? What do you think happens when we give ourselves daily messages that we are ugly, disgusting, boring, wet, stupid, frigid, not worthy, idiotic, a pain? Then on top of that serve a generous helping of guilt and shame- the stinking cream on the turd.
Well, we become unwell emotionally and physically. Our emotional state is like the soil in which we grow and will in turn affect all around us. The link between emotions and health has long been known about, yet our culture does not yet weave this into its institutions. Our healthcare system at its core still focuses on recovery rather than prevention. Our education system still focusses on facts rather then feelings. Diet, emotional wellbeing and environment are seen as fringe issues rather than existing at the very centre of our wellbeing. So to embrace self love and the link to our physical health takes a step of courage to swim against the current and possibly break some cultural taboos.
When we dont love ourselves we won’t feel we deserve to be happy or healthy and our bodies will start to crumble under the weight of it all. Energetically you could say we shift into a lower state whereas higher states would allow us to heal.
When we think we don’t deserve to be happy we then will go out of our way to not look after ourselves by not sleeping properly, using distraction to avoid ourselves, eating badly, seeking approval to the detriment of ourselves, drinking too much, always making ourselves late, making sure no one loves us, not allowing ourselves to shine, bringing others down to feel better about ourselves because we have not yet discovered that when we shine we will be happy to let others shine with us. On top of this, our exterior world will reflect the interior and we will allow ourselves to be abused in every situation, by ourselves and by others.
So to put an end to this cycle of hate start practising self love, and by this I mean loving yourself now, not saving it for when you are perfect, for when you lose weight, find a job, a partner, some new clothes or a fancy hair do. I mean loving yourself right at this moment. Loving the journey that has brought you here, loving your scars, your imperfections, your kinky hair, skinny bits, chubby bits, strong bits, weak bits. Really loving yourself. You only live this life for a short while so love this wild and precious body and soul.
I also don’t mean just focus your love on the physical body, but on your emotions, they are all valid, let them inform you about your current state and surroundings. Also love your soul, who you are as an individual. A once in a life time happening made you, the only one in the world, a once-in-humankind blend of interests, passions, gifts and quirks. No one can compete with you at being you. You are the best you in the world!
Self love is not about going round saying I love myself and so I don’t care about all the hurts I’m causing along the way. It’s about being gentle with yourself, understanding that you are doing the best you can with the tools you have been given so far. It’s understanding that all of life is a journey of self discovery, deaths and births and sometimes we won’t manage to hold it together perfectly and sometimes we may make a mess and we will feel vulnerable, shaky and scared and sometimes we will feel strong and fiery but if we can hold ourselves in love and self respect then all these things become easier and we won’t allow ourselves to be abused, walked on, taken advantage of by ourselves or by others. You will make mistakes but you are not your mistakes. Do not let them define you, learn from them, let them make you humble and strong again but don’t let them eat you alive.
Love yourself through all the hurt and the falls. It’s all a balance: love yourself and of course be aware of what parts of you still need to grow. Don’t squash those parts and make yourself feel shit about them but just hold yourself with a sense of deep love and affection, pride even, as you watch yourself become aware of all those exciting places where growth can happen.
Deep self love is about being real with yourself and knowing that your true identity is your inner spirit; you are a soul and not just a body. It’s realising that you are made out of the same wondrous energy as the plants, the flowers, the earth, the moon, the stars, Buddha, Mary, bears and wolves.
It’s understanding that perfection is not what’s needed to be enough. You really don’t have to become a copy of what society, school, parents, so called friends, colleagues, the media, your partner has put in place for you…in fact our society badly needs us all to become our full potential in order to move out of its same, same rut
Self love is about embracing who YOU are. Being courageous enough to show true and authentic self to the world and starting to care less about what other people will think. Letting yourself make a life that feels right for you, in your heart and gut rather than staying in a life others expect you to live
Are you ready to say yes to yourself? Do you think you deserve happiness? Because
that’s what it comes down to.
Here are some things that help on the journey to self love:
Get honest with yourself and learn to communicate with your emotions.
Do you remember that little child in you? Do you remember that 5 year old full of dreams and ideas? How did that get squashed? Can you re visit those parts of you that need love, that have been forgotten and abandoned on the dusty road and then hold them in love?
Start to recognise the distractions you use to not feel. Watching TV, always needing noise, shopping, eating rubbish foods, drinking etc
Take time to journal. Sometimes the mind can feel like a tangle of knots that becomes too confusing to even start to unravel. Writing can help to untie the knots and the thoughts can start to flow like clear threads re building a tapestry. Don’t write for anyone, just for yourself and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to write, just start, it may surprise you what will come out.
Spend time focusing inward daily. Begin with five minutes of meditation and five minutes of journaling each morning.
Follow your golden thread. What is it that really lights you up? What is it that keeps whispering to you, something that isn’t about seeking approval from others but something that will make you shine from the inside out. It could be learning a language, learning to make fires, planting trees, learning a new trade, dancing, singing, making art. Whatever it may be try and take baby steps towards it, stop calling these things dreams and start turning them into plans.
Remember gratitude, appreciate the gift of life, your talents and brilliance. The amazing world around you, the animals, the air you breathe, the beating heart in your amazing body, the lungs that help you breathe and the feet that will take you to all sorts of places. Love your imperfectly perfect self.
Listen and let yourself be guided by your intuition. All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. Whether it’s about a person, a place or a decision. When you learn to love yourself you will instinctively protect yourself and hear the voice of intuition more and more. Keep asking yourself “how does this feel?”
Do what nourishes, nurtures, honours and respects you.
Don’t take part in things that don’t match with your instincts. Don’t allow toxic people in your life. Love everyone, but be discerning on who you allow into your life.
Learn forgiveness. Fully accepting that a negative circumstance has occurred and relinquishing negative feelings surrounding the event—can be learned and can lead us to experience better mental, emotional and physical health. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Learn from your mistakes and go forward. Always ask..”What’s the learning?”
Take yourself out into nature – this is where we are from, we are nature and this place is the most kind and inspiring place to heal, to think and to come back to one’s self.
Imagine what your life would look like if you believed in your worth.
When we give ourselves time to heal and take time for ourselves this isn’t selfish, it is necessary. Without taking this time how can we truly be there for our partner, children, friends, our home the planet?
So come on, let’s get real, let’s stop beating ourselves up with the guilt and shame stick. Understand that you may have been treated unfairly and that’s not on! You may have been given messages all your life that you aren’t good enough or perhaps you have seen one too many magazines that told you you needed to be prettier and so you have gone and hidden in shame. Well enough is enough! Stop playing the victim and allowing these things to beat you. You weren’t born to be hiding in misery but to be wonderfully you in all your shining and amazing untamed glory.
This article was written for ‘she who knows’ magazine. An amazing magazine written for women by simply awe inspiring women and in which Im honoured to be a regular writer. This magazine is something different to the usual shrink your bum exercises, get flawless skin and how to look 10 years younger stuff. This is the voice of many different women speaking their truth in a way that has been stifled from way back when, it’s about what it is to be a woman at the very essence. This magazine is a doorway into a new way of feeling, a nourishing insight, and a catalyst for change that has lain dormant for many many generations. Check out their site.