There was a time in my life when I had hit an all time low. My self-trust had hit the skids, I was terrified of taking even the smallest risk and in short, I was stuck and miserable. My loved ones offered solutions that all said I needed to “care” for myself. At that time if one more person had told me to “love myself” I was going to jump up in the air and do a kung-fu style annihilation of them!
What the heck does loving myself mean? Strawberry facials? Bubble-baths? Pedicures? Retail therapy? The truth was that I did not have a big enough container to hold the love I so desired even if I received it, because my self-love tank had shrunk to the size of a bottle cap! It turns out there is much more to self-love than pampering yourself.
Much as I avoided it I eventually toughened up and asked, “Do I love myself?” It’s a difficult question to answer because we live in a culture where we’re constantly shown what we should ‘look’ like or ‘be’ like or ‘act’ like. We begin to believe that we aren’t worthy unless someone else approves of us. This gets so deeply embedded in us that we become hyper-critical of ourselves and no accomplishment is ever enough. We have difficulty accepting compliments because that would not be in accordance with our self-image.
Harmful words hurt most when we think them about ourselves. When we constantly beat ourselves up with negative self-talk, our minds and bodies believe that too. This type of inner dialogue creates chronic stress and our chemistry reflects it. When we are faced with a trauma, our gut reaction is oftentimes to blame ourselves and we become filled with negativity.
Self-love, self-respect, self-worth: there is a reason they all start with ‘self’. You can’t find them in anyone else. When we don’t find them in us we stow away self-love under a layer of false admiration for another. Though the truth is that even if we find the best partner on the planet, this person won’t be able to make us happy and feel loved unless we create the space for it inside by practice. This is why self-love is an inside job.
Forgiveness, happiness and healing all cease to exist until we learn to love ourselves first. No one else can offer these things to us. Another eternal truth: When we’re good to ourselves we train others to do the same.
So how can we begin to love ourselves? First and foremost, to accept yourself as you are, the light and dark parts, the good and not so good. It starts with a willingness to receive as much as you are willing to give and do both equally. Next, it is about knowing your boundaries and honoring them. It is about teaching others how to treat you by showing them how you treat yourself. It is about looking after your mind, body and spirit. It is about knowing that you are worth it, not because of what you have achieved or what you look like or what others think of you, but because love is your birthright no matter what!!
Until next time!