Over the past decade the concept of self-love has become widely popularised through self-help literature and modern day gurus. It has become part of our everyday vernacular to 'practice self love' but what does it really mean and how can we use this concept to really help us live better lives?
The first advocates for self-love were back in the 60's when peace love and free thinking broke the mould of traditional puritan society and values and started moving us into a new era of intersection and self value.
John Lennon had a point when he said...
‘We need to learn to love ourselves first in all our glory and imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others’.
What we’ve also learnt more recently, after covid restrictions and isolation, is that if we can’t live with ourselves, there is no escape. It’s best to love ourselves now, rather than wait until it’s too late when there is no escape from our internal world and dislike of ourselves.
Taking time to practice daily routines that inspire self-love can help break the unhealthy internal dialogue that is often focused on our flaws. I like to start my clients off by asking them to reflect on this simple question:
What does self-love mean to you?
· Listening to my intuition when I feel something isn’t balanced.
· Being able to speak my truth and have it respected and heard.
· Owning my thoughts and taking responsibility for the hurtful reactions I project outwards when feeling unsafe.
· Healing my core wounds so that I can interact from a place of compassion.
· Speaking to myself with compassion and respect.
· Holding a balance between opening my heart to support others and setting clear boundaries to protect it from further pain.
· Refusing to let others manipulate me into change just because it suits their needs.
· Valuing my time, space and energy, so that I can show up as the best version of me in each situation.
· Daring to believe that I’m valuable enough to succeed at anything in life.
· It’s not putting incredible amounts of pressure on myself just because society says I should have reached certain goal posts by now.
How do we sustain these practices?
Each morning I wake up and remind myself of what it means to practice self-love.
I use affirmations to sustain this belief and notice and recognise any triggers.
I also use this simple technique from Tara Brach called RAIN.
The acronym stands for:
Recognise — means that you start to become aware of the emotions stemming from triggers as they arise.
Allow — suggests that you do not try and label or change the emotion and tell it to not be there or force it away but simply be with it.
Investigate — requires a questioning and exploration of the emotions that have arisen.
Looking for root causes that initiated the trigger.
Nurture — asks us to bring compassion to the experience by using affirmations such as…
“You are ok sweetheart”
“You have every right to feel this way”
“Nothing is wrong with you for feeling like this”
Once these emotions are processed using this acronym RAIN they are more easily released from the body.
The final step can be attained through movement and imagination work together.
Combining dance, tai chi, yoga meditation or running with affirmations can help release painful emotions and store greater feelings of self-love.
Transforming and alchemising energy can be a powerful asset as it helps us to redirect our focus and attention away form our flaws and into our strength.
When we live in a state of self-love the body naturally starts producing more happiness and positivity hormones which trigger a healing response in the body and all 40 trillion cells start to comply with these messages.
When we can make time for self-love practices, we realy start to notice the remarkable impact it has on our lives and those around us.