Hello and a Happy New Year to you lovely readers. I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you!
As we move away from the holiday period and into the rhythms of this new season, there can be a lot of pressure to be better, do better and achieve more. Whilst there is nothing wrong with setting goals and wanting to grow, I believe one thing that would help us all so much is moving into a space of self love.
Self love can seem a bit wishy washy to some and a bit indulgent to others, but the truth is that self love is key to our wellbeing, the wellbeing of others and the wellbeing of the planet.
In my own journey, self love has developed gradually in my 20s. Previously, my low self esteem, perfectionist ways and lack of ability to deal with emotions in a healthy way, lead to unhealthy and self sabotaging behaviours such as drinking too much, relying on external validation and love for my worth, avoiding emotions with unhealthy behaviours, eating disorders, being too hard on myself, anxiety, comparison left, right and centre and listening to the inner critic as gospel truth. The older I have become, the more my self love has developed. I have more self love work to do (oh hi being human), but I wanted to share a few ways that may help you develop more self love this year that have helped me on my self love journey…
- Talk to yourself like you would to your best friend – One of my best friends has experienced some similar issues to myself and is a very sensitive and emotional human being like myself. Whenever we have catchups and heart to hearts she might express some issues she is having or some trials she is working through. I always listen and respond with a kind heart, compassion, love and acceptance and I respond with kind words, encouragement and compassionate help. How often do we do the same thing to ourselves? For me personally, when an issue comes up or a “failure”, I could and still can (getting much better all the time…) berate myself for not being good enough. Would I respond to my best friend like that? No way!! So why do I respond to myself like that? Why are our inner critics so harsh? Instead of responding with the harsh inner critic who tells us we are not good enough, we can talk to ourselves like we would to our best friend. We can encourage ourselves, we can be kind to ourselves and we can give ourselves compassion and kindness. We are good enough just as we are. The more we respond to ourselves with kindness and love, the less harsh the inner critic is and we move into a space of self love.
- Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, the good and the bad – Hands up if you struggle to let yourself feel all the feels? So many people, including myself, were brought up in a way that taught that it was weak to cry and you should just get over it. Many of us have grown up with an inability to identify, feel and process our emotions and then let them go. I myself have used many destructive behaviours to avoid feeling my feelings (consciously and unconsciously). Binge drinking, eating disorders, flicking through social media, comparing myself to peers on social media and blogs personally and professionally, researching things like places to live that “will make me happy” have all been behaviours that I have used in the past and some that I still do like comparison, flicking through social media and researching things like new places to live that “will make me happy” (oh my gosh I did that so many times in 2017…!). When growing in self love, we realise these behaviours do not serve us and that they only bring more pain. Instead, we can choose to acknowledge our feelings, feel them, express them in a healthy way (crying, talking to a friend/therapist), yoga + dance, meditation, singing, painting, writing, journalling (insert healthy way of expressing emotion here) and then let them go (prayer, meditation, speaking the words out loud of letting it go etc.). A big point here as well is to honestly feel all the feels. If you are anything like me, you can get annoyed with yourself for feeling anger, shame, anxiety, jealousy (insert negative emotion here). We can then spout loads of positive affirmations over this feeling to “make it go away”, but all we are doing there is giving it power and repressing it. When we choose to feel the feeling and not judge it, it goes away so much faster then if we avoid it.
- Challenge your inner critic with kind and true words – Our inner critics can be really loud. They can pipe up with the same stories about how we are not good enough, we are embarrassing, we are a failure, we are not worthy, we are unlovable etc., etc. The reality is, is that none of this is true. The reality is that we are good enough, we are not embarrassing, we are not failures, we are worthy and we are so, so, so loveable (and loved). When your inner critic pops up, we can try to choose to acknowledge it, but not let the critic have any power by speaking truth to the critic. For example, when a thought pops into our head that says we need to change our body size to be worthy, we can respond with kindness and truth by saying something like… Actually, I am worthy no matter my body size and I do not need to change my body size to be worthy.
- Take care of yourself in mind, body and soul – So many of us can put our own needs last and we can take lousy care of ourselves. At my worst, I was binge drinking pretty much nightly, I had a terrible eating disorder, I criticised everything about myself and I was just plain mean to myself. All with the deep seated root belief that I was not good enough, worthy enough or deserving of love. But I am, and so are you and we deserve to be taken care of by ourselves. Making sure we get enough rest and sleep, that we go to a Doctor, Therapist or Practitioner to help us with our mental, physical or emotional health, that we nourish ourselves spiritually whether that is through doing what lights you up, a particular religion or engaging in a healthy spiritual practice like yoga, that we make peace with food and our bodies, that we engage in gentle movement and nutrition that really nourishes us and helps us live a full life. We absolutely deserve to take care of ourselves, we are worth it and we are worthy of it.
There are many other ways that we can develop self love in our lives and there are ways that will be relevant to one person and not to another. The beauty of it, is that it is a personal journey and one that helps us have more peace with ourselves and less pain coming from ourselves. And don’t we all want a bit more of that?
How has your journey with self love been?