I was compelled to write today about self love and self care. And more specifically, I wanted to touch on “what is self love or self care?” and to give you some tips on how to love yourself.
I will attempt to keep it brief though knowing how I write that could be difficult.
Nevertheless, I will exercise self love and self care even in relation to this in allowing myself to fully express myself.
When people think of self love or self care they often think of things such as pampering sessions or buying oneself something special.
I want to expand your thinking a little here and include some aspects to self love and self care that perhaps aren’t traditionally thought of or classified as self love or self care.
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection” Buddha
What is self love or self care?
The idea of loving oneself has long been tainted with negativity. Think of the comments one may hear in society “he/she loves themselves”. Subtext – who do they think they are, they’re full of themselves. I wonder whether this ideology has consequently robbed us of actually addressing the very important and absolutely necessary aspect of self love.
Additionally, we can be viewed as selfish if we take the time to show ourselves self love and self care. I vehemently oppose that view, that it is selfishness, because to truly give love to others in it’s true and real form we ‘must’ love ourselves first.
A natural progression when we have self love is to love others in a real and healthy way without agenda or without having to get something from another to fill a need or something lacking within us (even if it’s unconscious). Why won’t we need it? Because we will have it already.
To self love and to apply self care is not something to be reviled, avoided or criticised.
As promised, I want to shake up what has been considered self love or self care and expand it beyond perhaps going to a day spa and being pampered. Nothing wrong with this, but it definitely runs deeper.
Self care and self love includes:
- How and what we feed ourselves. To give ourselves nourishing and healthy food is an act of love. It’s not about being perfect here either, but it’s about more often than not putting healthy foods and drinks into our body.
- Generally, what we put into our bodies. For example, smoking and drinking to excess (among other behaviours along similar lines) is a form of self-abuse. To cease these behaviours is an act of love.
- Exercise. Regular exercise is a clear reflection of how we feel about ourselves. It shows us that we actually value ourselves enough to look after our body.
- Financial security. Looking after oneself financially is an act of love.
- Allowing oneself to experience pleasure and fun. This might seem an odd inclusion, but some people (myself included) have been conditioned to deny oneself those activities that bring a sense of fun, pleasure and allow you to let go. I’m not talking about hedonism here either.
- Realising your pure potential. This means being all that you were born to be. This can be stemmed through conditioning and beliefs we have acquired (often through what we’ve been told and/or observed as children as to how and who we ‘should’ be (often these aren’t even explicit but as children we don’t necessarily have the critical thinking to know the difference).
- Just being who you are. Expressing yourself fully without restraint, suppression or self-monitoring or management (which drains you of energy, vitality, fun and a sense of ease) and which can often result in alot of self-criticism and self-disapproval if we happen to drop the load for moment (hey, it’s exhausting being on high alert all the time). This constant need (albeit often unconsciously) to have to watch yourself i.e. self-monitor or manage (often a learnt self-protective measure though it becomes harmful) who others see is often so draining that it is often easier for us to remove ourselves from these situations, self-isolate or avoid. Why? Because at least you can let go and breathe when you are alone and not at risk of the judgement or criticism of others.
- Doing those things that support, enhance, contribute to or provide a pathway to feeling a sense of peace with who we are and where we are. That is, tapping into our sense of being for example through meditation.
If you are saying that to yourself, you are definitely not alone. The first thing I would say is to be gentle on yourself and definitely don’t beat yourself up about it. That definitely is not a loving thing to do.
If you are not acting in a loving way towards yourself, I will certainly not be criticizing you.
There are reasons we do what we do (and sometimes it can be very complicated and many beliefs can be intertwined and often contradictory), but what we have to do (if we are ready for change) is recognise that we have some patterns that really aren’t serving us too well and have a desire for something different.
I’ve written a little about my own story and what prompted my own change. If you’re interested, you might like to check it out here.
There were a few additional things that I discovered about myself though that may get you thinking.
For example, I believe that I am actually somewhat of an extrovert but was conditioned to be an introvert. Consequently, this resulted in (among other things) my not following my passion for singing. But, once I realised the unempowering beliefs that I had around singing (e.g. having to be perfect, not being vocal or heard, not standing out) I was able to change those beliefs and at the ripe old age of 39 (after denying myself my passion, pleasure and convincing myself I know longer had that desire) got on stage for the first time and sang.
To give you an example of contradictory beliefs at work I’ll share another personal story. I have always believed I can do anything and whatever I have set my mind to I generally accomplish. But (yes, there is a but) I discovered that I had a threshold.
What do I mean by threshold? What I mean is, I would get to a certain point e.g. financial security (I believed I could achieve it) and be coasting along beautifully and acquiring wealth and then I would do something (make a change or decision) that would basically destroy what I had built and leave me once again at the point of scraping the barrel with no funds and struggling. What’s that about? At a pretty good guess, beliefs around deservedness and/or worthiness. Definitely not self love.
This same lack of self-worth or self love and self care would also activate itself when I was on the verge of flying. I mean here when I was on the brink of something fantastic, a career opportunity or offer, a business on the verge of success, the opportunity to have some fun and let go etc. I would do something to either sabotage it or deny myself the pleasure of it.
Often, we will find that these limiting beliefs play out across our lives. E.g. if you have a belief around commitment or fearing it, this will play out in your career, socially and relationships.
But, it’s not all dire. We can change and transform our lives and experience of life. I can personally vouch for that.
And, it’s never to late.
Tips on how to love yourself
So, what can you do to start to become more self-loving and showing yourself self care?
There are two main approaches you can take or a combination of both.
Understand why you don’t show self love or more to the point understand the beliefs you have that impact on you acting in ways that are not loving to yourself.
It’s not enough to say, ok, I don’t show self love, so I’ll start doing that e.g. I’ll start exercising more. You may start, but it is unlikely that you will sustain it. By all means, start, but just know there’s some additional inner work that needs to be done in order for transformation and sustainability to occur.
When we do the inner work, we then don’t have to employ acts of will, pushing or conjuring motivation to do the things that are expressions of self love. It will just happen naturally.
Read my article here on Can beliefs be changed? How to change beliefs to change your life where you will learn how to find them and practical activities to change them.
Meditation brings us to a place of peace through realising who we really are beyond thought and personality. When we rest in our beingness (our essence or the essence of who we really are) and consequently carry this with us throughout our life (beyond meditation) our actions and words reflect this. What we emanate comes back to us and we are naturally compelled (without any effort at all) to make choices and to do things that are actually acts of self love.
For instance, when I began to meditate regularly, I actually stopped smoking. I hadn’t been thinking about it and I didn’t plan it. I didn’t have to painfully try to employ willpower and hound myself about “giving up”. Who wants to “give up” anything? Resistance is sure to set in.
I simply woke up one day and stopped. I truly believe that this was due to connecting with my true self, where I am whole and complete and where there is nothing to fix. If one is whole and complete (as you are), you don’t need toxic or harmful substances or behaviours to fill voids and because that place is pure love you can only act towards yourself and others with love. So, why would I smoke.
As always, I advocate meditation and presence. I believe it is the way. Life works beautifully, there is an ease and peace with and from life. Who you are being, what you do and what you experience is unlike anything one could forcibly conjure through the use of the mind alone.
So, please give meditation a go. If resistance kicks in, well, it could be just a resistance to self love. Note down the thoughts that go through your mind when you think about meditating (look more closely at them later and see if you can unravel the threads that are leading to resistance) and then meditate.
If yoga doesn’t feel right for you, check out other activities you never knew were meditation.
To learn more about meditation and presence and the power of presence click here.
To get started meditating, choose from my Top 5 Best Guided Meditation Picks now.
I wish you well on realising who you truly are and realising your true and pure potential.
Until next time, go forth with ease and just be and remember to be kind to yourself and show yourself self love and self care.