I’m going a little off piste today. Being confined to the sofa means a) I’m not painting and b) I’m doing a lot of thinking. (Uh oh!) And I’m currently thinking about self love. Everywhere I look lately people seem to be talking about loving yourself and how you must do that before you can love anyone else/give to the world etc. I totally subscribe to this concept having seen the opposite in action, and like so many things I understand it intellectually, but when it comes to APPLYING it…. well, I’m a bit stuck!Usually when people talk about self love it seems to be in the context of pampering, of doing a physical thing to ‘make yourself feel better’. I am advised to take long hot bubble baths, read, get out in nature, treat myself to things that make me happy basically.I like a bath, I love to read, and there can be no denying that nature is a great soother of the soul. But something is not clicking into place here. I’m stuck on the how. Maybe having a bath isn’t really me reminding myself that I’m loveable and worthy exactly as I am; maybe it’s someone else’s way of saying it and I need something different. How can I not know what I value enough to give it to myself?!I am not sure I know more than one or two people who really do love themselves, without conceit or bombast. Who have just quietly accepted themselves with a great and gentle love and feel no need to talk about it or prove it in any way. I know an awful lot of people who don’t; people I think are fabulous on every level who find things in themselves to criticise and reject. They are the same people who tell me all the time that I am too hard on myself. I know it. It’s a theme of my life. It’s not that I want to be mean to myself; I am just not at all sure how to change it. (Or why I even started it, but that’s another story!)I would love to know your thoughts on this! We all know we need to love ourselves more. How do you do it? How do you make the leap from a lifetime of not feeling good enough, of your worth being conditional on what you do, to a genuine deep down acceptance and love for yourself exactly as you are? I am not convinced that a bath is gonna do it frankly.I’m aware that I am still looking outside myself here; I’m asking you for what works for you, when that may not work for me. I just feel that until I make that ‘click’ of understanding, not just in my brain but in my heart and soul too, I won’t know what it really means to love yourself. Perhaps it’s a tiny step at a time kind of process. Each kind thing you do for yourself leads to love. I’m pretty sure it’s not a sudden ‘Boom! Yesterday I didn’t love you, now I do!’ kind of thing. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this. And I’ll keep you posted about any sofa revelations!
I recently signed up to emails from The Daily Love. I sign up to lots of newsletters and then filter out the ones that don’t resonate for me. This one really does; its creator, Mastin, is both wise and accessible. I always seem to find something to take comfort from in the emails. I recommend it for a little boost of Good Stuff that doesn’t take long to read and gives you things to mull over as you go about your day.
Oh these thoughts of yours so resonate with me, Tara. Being kind to yourself and loving yourself is such a hard thing to do. When I struggled my Reiki teacher said to stand in front of a mirror and think about what you see. Try to see yourself as others see you and become your own best friend. Treat yourself as you do the people you love. Give yourself a hug, affirm out loud how wonderful it is to see yourself, listen to your worries… It sounds strange I know but it may help you as it did me eventually.
And most of all practice quiet and stillness so that you can hear your inner voice. Maybe try having a set time each day when you can sit in silence. In finding peace within yourself it will radiate outwards to those around you.
Detoxing mentally, as well as physically, is all part of the process.
So easy to say but so hard to achieve.
Sending light and love
Interesting that you mention The Daily Love as I just recently signed up for that as well…and like you I pick and choose what resonates for me.
Self love is not something that comes easily to most of us. We are taught that being selfish is a bad thing, and when we take the word selfish out of context it is. But self love is a much different thing and we need to teach this to ourselves, over and over until we know it like we know how to breathe. Sad that this is so.
All those things you mention — bubble bath, doing something you love — those are just things to do to make yourself feel good. But self love comes from within on our deepest level. It took me years to understand it and years to finally accept it. I still remind myself from time to time. It's soul work and it for me, is all about being kind to myself, accepting my flaws and working with them instead of against them. It means no longer calling myself names (stupid, idiot, fool, goof…) and calling myself beautiful, human, silly, courageous, kind, graceful. And the last one? Grace? It has been my cornerstone.
I wish you much joy on your journey to self love.
And how could I forget forgiveness? Forgiving myself for things I've done, said or not done or not said and knowing that I am still a good person…that shows me how much I truly love who I am.
Thank you both so much for taking the time to leave thoughts. I agree Sherry that there is more than one meaning to the word 'selfish', that it can actually be something we're not traditionally brought up to understand.
I suppose what I understand right now is that it's a PROCESS. Sometimes you forget, or take a step back instead of forwards, but then you remember, or pick yourself up and start again. And eventually it just starts to sink in. (This is what I'm hoping anyway!) Sherry you sound like you are doing really well with it!
Lesley I love the giving yourself a hug thing! I 'invented' self hugs recently; it kind of reminds you you're on your own side! Also I agree about being still – something I am STILL avoiding!
I know I am in a place of self love when:
-I cut myself the same slack I would cut my best friend.
-I can look at a photo of myself and see my own beauty without feeling the need to pick out my flaws.
-When I do something good and I think "I ROCK!"
-When I can put my needs ahead of everyone elses because I can better meet other's needs if I look after myself first. (and not feel guilty about it.)
-When I allow others to help me instead of trying to do it all myself.
-When I slow down and savour and celebrate the important moments of my life.
-When I give because it feels good and not out of obligation.
-When I allow myself the time and space to do the things that feed my spirit.
I don't think it's possible to be in this space all the time. We're human and we're dealing with life which is being hurled at us 24/7. We're in progress. You just have to know when you're riding roughshod over your tender spirit and take a step back and make it right again.
Forget the bath. Just ask yourself how you know you're in a place of love and make a list. Then use it to remind yourself if you need to. When you know better, you do better.
If you think about it, people say "Practice self love." Notice it says PRACTICE? That means doing something over and over and over till it becomes a habit.
I hope that whatever is wrong that's made you couch surf heals quickly. I spend alot of time like that and it's trying.
Wow Lelainia, what a comment! Thank you. I love that it involves a list; this is something that makes sense to me! Also interestingly I recently decided to stop use the word 'trying' altogether and instead use 'practice.'
Wow, you have received some awesome insights into this illusive thing called self-love. It is something I struggle with every day too, and I think you are right, that most of us do. I agree that it is a process and I also think that true-self love is a hard thing to achieve in this world, maybe impossible for some of us. I think the striving towards it is the thing. To find little things that help you love yourself more in each day, and to celebrate them really well along the way so you are encouraged to keep going. And that forgiveness and compassion that we as "good" people offer to others needs to be directed at ourselves first. That is one that feels "loving" to me. Say "It is okay , Kimbo. You really didn't do anything wrong." and meaning it…that touches me deep inside.
Isn't it grand that we have friends who love us to help us along the way ?
Sending love and light !
I think it's quite a difficult one. For me self love comes through acceptance of myself unconditionally. No "I like this about myself but…" and IT'S HARD! I think part of it is also accepting that it's hard, accepting that you don't always feel self love and that IT'S OK!
For me it also comes through experiencing, rather than always being up in my head and analysing and overthinking. When I rationalise it stops the potential for me feeling big overwhelming all enveloping love (either for myself or for others/the world).
I think you hit upon something with the bath thing. Baths are nice, they can make you feel nice about yourself, but it's an external thing. It's kind of like saying "oh if I eat this chocolate I'm going to feel better about myself" or retail therapy. However I do think the bath can be a metaphor or an expression of self love. As in, expressing love for yourself in caring for your body (when I feel badly I find it soooo hard to take care of myself or look nice, but when I feel good, then I'll love taking care of my health and appearance).
I think having to love myself before being able to love others is actually backwards!
I could spend a day soaking in the tub, or painting, or watching movies, or feeding myself chocolate but that's not going to make me feel anything but self indulgent.
What makes me really happy is being able to show love to someone else. Feeding someone when they're going through a rough time, inspiring someone who feels discouraged, giving a gift to someone who thought no one ever thought about them… THOSE things make me happy so much faster and longer-lasting than just catering to my own whims.
So when you really consider it, you have to love others before you can really love yourself!