So…self love…what does it actually mean? Why does it matter? Surely there are other things going on in the world that need our attention? Well it’s a pretty big topic and not one that I can cover completely in one post (though I plan to come back to it again). It’s a subject that isn’t taught in schools and probably not in a lot of homes. Yet I think the lack of it is the cause of a lot of issues that we see today in our relationships with ourselves and others. How do we experience being truly loved by others if we don’t love ourselves? Also how can we love others when we don’t really know how to love and truly accept ourselves.
Growing up, I was exposed to fairy tales and the ones that I read seemed to have an underlying theme that one day a prince (that is, someone else) would come and save me. He would make everything okay including making me happy. Wow what a disappointment it was to find out as an adult that this prince did not exist and also that no one could really make me happy except myself. Well it was initially disappointing until I realized the value in taking responsibility for myself and my emotions and that I actually have the ability and power to steer my life to make it fulfilling, and to create the joy and happiness that I’ve always wanted. I didn’t need someone else to do this for me and I actually felt a lot better when I was looking after myself, that is, being loving, kind and supportive to myself as I would hope a good friend would be.
Recently I read a great book by Barbara De Angelis called Secrets About Life Every Women Should Know. Although she has written Women in the title the principles she outlines actually apply to both men and women. I think all the insights are wonderful but in relation to the topic today, it was the last chapter that really had an impact on me. Essentially it talks of how the love that we feel does not actually come from outside of us – it is in fact already within us. So we may attribute our feelings of love to our partner, to our children, to our friends etc but the truth is those feelings already exist within us and are simply ignited by events outside of us. I think that’s pretty empowering because as much as you might want someone else’s love and approval to make you feel good or okay, you have that ability to do that for yourself. So yes relationships can be wonderful and very rewarding but it’s important to remember that we can also feel wonderful and loved on our own. And it’s actually our relationship with ourselves that forms the basis of how well we will be able to relate to another.
So that’s a very brief overview or introduction to self love and why I feel it is so important for us to apply this concept to ourselves. I’m a fan of exercises so see if you’re willing to give this a try. Take some time out for yourself 10-15 minutes if you can and sit down in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Close your eyes and put your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your stomach (I find this helps to keep me present). Start to think about what you would be doing if you were being kind and loving to yourself. It could be things like giving yourself time to read, to relax and not do anything. Maybe it’s sending kind, supportive thoughts to yourself. Perhaps it’s a massage or being out in nature. Let your mind wander. Then when you have some clear ideas coming through, start to get a sense of how would it feel to have these things or be doing these things. Do you feel love in your heart? Do you feel yourself relaxing or other feelings of pleasure in yourself? Allow yourself to enjoy them and even when feelings that may not feel so good arise such as guilt, sadness etc let them be there too. After all, part of self love is being able to accept all parts of ourselves (another topic for another day).
When you feel the exercise coming to its completion, choose one thing/activity that you thought of and do it for yourself. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but it acts as a gesture and acknowledgement to yourself that you are important and worthy of love. And the most important person you are owed this from is you.