How to Love Yourself (even more)
Those of you who have been following for a while will be well aware that I am a massive believer in self-love. My definition of self-love is essentially a state of being in which you completely, truly and unconditionally accept and LOVE yourself exactly as you are. Being in such a state is powerful, beautiful and enlightening. However, like most things in life that are worth doing, getting to a place of deep and complete self-love requires commitment, dedication, persistence and a little bit (i.e. a lot) of work. Also, self-love is not something that you work towards, achieve and then you 'have it' forever more. Oh no. It is a constant, daily, minute-by-minute practice. The other small hurdle that makes achieving self-love just that little bit more challenging (I understate massively here) is that our world and our society tends to look down on people who love themselves. Self-love is synonymous with narcissism, even though they are complete opposites. Every advert, magazine and form of media is constantly reminding us of our failings and imperfections, and in doing so causing us to believe that we are not worthy of love - not from others or from ourselves.
So perhaps you're thinking that self-love sounds like an awful lot of work, right? Maybe it is not even worth trying? What even is the point of loving yourself anyway? Well, truthfully, practicing self-love is probably the most transformational, liberating and incredible thing anyone could ever do for themselves. As the amazing Melissa Ambrosini says taking care of yourself through self-love (or self-care) practices enables you to fill yourself up first, so that you can then give to others from a "full" state.
I was reminded of this concept this morning at my First Aid course... The instructor was guiding us through the DRSABCD concept and began by explaining D - Danger. She advised us that the first thing to do before going to the aid of a person is to consider all possible dangers to yourself; you have to think about yourself first! This resonated perfectly with the idea of loving yourself first, caring for yourself first so that you can then give from a "full" state to others. Giving from this state means you will be giving out of love and with all of your energy, rather than from a place of resentment, regret or guilt. It is a radical shift in perspective.
On that note, Melissa is the QUEEN of self-love, so definitely head to her site to find more ways to love yourself even more. This post was in fact inspired by the Goddess Group I attended with Melissa a few weeks ago, at which the topic was self-love. Although I have been committed to practicing self-love for some time now, I was reminded that there is always room for more acts of self-love. I was also reminded that sometimes these acts should come before other 'things' that need to get done.
So today I would like to share with you a few (more) ways you can practice self-love. Self-love is best practiced daily, so try to do one or a few things every day that fill you up and are self-love activities for you. If you are not sure what these activities might be, start by trying to write a list of things that make you feel AH-MAZING, relaxed and at peace. These can be simple things, like having a cup of tea or going for a walk in nature. Write a list as long as you can and then stick it somewhere as a reminder. Alternately, try Melissa's gorgeous Self-Love Menu.
Here are a few of my favourite ways to practice self-love:
Rest! I, like so many others, am guilty of pushing myself to (and occasionally over) the brink of exhaustion by just doing WAY TOO MUCH and not taking any time to rest. As I write this today I am nursing the sore throat and stuffy head that I woke up with this morning, a.k.a. my body is telling me I need to slow down right now if I want to avoid getting a really nasty cold (point taken). This is not an uncommon occurrence for me. I don't get sick by "catching colds", I get sick when I push too hard without rest. Hence, resting is one of the most important self-love practices in my life. Rest can be in any form, as long as it makes you feel revitalised. Rest for me includes an early night and long sleep (11+ hours if I can!), slow Yin yoga, studying in my pyjamas in bed, staying in the house all day, napping, reading and meditating. I know sometimes finding the time to rest can be incredibly difficult, because we pack our lives full of things to do. But usually if you look hard enough at your schedule there will be things you can drop, even if only for a day or a week, to make space for rest. You will feel SO much better for it.
Treat Yourself! How often do you treat yourself to things that you crave in a truly loving and healthy way? I am not talking about treating yourself to some crappy junk food or copious amounts of alcohol, I am talking about treating yourself to things you normally think you aren't worthy of, like a massage, a whole day off, a square of organic dark chocolate, a visit to your favourite cafe, some fresh, wholesome, home-cooked food. Whatever it is that you desire, let yourself have some. Because you are worth it and you do deserve it. Just make sure it is something that fills you up and doesn't deplete you more. And for goodness sake, enjoy the treat with no guilt! If you feel guilty about whatever you are treating yourself too then the benefits of it as an act of self-love are negated.
Say No! This is one Melissa focussed a lot on in our Goddess Group - letting go of being a people pleaser. I think the vast majority of you can relate to being a people pleaser to some extent, being unable to say no for fear of what the other person will think. So we end up saying yes to helping others, to working late, to taking on more, to every dinner, party, wedding, event, night out etc, etc. And then we are surprised when we burn out, when really it is no wonder! Once again, this is something I am guilty of, I have been known to arrange and re-arrange my schedule to fit everyone and everything in until it is so packed it is terrifying to even look at. What's more, doing things that you don't really want to do ends up building resentment towards that person/people, which will eventually manifest as either an explosion/implosion during a time of stress, or even a physical ailment in your body. Sometimes the biggest act of self-love you can do is to say no when you don't want to do something. Say no to a night out when you need to rest. Say no to processed food when what you really need is a nourishing dose of whole foods. Say no to more work when your plate is already full. But always say "No, thank you." Be graceful and dignified, so that you command respect. If people question your response just politely explain to them that whilst you are grateful for their invitation/offer, you are unable to accept because of X, Y or Z. Be honest and tell them you just really need some "me time" or that you have been stressed and want to take some time out. Generally, most people are very understanding of this and when you create space for your own self-love practice, you give others permission to do the same thing.
Write Yourself a (Self) Love Letter I actually came up with this idea on Valentine's Day... As a single person (and hopeless romantic) I have always dreamed of the day when I would receive some thoughtful Valentine's gift and romantic love letters from my dearly beloved. Although I am confident that such things will occur in the future, this year I chose to view Valentine's Day differently. Instead of wallowing in my single-dom and complaining about all the soppy loving expressions that I wasn't receiving I did two things: 1. Observe the romance of others with awe and gratitude - if you really take the time to appreciate seeing other people deeply in love it can be a really beautiful, eye-opening experience. There is no need for jealously or envy, when I see a happy couple I just think to myself how beautiful it is to see such love flourish in the world. I appreciate all forms of love, including the romantic kind. 2. I wrote myself a love letter. It might sound a little bit wacky and corny, but I got out my diary and I wrote a love letter to myself as I were the person who was dating me. In it I expressed my love for myself as poetically as possible and I went on to list all the quirky little things that I love about myself, from the viewpoint of my beloved. Whilst the idea of doing such a thing might seem cringe-worthy, it was actually such a lovely experience and at the end, reading over the pages of my letter, I felt a deep and resounding sense of self-love. On that note, I also have been experimenting with the concept of 'dating' myself... Bear with me! Basically, I like to take myself out on little dates and adventures, usually once a week. These adventures can consist of going to try a new cafe that I have been eyeing off on Instagram, riding my bike around a new area of Melbourne and just generally exploring. Sometimes I have movie dates in bed, complete with a cup of tea and a healthy treat (dark chocolate is definitely my weakness). Contrary to what you might think, dating yourself is not sad or depressing, it is empowering. I love that I don't need another person to have a great time and I get to spend quality time with myself. Often these times are when my biggest epiphanies occur. Plus, going to cafes solo usually guarantees you can get a table straight away - bonus!
So there are just a few more ideas for your self-love practice, but I would love to know what you do to practice self-love on a daily, or less frequent basis? What does self-love mean to you?
Love Erica x