Of the Importance of self-love
And few steps to get there
Every time I used an 8-ball to ask about my ‘immediate future”, every time I filled these questionnaires online to find out if this person likes me, if our astrological signs match etc. … It was always about validating myself from someone else’s perspective. I never actually found out anything, at least online, that would help me evaluate how much I actually love myself. And then I just came across this quote:
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you” — Rupi Kaur
As cliché as this sounds it resonated immediately and that was actually the first time I took time to read it and try to make sense out of it. For a long time I thought self love was related only to body acceptance meaning loving your body as it is; flaunting your curves and being proud whether you’re a petite, tall, curvy, skinny etc. Then I just started questioning my love for myself and wondering how I could evaluate that.
What I found out that as much as I took care of my body, I was still lacking self-love on many another levels. I too found it difficult to put self -love into practice, even though the biggest lesson I came to learn in the past few months, especially after going through a rough break-up, is that had I loved myself as much as I loved that person, had I care for myself as much as I did for that person then maybe the outcome would have been different; not that it would have prevented a break-up from happening but maybe I wouldn’t have blamed myself as much as I did afterwards.
Self-love goes deeper than just appreciating your physical body and flaunting it, it’s also about how you nourish it inside out.
I believe it differs from one person to another. We are living in a world where the importance of “self” is only put forward as long as it doesn’t sound narcissist. Self-respect, self-care, self-control, self-esteem … you name it, it always sounds OK and we are always encourage to practice and apply these in our day-to-day life. If you ask me self-love is all that at once plus something more. Self-love is not looking into a mirror and acknowledging only your qualities and highlighting them out for the world to see. Self-love is admitting that as much as you have inner/outer qualities you also have flaws. Both of these are what make you who you are and both deserve your love, your care and your attention.
It’s one thing to know the importance of loving ourselves in theory, but quite another thing to effectively put self-love into practice — and the reason is because most of us come from cultures and societies that do not promote, or even support, self-love, and we often feel judged if we love ourselves, value ourselves, or put ourselves first.
The body: you are what you eat and eating is definitely a form of self-respect. Your physical and mental health depends on it. I fed my body with as many natural things as I could: water, fruits and veggies; I went vegetarian for 1 week, (decided afterwards to do it each month); drinking lots of green smoothies, learning to cook without any animal proteins. I must say, not only did I enjoy it but I actually felt good overall. I couldn’t stop trying to do these 1 minute long Instagram videos.
Staying active! No you don’t have to become a gym rat but breaking a sweat is a MUST. I forced myself to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I couldn’t realize right there and then but as time went on I started noticing the changes, my mood improved day after day. Relaxed, serene yes of course sore but that was a good feeling as well!
From time to time treat yourself to a spa, a wellness center, get yourself a massage, a mani-pedi and a haircut, buy yourself that little dress you flushed so many times from your cart while shopping online, add a pop of color to your makeup, hell go to the movies by yourself.
The spirit: in essence your mind and your soul. I have read books, listened to many podcasts about how the brain works, about neuro-linguistic programming and how you could wire and re-wire it just with your thinking and the affirmations you consciously or unconsciously tell yourself. So each morning right after I jump out of bed, well roll out of bed to be perfectly honest, I take a moment to myself and say out loud (or write on a piece of paper) what my aspirations for the day are. In a nutshell I say to myself this is going to be a good day, these are the things that I have to do, these are the people I will probably interact with and that my intentions are to be positive, be generous with myself and with others and most important to keep a smile on my face.
I think positive affirmation is key to self-love. I tried reading mantras yet still never felt connected to the whole chakras mojo; so I made up my own! Every night as I sit relaxed with a warm cup of tea, I write about 3 things; it could be about my very own personal accomplishments or people and events that I am grateful for. The goal here is not to flaunt and rub my ego the wrong way, quite the opposite. I’m just training my mind to remember all the good that happened to me through my own work or the people that came across, I feel like I’m awakening a sense of value and worth that I sometimes forget I have in me.
Meditation, just like you take your garbage out when it’s full, clean up the mess and redecorate the space you live in, well you also need to clean up your thoughts; no it’s not easy! Staying still and not think of anything sounds and seems virtually impossible. Why? Because our mind is like this crazy drunken little monkey that cannot stop moving around and it never stop! My guess is meditation is just you trying to lessen its agitation incoherent agitation.
Don’t think you’ve failed at your attempt; you will have thoughts, images running though your mind as you’re doing your best to concentrate on your meditation: IT’S NORMAL! With time and practice, it will become easier.
Find a new hobby or entertain something you’ve always wanted to do; and it could literally be anything.
Ever thought about starting a blog? Learn to play an instrument? Try hot yoga? Cooking classes? Travel to South East Asia… At this point the world is your oyster really. Let your curiosity speaks. The fears we don’t face become our limits; whatever you thought you couldn’t do, flip the script and do them.
I always felt uncomfortable and shy around strangers; Speaking in public is nothing short of a real panic attack for me unless it is with my friends or people that I’m really confortable with. So I decided to take an improvisation class. Writing? I never thought that I was good with words so I managed to stay away from writing; convincing myself that I am more of a visual person (I draw, I paint that’s my turf! Colors, textures and images speaks more to my mind) and still they were things that I could hardly express without words so I started writing. Writing about what I feel, things I see, things I live and it is slowly becoming another form of therapy where not only am I learning but It’s making me feel better about myself, understand myself more.
Bottom line is when we love ourselves; we don’t need the approval of others in order to be who we are. Instead, we are able to bring our fully-realized, joyful self out into the world — someone who others want to be around — instead of a self that is needy, with a hole that needs to be filled from the outside.
The person I used to be was needy — someone who was ready to fight battles for everyone but herself, hoping that the very people she cared about will recognize that trait and validate her to be worthy of love and appreciation — I needed the validation of others in order to feel worthy. The person I used to be was in denial of how she was hurting herself by staying still and complacent in that negativity! The person I used to be, thought deliverance and happiness would come from outside, from someone else, from somewhere else.
The person I am becoming now knows that she holds the key to her own happiness, she needs to start to feel good about herself, awaken the thrill in her and put herself first! You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.