Self-love is a practice in allowing yourself to be you, all the time.
As with any practice it gets easier, then another layer of challenge is rolled back and it gets harder again, and then easier. That cycle goes round and round many times, getting deeper.
Then, one day you are fully integrated; you are master. Of course the master must keep practicing because after all, the master is human. And humans are here to practice.
But where do we start this practice?
It starts with a choice.
Like the marathon man ties up his sneakers and hits the road,
Like the yogini rolls out her mat and steps on,
Like the writer turns on the computer and puts fingers to keys,
Practitioners of self-love need a process.
When I accidentally started on my Self-Love path, I was in a place that would best be described as self-loathing.
I had very little faith in myself as an artist and creator, my relationship to my body was down right abusive and I felt deep down that I was, actually, a really bad person. I feared that one-day people would find out and I’d lose all those that somehow loved me. So I did my best to hide all the ugly parts and played perfect as best I could.
It was a painful and confusing time.
I tell you this not because it's easy for me, but because I want you to know no matter where you are, you can start. You can start right now.
My Self-love path started on a yoga mat. Yours may start with a brush in your hand and a canvas before you. It could start over tea with a girlfriend. It could start with the publishing of your first blog post. It could start with an orgasm, a road trip, a song.
It could start right now.
No one sat me down and taught me how to love myself.
For me, it is a process of
getting to know myself (the good and the ugly),
allowing people to see me fully,
and then finally, a radical unconditional love for all that I have been and all that I am.
I am not a master, but I’m a few cycles in.
I want to share with you some recycled wisdom, ahas and practices that may help you on your path. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest.
In no particular order:
Know that you will not become a narcissist.
In fact, loving yourself makes you a more loving father, mother, sister, daughter, employer, artist…person.
Start expressing your boundaries (with heart).
When you do not express your boundaries, irritations fester and grow. When you express them without love, it is much harder for the receiving party to hear you.
When someone you love is constantly putting you down, subtly or not. Try, “I love you very much but when you put me down it hurts my feelings. If you continue to do that I cannot hang out with you anymore.”
Someone is undermining you at work. Say, “I have tons of respect for you, but I feel that you are disrespecting me. I need you to stop, otherwise our partnership/team will be compromised.”
You have plans with a friend, but you’ve had a hell of a week and need some alone time to clear your head. “I really want to hang out but this weekend I need some R&R. Can we reschedule?”
Don’t hang out with haters.
Is there a person in your life that is negative/insulting all the time? You’ve expressed your boundaries with love and they continue to bring you down. Knock it off. Don’t hang out anymore. Brene Brown says it best, “Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”
Ingest food and drinks that make you feel good.
Test the stuff out. Does it help you feel vital and nourished? Does it create sustainable energy for you? Eat it. If it gives you a headache, a crash, a hangover, maybe, eat it not so much.
This one may feel awkward at first but it’s really awakens your Self-love through sensuality. Massage your feet, your shoulders, your stomach…any place that needs a little love. Your body is your house, don’t let it be a stranger.
Watch your words.
When you hear yourself talkin’ noise to yourself, stop. Even if you catch yourself mid-sentence, halt. Your thoughts are profoundly effected by the words you say, and vice versa. It’s easier to stop the words, than the thought.
Is the voice chatter or wisdom?
We all have negative inner chatter, just as we have the wise inner guide. Learn to hear the difference between the chatter and the wise voice. Hint: the chatter is usually riddled with fear and the wise voice knows better.
Say thank you every chance you get. Feel it. Start a gratitude journal or a gratitude prayer practice or write in lipstick on your bathroom mirror, “Thank you. I am grateful.”
Use your body.
Your body can simply be a meat suit (i.e. dead weight) or it can be an expression of your soul.
The more you walk and stretch and dance and make love,
The more high fives you give,
the more you climb, hug, down dog and push up,
The more you swim, kiss, hold hands and massage,
the more you light your body up with soul.
Do things that make you feel like you.
Fill in the blank: When I feel like myself I _________________________.
Be silly. Play games. Giggle. Do pranks. Build a fort. Finger paint. Have fun!
Soak jealousy in blessings.
I know this one is hard. When you find yourself in jealously, bless them. Wish the best for them. There is not a finite amount of success, beauty, wisdom, money, etc. We all have access to it. Remember no one is stealing from you. Believe in abundance.
Allow yourself to be seen, really. Seek safe spaces to practice honesty. There is nothing more beautiful and moving than someone who allows us to see them.
Cherish the people that elevate you.
Do you have a friend that makes you feel good? You leave a conversation with them and you are walking on sunshine. Cultivate that friendship and express your love and gratitudewithout holding back.
Take yourself to the movies on Saturday night, no apologies. You like hanging out with yourself? Awesome. Do it. If this scares the pants off you, do it now. And take yourself to dinner after.
Do your thing in the world.
And by “thing” I mean that thing you most deeply want to do. This may be the final evolution of all of the others. When you love yourself, you are really freed up to start doing your thing like only you can. And the more you do your thing, the more you love yourself. When you are able to do your thing in the world with true authenticity, you will understand the value of all this self-love stuff.
This is very much a personal practice. You will discover many more ways to love yourself on your path. In fact, if you have one, tell us in the comments section below. How do you practice self-love?
May this list help you love yourself.
People who love themselves radiate love and spread it everywhere they go. You can be one of those people.
Originally published on The Wild Woman Project