Updated: Feb 4, 2019
Most of us understand the concept of Self-Love and how important it is to love ourselves, but do we actually know HOW to do so in a way that truly transforms us from the inside out?
I believe true love of Self begins with an awareness of personal BOUNDARIES, displaying RESPECT for Self and others, and having a level of CONFIDENCE that is intrinsic ~ not derived from anything outside of us. And all of this first comes from Self-Awareness - becoming intimate with our inner world - what we like, what we don't like, what is "good" for us, what is "bad" for us, and allowing ourselves to be seen, heard, and felt fully with zero judgements.
This process of truly loving ALL of ourselves is much deeper than taking a bubble bath, meditating, going on a trip, etc. The list I have created is a way to access that unconditional love that parents have for their children, knowing that they are not always the easiest decisions, but it is necessary for long term success. Basically, a "How To" list to parenting ourselves because at some point, it becomes absolutely vital to develop these skills on our own!
Love is a verb and something we CHOOSE to do. But make sure you're coming from a place of not trying to "fix" something that is "wrong" with you, otherwise you'll end up hating the process. Try shifting your perspective to thinking of yourself as your own child (essentially your inner child), and stay light-hearted ~ give yourself permission to experience child-like wonder and JOY!
1. Discover your own LOVE LANGUAGE and own it! The 5 Love Languages is an awesome book by Gary Chapman that allows us to understand not only our own love language(s), but those around us as well, in order to then show love to ourselves and others the way we each individually resonate with receiving it. If you don't know yours, take the free quiz here! Once you get clear on what makes you tick, it is much easier to communicate your needs to others, which brings me to #2...
2. Communicate your wants and needs CLEARLY and DIRECTLY with others ~ This can be tricky sometimes, but it is absolutely necessary when wanting to bring others in to your inner world. As a species, we are interdependent and cannot survive without love, connection, and community with others. This is an excellent opportunity to show yourself love by being HONEST with yourself about who CAN meet certain needs for you, and who is WILLING to do so as well. We cannot expect that our needs be met by others all of the time, but we can CHOOSE who to ask, and who to allow in. This is a self-loving act called BOUNDARIES.
3. Live with INTEGRITY in all that you do ~ If you say you're going to do something, do everything you can to follow through. If you are committed to something in your life, show up consistently and nurture that thing. Practice keeping your intentions, speaking, and actions in alignment with what you are most committed to, and you will be able to cultivate a sense of pride for yourself, knowing you are living your life with integrity.
4. Get enough SLEEP every night! This is pretty simple, but it's absolutely necessary. Important things happen when we sleep ~ integration, processing, astral travel, dreams, and just plain giving our brains a rest from all of the thinking we do during the day! If you notice that you are grumpy or moody, check in with your body to see if you're getting enough sleep and give in to it. Naps and all. They're not just for kids.
5. Eat foods that give you ENERGY! Something significant I have realized about the way I eat is that I listen to what my body craves and find the most healthy options to sustain that craving. This is what I define as INTUITIVE EATING. This isn't giving myself permission to eat whatever I want, it's actually feeling how my body responds to certain foods, how much to eat to become satisfied (not over full), and realizing when I am over indulging, because my body will tell me in some way. Foods that leave you feeling light and full of energy, or allow you to feel more grounded when you need it will be different for everyone and it will change for all of us too. Don't restrict yourself to a diet that makes you feel bad. Food is meant to nourish us, so be honest about what you are putting in your body, and don't ignore certain cravings when you have them. They are there for a reason. It will be up to you to exercise self-control if what you are craving is something for comfort, or something your body actually needs. This will require discernment on your part, so pay attention to when and why you crave certain things to decipher what you truly need.
6. Allow yourself to be FLEXIBLE and change your mind or direction ~ Surrender to the idea that we can control how life turns out. Let go of being rigid in your beliefs, because everything is constantly shifting and moving and changing in the Universe. Allow yourself to be moved with the ebb and flow of life's cycles, and I promise you will be more joyful. If we cling to old ways, patterns, beliefs, or relationships, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to expand, grow and learn important lessons for our evolution. Let go when necessary, and love yourself during the process of transformation.
7. Stop judging yourself for past mistakes - FORGIVE yourself ~ This is connected to #6, because sometimes letting go can be very difficult! I am not here to tell you to forgive anyone other than yourself. We all make mistakes, that's how we learn. Swallowing our pride, taking ownership and taking steps to do better once we know better is absolutely all we can do. We all deserve forgiveness and acceptance, even if we fuck up. Love yourself by forgiving the you that didn't know any better at the time, and if we make the same mistakes again, this is giving us the opportunity to love ourselves so fiercely that we want to change and be better. See the higher perspective of the lessons you're learning and move forward.
8. Be HONEST with yourself about your shortcomings, vices, weaknesses, and shadows ~ Again, this is not easy. Being honest with ourselves about ourselves is sometimes EXTREMELY painful. But if we cannot love our own shadows, how can we love anyone else's? This is what LOVE really is ~ an all encompassing, no conditions, acceptance of ALL of someone, flaws and all. No one is perfect, and we have all done things we wish we hadn't. It's how we conduct ourselves once we learn these things that makes the difference. This is also a way to set boundaries for yourself when you know there are things that you cannot partake in because you're using it to fill a void. This is absolute Self-Love ~ choosing not to participate in things that cause chaos in your life.
9. Stay HYDRATED! Our bodies are made up of approximately 65% water. It keeps our skin looking fresh, our digestive systems working smoothly, and gives us energy. Even the type of water you choose to put into your body can make the difference, because tap water (In the U.S. at least) has a lot of chemicals and other crap in it that really isn't supposed to be digested. This is another way of showing your vessel love by keeping it clean and healthy in order for optimal living every day.
10. EXERCISE! Get up and move your body around. It doesn't have to be an intricate work out every day, but do what makes your body feel good. Stretch, walk, run, jump up and down. Play with a child and watch how they move. They lead with their bodies, not their heads. Don't think about it too much, just do what feels good in the moment and don't be afraid to switch it up and try new things, HAVE FUN!
11. Create personal GOALS for yourself ~ Living a life with purpose is something all Humans strive to do, whether we are conscious of it or not. Get serious about what you want in life, write it down, hire a coach, talk to a friend, and then take actions steps towards accomplishing these goals. This gives us a sense of confidence in our ability to commit to something and get results. Just make sure you are doing it for YOU and not anyone else. This must come from within, and it can be as small or as big as you like. It's your life, so you get to CHOOSE. Focus on what would add value to your quality of life.
12. ACKNOWLEDGE yourself ~ When you do accomplish something, be PROUD of yourself and celebrate your successes! This is so so so important! Allow those feelings in, and humbly acknowledge the progress you've made, the work you've done, and the achievements you've reached. Staying the course on a long term goal takes courage and strength. You're a badass, so remind yourself of that often!
13. Develop a relationship to a HIGHER POWER ~ This is going to look different for everyone, so I won't go into much detail about how to do this, but connecting with our own SOURCE every day allows us to see situations from a more expanded perspective. It also allows us to access our own POWER, to tap into our creativity, and to feel the interconnectedness of all life. For me, this IS our direct connection to LOVE and COMPASSION. However you get there will be unique to you, but we ALL have the ability to connect to something bigger than ourselves that gives us a sense of value. Practice tapping into that every day.
14. Allow yourself to indulge in PLEASURE! Let me preface this by saying that MODERATION is absolutely necessary here, if you have the tendency to over indulge, but refer to #8 on being honest with yourself. We have 5 senses that all want to be stimulated and we all have different things that bring us a sense of pleasure, so surround yourself with what makes you feel good! The key is not to become dependent upon the outside "thing" all of the time, and to again, be honest with yourself about what actually makes you feel good or not. This is about being mindful and conscious about what we stimulate our senses with. Find the balance between completely denying yourself of pleasure, and over indulging in pleasure, which of course takes time and practice.
Once you master the art of Self-Love, of truly knowing and accepting yourself through each stage of life, you will notice your outside world begin to shift as well. It doesn't mean you won't ever encounter someone being rude to you, or a traumatic circumstance again, but if something does happen, it most likely will not affect you in a way that sucks you into a rabbit hole of self-loathing, and you will bounce back quickly ~ RESILIENCE.
If all you feel is love for yourself on the inside, then all you will see is love on the outside. As within, so without.