Self love. Likely a term you have hear thrown around a whole bunch by now. Maybe so much that it has even started to lose any meaning or substance. Everyone says “Love yourself! Radical Self love! You have to love yourself before you love others!” but no one really says what it means to love the self, or even what that would look like.
This is the mystery I wish to dissolve today.
I can’t really say in detail what it looks like to love yourself, but this is because that is different for everyone. What I can do is give you a foundation to base your own self love practice upon, and dissolve any illusions that could be keeping you from fully embracing who you are in this moment.
Self love is something we all struggle with. We are taught from a young age to operate from a place of lack and unworthiness. Especially growing up in a country where “More is better!” We are also force fed unrealistic ideals of what men and women should be, and everything outside of that is not right. We are expected to be Ken and Barbie dolls living in a nuclear family, complete content doing work for a corporate office that couldn’t care less if we get fired.
We are taught to be a certain weight and height, eat certain foods, associate with a certain type of people, and follow a particular life path that involves college, a degree, marriage and kids.
Truth of the matter is that this is all highly outdated.
We are all individuals and have the right to our own unique experience in life. We must learn to dissolve all of the conditioning that has been hammered into us so that we may begin to uncover the root of who we each are as our own beings.
This is no easy task. Especially in a world that attempts to suffocate any possibility of doing so. However, it is far from impossible. Simply by deciding to take back our lives, and love and honor ourselves, we are making tremendous progress.
There are a few layers that go into loving ourselves.
On the physical side of self love, we must learn to love and accept our bodies as they are. Our bodies are vessels for us to experience life through, and teachers that reflect the impact experiences have had on us. By working with them, we are able to grow stronger and wiser through each moment and each decision we make. Our bodies are here to support our growth, not hinder it. Our bodies take care of us and keep us living, so it is only right to take care of our bodies as a thank you for all that they do for us. This can be hard as many of us struggle with some sort of physical ailment that could be chronic. This is often the root of something much deeper, whether emotional or energetic/karmic trauma. No matter the cause, we must learn to work with it and understand what it is trying to show us through our pains and sufferings. Without them, we would not grow stronger in body or mind.
Love the body by moving and stretching it, feeding it fresh whole foods from mother nature, and staying hydrated. Maybe even through in a few self hugs. You could also do face masks, massage, and making sure to look clean and put together. Even making sure to brush the teeth is a tremendous act of self love.
There should truly be an entire school dedicated to teaching us how to handle and understand our emotions. We live in an age where we would rather bottle up and hide away our emotions rather than take them out to face them, only to inevitably be forced to deal with the later on or have them manifest in a breakdown or bout of anger. This is, needless to say, incredible unhealthy and damaging.
We need to begin honoring every emotion that we have, no matter how positive of negative it may be. Because these emotions we are having are, too, teachers. They are there to help us gain a deeper insight into who we are and what it is we want for ourselves.
My favorite ways to honor emotions are meditation and journaling. Writing down how I’m feeling and what I’m going through at the time can help to release the emotions from where they were stuck in the body, and allow me the opportunity to truly look at the big picture. This opens up the ability to work through the emotions and fully release them, extracting the lesson to then be integrated.
Emotions, like the body, are not meant to hinder our growth or keep us locked in any particular mindset. Even if we feel negatively, it does not mean we are doomed to always feel this way. If we begin questioning our emotions and working to discover the root of them, we can begin to gain deeper insight into how we can bring the stuck emotions out and transform them into something positive or more meaningful.
This can be done simply by asking the self “why am I feeling [depressed/anxious/worried/scared/etc] right now? When did this start? What can I do now to release this emotion and return to a place of inner peace?”
Self love goes far beyond the physical body and mind. It can also be very spiritual and extend out to how we interact with and perceive the world. Going out in nature, expressing gratitude, focusing on creating deep and meaningful relationships, and even setting aside time to work towards our passions or do things that stir our soul are all vital parts of self love. I feel it is where the nectar of self love lies. Honestly, even if you are focusing purely on this part, you will often find that the rest fall into place so you may experience greater energetic support.
This is where self love truly begins looking vastly different for each individual, because we all have our own goals and desires that we wish to achieve in this life. For some, you may still be learning what those are, and that is okay. By creating a strong foundation in the physical and emotional aspects of self love, it will make it much easier to begin working in the energetic field.
A note on discovering purpose: I have found that what has helped me most in committing to a self love practice has been setting a purpose that is outside of myself. I must grow and evolve on a personal level to be of greater service to others, and I honor that we are all deeply interconnected and have energetic influence on each other’s wellbeing. By stepping into our own power, we create a ripple effect for others to do the same. This is what has encouraged me to keep going and growing. Knowing that by doing so, others are benefiting as well. If you are like me, keeping this in mind may help you on commit to your self love journey, especially if you carry a mindset of being “selfish” by loving and caring for yourself. The more time you care for yourself, and the more you love and honor yourself, the more you have to offer.
I hope this article helped to clear up some confusion on what it means to love the self and offered inspiration for you on your journey.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment!
I have a question for you: Do you have a self love ritual? If not, what would yours look like?