Updated: Feb 14
How old were you when you fell in love with yourself?
Did you love yourself long before you felt the romantic love of another?
Or did it happen later in life? Or has it not happened yet?
For the record, there are no right or wrong answers here. We're all doing this thing called life slightly differently. But if - by some chance - you find yourself in the latter group, fear not, My Friend.
As long as you're topside, there's still time to fall madly and deeply in love with yourself.
In fact, my own Fairytale Self-Love Story didn't take place until my late 30's, when I was smack dab in the middle of my failed marriage. Did you just cringe? It's ok. "Failed marriage" is a harsh way of putting it, I know. But make no mistake, acknowledging that it failed, doesn't mean that I failed. That's an important distinction. And it's one that I was only able to make because I was already a regular passenger on the Self-Love Train.
Now, I am certainly not claiming to be an expert on the subject. There is seemingly limitless information on the subject, and I haven't gotten through it all. (Yet!) But, I can safely say that my Self-Development Addiction has put me on the pathway to a Whole Lotta (Self-)Love.
(I really can't promise that's the last time I do that.)
So, as my Valentine's Day present to you lovely humans, I'd like to share a few delectable morsels of Self-Love goodness I have picked up along the way on my journey.
(Note: This is my take on Self-Love. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
1. The Surprise of Self-Awareness We aren't who we think we are. Or, more accurately, we are not our thoughts. Nor are we our emotions, words, habits, or actions. That's a relief, right? No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, I think we can universally agree that sometimes we just have no idea why we think, feel, say, or do certain things. And we may even regret or criticize some of those things later.
Instead of beating ourselves up for our indiscretions, or burying them deep, we can try to just notice and be curious about them. When we step into the role of the Observer, we have the opportunity to question our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without judgment. Cultivating practices for Self-Discovery, Self-Reflection, and Self-Inquiry are the easiest ways to start to meet the true you.
Here's a great article to learn more about Self-Awareness and how to Cultivate it!
2. The Sweetness of Self-Acceptance
We treat others so much better than we treat ourselves, don't we? Before I started to work on my Self-Awareness, I had no idea how much of a horse's arse I was to myself. I showed everyone around me more compassion, appreciation, and forgiveness than I ever showed myself. I gave compliments freely, celebrated others' small victories, and comforted them when they felt down.
Yet, I insulted myself, downplayed every win, and oftentimes heaped an extra helping of "Man, You Suck!" on myself when I felt rotten. I played the Compare & Despair game, set ridiculous expectations for myself, and then felt such shame when I didn't meet them.
I hadn't even heard of things like Self-Compassion until I read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown during my first Yoga Teacher Training in 2019, (throughout which, by the way, I beat myself up about not being good enough daily.)
Four years later, I am happy to say that I give myself significantly more grace. I dig my scars, I'm curious about my "failures" and what I can learn from them, and I own my "Flawesomeness!" I'm not done, by the way. I'm forever a work-in-progress, and that's "perfectly" OK.
The first and most important step to Self-Acceptance is noticing and lovingly altering the way you talk to yourself. It's like this: If you wouldn't call your best friend an idiot for spilling her coffee, or tell your significant other they're fat or ugly, make an effort to show yourself the same kindness.
I'm pretty darn in love with this article on Cultivating Self-Acceptance.
3. The Satisfaction of Self-Worth
"Just by breathing you are worthy." Those were the words of one of my beautiful mentors. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Well, why do we hustle so hard to prove our inherent worth, then? If anything, the hustling seems to have the opposite effect.
Learning to set healthy boundaries, showing people how to respect & treat us, and being impervious to the judgment and unsolicited advice of the outside world takes away anyone else's ability to diminish our Self-Worth. So trust your intuition, not your inner critic. Nurture your Self-Esteem, not your self-flagellation. And remind yourself often what my mentor said. "Just by breathing..."
This article about Self-Worth Thought Habits says it all.
4. Satiating Self-Care
I'm not talking about Pedicures and Bubble Baths. Ok sure, those things certainly count. But Self-Care is so much more than that. It's carefully choosing who and what we give our time and attention to. It's remembering that joy, play, and laughter are just as important to our health as exercise and sleep.
It's also about being choosier about our consumption. And I don't just mean refraining from woofing down a sleeve of Chips Ahoy in one sitting. It's having discretion about the consumption of the tv & movies we watch, the material we listen to or read, the social media pages we follow, and the vibes of the people we hang out with. Turning off the news, unfollowing Negative Nancy on Facebook, and walking away from a gossip session = Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care!
I totally dig this blog post from MyFitnessPal about using Self-Care practices to raise your vibe!
5. Savoring Self-Growth
I remember being a teenager and looking at the Self-Help section of a book store, and concluding that it was the section "for sad people." That memory is a good opportunity to practice Self-Compassion. I'm so glad that the fields of Self-Growth and Self-Development are now widely accepted and valued. I fully believe that if we aren't growing, we're dying. If we don't constantly open ourselves up to new ideas, experiences, and adventures, we're getting closer to the finish line of life, but not winning. Picking up what I'm putting down?
You don't have to go all Yippee Ki-Yay on the Self-Dev Journey like I did, if that's not your bag. This doesn't have to be a lofty goal, or a ridiculous undertaking. Self-Growth includes goodies like travel, picking up new hobbies & forms of Self-Expression or reading some Inspirational Non-Fiction. Simply put, it's breaking out of the old routine.
And you can start right now. Like, as you read this. Begin to assess your thoughts, emotions, habits, and actions (See #1) and determine which no longer serve you. Then choose again. Nothing is permanent, My Dear Ones.
We only need to stay open, curious, humble, and Lead with (Self-)Love. And hey, don't forget to enjoy the ride, OK?
Some of my favorite Self-Love Activities:
Big Love, Bright Light, and Purely Positive Vibes, Kris