Imagine you woke up every single morning with the feeling that you are a gift to this world. Imagine, for a moment, that the people in your life are better because you exist. What kind of day would this set you up for? Prioritize yourself and acknowledge your greatness – it doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s not as challenging as you might think.
Self – Love (or Self – Compassion) is relating to yourself sans ego, judgement and criticism. It’s the feeling of knowing we are enough, in fact, that we are pretty darn incredible.
“Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d show to a good friend. When faced with difficult life struggles, or confronting personal mistakes, failures, and inadequacies, self-compassion responds with kindness rather than harsh self-judgment, recognizing that imperfection is part of the shared human experience.” – Kristin Neff (Neff & Dahm, 2015)
The practice of loving yourself has been shown to;
· Lower stress
· Lower feelings of anxiousness and sadness
· Deal with unexpected circumstances easier
· Increase your integrity (you’re more likely going to stick to your word if you respect yourself)
· Increase optimism
How amazing would it be if we showed up for ourselves the same way we do for our loved ones? I bet you wouldn’t beat your best friend up about something she said to her boss or criticize your mom for eating that extra cookie. Why is it so hard to stick a piece of tape over the crappy voice that lives inside us?
So, HOW DO WE PRACTICE SELF-LOVE? According to Melanie Greenberg, clinical psychologist, life coach, author, and national speaker, there are a few things we can do to increase our warm and fuzzies:
1. Recognize that you are experiencing emotional distress or mental suffering.
Adopt a mindful attitude. Deliberately pay attention to your inner experience to notice when you are shifting into a negative state. The minute you realize that you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself or feeling anxiety in your body, stop and say to yourself, "This is a difficult moment," or, "I’m feeling distress in my mind and body.”
2. Accept that the feeling is there.
Make a conscious decision to sit with whatever negative feeling is there and try to accept it — because it’s there anyway — rather than pushing it away. If it’s a negative thought, look for the underlying emotion (anxiety, sadness, or anger), or take notice of where you might feel tension or discomfort. You may feel tightness in your muscles, shoulders, throat, face, jaw, or other areas.
3. Imagine how you might feel if you knew a loved one was experiencing this feeling.
In your mind’s eye, imagine your loved one being scared or sad or feeling bad about themselves. Then think about what you might feel. Perhaps you would feel the urge to help or comfort them. Try to direct this compassionate mindset toward yourself. If you notice any resistance or thoughts of “I don’t deserve compassion,” acknowledge them, and try to direct compassion to yourself anyway. You may want to ask yourself why you think others deserve compassion but not you.
4. Think about how everybody messes up sometimes.
It’s tempting to think that you are uniquely messed up, while everyone else is a paragon of virtue. In fact, even the most successful people make serious mistakes; however, making a mistake doesn’t undo your accomplishments and successes. Realize that all humans are learning, developing beings rather than finished products. We're all works-in-progress.
5. Decide what it would take to forgive yourself.
If your behavior hurt you or another person, ask yourself what it would take to forgive yourself. Think about whether you want to apologize and make amends to the person you hurt. If you hurt yourself through addictive behavior, avoidance, ruining relationships, or otherwise behaving unwisely, make a coping plan for the next time you are in a similar situation so that you can begin to act differently. Know the person you can reach out to when you need to feel connection.
6. Use self-talk to encourage yourself.
You may say something like, “It doesn’t help to beat yourself up,” or, “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.” You may want to acknowledge yourself for being aware of old habits popping up. You may tell yourself to focus on the positive aspects of what you did, or that behavior-change is a process.
7. Be a life coach to yourself.
Rather than punishing yourself with negative thoughts, gently guide yourself in a positive direction. You may ask yourself what led to the destructive behavior, whether it’s really what you want to be doing, and what the consequences are. Tell yourself that you have other choices, and it’s never too late to change. Then think about a concrete step you can take right away, like right now, to move in a more positive direction or get up and try again. If someone else was mean and you let them get away with it, think about how you can set a limit or boundary to stop this from happening again.
What resonates with you? Cut yourself some slack and realize that you are awesome just as you are. You are worthy, lovable and perfectly imperfect. As it turns out, it’s normal to judge, to criticize and to beat ourselves down. We are human. But let’s try and build that Self-Love muscle up enough that we can deal with all the garbage we put on ourselves. How wonderful would it be if we approached life through the lens of love and acceptance?
As we enter the month of LOVE, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the ways you can woooooh yourself. Manicure? Mediation class? Long bath and a glass of vino? And, if you’re up to the challenge, spend time changing some of the stories that play in your head. If there is an experience that you judge yourself for, try thinking about it in black and white, and re-write the story. Most of the time, the whole situation or experience wasn’t nearly as intense as you’ve built it up to be. Acknowledge it, re-write it, cut yourself some slack and move on.
Journaling is such an amazing tool to use to see situations with more clarity and compassion. It’s one of my favorite practices that I use every day to build my Self-Love muscle.
What are some of the ways you show yourself unapologetic love and acceptance? I would love to know!
On February 13th we are hosting a Self-Love inspired workshop at the amazing Outside the Shape in Inglewood, Calgary, AB. Not only will you get to make your own aromatherapy bracelet you will also: receive a free bottle of essential oil (2.5ml), learn about gratitude and intention setting, discover the importance of self-love and ways we can cultivate more of it into our lives, learn about gemstone energy and the connection between our emotions and essential oils, receive a free gift AND of course there will be wine and snacks.