Self love is a phrase that gets bandied about a lot these days, but what does it really mean? Is it all just an excuse to go to the salon or day spa and indulge in some pampering or is there something a little deeper that we can do to love ourselves?
My journey into loving myself began a few years ago after I had a breakdown or, as Brene Brown calls it, a spiritual breakthrough. A lot of things contributed to me falling apart -- it wasn't just one thing but rather being in a state of overwhelm for too long. As a mother of three and stepmother to four I was very good at taking care of everyone else's needs, but for too long I had been forgetting to take care of myself. Sure, I went through the motions; I bought delicious moisturizers (and used them once or twice), I took baths (but just long enough to get clean), I meditated (sporadically) and I kept a gratitude journal (although I tended to only do this superficially.)
Once I got myself back on track and functioning self love became more of a priority, and I also began to notice that most of the women that I knew were not taking great care of themselves either. They often felt tired on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. They felt disconnected from themselves and didn't know what they wanted or needed to feel "better", they just knew that something was missing from their lives. What was missing was space for themselves, space to figure out who they were beyond being "just a mom."
And so began my journey into helping women fall more in love with themselves. It is so easy to buy into the media hype of "not being good enough" and the reality is none of us can match up to the photo-shopped ideal woman, even the models don't end up looking like themselves so how is the "average" woman supposed to compete?
Self love is about reconnecting to yourself, listening to your body and taking steps to give yourself what you truly need. It starts with accepting your body the way it is not looking at it as something that needs to be "fixed." This doesn't mean that you stop going to the gym or eating healthy it just means that you stop telling yourself how "fat and ugly" you are.
Here are five steps to loving yourself more.
(1) Silence the Negative Nelly:
We all have that voice inside our head that tells us all the ways in which we are not measuring up. We aren't tall enough, pretty enough, our thighs are too big, we laugh too loud or a myriad other perceived flaws with our body or our personality. The best thing to do when that voice kicks in is to imagine a STOP sign and then re-frame all of those negatives into positive statements.
(2) Keep a gratitude journal:
Don't just write the same things each day. Instead really go into the "why" behind what you are grateful for. If you are grateful for your husband list the reasons why, what does he do that makes you grateful for him? If you are grateful for your body list all the reasons why. This is a great one to do if you are having a bad day. You are alive and healthy and your body is doing all that it is supposed to be doing: breathing in and out, heart pumping, digesting your food and giving you the energy to move through the day. Even if your body is not functioning entirely as it should you are still blessed to be able to experience the day in whatever way that you can.
(3) Pee when you need to:
Many of us hold off going for a pee until we have done "just one more thing." The trouble is that "one more thing" always leads to another and then another and before you know it you are busting.
This about more than just peeing though, it is about tuning into your body; eating when you are hungry, sleeping when you are tired instead of just answering another email or reading just one more chapter. We constantly push ourselves and then wonder why we are tired or our energy is dragging. We grab sugary treats or another cup of coffee to give us a quick energy boost instead of taking the time to eat a decent meal and then wonder why the weight is piling on.
Have a time in the evening when the cell phone gets turned off and so does the computer. Have one day on the weekend where you disconnect from electronics completely. Instead spend time in nature, talk to your family, read an actual book instead of a Kindle or e-book.
(5) Look in the mirror and say "I love you. What do you need today?":
Taking the time to tell yourself how much you love you and then asking the question "what do I need?" opens you up to loving yourself more and tuning in to your own inner guidance. What is one simple thing you could do today to love yourself a bit more? Go do that. You will feel so much better for it.