Self love has its own hashtag. It’s trending on Instagram, Facebook groups are built and green juices are sipped in it’s honour. It’s a movement per se. I like social media for the most part and I’m a fan of green juice but I can’t help feeling we’ve kind of missed the entire point.
By Google’s definition self love is having regard for your own happiness and well-being. Isn’t it kind of a no-brainer that we have regard for our own happiness and wellbeing?
It’s evident in the way we go chasing after things; relationships, partners, careers, promotions, money, travel or whatever we think will make us happy.
I think the real question is this:
[Tweet “What is your relationship to happiness and wellbeing?”]
We define our relationship to things based on our past experiences. One thing that binds us all is that our entire lives are built on relationships.
Your relationship with yourself is the most powerful, sacred, deeply transformational and insightful one you’ll ever have, if you let it be. It’s messy, beautiful and requires you to really show up. That commitment is something that makes many of us turn our backs and focus on what’s around us rather than whats within us.
We pride ourselves on our ability to snag a mate for life or build a girl boss gang over our capacity to get down and dirty with our good selves.
We stay in loveless relationships.
Bounce around in joyless friendships out of perceived obligation.
Keep our opinions stifled when working with a buzz-kill boss or business partner.
[Tweet “We stay put when our hearts are screaming at us to walk.”]
Who would you be if you dumped the guy who treats you like shit?
What if you cut ties with your childhood friend who you’d never connect with if it weren’t for Facebook.
What would happen if you told you boss ‘thanks but no thanks’ and walked out with your integrity intact?
Who would you be if you owned up to your part in all the relationships in your life? Not just the relationships, but the scenarios they push up to the surface.
You’d be unstoppable.
You’d bust out of your mental confines.
You’d exceed your own expectations.
You’d ascend at the speed of light.
Realising our own capacity for fulfilment and resisting our power keeps us at a standstill.
[Tweet “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us”]
Self Love is the Drug
Relationships were a convenient, socially acceptable way for me to distract me from myself. In my head, if somebody loved or wanted you so much they’d call 17 times while you were our having dinner with your friends (true story) then you couldn’t really be that fucked up. Right? Wrong.
You can be fucked up and loved up, lots of people are. Some realise it, some don’t. Some realise it and don’t want to admit to it because that so called love is a welcome distraction from a chaotic personal world.
Let me tell you this: being somebody’s someone changes nothing.
[Tweet “Your title in relation to somebody else only carries the weight you give it.”]
It doesn’t change you, your past, your personality or your potential. It won’t wipe the slate clean and it won’t reshuffle the cards and deal you a new hand.
I left the 17 calls in one night guy, who was teetering on stalker-ville as one friend put it. I was 21, newly single and according to my best gal pal, nailing it.
I wanted to do everything differently to the old me. Take risks. Be non-committal. Change my phone number. Dedicate to myself. Burn my wardrobe. Wash off the past. Up until that point I had lived with the constant craving for change and out of fear I denied myself every time.
My past was a heavy blanket laced with abandonment issues, abuse, a broken home and a blended family who seemed intent on being dysfunctional. Too scared to pluck at my own threads and unravel my story, I stayed safe. I believed in being stuck and subconsciously created situations to be stuck in. I bounced around in relationships that my heart wasn’t in.
What I really wanted was for someone to tell me I wasn’t broken.
And what I learnt was that the only person for the job was me.
Searching for Self Love in all the wrong places
We waste precious energy changing all the superficial parts of ourselves. In the pursuit of love we put forward our squeaky clean self only to be met with the same scenarios once we let our carefully constructed guards down.
We all know somebody whose relationships all end exactly the same way, every time or somebody who perpetually swings between breaking-up and making-up.
We want our relationships to be stable and make us feel secure.
We want the other person to ‘get us’.
We want to be loved regardless of our demons, and in spite of them.
But how does that work when we barely love ourselves?
We look for the antidote outside of ourselves. We squint to see our salvation in another person. Quietly we harbour the hope that they’ll fix us, or at least distract us long enough so we forget who we are.
Pema Chodron nailed it when she said:[Tweet “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know”]
I remember feeling tinged with guilt as I thought about the family I had just packed up and left. A sweetly innocent half-sister who was barely 12, an outrageously insecure and abusive step-mother and my father; either blissfully unaware or blissfully ignorant.
Self Love isn’t Selfish
Leaving home was the best decision I’d ever made. I felt like I had to pull my power back or continue being dragged through someone else’s drama. Running on the adrenalin of rebellion I packed everything into my tiny Toyota and left. No note and no looking back.
I could barely see out the rear-view mirror and had no freaking idea where I was headed, but for once I knew I was travelling in the right direction.
While reflecting I landed on this: I love myself enough to leave it behind.
It wasn’t rebellion, it was self love. Up until that pivotal moment I’d aligned self love with self-centredness instead of self-empowerment. Putting myself first and dropping what didn’t serve me was a radical and selfish concept. And although I was free I was still hauling beliefs from my past.
Feel it to heal it
I allowed myself to sit with my heavy blanket and owned up to my part in creating the world I was in. It felt weird to admit that I gave power to things that made me feel imprisoned. Resistance reared her head. Parts of me were repulsed by the idea that I attracted the very people and things that hurt me.
So I plucked at each thread and let them unravel slowly and gracefully.
Fear of abandonment that made me crave attention and dive into relationships.
Abuse that made me doubt every thought so much I could barely make a decision.
Fear that I was doing the wrong thing by somebody else’s standards, regardless of whether it was right for me, and then being punished for it.
With softness and a new, loving perspective I saw them for what they really were: stories that I chose to identify with.
[Tweet “We have to feel it to heal it.”]
Forgiveness was the only way forward. Forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook. It’s a portal for self empowerment. True forgiveness allows you to see your part in creating or perpetuating a soul shrinking situation and let it go without attachment or blame. Real forgiveness is an act of personal freedom.
[Tweet “Forgiveness is a fast-track to ascension.”]
Self Love and Setting Standards
Walking around with a head full of fear and insecurity brings in more for you to feel fearful and insecure about. I know it because I’ve done it, and still do. I’m sure you do too. If self love is all about happiness and wellbeing, then it’s on you to clearly set the boundaries around them, and around your heart.
If a slightly sarcastic remark thrown your way makes you self-conscious rise up, don’t slink back.
When someone belittles you and makes you feel you need to justify yourself, call it out. What you put up with you end up with.
Building the backbone to defend yourself is a process, essential to self love. Think of it as a new skill to add to your toolkit.
[Tweet “You set the standards for how others treat you.”]
When you raise your standards two things will happen.
- People around you will rise with you.
- They’ll fall away and create space for new people to move in.
Either way, it’s all in your favour. Always has been. Always will.
Self – love is the new black
[Tweet “Change is a choice.”]
If we could yoga, backbend and chant our way out of a relationship, situation or job we would. Here’s the clincher: we wouldn’t learn anything.
Think of those frozen calorie controlled meal deliveries people use to achieve their desired weight. They get to a point where they’re happy and go back to their old ways. Relying on something outside of themselves (the meals) doesn’t get to the heart of it their weight issues and nothing really changes.
When the focus is external, no internal shift happens.
There’s no real work, no magic, no lasting transformation.
[Tweet “Inner work is where shift happens.”]
The inner you is your guru
Self-love is choosing yourself over and over again.
Self-love is accepting where you are and accepting your power for change.
Self-love is having the courage to choose what serves you.
As I began flexing this muscle more I noticed the sweet ripple effect it had on every area of my life and on those in it. My best friend confessed she felt restricted in her relationship and ended it for the better. My dad left his overbearing wife. Another close friendship ended for the better.
When I spoke to myself lovingly I found more to love.
I was intentional with my creative energy and career opportunities fluttered in.
The more I was my unadulterated self the richer my friendships became. Some also fell apart, all in my favour.
[Tweet “When you rise you inspire others to do the same.”]
All in all I was shinier, lighter, and clearer.
Self Love is an Act of Self Service
As you dissolve old patterns, beliefs and behaviours and swap your mental trash talk for a nourishing mindset, you literally transform on a cellular level.
Those energetic changes in you beam outward, and the more you reinforce them with your new thoughts the stronger they become.
As your energy gets stronger it shines brighter and further and what you invite into your life is in direct proportion to the energy you give out.
The heart emits an electromagnetic field that is 60 times bigger than that of the brain. An electromagnetic field is the physical area produced by things that have an electric charge (everything atomic), and the field affects the behaviour of other objects in its vicinity.
This explains why you feel good in the presence of others who are generally happy and loving. It’s science. It’s love. It’s a universal law.
Like attracts like.
Stepping into your higher self and manifesting love is next up.
Over to you now, tell me your best all-time self love secrets. x
I feel like i want to print this out and put it above my bed, read it every morning, or put it right next to my bathroom mirror and read it as I prepare for my days. So very true all of it that happiness really is an inside job. I have been working really hard lately on myself and my inner confidence and love for myself.
Shannon, you’ve literally just made my day. I’m so touched that this post has reached your heart space, as I write it from my own. This is such a beautiful, uplifting comment to receive – thank you so much. And if you do print it and stick it on your wall, be sure to send me a pic. I’d love to see it. Big love to you beautiful.xx
This is really fantastic. I need to read it about 100 more times so that everything sinks in and stays there!!
Ha ha – aw, thank you so much.xx
Wow – this is powerful – so many gems in here – thank you for sharing!
My pleasure Tamsin.x
This was so powerful, Cynthia. So much wisdom to soak up. Thanks for sharing your story and awesome advice x
Thanks Kris. I adored your post on spirituality. Keep rocking it lady.x
I absolutely love this Cynthia! Your story is very inspiring 🙂 I’ve done some serious work on myself and my thoughts for the past 5 years and the impact it has had on my life is tremendous. It may be hard, but my gosh it is worth it. I truly hope more people understand that self-love isn’t selfish; if everyone worked on becoming the best version of themselves, they would actually have more to offer the world. Anyways, I could ramble on about this all day haha, so I’ll stop myself there. By the way, you’re writing is beautiful! x
Chante – THANK YOU. I LOVE to write so your comment means so much and fuels my creativity. I agree, it can be a bit lonesome rewiring our mental patterns, swapping our words for kinder self-talk and being gentler with ourselves but the transformation and incredible way we align with our dreams when we’re truly ourselves is worth the work. We all have infinite potential and so much to offer the world.x
Great post, something we all need to hear and be reminded of!
I loved reading this post, thank you, Cynthia. I tweeted the ‘you set the standards for how others treat you’ – very relevant for some of my insecure/unsure brides.
It’s such a simple and powerful statement, I hope your brides resonate with it. I must go and find you on Twitter 🙂 Thank you for sharing.x
This is a very thought provoking post, Cynthia. I am really walking away with some things to consider about my own life.
I’m so chuffed to hear that – thank you!x
Such an inspirational post and I love your layout too! I’m definitely going to spend more time on your blog!
This is one of the sweetest comments ever Judy! Thank you.xx
Something I thought I had ‘sorted’ about myself but it creeped up on me again. Thank you for the reminder x
Self-Love keeps evolving with us – it will creep up when we’re not being true to ourselves. A relationship that we’ll always be working on. The awesome thing is we’ll shine brighter for it.x
I’m still struggling to love myself, though it may be my Bipolar causing a delay.
One line that got to me was: “What if you cut ties with your childhood friend who’d you never connect with if it weren’t for Facebook.”
I have a friend JUST LIKE THAT. We USED to be best buddies, but we never talk anymore. And when we do, it’s usually a debate about a social issue we both disagree on. It saddens me, it truly does. I don’t even know her anymore.
At the same time, it’s not like it would harm or help to just “cut ties”, since nothing is happening anyway. Maybe if we debate again and it gets out of hand. ><
Stephy, it’s a messy, transformational relationship sometimes but you will reach a point of pure compassion and love yourself, just as you are. Kind of like the caterpillar and butterfly analogy, you need to go within to transform and emerge and SOAR! And I agree, social media can be a hindrance sometimes as it’s so easy to feign staying in touch by just being ‘Facebook friends’. Follow what your heart says.x
101% agree with this 🙂
Yahoo! Well THAT is awesome.x
I’m in a place right now where I’m beginning to work on this so your post is most definitely useful!
Hey Lisa, hope this post has a few gems in it for your journey. Big love.x
This is full of so many great insights, things we should all be aware of but sometimes need to be told as a push. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Ashley – funny how we have to really remind ourselves that our relationship with our selves is WORTH the love and energy.x
I totally agree, we should love ourselves more. We can’t go on living other things in life if this does not happen
Phil – YES! Why would somebody else love us if we don’t love ourselves? We set the standards. Let’s raise the bar – because we’re worthy.x
Spent years trying to let women know that taking time for themselves is not being selfish. Take a class, go out with friends, read a book, go on a trip. There is much truth in when moms happy everybody is happy.
Ha ha! I’ve heard that too. Absolutely agree – revel in the things you love, get lost in them, give yourself permission to be the centre of your own universe.x
It has taken me years to realize that self-love isn’t selfish. My 20s were devoted to doing everything for other people and nothing for myself. After a nervous breakdown at 29, my 30’s have been dedicated to taking care of me and rethinking how I do things. <3 Self-love and self-care are so important – I wish someone had taken me aside and told me all this years ago <3
Beaming you love sweet Elle – so glad you’re taking time to love and heal yourself now. You’re worth it all and you will SHINE.x
It’s so true that self-love is more than green juice. As someone recovering from an eating disorder, I’ve always struggled with the concept of self-love, but I try to always remind myself that at the end of the day, I’m the only one responsible for me. Good article!
Oh wow Erica – love to your on your healing journey. So glad you agree, the self-love concept is reduced when we link it to acai bowls and mala beads. It’s SO much more than that and we have the power to make it incredible.x
I have only recently started to love myself! It might seem obvious but it wasn’t to me. It was never something i was taught to do.. so weird. Anyway, thanks for your lovely post – great reminder to fill your love cup first.
I don’t think many of us are really taught to love ourselves, it’s something that springs from within. The question is: will we love ourselves enough to rise up or slink back into safety and fear. The power is yours beautiful.x
So love this, amazingly written and some great points to consider and action to better our self love muscles. Will definitely be working on my muscle some more 🙂
Thank you so much Jodie – I learnt a lot just from writing about it, lots of inner work 😉 Here’s to flexing that muscle more. Big love.x
Love everything in this post! Thanks for the catchy title to use when working with my groups at a addiction treatment center. It’s perfect!
Hey Jessica – thank you my love. Ha – the title is a catchy one. Well done on your selfless work with addiction – such an important thing to help people heal. So happy you enjoyed this, feel free to use it.xx
What a wonderful post!! I stayed with my children’s father for years because I felt obligated, I felt that I couldn’t ruin my children’s life by leaving. But what a better life my children and I had once I learned to love myself!
Isn’t it crazy the way the world opens up when we ditch the things that are weighing us down? So happy for you Susanne, I imagine that would have been a tricky time for you. What an amazing role model you are.xx