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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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