What the heck does self-love and loving myself even mean? Does this mean bubble baths, pedicures, and massages? Self-love is more than just pampering ourselves. It's the active practice of accepting, caring for, and encouraging oneself. Honoring your own well-being and happiness. Being committed, devoted, and honoring of yourself and your needs.
Most of us, instead of nurturing our relationship with ourself, spend a lot of our time up in our head doing the opposite... creating and spinning negative self-talk. Can we truly love others if we don't love ourselves first?
A lot of us don't truly love or even know how to love ourselves. We may occasionally "treat" ourselves to massages, baths, special food, etc. under the guise of "self-love", when in reality we are trying to fill a void inside our hearts. Not that these acts of self-love don't have their place, but they typically don't fill the void or help learn to love ourselves. They don't change our thought patterns and inner dialogue.
The most important relationship that you'll ever have is with yourself. We need love from ourselves as much, if not more than we need it from others. Self-love begins with being able to appreciate you for you...all of your imperfectly, perfect, unique, glorious self. Seeing yourself completely, recognizing your value, your strengths and your weaknesses. It's knowing your worth, what you want and need and holding true to yourself with both your inner choices and outer choices. Self-love is not a destination, but rather an important intentional practice to cultivate.
Self-love requires the courage to reflect on where you are and consider where you want to be and the devotion to be a work in progress, striving to be the best version of your true self. Recognizing your self-worth and fostering your on-going, continuous lifetime of self-growth.
There are a lot of ways to cultivate self-love. Two of my favorite go to practices include:
1. Interrupting negative thought patterns - When my inner critic rears it's ugly head, I intentionally choose to acknowledge that the thought comes from my inner critic, that it doesn't serve me, and then either affirm something more positive, or reverse it with a phrase like "up until now" or "that doesn't apply to me".
2. Self-appreciation practice - Every night before going to bed reflect on three to five new things that you appreciate about yourself. This can be something that correlates to the past 24 hours or something that is a trait or characteristic of yours. It can be something small or grandiose, it doesn't matter. The practice retrains our brain to identify positive things about ourself.
Cultivating self-love and ultimately changing our belief system about ourself is an on-going work in progress. It requires intention and devotion to heal ourself and open up to the fullness of love for ourself and others.
“Self-love requires you to be honest about your current choices and thought patterns and undertake new practices that reflect self-worth.” ~Caroline Kirk