All too often in the counselling room and on retreats I encounter women who have lost a part of themselves, sometimes in the business of life through sacrifice for family, or from painful life experiences. Often I hear statements like, “There’s nothing really wrong with my life, it’s just kinda flat”, or “Really, I have nothing to complain about”. Women start asking themselves if they are depressed and sometimes this could be the case, but sometimes these women are searching for something—they are searching for themselves.
We all want to feel good and have meaning and purpose in our lives, but often we’re not looking in the right place. It’s not all fireworks at midnight, it’s more of a slow journey towards one’s true self. Eventually we realise the fire has been within us all along, and as we walk the path towards ourselves, we start to develop a sense of ease with life, a knowing that this is right. It’s the same feeling you have when you fall in love with someone, but this time you are falling in love with yourself. This path never really ends, it’s an amazing adventure. I hope you can join us on the first leg, towards self-love.
In 1956, psychologist and social philosopher Erich Fromm proposed that loving oneself is different from being arrogant, conceited or egocentric. He proposed that loving oneself means caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and knowing oneself (e.g. being realistic and honest about one’s strengths and weaknesses). He proposed, further, that in order to be able to truly love another person, a person needs first to love oneself in this way.
In this article I have provided several questions to help you reflect on the blocks you may experience towards self-love and ways you can be honouring and valuing yourself more. The start of any change begins with awareness.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi
What gets in the way of you loving yourself? i.e. perfectionism, guilt, comparisons, repressed emotions etc.?
When do you think this first started happening? What were the circumstances around this?
Who would you be without these limitations?
Why do you think it’s important to love yourself?
What are 5 ways you already honour and value yourself?
Write down 5 ways you could value or honour yourself more. This could be in any area such as work, relationships, health, fun, parenting etc.
Write down 5 gifts, qualities, or behaviours you have that you feel are under-recognised by yourself or others.
Ways to Love Yourself
- Loving yourself could be cleaning your home, organising papers and accounts, eating healthy food, paying bills, clearing debts, etc.
- Seeking the healing, insight and support that will help you release the attitudes, encumbrances and negative emotions that keep you from experiencing the wonder of your true self. Ending sabotaging patterns, habits or addictions.
- Changing self-limiting beliefs. Setting new inspiring and enlivening goals, raising your standards and reaching for more.
- Doing ‘nothing’; spending time relaxing, reflecting, de-stressing and simply ‘being’ to allow greater intimacy and connection with yourself.
- No longer sacrificing to please others. Respecting boundaries and saying ‘no’ when it feels right to.
- Not settling for less or compromising your dreams or values.
- Living somewhere that you truly love, or transforming, decorating or renovating your existing home to surround yourself with an environment that is beautiful, meaningful and heart-warming.
- Nourishing and caring for your body by eating healthy food and exercising regularly. You might join a gym, get a personal trainer, or begin fun, healthy activities like salsa, yoga, or a new sport or activity like hiking or running.
- Treating yourself to the pleasures of massage, a facial, pedicure, beauty treatments or a new hair-do.
- Buying new clothes that reflect your truer self. Taking up or renewing a creative hobby or passion, be that singing, writing, walking, painting, sailing, or photography, for example.
- Being honest and intimate with yourself, and listening to and honouring your feelings.
- Going on weekends away, short breaks and holidays to inject greater fun, happiness and adventure into your life.
- Being in touch with friends and loved ones, and expressing the love you have for them, which will be nourishing not just to them, but to you as well.
- Speaking kindly to yourself, seeing your value and goodness, affirming your positives and being grateful to yourself.
- Having a night out on the town: going out for a fabulous dinner, dancing, to the movies or theatre, whether alone, with a friend, or romantic partner.
- Meditating and allowing time for greater connection with yourself and quietening the voice of ego.
- Being true to yourself, upholding principles and standing your ground.
- If you tend to save or hoard money, it could be having a care-free ‘splurge’.
- Treating yourself does not need to be a great expense, however, and can be having breakfast in the garden on a sunny morning, taking a walk in the afternoon, having a bubble bath, a candlelight dinner in, going for a swim or watching the sunset.
- Spending time in nature to bask in its beauty and grace. We all have favourite nature spots. For some it is the oceanside, for others the beauty of a spring meadow, for some it is to walk down country lanes, or enter a forest or grove.
- Perhaps you love riversides or waterfalls, or wide vistas and open landscapes with far-reaching views, or hill tops and mountains.
- Appreciating yourself for all your gifts, qualities, strengths and achievements, and having compassion and love for any perceived ‘ugly sides’, weaknesses, stresses, trials and tribulations. Forgiving yourself for all ‘mistakes’ the lost or wounded you may have made, and letting go of negative self-concepts and beliefs. To explore the power of forgiveness, I recommend Colin Tipping’s book ‘Radical Forgiveness’, and Mark Myhre’s ‘The Magic of Self-Forgiveness’ (at www.Forgive-Yourself.com)
This list was compiled by Aine Belton at http://globalloveproject.com/
Make your own list of ways in which you might love yourself more
Its a lifelong journey, we hope to meet you exploring these topics on one of oru retreats in the future xx