What is Self -Love Really ?
Self-love is a phrase you often hear, but what does it really mean? In this post I am discussing what self-love means in my world, why it’s important if you want lasting change with your eating and weight, and I provide some journaling prompts to help you become more loving toward yourself.
In my world, self-love encompasses things like self-kindness, self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-trust, and self-appreciation. To me, at its core, it’s about truly owning your inherent worth and value as a person. The value you are born with. The innate value we were all born with.
Life is not about earning other’s approval or their love, or feeling like you have to earn your value or worth in the world. Life is about appreciating what you are and who you are, and then allowing that to be your stepping stone to having more and being more. Human beings are designed to want to grow and expand and have more, but your value and deservedness of all those good things in life is not earned, your deservedness just is.
You are deserving of all the goodness and love that you want in life just as you are, and you deserve to live your best life, whatever that means to you, simply because you were born.
That is how I think of self-love. It is to really learn how to accept and own your innate value as a person, and to know you are worthy and deserving of what you want right now.
And I want to talk about ways you can express more love to yourself through actions and practices.
The first is gratitude, and being grateful. The reason gratitude is important is because in order to really care for ourselves, and feel good mentally and emotionally, we have to be grateful for our life and all that life gives us.
Gratitude is part of self-love because our default survival mechanism is to focus on what’s wrong with life. There is that primal part of us that wants to be ready to fight, to flee, or to freeze when a perceived threat is present. It’s that part of us that only wants to survive, and it lives in worry, fear, and doubtful thinkiing about ourselves and about our lives.
Therefore, it can be easy for us to focus on all the negative chatter in our mind and live in that fear-based energy more often than not. It’s a mental space we can easily slip into all the time if we don’t stay aware of our mind and it’s chatter.
To not slip into that place of negativity, we have to observe our mind and its stories rather than believe, entertain, and get caught up in them all the time. And gratitude is a great practice because it shifts us out of the negative mind-focus that we can easily default to and get stuck in.
Part of self-transformation or changing yourself is being grateful toward yourself. You must appreciate all your efforts without putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect or expecting yourself to be someone you are not, yet. You celebrate and appreciate yourself along the journey of change.
As an action of gratitude, write a love letter to your body, thanking it for carrying you, and keeping you alive.
The second self-love practice is to stop the self-criticism, the perfectionist in you and the inner critic that is always saying you are doing something wrong, and that you have to be more perfect.
It’s about stopping that inner voice that expects you to be everything to everyone, or that doesn’t believe you are good enough...not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, and on and on.
Part of self-love is simply being aware when your mind goes into self-criticism. And when you notice it, you stop, and you don’t engage in that mind chatter. I realize this can be easier said than done, because self-criticism becomes a habit, and you just do it automatically.
However, it is important to point out that it is just a habit. We were not born criticizing ourselves, we learned that. So it really serves us if we commit to unlearning it and breaking that mental habit, by observing our mind to catch ourselves when we do it, and to then redirect our mind to something positive about ourselves instead.
As homework for this one, write down 5 positive things you can tell yourself, instead of the typical negative self-talk you engage in. Each time you notice self-criticism I want you to say those 5 positive things to yourself instead.
The third practice of self-love is taking care of your body. This is basic, but we have to really be honest with ourselves, why do we choose not to take care of our bodies? Why do we overeat in the various ways that we do, and why do we not move or exercise our bodies with love and care?
Once again it comes down to habits. We get into overeating habits and other habits of not caring for our bodies the best way. The good news is, all habits can be transformed.
I believe we all want to take good care of our bodies - if you genuinely didn’t want to, you wouldn’t even be reading this.
I think one reason people fail at taking good care of their bodies consistently is because they have all-or-nothing thinking, and a belief that it has to look a certain way or be a certain way.
There is that perfectionist and all-or-nothing thinker inside of you that says, “Well if I am not doing it perfectly like the health guru on TV, then I am failing, so why even try?” But that kind of thinking is a slippery slope into more self-criticism and then shame, which are two things that never solve anything and only degrade wellness more.
As homework for this one I want you to ask yourself, and reflect on: What perfectionist or all-or-nothing thinking do I have that stops me from taking care of my body the way I really want to?
The fourth practice of self-love that goes along with ending self-criticism is, watch your self-talk. Watch what you say to yourself and be aware of all the stories that you tell yourself in your mind every moment, as much as you possibly can.
This is so important because everything in our life first started as a thought. And our thoughts are either going to help us and are going to make us feel good and motivate us and inspire us to do what we want, or they are going to make us feel scared, or feel bad, or feel worried, doubtful, or anxious, and cause us to do what we don’t want.
So ask yourself throughout the day, “Who's talking right now, is that my light or is that my dark, is that my fear or is that my love, is that my faith or is that my doubt?”
Each of us always has the option and the power to choose thoughts that help us feel the way we want to feel. And this is a skill we can get better and better at, and it changes your life.
So watching your self-talk is part of self-love because we have to be our own best friend in our life. It’s the responsibility we have to ourselves, because if we depend on others to play that role and be that best friend or cheerleader for us all the time, we suffer our whole life because we can never give ourselves what we need.
Ask yourself and journal on: What do I feel like I need the most right now, and how can I start to meet that need for myself a little more?
The fifth practice of self-love is getting out of your comfort zone. The reason this is self-love is because in order to really love and nurture ourselves, and to move along this journey of life to have more and be more, we have to think differently and be different than what we currently are.
We can’t be, and do, the same things over and over and expect different results. As Einstein said, that is insanity. So we have to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zones, because our primal human nature is to suffer in what is familiar.
Even though something in our life is not serving us, we will stick with it because at least it’s familiar and it has not killed us yet - that's how our lower brain (the animal brain) sees it. If something hasn’t killed you yet, keep doing it, says that part of our brain. However, we suffer, because the greater human in us knows there is more to life. Therefore, to be different and have different, we have to think, feel, and do things in new and different ways, which means we have to get out of our comfort zone a little, at least for a while.
Ask yourself: what would set my heart on fire but I don’t do it because it’s a bit out of my comfort zone? How could I take a little step forward to do the thing that would really light me up, or that would bring some positive change to my life?
The sixth practice of self-love is making yourself your top priority. It is common for many women to put everyone else’s wants and needs above their own. And maybe there are times in life where it has to be that way, to take care of young kids and such. But what I repeatedly see is this becomes a life-long habit for many women. And once the habit of putting everyone else’s wants and needs above your own is running the show, you slowly degrade because your wellness is last on the list.
And that starts to impact your whole life because you are not truly happy or healthy, and the people you care about do not get the best from you. And life in general is not getting the best from you because your mental, emotional, and physical energies are running low all the time.
Therefore making yourself a top priority by investing time, energy, money, and care into yourself regularly, is not only loving toward yourself, it is also loving to the people and things in life that you truly care about.
Ask yourself: what makes you feel loved and cared for, and how can you give that to yourself? And how can you make yourself more of your own priority and give yourself more time, energy, and care?
The seventh practice of self-love is to stop comparing yourself to other people. Comparing yourself to others is the absolute killer of loving and appreciating yourself. Just like self-criticism, self-comparison becomes a habit, and as Teddy Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
Therefore, if we want to be happy in life we best not do it, and instead we have to learn how to approve and validate ourselves. I know from my own experience this is a game-changer, which can lead to so much more peace, joy, and flow in life.
Observe when you are comparing yourself to where you think you should be at this point in your life based on what others are doing. Where in life do you constantly compare yourself to look for evidence to tell yourself, “see you're not good enough. You need to be doing better and doing more, you need to be like “so and so” because she's got it all together.”
Any sort of comparison of yourself to others is the opposite of self-love, and it also doesn't allow you to truly be happy or present to the precious moments of life. For example, if you go to a party or function and you are pre-occupied with comparing yourself to others, you miss out on the party, and miss out on really living your life.
Instead you are being abusive to yourself by not loving yourself for everything that you are right now. There is no one else in the world like you - think about that for a second - there's no one else in the world exactly like you. If that’s the case, there’s no need to ever compare yourself to anyone else. It doesn't make any sense to ever compare where you are in life to where someone else is in life, because everyone is a unique person on a different life journey.
Ask yourself: How can I meet my insecurities, my mistakes, and my flaws with grace, acceptance, and love today? Then also write down all the positive ways you’ve changed over the past 5 or ten years. Show yourself how amazing you are.
You need to accept yourself for who you are and where you are right now, but you can also tell yourself that you can be anything you want to be, because you can. However, to make real changes in life, it starts with accepting and appreciating yourself for who you are right now. You change yourself by working with yourself, not by fighting yourself.
The last thing I want to mention is self-love is a life-long practice. It’s not somewhere that you arrive at, and are done. It’s a daily practice that we do for the rest of our life. And there are going to be times in life where there's going to be areas you need to focus more on than others.
There can be many facets to self-love, but what it really means in my world is learning how to take care of yourself, in your mind, in your emotions and the emotional home you live in, in your body, and in your spirit.
Self-love is first remembering and owning your innate value and worth as a person, and then second, doing practices to nourish every part of your being on a regular basis.
Where do you need to practice more self-love? Is it having better thoughts, better emotions, better physical health, a lifted spirit? Maybe it’s all of the above.
It could be that changing your relationships with food, with your body, and with yourself, could be the most loving thing you do for yourself.
Lasting weight loss comes from wellness, and wellness includes being well in your mind, in your emotions, and in your body.
If you realize you are lacking self-love, and that a lack of self-love is robbing your wellness, then we should talk and see if the Food Freedom-Body Bliss program is a good fit for you.
CLICK BELOW TO SHARE