Self-love: getting to the heart of happiness April 26 2015, 0 Comments
On the blog recently in the lead up to Love to Live: Getting to the heart of happiness workshop, I wrote about how integral self-love was in increasing my happiness and how I stumbled across the practice (perhaps out of desperation!) I wouldn't say I was unhappy but I was severely burnt out. Practising self-love suddenly made my life easier. The more I practised it, the more fulfilled I was. I was able to nurture myself without seeking it solely from others. I became calmer, more in flow, more in touch with my intuition and my life purpose. I was at peace with myself, had greater confidence in myself, felt empowered that I could do and be anything I wanted. I stopped looking for love outside of myself. Don't get me wrong giving and receiving love to/from others is also magical and there is nothing that lights me up more than time with my nieces or nephew or my family. But learning how to better nurture myself was a game changer.
Here are my 12 top tips on practising the art of self-love:
1. Nurture yourself.
Give yourself permission to do special things for yourself. Go get a massage, go to bed earlier, take a bath, go on that weekend away, take yourself to a movie, treat yourself to a new outfit. We do so much for others that for most of us we forget to give back to ourselves! In particular those with kids. Any mothers out there guilty of that?
2. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to work on for me personally. We are conditioned from such an early age to care about what people think. It can be a major source of stress and unhappiness. It's impossible to please everyone and as the saying goes it really isn't your business what someone else thinks of you. Easier said than done but mastering this can bring about huge shifts in happiness and opportunities for growth.
3. Turn down the volume on the negative self talk.
If you tune into the internal mind chatter, that inner voice, you will be shocked to hear what it tells you. "You look fat today", "why are you so lazy?", "I can't believe you haven't been to the gym/yoga/running". It sometimes feels like it's on replay. Over and over. Again. Our thoughts are energy and this is not the kind of negative energy you want in your life or the way you would want your brain to be programmed. Would you speak to your friend, sister, brother, mother, father, daughter, son like that? I don't think so. Why speak to yourself so badly? My negative self-talk has improved, however starting my own business has turned that volume back up again, this time with a different dialogue!
4. Nourish your cells.
You are made up of trillions of cells. They need adequate nourishment to heal, grow and regenerate. This means eating nourishing whole foods, steering clear of processed or packaged foods and drinking enough water. Value your body enough to care about what you put into it. You wouldn't water your plants with soft drink or feed your dog chocolate if you knew it might kill them. Why feed yourself constantly with junk? Your body deserves to function at an optimal level. I know I feel much better when I listen intuitively to what my body needs and fuel it with healthier, nutritious options.
5. Move your body.
Moving your body gets the natural, happy hormones flowing through your body. It also promotes circulation and improves your health. Loving yourself means moving your body regularly. It takes commitment and discipline to move your body every day. Forgive yourself the days you don't and aim to get moving again the next day. It doesn't matter whether it's a walk, a run, yoga, Pilates, cycling or swimming. While you're at it, thank your incredible body too!
6. Know your limits.
Rest when you need. This includes sleep. Sleeping gives the body a chance to rest and regenerate properly. If we're not getting enough sleep, then we're not really setting ourselves up with the best chance of having a happy, healthy life. Observe your body, get to know it intimately. Know when it's getting sick, whether that be a cold coming on because you're run down or a headache due to stress. If you're feeling fragile sit with that and nurture yourself accordingly. For years I felt so much guilt having a sick day working in the hospital system as the load was usually shifted to my already overworked colleagues. These days I'm getting better at recognising when I need to stay home, although I still need to drop the guilt trip I put myself through!
7. Become the Queen of NO.
That's right. When we sit with ourselves and quieten the mind chatter we notice that there are many things we say yes to when we really want to say no. Aunt Mavis' 80th Birthday 10 hours away (who you've never met), one more drink when out with friends when you really want to be tucked up in bed, overcommitting yourself to another brunch when you have a million other jobs to do. You get my drift. Start observing whether you are saying yes, when really you want to say no. Then start to voice it. It takes work but you also have a right to say no and not give a reason why. A lesson that has taken me a while to master! Even having the awareness that you're a 'yes' type of person is a good starting point. Saying yes to things when you really want to say no can build resentment and it's you who loses out in the long run.
8. Say YES to the things that encourage positive growth.
Saying NO to the things you "should" do but don't want to do frees up time to say YES to the things that light you up and inspire you. This could be going alone to a movie no one else wants to see, going solo on holiday, volunteering at a local community house or going on a blind date just for fun. Leave room in your life for joy and adventure.
9. Practise unconditional self-love, self-forgiveness, self-acceptance and self-compassion.
Know that you are doing your best. You will slip up. You will say and do things and beat yourself up. You will have a lazy day or eat a whole block of chocolate then feel sick. It's part of being human. Forgive yourself, look for the lesson, let go of any self-judgement and move on. Accept your strengths and your flaws, for they are what make you unique.
10. Speak your truth.
Never be afraid to say what you think. Easier said than done right?! If you've always held back on saying what you really think, it will take time to change this. Start off small by practising speaking your mind in a kind but assertive way with someone you trust. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen? By speaking your truth you are letting the other person know exactly how you are feeling. You are asking for your needs to be met. You're worthy of that. It can be scary but extremely liberating and with practice it becomes more natural.
11. Listen to your intuition/gut/heart/soul.
Part of the practice of self-love includes learning to tap into your intuition, listening to your heart or soul. Trust the messages you receive and act on it. Our hearts know the answer well before our monkey minds. Sit quietly and meditate and the answers will come. Be open to divine guidance. Pull an angel card or go to yoga and set an intention. Lean in, listen and look for the signs. You might see the answer to your question in meditation as an image or a book might fall off the shelf which has the answer you need.
12. Practise mindfulness and gratitude.
Being mindful, not just in meditation but throughout the day keeps us anchored in the present moment. When we're in the present moment, we're not worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. We can see the beauty that exists in the moment. Having a regular gratitude practice also keeps us focused on the good that exists in our lives, highlighting that we have everything we need in that very moment and that we are enough.
Tell me, do you practise self-love?
Can you identify any from the list above that you need to work on? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Just as meditation is becoming more mainstream in the Western world, infiltrating schools, work places and prisons, I believe self-love is just as important. If we can all better love ourselves and find that bright light that shines within all of us, which includes accepting and forgiving our shadow selves, then the world would be a much better place.
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If you're struggling with stress or burn out from giving too much, perhaps you're a healer, health professional or a school teacher, I can help you strengthen your self-love practice. Book a complimentary 30 minute discovery session by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my coaching programs here.
Until next time, happy (self) loving! x