The whole concept of “self-love” gets bandied around quite a bit – as though it’s the simplest thing and what we should all be doing, and if we are not quite doing it “right” then it’s no wonder things aren’t working out in our lives…. At least that is how I experience it most of the time…. However what is “self-love” really? Does it mean eating the right foods (because if you loved yourself you would only want the best), or dressing your sexiest/most attractive, or not dressing sexy at all (because if you loved yourself then you would respect yourself enough to do so), or having the most fulfilling relationships as they are reflecting your relationship to yourself (because surely something is off kilter if you are not experiencing full embodied love manifest in your reality)?
To me there has always felt something a little “wrong” with this picture – how can self-love mean engaging in shaming strategies to continue the pursuit for something different, something other than what is currently now, a new, higher, more advanced level of actualization?
To me, love simply means acceptance.
Acceptance of self, acceptance of this moment, acceptance of me, just the way that I am. Of course I have preferences and goals, but for me true, integrated change births from acceptance of what is – not change based on rejection and running away from a particular state or feeling, but inevitable evolutionary change born out of acceptance of the current state. Love First.
Love the Food that you Eat
Whether you are eating triple-cream-double-decadence cheesecake, or whether you are eating a home-grown-organic-vegan garden salad, love it, enjoy the sensations of the food in your mouth, delight in the benefits that you are getting from it, be it nutritional value or comfort.
Dr Emoto did incredible work with water and showed that where water was exposed to positive thoughts such as love, the crystal formation was quite different compared to when the water molecules were exposed to lower frequency emotional states such as hate. The actual molecular structures changed. This makes you think doesn’t it? Our bodies, and are food are largely comprised of water and so their molecule structure can literally change based on the emotional environment that we place them in. If you are eating your organic garden salad but you are fretting that it is not quite “organic” enough or feeling buckets of guilt because you tossed in that piece of feta and so you really are not being strictly vegan – the emotional load of guilt and shame is likely more damaging to you than if you ate a polony sandwich and thought it was just the best thing ever for you and delighted in the comfort and joy of it.
Love Your Body
There is always going to be someone fatter than you, skinnier than you, more toned, fitter, flabbier, shorter, taller etc etc… however there is only one YOU. Your body is your special and unique body that goes with you everywhere… your ultimate best friend always at your side – so love it, appreciate it, admire it…. ACCEPT it. Spend some time saying ‘Hi’ to your body, wiggle your toes, stroke your hair, pinch your bum (in a cute heya sexy way – not a hmmmmm that feels not good enough let me measure this love-handle kinda way). If are comfortable, stand in front of a mirror and admire your full body, or alternatively close your eyes or blind fold yourself and feel the felt sense of your body: Name at least 10 things that you love about your body, things which give you pleasure, things that feel good just for you – not necessarily things that you think other people love about your body – but things which secretly give you delight– your funny mole which is your key identifying factor, that scar which reminds you of long summer days and riding your bike when you were young, the way your skin feels when you stroke it. Enjoy the physicality of your body, how it feels when you lie in bed, how it feels when your move it about. Exercise because you love and enjoy it, not because it’s what you “should” be doing, or punishing yourself for looking a certain way and so you need to attain something different. In every moment we have the opportunity to choose from love or from fear.
Make a List of What Makes you Happy
Think of at least 10 things which make you happy, which feed your soul, which give you secret delight. Choose one thing from your list each day and play.
Allow yourself space to feel your feelings
So often growing up, and as we continue through our adult lives our experiences are invalidated, our feelings shut away. We are told that that’s silly to feel that because it doesn’t make sense, or “how could you possibly be hungry after you just ate” or “how could you possibly be cold in this weather”, or “don’t be so scared it’s just a ….. [presentation in front of a global audience, a spider, a walk across a bridge, saying “hey” to someone you’re infatuated with]”. Even if the rest of the world feels differently to you, your feelings are your feelings. Own them, feel them, love them, let them have an expression and space in your reality. Rumi had a wonderful poem called The Guest House which goes as follows:
Be Kinder, Gentler and Softer
I can’t phrase it any better than the poet Renier Marie Rilke:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
So with that…. How will you love yourself today?