You are smart, successful, a good parent, you donate blood or to charities, you get regular massages and facials. You keep the outside looking real good, and yet you kind of hate yourself. A teeny little voice of self criticism rides the background of the mental chatter that says : “Pffftt, still not good enough.” And you add the eye roll for a little more drama.
We are so hard on ourselves!! I see it in myself, my clients and my friends. Do more, be more, do more, be more. Only then will I be worthy. If you want to see self-criticism just take a look at your to-do list and notice the inner voice that pops up when you see the things you haven’t done. You know what I mean. For as long as I can remember, I operated completely from the to-do list. It was only last year I really understood its purpose. Like any addiction, the to-do list is destined to lose its thrill when it rules us. It was a row of army sergeants yelling at me! Once it was brought to my attention, I realized how loud it was, and how crazy it made me feel inside. Like the ear worm you get from a catchy song, the list repeated on “I sort of suck because I should….”. Not Loving at all. We all “should”on ourselves 24/7.
We can change the internal dialogue. The New Agey folk call it Self-Love. As I gain wisdom of my own internal landscape, I can definitely see how our struggle and inability to fully love and accept ourselves completely is a root cause to dis-ease and disharmony in the body.
Please don’t confuse self-love with self-care. Self-care sets a foundation that supports a healthy body and mind. There is balance with self-care though and beware that it doesn’t become those soldiers yelling at you to drink another green shake, or turmeric shot. Yet we can’t connect to Self-Love if we don’t care enough for the “meat suit” we are walking around in.
Tara Brach, PhD, has some words on Self-Love. It’s a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support your physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. Self-love allows you to accept your flaws along with your strengths, and to have compassion for yourself as you strive to find personal meaning and fulfillment.
Your thoughts, actions and words are reflections of the outside world – you create your reality. Self-love builds out of the thoughts and actions that you choose. This, in turn, will support you emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. Self-love is a dynamic experience that expands and moves with you as you change, experience life, and grow. We all have to de-condition the patterns of reactivity that get in the way of loving more freely in our relationships – to ourselves and each person we come into contact with.
Here are a few strategies to decondition your patterns of reaction, and to wake up your most compassionate authentic self:
1. Practice Mindfulness
Being connected to what you feel, think, and want allows you to remain mindful of who you are and act on this knowledge. Slow down. Notice what you’re saying to yourself and the thoughts that you’re having. Reflect on how these are impacting your mood, health, and behaviour (because they are). When you pay attention, you’re more likely to act from this wisdom rather than on what you perceive others want from you.
2. Get your Building Permit
You can’t build a new house in a swamp. We have to set the stage for healthy growth and authenticity with a commitment to healthy activities such as balanced nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, play, and social interactions. When you show yourself love through these types of actions, you’ll continue to take better care of your basic needs. Walk the talk, fertilize the soil and grow those roots.
3. Practice Good Manners with Yourself
The perfectionist do-gooder in me is self abusive. I used to say things to myself that I would never say to another living being. We all berate ourselves in various ways. Would you treat anyone else like that? Would you talk to a child that way? Love is patient, Love is kind as the verse goes. My mentor Victoria Potter, told me that Love says, “Oh honey. No wonder you feel this way. It’s been tough.” Be your own best friend. You don’t need a pep talk, you just need some empathy for yourself when you mess up. Reframe mistakes as lessons, and embrace them as chances to learn and grow. Keep rising.
4. Set Healthy Boundaries
This is simple. Say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when you mean ‘no’. Because you have self-respect.
5. Say Yes to Life like it’s your full time job
Open your mind. Accept the opportunities that Life is giving you to experience happiness, healing, prosperity, success and love. The stream of opportunity is always flowing. We can choose to ride that flow or block it. If your life mojo isn’t thriving then look at how you are getting in your own way. Take risks and rise up with a trust that Life will have your back when you dare to grow and expand.
Danielle Laporte in her book White Hot Truth tells us that Self-Love sits on a spectrum. On one end, we have a sort of, kind-of Love. On the other end of the scale love is free flowing and you vibrate pure Bliss. When I read this I felt a truth bomb. I live this exact experience in any given week. Some days I am a Julie Andrews all star and the hills are alive with Love and my soul is bursting. And then there are other times that the old friend Debbie Downer drops in and wears out her welcome. If you want to grow in Love for who you are, start where you are and love what you can. Some days all you will be able to muster is your awesome eyebrows or your tidy pantry. That is beautiful! Pick something that is thriving and throw yourself into it to keep your mind off loathing.
The best part of this path is that Self-Love expands into Loving others. You will Love more people, more deeply. It is brilliant. You look into your heart and see that it is connected to everyone else’s. Judgment dissolves. Division becomes Unity. And with that comes a quantum shift that can raise the vibration of an entire species.
Peace, love and light,