Why should we love ourselves? Not such a big question but it gets a big reaction. And I'm here today to share with you why it's so important and guide you on a path to self love ...
Self love is not about having to be perfect because there is no perfect. Self love is loving your beautiful self unconditionally, even when you feel less, know that you are more. You don’t have to be bald and bloated like I was to discover it, or rock out like Bowie as you have your own story to live.
I stood in the bathroom, naked and looked at my swollen body, bruises from the daily injections in various shades on my bloated belly, my breast still blue from the dye and swollen, by baldness. Black fingernails and no lashes or brows to define my face. My body was that way to be alive and more than ever it needed my love and I needed my love. To stand vulnerable and naked and tell myself that this powerful body was fighting to be alive and that in that bathroom it was the furthest away to what I had wanted it to be. In that vulnerable moment looking as bald as a new born was a rebirth.
In that moment I have never loved my body more, and with tears rolling down my face was able to look into the mirror, into my eyes and say: "I love you!" And mean it.
And to love yourself is more powerful than you may think: it shows the world how to love itself too. The more love in this world, especially now, the more light and good energy will rise.
See how powerful you are!
So sit back and let's get started ...
Self Love ... What is it?
From experience of approaching the topic of self love, it can either provoke resistance or, is just what people need to hear. Love myself? Isn’t that selfish? Surely I should be loving others before myself?
And what exactly is self love? Is it pampering and long baths? Eating cake under a duvet watching Bridgerton?
These are questions that am so often asked when talking to my clients or my groups about self love. Recently holding a 5 day journaling mini challenge I gave the journaling prompt to write to themselves about all the things they love about themselves. There was some resistance and this I understand totally. We are not conditioned to love ourselves in this way. This itself became the main challenge more than daily journaling.
Take, for example, someone says to us "I love your dress, it really suits you’! Our reply? ‘What is this old thing? I’ve had it for years." When what we could say is 'Thank you, I love this dress too." Feeling good is not apologetic and so right to say. In reality, I only wear what makes me feel I look good in a public place so why would I want to excuse this?
Conditioning or confidence?
A few years ago I had the pleasure of delivering Employability sessions to college students. One of the main targets we had was to create CVs with a Personal Statement and I would ask them to write down 5 positive sentences about themselves. What they were good at and what they felt confident in. There was always so much resistance to this too with questioning that they couldn’t find positive things about themselves which was sad or, to do this was ‘showing off’ or ‘bragging’.
This had me screaming into my empty coffee cup and spending my lunch time on google and TED searching for articles or talks on confidence vs showing off and, assertive vs shy, and I ended up delivering a whole session on a new topic of being able to LOVE YOURSELF is an ok thing to do!
Learning from the little people
If we take a look at younger children and toddlers we can learn so much. How they can happily smile into a mirror in public, dance to music whenever and wherever they hear it, fall over and laugh. On holiday camps if asking for a group of people to help me run a competition nearly every kid in the room would run forward, eagerly with arms raised calling ‘me, me, pick me’! If I asked for adults to come up it would have to be later in the evening after a few beers had been downed. People would hide, turn away or move swiftly to the loo.
So why is this?
Why are we so full of self love and have no worries about how we look for the start of our lives and then, become aware that we may not want to be seen? It’s not taught behaviour. Where does that unconditional love for ourselves go? Yes it comes down to confidence but where does it all go? Because confidence comes from knowing ourselves and feeling we can do something, and knowing ourselves comes from SELF LOVE. No one teaches us; this is a learned behaviour.
So think of how you speak to yourself and imagine you are a small child. Would you tell the child they need to lose weight? They are not good enough? They look old and tired? That things are not right? Would you tell them to filter any selfies they took, because the way they look isn’t good enough for ‘likes’? Tell them they can’t be seen without makeup? Cover up in baggy clothes? Don’t draw attention to themselves? You can’t be successful?
Absolutely not, of course you wouldn’t, and you wouldn’t speak to your friend like that either. So why do we talk to ourselves in negative ways?
Living in another story!
We have a lot of people in this world who do not love themselves. Because for one, we have been made to feel it is a negative trait to have. Confusing arrogance for confidence. Being told not to show off. Or, we have made ourselves negative in comparison with the rest of the world.
When we turn off the light from within it is harder to shine from without but, unfortunately it is easier ... to hide.
And what a change the world is for younger people than in my day with the growth of social media - yes I am ancient, every time I have to scroll back to enter my date of birth online I could easily make a cup of tea in the time it takes, and I love myself for it. Each wrinkle tells a story and each scar shows a challenge I won, and it has taken me years to find this comfort and love for my body. Will come to that later.
As a professional dancer from late teens to late 20’s there was a lot of pressure on me to look slim. It was also the 80’s and there were no curvy icons like Beyonce. Being a dancer the pressure was on to not only be good at dancing but to be the right height and weight to match up as a group. At one audition I was told to go home and lose a stone and go back the following week. I was 8 stone at the time and 5.6. It wasn’t me to do that and became so obsessed with my intake of food that it took away my love of dance.
This is an extreme example but, we are now In a world where we feel that we need to live the stories that are expected of us. And not the stories we want to live and that is where we can give ourselves self love. By living our own stories. Being true to who we are and knowing that is enough.
Stepping into a new page!
We create way too many negatives and this needs to change. Not because of a pandemic but in spite of it to raise the energy around us. Being confident and self care are a part of self love, but not the core of it.
Let’s make a pact with ourselves to turn this all around and if you are still uncertain look into a mirror. Go get one now and try this right now rather than pop it on a maybe list because you just won’t do it.
Look into your eyes and tell yourself that you love yourself.
Note how that feels. If you feel some resistance that’s ok. It’s not something we do but, it is something we should do. Reach out to ourselves and reach right back. Louise Hay was huge on Mirror Work and when I watched a recorded talk from her was amazed when she suddenly pulled a mirror out of her bra and talked to herself there and then on stage. Who does that? Yet, she made it look like the most natural thing to do in the world.
In December 2019 they told me that the lump in my breast was cancer and in January 2020 they removed the tumour and left me with a dyed blue, scarred and swollen breast. In March they started me on chemotherapy and 2 weeks later my hair fell. I have always loved my hair and colouring it, changing styles and to lose it felt like my world would end and how exposed to be older and have no hair to hold up my jaw line. Totally exposed.
But something came through that helped me to embrace this new exposure, with my ruddy red cheeks from the steroids and my bloated stomach. And yes at one point it felt as though the word ‘unfair’ was being silently and motionlessly shouted out from my lips, especially as later on in June when the news came that my Father had died of cancer and had neither said goodbye or was able to attend the funeral due to my chemotherapy and cancer making me have to shield. For a few days my reflection was hard to see. It wasn’t me. It was cancer staring back.
And this could have savagely taken root and to be honest, that would not have been nice but it would have felt easier to go back into a story. I had every right to right? But something inside was hanging in there, and that was that inside was love for myself that was bringing me back. If I didn’t believe in myself to love myself it was going to be a long dark time and I didn’t want that.
Right there was the story creating itself for me because it suited me and it was my default but there was also this little voice inside that called out, and this time without being silenced that ‘this is unfair’ and once I could acknowledge that, from a place of self love and care, it was visible and open and out there.
And I could let it go. I could say "I love you!" And mean it.
The Oxygen Mask Theory
Should we not be looking after others before ourselves? As a mother myself, and a single mother, when we were broke we would still go for coffee and cake, only I would not have the cake so my daughter could. So yes, we often put those first we love and care for. Of course we do and rightly. However, you can still love yourself doing it. It is not a choice between loving others and loving yourself as they work in synergy.
As Ru Paul reminds us to “If you can’t love yourself how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?!”
The balance is to also look after and care for you too. I always use the oxygen mask theory that if you don’t put the mask on yourself first, you can’t help others put theirs on! You may want to read that back again if you feel some resistance and really think about it.
If you are not loving yourself and caring for yourself how can you be there for others if you are on the floor?
A part of self love is self care. A beauty routine can become a ‘beautiful routine’ as you get to spend some time with you, washing, bathing and showering. Connecting with clearing water, one of the 5 elements, can be a beautiful ritual to love yourself and reconnect.
Applying your HIGHBORN products can be an experience of self love and let’s face it - they’re so beautiful to use with so many sensations engaged with smell, feel and touch. Even candles from HIGHBORN and a bath soak to give yourself time with you.
It’s more than a routine … it's a ritual of love for you to give to you. A gift to you of time and touch. To have quality time with yourself.
So if Self Love feels like a mountain to climb that’s ok - start small and build big. I will be writing later my top 3 daily non-negotiable ways to bring self love into your day without being watered down into routine!
For now, know that you are loved. Know that you are beautiful and if you have any doubts just remember this: You are unique. You are amazing. You are beautiful. Feel it everyday. Live it everyday. Self love everyday.
In this whole universe of eternity there never has been and there never will be another you.
Self love is powerful. Self love is kind. Self love is blind. It feels without sight. Then sees with only love. Self love is courage. Self love is light. We were born with self love. We lose it to stories. We can always find it again. If we can learn stories we can unlearn them.
As the proverb says; "If we are facing in the right direction all we need to do is to start walking." Little steps.
Namaste you beautiful, unique and loved person!
Certified Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner (and so much more!)
If you want to learn more, you can connect with me here www.norfolklifecoaching.co.uk