Self love is a term that is showing up verywhere you turn in “self-help” or “spiritual” circles these days. And when you read the memes it all sounds quite lovely. But what does it mean?
I’m going to break the idea of self love down into 3 questions in order to look at how it can possibly help us live richer and more meaningful lives.
- 1What exactly is self love? An overview.
- 2How is self-love and acceptance relevant to your life and your struggles?
- 3How do you love and accept yourself more? Or even at all?
What Exactly Is Self-Love? Sounds Like Ummm…You Know…
It could be what you’re thinking! But that wouldn’t be IT. Although that is a possible expression of self love and acceptance in action.
In simple terms, self love is an acceptance of yourself. Most of us judge ourselves harshly. Especially in light of the past.
We look at what we should have done or said. Or not done. We think “if only I made that choice instead…”Or, our “inner victim” takes over and we think “if my childhood had been more positive and nurturing…” etc.
You know the drill! Take a moment to bring to mind the stories and judgements you tend to have. And then notice how you might use them to bring yourself down.
Even looking in the mirror can be an experience of self-rejection as opposed to self-love.
Everyone experiences this no matter how physically beautiful they may appear to others. Sure, we have our good hair days, but we certainly don’t have any difficulty finding our flaws.
So, self-love could be seen as accepting ourselves warts and all. This does NOT mean we aren’t striving to improve!
There’s Nothing Wrong With Wanting To Improve
These tendencies of finding flaws is built into our minds. That’s what our minds are designed for. They solve problems. This also means they create them when they aren’t even there!
As an example, it’s one thing to look in the mirror and think “I could stand to lose some weight. I should do something about it.”
But when we turn that into a way to put ourselves down as a human being it serves no purpose other than to keep us from expressing more of our potential!
How Is Self-Love Relevant To Your Life And Struggles?
One of the most powerful perspectives I’ve come across is from a “mental training” coach here in Canada by the name of Terry Orlick. He works with top athletes and performers on their mental approach to sport and life.
He urges his clients to set the highest dream goal they can possibly imagine. One with no limits.
Then to set a goal that is more realistic based on where they are right now and what they can commit to over the short term.
This next point is key. He then encourages them to set a 3rd goal of self-acceptance. That no matter if they reach their goals or not, as long as they did their best and stretched their capacities, any “failure” to realize their goal in no way diminishes their value as a person.
Could you accept yourself no matter what? This commitment can set your body and mind free to go for your goals and dreams with gusto -- and far less fear of perceived failure!
Self-love is key to maintaining your focus and passion for life. If you base your happiness on approval from others it’s going to be very unstable! One day they love us the next day they don’t, etc.
As long as you know you're doing your very best, you can look at yourself in the mirror with love and self-acceptance.
You can recognize that as in the case of many goals, there are many factors beyond your control. There are many other people involved, as well as other conditions that may or may not work in your favour.
This way, you're seeing things more the way they actually are. If you “fail,” you don’t take it so personally. Sure, you may feel disappointed for a little while. But you can exercise your will to love and accept yourself. You can engage in positive and realistic dialogue with yourself.
People who express more of their potential have learned to realize that the best thing to do is to accept things as they are, take any lessons they may be able to learn, and to move on.
This is highly relevant to our lives because this attitude of self-acceptance releases tremendous amounts of energy that supports us and carries us through all the inevitable ups and downs.
It allows us to feel more clarity, peace and joy throughout our days. This in turn increases our focus and our ability to be in the flow of our daily activities. And this generally leads to better results.
We are in the zone more often and expressing closer to our potential on a consistent basis.
Self love could be viewed as loving and accepting yourself more than you want approval from apparent others.
How Do We Bring More Self Love Into Our Lives?
This question has already been partially answered in the sections above.
The first thing you need to do is to start by being consciously aware of when and how you put yourself down. And then you must be careful not to put yourself down when you observe yourself putting yourself down!
An important skill to be aware of is how you view your past. When you notice yourself wanting to change the past, you can let go of wanting to change it.
This might seem very difficult in the beginning. Those habits and tendencies of self-loathing can be very strong. You’ve been practicing them for a very long time, after all!
First of all, do your best to realize that whatever happened in the past is now done. It cannot be changed no matter how much you may wish it to change. Can you see that? Can you see that it’s a waste of precious energy?
If you look even a bit deeper, can you see that whatever happened, no matter how unfortunate, is what shaped you in certain ways? You may not be able to change those things, but it is in your power to change how you look at it.
It boils down to a choice. Do you want to buy into the illusion of happiness on the surface of the world? The status quo? Or do you want the real happiness of self-love and acceptance?
Once you have these tough conversations with yourself, you are already engaging in self-love! You are loving yourself enough to look deeper and to be more honest with yourself.
From here on it’s a matter of simply doing your best. Set goals that inspire you in order to keep your focus. Remember it’s about the process and not the achievement of the goal that matters. This will help re-ignite your passion through the inevitable ups, downs, setbacks and challenges. This is true self-love in action.
Each day set small goals that move you forward in that general direction. Put your best focus on those small steps in the moment that you are taking them.
Take time to reflect on how you’re doing every once in a while. And, of course there’s the usual litany of self-love practices you can do. These are the suggestions you see everywhere. They're great and also very beneficial! But in this article I wanted to take you deeper into the core of what self-love means and how it can improve your experience of life.
The Usual List Of Self Love Practices (and these are good!)
There are many more that I’m sure you can think of. By now I think you have a much better idea of what self love is. If you’d like more support, you can work with me one on one.
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