What does “self-love” really mean?
When I started out on this journey of “loving myself,” I got logically what “self-love” meant, and I had very little direct experience of what that actually felt like in my body and being. I’d had many years of the habitual practice of self-loathing–being critical and harsh with me–most days. But loving myself? It sounded pretty, and it felt foreign.
Over the years and through much practice (for reals, really ongoing practice), I’ve started to really feel in my being an experience of loving myself. At first, my practice of self-love felt like I was riding a two-wheel bicycle for the first time. I felt unsteady, unsure, and wobbly. Yet, over time, I’ve begun discovering what self-love truly means to me moment to moment. And I’ve begun giving myself permission to really feel acts of self-love in my body as an act of reverence for who I am.
What I want you to receive is this: self-love is a direct experience of meeting yourself with care, kindness, tenderness, and curiosity. It’s about extending and expressing unconditional love to yourself each day, through both the highs and the lows. Self-love is not something that is separate from you; it’s something you practice generating, moment to moment, and developing it is an ongoing process, so my invitation is to release judging yourself harshly if you’re “not great” at it just yet.
Today, I’m sharing some expanded possibilities for expressions of self-love you can try on this very moment. It’s my hope that you’ll try one or two of them on and experience directly through your own being how sweet it is to be uniquely loved by you.
Expanded possibilities of Self-loving…
...a deep belly breath when you first wake up in the morning.
…a moment to appreciate your body and being for all that you are, not all you are “not.”
…meeting your inner child daily and reminding that little girl that she’s unconditionally loved, so deeply cared for and that you’ve always got her back and wanna know what she’s got to say.
…moving at your own essence pace such that when you’re there, you feel deeply connected to yourself and to others.
…handling it compassionately when you make a “mistake.” Being really tender with yourself and discerning what it is you need to move forward rather than focusing on what you did “wrong.”
….being willing to share your experiences of “shame” with those you trust as a way to release it and to clear it from your body. Calling in playmates you can trust to hold you tenderly and without needing to fix you.
…loving the aspects of you that feel unlovable. Turning towards these aspects when they arise and embracing yourself through a deep breath or a hug. Slowing down. Being with your feelings.
…treating yourself the way you would treat someone you really, really love through both the highs and the lows.
…being willing to make “mistakes.” You are not a robot. You’re a human. Give yourself permission to be you and to learn as you go.
…taking tender care of your bodily needs. Pee when you need to pee. Drink water when you’re thirsty. Ask someone to wait while you take a deep breath and connect with yourself before jumping into conversation. These little things make a big difference.
…becoming more fascinated by the possibility of you living life fully expressed, than you may have been with making yourself wrong all the time.
…drawing a line in the sand when it comes to needs and boundaries. Your needs are important. Practice identifying what they are. Write them out. Voice them. Honor them.
…moving your body from a place of listening. Close your eyes and practice setting an intention for your body to speak…and then as she moves, listen to what she has to say.
…choosing honesty. Sharing your heart with those you feel called to share it with and trusting yourself to say “no, thank you” in the moments you’d prefer not to share.
…being willing to have a different opinion than others and still choosing to share. Being willing to speak what is true, rather than the tendency to walk on eggshells. Remembering to breathe and trusting other people to have their own experience.
…learning to come back to present when you find yourself on the hamster wheel of self-loathing. For example, if you didn’t end meditate today, rather than downward spiraling (“omg I suck! I can’t believe I can’t stay with this practice! What’s wrong with me?”), take a deep breath and say, “I didn’t meditate today. I notice I feel scared and sad about that. I feel a tightening in my belly when I think about it. I appreciate myself for being aware, and I recommit tomorrow.” Feel the difference?
The list could go on and on. I’d love to hear from you: what are your favorite self-loving practices? What from this list resonates most?
For the next week, I invite you to play with a couple of these ideas. Remember, the key word here is “play”! Bring those intentions into your day and discover what you notice. Then send me an email and let me know!
Big self-loving hugs your way,