When I say Self-Love you probably jump to one of three assumptions as to what I mean by that:
- Self worth, confidence or self esteem
- Something a little naughty ?
- The newest buzz phrase of Self care
Nope. When I say Self-love, I mean the idea of knowing and loving yourself. Simple as that.
You might say, ‘easy, done! I DO know myself, I spend all day with me!’
I suspect that you also spend all day keeping yourself busy and distracted, it’s pretty rare that the average human being takes time to just be with themselves.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You wake up, check your phone, on the way to work you listen to the radio, a podcast, music, or your kids. At work you’re a model employee, occasionally taking a break during which you chat with co-workers, check your device, run errands, or maybe you’re extra motivated and squeeze in a workout. After work you catch up with family, do some things around the house, maybe binge-watch the newest release on Netflix. Then you settle into bed where you scroll through social media, play a round or two of Panda Pop, and doze off.
Basically, you stay busy all day long, and there’s no point where you give yourself time and space to just be.
I get it, we live in a culture where busy is god and our brains are always processing something. So the notion of just Being, without anything to focus on aside from you, well, that can be a tad intimidating.
The reality is, being alone with yourself is awkward at first and can be super uncomfortable. Over time though, it can be rewarding and facilitate evolution you probably didn’t even realize you’re capable of.
Knowing and loving yourself is an important step in adulting.
Ok, so then ‘how exactly do I step away from busy and get to know myself ‘, you might ask. Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of starting somewhere. Here are a few ideas, ranging from super simple to a little more complex, that I’ve found super powerful for myself and with my clients.
Be with your Self
How often do you make eye contact with yourself?
A really powerful exercise to take on with a friend is often called ‘being with’ or ‘eye gazing’ and involves sitting face to face, making eye contact, for 5 minutes. The first minute or so are awkward and funny, but by the 3-minute mark something amazing starts to happen and there’s a deeply emotional connection made.
If this exercise can increase intimacy with another human, imagine what it can do for your relationship to yourself!
Consider trying this exercise with yourself in the mirror. Just stare, and make eye connect with yourself.
Take some time for Wonder
This one can take just a few minutes and help you get grounded and connected in a deep way. Spend a few minutes to find something in your world worthy of wonder.
Wonder (n) : a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.Webster’s Dictionary
All-day you are surrounded by marvels and wonders. Technology is amazing, your partner is beautiful, there’s a rainbow in the sky, the complexity of a flower, the adorable factor in your pets, kids, nieces/nephews.
Another way to approach this is to define your Joy Makers and ensure they happen each day, and allow yourself to wonder at the experience.
Finding something to appreciate and take in, it causes you to slow down, be present and be grateful. It can be really interesting to see what inspires your wonder, you may surprise yourself!
Have you ever paid attention to the voice in your head?
Your voice to be precise.
All-day long you’re having a conversation with yourself in your head. You may talk to yourself about what you need to do next, what you should be doing, or make observations, judgments. Your thought life.
It’s really common for this conversation to focus on a set of topics, or to even obsessively focus on one thing.
I know for me personally, after a tense interaction I can easily replay the conversation over and over in my head for days. Imagining how I could have handled it better, more peacefully, more feistily, with more grace, etc. It really doesn’t serve me, this obsessive conversation in my head. It leaves me anxious, down on myself and it takes energy away from more productive positive things.
The cool part is, once you realize that this voice is your own, you can begin to control the dialog.
This is such a powerful exercise that I have a whole article on it over here.
Love your inner Brat
We all have a part of ourselves we don’t like so much. For me, it’s usually my inner brat. I’m currently working with a coach and taking on some lifestyle changes. I’m fully committed and doing the work, but I’m being a total whiney brat about it. I really dislike this part of myself.
Noticing that there’s a part of myself I’m not proud of and don’t like is the first step. If I’m practicing Self-love, that means I put intention behind loving all of me, even my faults. So taking time to love the brat in me is important.
For you, it may not be the brat. It could be feeling shame over the fact that despite multiple attempts to quit, you still smoke cigarettes. It could the part of you that’s afraid to stand up to your mean neighbor or to take a risk and ask that cute person out. Perhaps you judge yourself for your parenting skills. We all have something.
Take a moment to find one and just love on that part of you. It’s that simple.
Comfort the past versions of You
Most of us have lived through something. It may not be an extreme trauma and it may even sound insignificant if you were to tell someone else about it, but to you, this thing was a big deal. It had an impact and left you a little scared.
A really healing and revelatory exercise is to comfort the past version of yourself.
Say that when you were a teenager you had a really tense relationship with your dad and it’s left you a little sensitive. Now you’re a grown adult. The adult part of you can rationalize away the experience, understand where your dad was coming from, etc. But there’s still a part of you that remembers what it felt like to be the kid in that scenario, how hurt you felt, angry, betrayed – whatever the case may be. Rather than wishing for someone else to help make this better, take care of yourself. Allow this current adult version of yourself in all your wisdom, hindsight, and understanding to comfort the younger version of yourself.
Some people do well writing their past self a letter. Some people have the conversation if their head or even out loud. I tend to go into meditation and imagine my younger self and my current self chatting over a cup of tea.
Give yourself time Alone
Last month I went to the beach for 2 nights, alone. On purpose. This is bizarre for me, for many reasons, and yet off I went.
I set myself up to spend 48 hours completely alone, communicating with no one. I knew I needed to spend some time connecting with myself which would mean getting out of my own home, which is full of distractions and things I ‘should be doing’. To be sure I didn’t just distract myself in a new environment all weekend, I also didn’t watch TV, use social media or even call my Partner. Instead, I spent 48 hours keeping myself company.
You certainly don’t have to do it for this long, or how I did it. Consider what your version of this would look like. Perhaps it involves going for a drive, a picnic alone, a hike, or even kicking your family out of the house of an afternoon alone.
The idea with this one is that we don’t often design a situation where we are alone, keeping ourselves company, left to our own thoughts. Try it, see what comes up for you.
As I said, some of these are pretty simple and others take more planning and commitment. The trick is to start somewhere. The more you get to know your Self, the more you can discover to love.