It all starts with you…
Self-love has recently become something of a buzzphrase in recent years, yet most of the people I work with have no idea where to even begin! All of this sounds good in theory or makes sense to the mind but implementing this “radical” concept in another story entirely.
I can tell you from my personal experience that regardless of what you read, how much you think you know this is a lived practice. What I mean by a lived practice is that it is something YOU must DO, not talk about, not think about, not theorize on but DO. How does one begin to “do” self-love? The first step is to look back at your history and see how much time you have spent alone and inquiring. Are you the type of person who only feels good in a relationship? Or uses the external validation of social media, attention from others, substances, food, exercise, etc. to feel alright in your own skin? Most people are pulling from outside circumstances or influences to build their sense of self. The problem with this is that they are fleeting external conditions that must occur for you to feel centered. In the beginning, being alone and looking inward can be a very uncomfortable process.
When the outside world falls away, and you are left alone with your dreams, fears, addictions, and doubts, silence can be deafening. This is where the phrase, “the only way out is through” comes in. The only way we build a solid foundation of self-love is by feeling all of these complex emotions, allowing ourselves to sit in the discomfort, and eventually, the grip will loosen. Why don’t most people do this? Because it is HARD!!! This is why the practice of meditation is invaluable and also daunting for many. It is often the first time many people experience being alone and quiet without running away or pushing down all that arises.
One of the reasons true self-love is so important is that it is the foundation for all of your other interactions and relationships. Rather than needing love, attention, or affection, you move to a place of choosing it from an already filled cup. You are not looking for someone or something else to do the filling for you because you know it all starts from within.
If you are curious about authentic self-love begin the journey by taking some time to look back at your habitual relationship patterns and ask yourself some questions. How much time have I really spent alone in my life? Do I bounce from person to person or relationship to relationship? Do I feel somehow incomplete without ________ in my life? If the answer is yes congratulations, you are being honest with yourself! I have never met a person who comes to this place without honest self inquiry, nor have I met a person who doesn’t have great healing to around this subject. Once you have inquired and begin to see the ways you give other people/things power, you can start to unwind the ball of yarn. Set aside a few minutes a day to sit alone, in stillness and see how this feels. What comes up for you? Write it down!! Write down the fears that arise, the self-doubt, the anxiety, the question of enough-ness. The more you do this, the more comfortable it becomes. Soon you will crave this time; this time becomes a cornerstone of the way you live your life.
Once you have a clear sense of your patterns, traumas, and inner landscape, the juicy work of healing begins. I can not say how critically important it is to have a coach/therapist NOT a friend to continue the work with. Your friends are not your therapist, nor is your partner, child, or coworker. You need someone who is invested in your growth and can remove their personal lens from the situation.
I believe that if we all did this critically important work and truly, deeply loved ourselves, the world would be an entirely different place. Don’t put this off, the clarity and real sense love on the other side is incomparable!!