What is self love
Don't we all want to feel loved? Not just by others, but feel love towards ourselves?
Hashtags for #selflove in 2020 is said to be most popular and trending on Instagram and TikTok. I guess it makes sense - given the current challenging times. We all want to feel loved, accepted, and connected.
I’m a huge believer that our happiness starts with self-love. Whenever I’m talking to a new client, I always make sure I understand where they stand in terms of ‘love’.
There is no real transformation if there is no self love.
If you don't love and accept yourself as you are today, no amount of muscles or healthy food will change the way you really feel.
But what is self love? What does it mean? What does it mean to you?
What is the first thing you see when you hear ‘self love’?
Do you see colorfully dressed hippies hugging trees? Sleazy self-help books? Somebody who is narcissistic, has a big ego or is entitled? Or do you perfectly photoshopped pictures of tropical beaches and fancy food? Or people with absolutely perfect skin and flawless make-up acting coy for the camera?
There are many studies done on this topic. Every scholar or psychologist has his, or her, own explanation. But they do agree on some points, especially that self-love and compassion are key for overall mental health and well-being.
I believe the same thing. And I teach it to my clients as well.
We are all entitled to self love and happiness - it is NOT something you need to earn.
Even the United Nations adopted a motion stating that “pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.” Do you believe it? Do you believe that you have the right to be loved and happy?
Let’s dive in together to find the answer. I appreciate your help with this. Please let me know in the comments below your take on this.
Where does self love come from?
A random google search of “self love” came up with “It's the complete acceptance of who, and what you are – the appreciation and affirmation of yourself”.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I believe that we are born this way. I believe we are born as pure beings, we see the world around us through the eyes of love. We see ourselves through those same eyes. We accept ourselves as we are, we accept the world as it is.
We feel REAL and PURE. We are connected to our emotions, whether it is joy, sadness, jealousy, anger. As children, we don’t care about the color of our skin or our eyes. We don't care if we are handicapped or that we are mathematical geniuses. We just ARE. We love and accept ourselves and others as they are.
How do we lose love?
Remember when you’ve been told you are different? Or when you felt you were different? Did we just change our minds about the world? About ourselves?
Have you ever been compared to your “more successful” sibling? Have you ever been told, “don’t worry, you will find somebody who will love you for you”? Have you ever been asked, “why can’t you be more like so-and-so?”
Our mindset is a result of the information we consciously allow to enter our mind. We keep stacking this free-flowing information on the top of our wants, prejudices, fears, and desires of our family, friends, partners - as well as the opinions of complete strangers who don't even know us!
This collective infiltration of data gives a form to our Perfect Persona.
Imagine if the most beautiful, most successful, the brightest and the richest people melted into one being - the perfect person.
Pretty early in life, we are ‘instructed’ what we should be in order to be a good girl or a good boy. We are being told what we should be and what we should do if we want to be seen as happy, popular, attractive, successful, wealthy.
Slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece we change ourselves to ‘fit in’. We put on masks as we see fit.
Without us realizing it, our made-up Perfect Persona becomes the inner guide and benchmark of WHO WE SHOULD BE.
And we spend every waking minute comparing our reality to this made-up picture of perfection. How often do we measure up to it?
I could never even come close to my Perfect Persona. Have you? Can you guess what happened every time I fell short?
I felt disappointed, discouraged, and empty. I felt like nobody, I felt disconnected, I felt like the whole world was against me. I was needy and deeply insecure. I didn't care about what I wanted, I did anything for others to like me. I disconnected myself from myself.
All I wanted was to feel loved and accepted. But I wasn’t accepting and loving myself.
Does it sound like something you might be feeling?
Imagine you have no wifi connection, no data on your phone, you are not connected to the internet. You keep clicking on any website or trying to log in to your email account - but you cannot. You are disconnected from the internet.
The same principles apply when it comes to love.
If you are not connected to yourself, if you do not feel love towards yourself, if you do not accept yourself as you are - you will have a hard time to really connect and accept others.
“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.” ~Sonya Friedman
If you can, pause here for a minute.
Take a few deep breaths here and look closely at your own Perfect Persona. What kind of ‘person’ is she or he? Does this fictional person make you happy?
How do we get the love back?
The other day I was taking the metro home. I overheard a group of women talking about their upcoming vacation plans. It went something like this:
Woman 1: “Ugh, I can't wait to get away from this s**t. I can’t take it anymore. It drives me crazy! I want to lay down on the beach and drink as many cocktails as I can. I want to forget about the world for a bit. Is that too much to ask?”
Woman 2: “You deserve it! You went through so much, you deserve to relax and take care of yourself!”
Woman 1: “Yeah, I do. It's a shame though that I have to come back. I wish I could stay there forever and forget about everything.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
It made me think though. We often engage in talks about self care and self love, but do we really practice it?
Is it really self love or self care when we literally run away from the challenges and obstacles we encounter in our everyday lives?
Is it really self love or self care when we overeat and drink too much to ‘forget’ our problems?
Is it self love gaining weight during our vacation or waking up with a hangover?
Many of my clients felt even more miserable once they returned from their ‘well-deserved’ vacation. They gained weight, they were tired and the problems they left behind were still there waiting for them. As soon as they set foot in their house or workplace, the first thought was “I shouldn’t be here….”
Please don't get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn't go on a vacation and enjoy yourself. I’m merely saying that “getting away to forget” is not self-love, nor self-care.
I reached my turning point when I participated in a group meditation. It was a guided meditation to release past hurt and pain. At first, I didn’t think much of it. Until I heard: “Allow yourself to feel the pain deeply. Don't let your mind distract you from fully experiencing this pain and hurt”
I did just that. I saw the disconnection from myself and everything else. I’ve never felt such a deep pain before (this was before my mommy passed away). And I felt it through and through. Since that day, I started to practice self-love and self-care. It's been a journey ever since.
A journey I will never regret. It isn't always smooth sailing, I still have bad moments. But with the guidance of my coaches and mentors, I’m staying connected to myself, to my being. I’m always authentic to myself and everything I do comes from that mindset. I know that I’ll always have bad moments. And so will you. But those moments will not become days or weeks or years.
I know it is scary just thinking about facing your demons. Nobody wants to relive painful experiences. It’s been hard enough the first time. I understand that.
But how long can you keep running away from them? How long can you keep over-thinking the negative experiences? How much more stress and anxiety can you take?
The more you try to distract yourself, the faster you try to run, the harder you will fall back into the negativity spiral.
The more you think about life’s hardships the more likely you will experience more hardship, depression, and stress
I help my clients in the same way. I'm helping my clients to become real. Real with their raw emotions, feelings, and thoughts.
Me and my team, we use different modalities to help our clients. Art and dance therapy, fitness and nutrition coaching, mental health, and wellbeing sessions. We ensure that our clients are physically and mentally healthy. We are with them throughout the entire journey.
So, how do we get the love back? Not by running away from problems and obstacles, or distracting ourselves - but by facing them as our authentic selves. Not as our Perfect Personas, as us. We can help you to find your authentic self.
Love comes from within.
Accept yourself as you are, not as you think you should be. Love yourself as you are, not after you fulfill self-imposed conditions.
I know YOU CAN! Do you?