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Self Love: Getting to Know Yourself
Self Love can appear so new-agey, flower loving hippies, selfish or self absorbing but it’s one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for others.
As corny as it might sound, getting to know yourself, loving yourself and being in a relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you can have. By loving ourselves, we can learn to accept ourselves and let go of the high expectations we place on ourselves and others.
Love with Conditions
Unconditional love, Love yourself – so easy to speak about and sometimes much harder to be and do as we beat ourselves up with cruel self-talk, set ourselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations, let our self-sabotaging behaviors run the show, abuse our bodies through neglect as we choose to keep going or putting others peoples needs before our own when we are exhausted.
How often do we say:
- I love you when…
- I love myself when…
- I love life when….
We’ve so many clauses that we add to I love… when you do, when you are, when it is, when I get.
How does it feel to just say ‘I love myself’ and feel that vibrate through all aspects of your being. To hear yourself say those words out loud? How does your body respond? How does your mind respond? It can give us an insight to how we are loving ourselves.
For me, love is having a deep appreciation for who we are. It’s about holding space for all the different parts of ourselves: our weirdness, the things we don’t do well, our shadows, our hurts as well as all our wonderful qualities.
It’s easy to love ourselves when life is flowing and we feel aligned, supported, nurtured. Loving ourselves through the turbulent waves is where it supports us most as we may think we only deserve love when things are going well.
- What does loving yourself mean to you?
- What makes you feel loved?
- How much of feeling loved comes from things outside of you?
- How much of feeling loved comes from inside you?
- Can you give yourself permission to love yourself exactly as you are?
- When I love myself I….
What does real Self Love look like?
Self love can be messy, just like loving someone else can be. There is no one fits all approach. As you get to know yourself, you begin to know what truly makes you feel loved by yourself.
Self love is like self care – they are radical acts as we are not truly taught how to do them. We are often taught to put others first or something / someone out there will fill the void. They are things we can practice – doing them once may make a difference but doing them regularly will make a massive difference to how you show up for yourself and others.
For me self love is:
- Something I have to practice just like my reiki practice, my yoga practice… it’s a daily awareness
- Listening to the inner voice. Hearing what I am saying to myself most often. How do I speak to myself when things are going well or things are going belly up?
- Accepting all aspects of myself – the so-called good, bad and ugly.
- Treating and speaking to myself as if I am conversing with my inner child or me at the age of 6.
- Learning to set and maintain boundaries with myself, my work and others.
- Saying ‘No’ to things that I feel I should or have to say ‘Yes’ to. Asking myself if I am saying Yes to this, what am I saying No to and make my decision from there.
- Time alone. Time to myself with a book, a bath, a walk, a podcast or just sitting with a cup of tea beside the window watching the world drift by
- Knowing myself – knowing where I most likely will fall off the self love track and fall into harshness or inner critic. By knowing I can gentle hold myself as I navigate the terrain.
- Taking time to be or doing things without any need for it to ‘be’ something or be productive. Time to play
- Being kind, compassionate and non-judgemental to myself on those days where none of the above happens. Knowing I can start again.
What is Self Love for you?
Write a love letter to yourself
With social media, instant messaging etc the written word isn’t used as much. We get messages full of little emoji’s blowing kisses at us or hearts at end of messages. How often do we actually say what is in our hearts. Writing a love letter to yourself might show you new ways that you can improve your relationship with yourself, insight into what you tell yourself and also cultivate gratitude for all that you have lived through and hold close to your hearts, your dreams.
Get out a piece of paper and a pen. There is no right or wrong way. Below are some hints to get you started but just let it flow.
- I’m writing because…
- I love you because…
- I love the way you..
- What I love about you is…
- I love it when…
- I love your…
- I love that you…
- I’m thankful to you because…
- I am proud of you because..
- What I wish for you is…
I love you always,
Burn Your Self Love Blocks
You can’t beat a little fire ceremony as you invite in transformation and transmutation. Anything you put into the fire comes back changed, that’s the beauty of the Alchemy of fire energy.
Let’s explore what you’ll add to the fire:
- What prevents you from loving yourself more?
- What aspects of yourself (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) do you find hard to love?
- What did you learn about loving yourself from your family or society?
- What limiting beliefs do you hold onto that keep you from truly loving, honoring and support yourself?
- What habit and behaviours get in the way of you loving yourself?
Allow the answers to flow, don’t think too much about what you are writing – just let it flow from pen to the paper. You’ll know you are done when you can’t write anymore or you are ‘thinking’ too much about it.
Take the paper and hold it over the flame of a candle. If you wish you can set an intention ‘I invite the flame of transformation to burn away my limiting beliefs, my judgemental mind, my harsh inner critic, the patterns that prevent me from loving myself for who I am.’ (You can always create your own intention).
Watch as the paper burns into a pot / cauldron. Become aware of how you feel as this is happening.
As we are creating space when you burn things, I always like to think ‘what would you like to invite into this space’.
So you might jot down your answers to some or all of thses prompts:
- What do I love about myself?
- What parts of myself am I learning to hold with love and to love?
- What makes me ‘uniquely me’?
- What does love mean to me? How can I show these emotions and actions to myself in my daily life?
- What do you love about your life right now? Why do you love it?
When you’re done, you could place this page on your altar or keep it in your journal. Return to it on those days when you feel you are giving yourself a hard time and have forgotten to love and hold yourself.
Create Your Love Mantra
We are creatures of habit. If you are used to speaking to yourself in a certain way you soon begin to believe that voice. If you tune in and hear that voice it’s usually repeating sentences (or if you wish to call them mantras) and for many of us, those mantras are not that inspiring, supportive or loving.
Frans Stiene shares in his new book that ‘Traditionally the word mantra means protecting the mind. But what is a mantra protecting? It is protecting the mind from straying into the past, present, and future.’
As you chant or repeat your mantra you are creating space in your mind, you are bringing yourself into the present and you are expanding your mind and as you expand your mind then the things the mind is clinging to e.g. fear, worry, dislike, anger, jealously, comparison begin to fall away.
So I invite you to write your own mantra that tells you exactly what you need to hear about learning to love yourself.
Say it to yourself. Chant it. Write it on sticky notes and place them on your mirror, wallet, car etc… Allow the mantra to bring you back to yourself when the mind wanders into harshness, judgement, anger and worry.
Some self love mantra ideas:
- I am not my thoughts
- I am not my emotions
- I am becoming the person I want to be.
- I love myself
- I speak to myself as if I am speaking to my inner child
- I love myself exactly as I am
- Beautiful Am I, Bountiful Am I, Blissful Am I (you can find the song on Spotify by Aykanna)
What is your love language?
According to Dr. Chapman, there are five universal ways that all people express and interpret love. It can be interesting to see what your main language is for yourself, partner, children and even close friends. It can give you a way to express that love in a way that truly nourishes them and connects with them. It also helps you to understand why you can get frustrated with people when they aren’t showing you love in your language.
Example: Mary had been giving her partner small gifts to show that she cared. She would put a lot of thought into those gifts, and she adored surprising him. Yet, it would annoy her when he’d receive the gift and just say, ‘thanks’. That was not the reaction she wanted or expected. When she realized ‘receiving gifts’ wasn’t his love language at all (it was actually one of hers), everything suddenly made a lot of sense, and she learned to show that she cared in ways that spoke to him. Also, when she does give gifts, he now understands that’s her way of saying I love you, and it means more to him now.
Get to know your language of love:
- Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
- Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
- Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
- Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.
- Physical Touch: Feels affection through physical touch.
I think it’s also important to remember that sometimes love is allowing something to be done for you even when it is not exactly the thing you want or like. E.g. the kids bring you breakfast in bed and the kitchen is left looking like a building site! Your partner gets you ‘practical’ gifts when you want something exciting. Also, you don’t need to only show love in a person’s language. Even if your loved one is a ‘words of affirmation’ this doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts or they don’t like physical touch.
So what’s your love language?
Just for today….
Love is an inside job. Love yourself like you are own one true love. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.
Begin today, begin small, do one thing that shows you love yourself.
As always self love can be about support ourselves on your healing journey through reiki, magnified healing or shamanic healing. By healing yourself, you are begining the loving journey of bringing yourself back home to yourself.