Self-love can sound like such a mushy-gushy (even creepy!) topic, but behind the name is a FUNDAMENTAL part of finding lasting happiness — totally worth embracing if you’re ready to up-level your life in a major way!
Life Coach Christine Arylo defines self-love as an “unconditional love and respect that you give yourself that allows you to, no matter what, only choose loving, respectful relationships and situations that honor your heart and soul.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful? No more less-than-we-deserve relationships, no more arbitrary obligations, no more playing it small in terms of our goals and dreams?!
We all know what self-love is, even if we think we don’t — it’s in those glowing people we know, who radiate self-confidence and positivity and seem to move through life with ease and enjoyment. These are the visible hallmarks of self-love. The great news? Each of us can have this same super-satisfying elixir of self-love at work in our own lives!
*Note, while it’s never too soon to start upping the self-love, you might check out my previous post on self-worth if you haven’t already. Our self-worth has got to be intact before the self-love can rrreally start flowing.
The Top 4 Practices for Upping Self-Love
While experts have identified many facets of self-love, I find the below to be the most basic and essential:
- Quiet Your Inner-Critic:
- Researchers estimate that we think 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day, and cognitive neuroscientists estimate that a whopping 95% of our cognitive behaviors (decisions, actions, emotions, etc) are subconscious or unconscious. The gist: wayyyy too many of our thoughts and behaviors are on auto-pilot — they go completely unexamined, and this is where our inner-critic thrives. Life Coach, Melissa Ambrosini terms this critic our “inner mean girl” or “inner mean dude.” Most of us don’t even realize that we live with this hater on a 24/7 basis. It has all kinds of discouraging things to say about our appearances, weaknesses, failures, and flaws. It has a knack for quickly overlooking our successes but clinging onto our mistakes forever, faithfully reminding us of all the less-than-perfect things we’ve done, lest we commit the same mistakes again!
- While our ego-minds rely on this inner mean girl/mean dude for protection, survival, and even motivation, its scripts are overly harsh — not to mention uninspired, fearful, and self-deprecating. The inner critic is NOT serving us when it puts us down, makes us feel bad, insecure, or “less than”. It only keeps us stuck in a cycle of negativity because we simply can’t move toward a happier life when our subconscious mind doesn’t really believe in our capacity to do so.
- To up-level your self-love in a monumental way, you have to 1) recognize the critical voice when it comes in, 2) thank it for trying to help, but then 3) redirect your mind to a more loving and compassionate idea about yourself. If this seems totally foreign (it did for me!), try talking to yourself as you would a dear friend or family member – it’s often the case that we’re far kinder to others than we are to ourselves.
2. Stop “When-Then” Thinking:
- The self-love has got to start right now. Self-love has nothing to do with your current circumstances. It’s contingent on NOTHING! It cannot be contingent on losing 20 more pounds, or making a certain amount of money, or having a certain career, or attracting a certain relationship. We are all worthy of unconditional love right now, this very minute! Many of us think we’ll love ourselves when x, y, or z is accomplished, but it doesn’t work that way. Give yourself the gift of RADICAL self-love first and then the goals and desires fall into place. It’s this simple: you cannot hate or punish or force your way to happiness and self-love. All good things are created from a place of happiness and love. Do the loving part first, and the rest follows naturally.
- Please, spare yourself the agony and take it from me. I spent decades collecting accolades and reaching goals, believing that when I checked off a list of arbitrary boxes, then I would be worthy of love. Wrong! I was lovable the whole time and just didn’t know it. I “wasted” years and years forcing myself through different academic programs and career paths and diets that I thought were going to secure me unshakable love. None of the accomplishments mattered because none of the stuff made me truly happy — might have looked good from the outside, but I wasn’t fulfilled and hadn’t inspired any more love from myself or anyone else.
3. This Is an Inside Job — We Cannot Depend on Others to Make Us Feel Loved:
- Yes, this is hard to believe. We’re trained to think that we can demand love from our partners — that we’re entitled to it — but the truth is, it’s never a good idea to make our happiness dependent on anyone/anything external to ourselves. Placing convoluted expectations on our partners of how, when, where, why we want them to make us feel loved is not only burdensome to them but also to ourselves. Why set ourselves up for a constant game of waiting and watching to see whether our needs are met and then suffering the subsequent disappointment when they’re not? This is placing our happiness completely out of our own control!
- Instead, figure out how you’re wanting your partner to make you feel, and give yourself that feeling — whatever it is: whether you want to feel smart, attractive, cared for, or appreciated, or whether you want to feel excitement, support, friendship, acknowledgment, et cetera.
- Trust me, it’s possible to give yourself the love you want! As a recovering people pleaser and workaholic, I hadn’t a clue what I really wanted or what made me happy, but I’ve finally spent some time listening in on my heart’s desires and have gotten pretty good at deciphering what I actually want in a given moment. Through this practice, I’ve gotten much better at making myself happy, and everyone else in my house is happier as a side effect! The best part is, I now see all the ways that my husband does show me love. I dropped my secret manual for how his love was supposed to look, feel, sound, and just started receiving the love that was right under my roof all along.
4. Honor Your Soul or Inner Voice:
- As Life Coach Christine Hassler puts it, when you honor your soul, you commit to being in alignment with whatever is in your highest truth. This is rrrrrrreeally deep. This is the most life-transforming, self-loving thing that a person can do, but this is also the one that most people will skip because the idea of it is just too big. Committing to living our highest truths would be life-altering, in ways that we’re not always ready to experience — think career changes, personality makeovers, relationship endings and beginnings, new habit formations, et cetera. BUT, sometimes, living out of alignment with our soul or highest truth becomes unbearable. We’ve tried changing and fixing and shifting everything in our little lives as we know them, but nothing’s really working. We still feel bored, depressed, sad, lonely, unfulfilled, searching for purpose or meaning. If you REALLY want to love yourself, start listening to that inner voice just a little bit more. Open the pathway for your highest truth to express itself just a little bit more in your life. All it needs is a little willingness on your part, and it will find a way to slowly grow and take the lead if you let it.
As I discuss in my previous post, boosting self-worth is an excellent place to start before even approaching the issue of self-love. Click here for more on building a foundation of self-worth.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences. I’d love to hear more about your own journey to self-love and a happier life!
Love and blessings,