You know me by now, I am ALL about self love. But so often when people talk about that subject they make it seem complicated; a lofty goal of perfection that us mere mortals can never dream of attaining…
But let me say this once and only once. That is utter bollocks.
The truth is that self love isn’t some revelation that will hit you in one big bang, it’s an ongoing process. It starts small and it starts with the moments, until piece by piece it becomes less of an ideal and more just a part of who you are and what you do.
So as a mentor for all things self love, I thought I’d share my top five ways to start showing yourself more love:
Hands up if you’re a workaholic? Or maybe a long-term social butterfly? Or how about someone who stays up late every night watching crap on TV only to get up early the next day because there’s so much they “must” do?
Yup, me too. For a looooong time when people asked how I was my regular response would be “good, but shattered”. I was so busy doing all the things I thought I should do that I took nowhere near enough time out to do what I needed – absolutely nothing.
My dad always talks about how the human body is like a car, and if you don’t fuel it with enough of the right food and water then it won’t run. And that’s true, but our bodies aren’t machines, they need rest too. And by that I mean proper rest.
There’s no shame at all in having an early night or a long lie in sometimes, in spending the occasional day on the sofa, or in taking a whole weekend of peace and quiet if that’s what you need.
Not only will it help to keep your body – and your mind – working as well as it possibly can, but you’ll find yourself enjoying everything else you need to do much more as a result of taking time out.
The modern world tells us we need to operate at 100% of our energy 100% of the time but the fact is that’s just impossible. Taking time out to rest in whatever way works for you is an important step to self love, and the first step to being the very best you you can be.
2. Cut out the things that don’t benefit you
How many times in the last months have you done things you didn’t want to because you thought you “should”? And how many of the people you spend time with are out of a sense of duty rather than because you actually enjoy their company?
Now I’m not suggesting that we should all stop going to work, or that we should cut out the close family members who love us even if they are a little challenging from time to time.
But it is important to start drawing up boundaries when it comes to your time and energy. If a relationship has been completely out of balance for years on end, then maybe it’s time to think seriously about whether that person is someone you need in your life. And if a certain situation or activity has made you feel utterly shitty for months on end, well then maybe that’s the place you need to start making changes.
The world will constantly bombard you with things you “must” do and ways you “should” behave. When it comes to learning to love yourself your job is to sort through those should and musts and replace them instead with needs and wants.
Getting rid of the rest will not only free up time and energy for what’s really important to you, but it will also start to create a life worthy of someone you love.
3. Recognise your own awesomeness
When was the last time you stopped to think of all of the things you’re proud of?
Of course each of us have disappointments; things we haven’t quite achieved yet and others that may not have gone the way we wanted them too. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t accomplished anything, or left a legacy.
Stopping to take stock of just how much you have to be proud of, and then reminding yourself of it over and over again helps to focus your mind on just how amazing you are and keeps that at the forefront of your mind every single day.
It’s why I have a photo on my desk of the day I reached Machu Picchu… physically four days of climbing through the Peruvian mountains was the hardest thing I’ve ever done (especially for someone who’d spent the weeks before drinking beer and eating rubbish with very little exercise!). But I did it, and in that moment felt as though I could conquer the world!
So now on the days when things get tough, or I’m feeling a bit low, I look at that photo and use it to remind myself I can do anything I set out to.
4. Remember “sonder”
Sonder: “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” ( Definition from the Dictionary of random sorrows)
I love that word so much that the first time I read it I remember actually welling up… It’s a beautiful world, but also such an important point.
Every single person we come across has their own lives and experiences, even those we’ll never meet in more than passing. And you know, I’m a firm believer that an awful lot of the problems we humans experience could be solved – or at least lessened – if only we recognised and respected one another’s stories.
When people are shitty to you, upset you or mess up your plans it’s very rarely because of you and you alone. More often than not it’s because of them – what’s going in on their lives elsewhere or what’s happened in their lives before.
It also means that people generally – the decent ones anyway – understand if sometimes you’re not on top form, and often have a great deal more to think about than whether you tripped in front of them or said the wrong thing in front of them.
Remember sonder and it’s much easier to focus on becoming the hero of your own story.
5. Fake it til you make it
And finally, even with all of the tips in the world the one guarantee I can give you is that true deep and meaningful self love isn’t an overnight thing.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a little every day to get you there quicker.
There’s an old saying about the power of faking it until you make it. And while I’m generally a big fan of authenticity and being true to your feelings; in this case there is absolutely no harm in focusing on your love for yourself even when you don’t quite feel it.
Look in the mirror every day and say “I love you” (note – this can be really tough at first, but stick with it), set your phone alarm to say “Rise and shine beautiful” instead of just “Wake up”, take an hour our once a week to do something just because you want to and because it makes you feel good, even if it’s not a necessity.
Because one by one those actions and words will start to form a habit, and the longer the habit continues the more you’ll forget that you’re faking it and start to believe the things that you’re telling yourself.
So those are my top five tips for self love, but tell me – what are yours? I’d love to hear them, so drop me a line and let me know!xx