While I was brainstorming for this blog, I was reminded of a conversation I recently had on my YouTube channel. One person felt that my message was inappropriate in working with people to develop a practice of self-love. Their perspective was that this is basically narcissistic and creates selfishness and self-centeredness. I want to explain to you very clearly, that self-love is never wrong.
Self-love is a way to establish the foundation for determining and owning your worth. It’s about making a decision to treat yourself with dignity and worth. It includes setting boundaries, eliminating toxic people and experiences from your life, and changing the way you treat and interact with yourself. There’s a very direct correlation between Shame and self-love. Many, many, many people who live with Shame, don’t necessarily experience deep amounts of self-love.
I want to change that for you! Over the course of my in-person practice, I have witnessed people completely transform their lives by taking the risk into loving themselves. I will admit that in the past, I thought that self-love was just silly, honestly! I thought it was overrated and not the detrimental and necessary life skill that it is. Engaging in a self-love practice feeds your body and soul goodness and nurtures you into a safe and supportive experience with yourself.
I spend time every day talking to my clients about how to develop a meaningful self-love practice. I will admit that at least some of this is best done on an individual basis. The reason is because what I need to amp up in my self-love realm is going to be different than what you need from a self-love perspective. However, I want to facilitate you increasing and developing your own personal self-love practice.
My recommendations for developing a general self-love practice include:
Mirror Work: I don’t want to give you stereotypical advice but this one is such a good one because it’s so effective.
Here’s the thing though, if looking in the mirror triggers a bunch of negative junk in your brain, get as close to the mirror as possible. Look and focus only on your eyes. I have an entire dialogue I have when I look in the mirror. A good place to start is by just saying, “Good morning beautiful! It’s going to be a great day!” This is something I recommend to my clients to do first thing in the morning. The basic goal is to act as if you are the biggest cheerleader for that person you are talking to in the mirror.
Embrace The Differences: We are not robots and therefore many of us are very different from those around us.
Even if it’s just subtle differences, they still exist. I really want you to embrace your differences rather than being afraid of them or ashamed of them. I’d actually LOVE to have you celebrate your differences! Many of us were socialized and raised to believe that our differences are bad or wrong. I believe that our differences is what makes us valuable. Spend some time creating a list of what is unique about you.
Engage In Mind Calming Activities: This is such a healthy activity and habit to develop.
I’m less concerned about which habit you choose (meditation, self-hypnosis, deep breathing) and more concerned with whether or not you are actually using it and getting benefit from it. When we calm our minds it acts like a reset button for us.
It allows us to disconnect from our obligations and tasks and check back in with our bodies. It allows us to not feel the pressure and stress of being productive and just allows us to be for a few minutes. I’m a huge proponent of regularly experiencing mind calm activities. Even if you have to schedule it on your calendar until it becomes a habit.
Engage In Some Helpful Self-Care: There’s really a huge correlation between self-love and self-care.
I tend to view self care as the framework that allows us to develop the foundation that is our self-love experience. When we are taking really good care of ourselves it allows us to be more gentle and kind towards ourselves. It allows for the gradual shift from abuse and neglect and opens the door for us to experience true self love.
Ditch The Garbage: I mean this one literally and metaphorically.
It is a massive struggle to treat yourself lovingly when you are surrounded by people who tear you down or abuse you. In my life, if the people don’t build me up as much I work to build them up they are eliminated from my life.
If your house is full of garbage and clutter it is difficult to notice all the things you have to be grateful for. If your home, car, or work environment is an emotional landmine for pain or trauma, that doesn't help you to feel good about yourself. My philosophy is that if something isn’t building me up it can’t stick around my life very long! I don’t have the time or energy to expand on stuff that is toxic or dragging me down.
Create Your Sanctuary: When I was first introduced to this concept I thought it was the biggest load of crazy I had ever heard.
I have since explored and embraced this concept. I facilitate my clients creating or developing their sanctuary (also referred to as their happy place) on a regular basis. For some people this is their bedroom. In their minds, the bedroom is the one place where people just can’t come in and do what they want. For some people it’s a particular chair or corner of their house.
For me, it’s my office at home. Everything in that room is 100% mine. I can write, paint, sing, watch television, record videos, etc. The sky is literally the limit. If you don’t have the ability to create a whole room, begin with a space or a corner. Make this space a safe place for you, a place where you can disconnect and decompress.
Create Radical Gratitude: Experiencing radical gratitude is an awe inspiring experience for many of my clients.
It’s easy to be grateful for the things that are going well, that bring you joy, or light you up. However, my experience is that easy is not always deeply rewarding. That speeding ticket you got, that flat tire, that missed phone call, that migraine, that negative review? I want to empower you to be grateful for all of those experiences.
My experience is that when we can develop radical gratitude for each and every experience, it allows us to have a glimpse of the holy grail of gratitude. And we experience true self-empowerment. Both of which enable us to experience self-love.
No matter what is going on in your life, no matter what your previous experiences have been, and no matter what lies you have been told (or said), you deserve to love yourself deeply and unapologetically.
Let me know what you are going to do to develop a practice of self-love.
And if you need help developing that practice, I’d love to help. Find out more about the Self-Love Foundation here.
Jenn Bovee is a psychotherapist and Shame Busting coach. She helps people all over the world to ditch the negative implications of having experienced Shame, and instead develop the life of their wildest fantasies.