What does loving ourselves truly mean?
We talk about self love – we read about self love – there are a zillion books on the topic, there are tips and strategies to learn – we work very hard to “do” self love or rather do what we perceive loving oneself is – we may even know the concept of how to love ourselves – we know it is important for our wellbeing and our emotional, mental and physical health. Self-love is well talked about and discussed – it is taught in many different ways – but how many people really truly attain self-love? How many people really live self-loving lives that are truly nourishing for the heart mind body and soul?
The fact is, we live extremely busy lives these days, we are constantly on the go with never ending driven-ness, striving to say and do more and more of the “right” thing, or the current trend of the “right” thing, we are under pressure to be there, juggling work, family, and social lives that seem to be more and more out of balance – running around to the demands of busier and busier lifestyles is making it more and more difficult or us to self love, – so we “do” what we can or what we have read up on how to create self love in our lives. We spend time at the gym or we meditate convincing ourselves that we are on it and we are taking care of our selves and we are bringing balance into our day – meanwhile the other 22-23 hours a day we are running around like headless chickens – over committed, over doing, over giving, under pressure, over stimulated – at night when we sleep our minds are still running mentally, caught in the loop of our sympathetic nervous system locked in fight or flight and this becomes our “norm” – eventually we get sick, or we crash and burn and we cry “what happened? I don’t understand, I take care of myself, I love myself – I do yoga, I meditate, I exercise”. Yes this is true but we have also ignored and probably justified the rest of our over stimulated, over worked, out of balance lives, along with our inability to really take a moment to listen to what we need because we have added our self love to our driven-ness that our lives have become, and so we do self-love rather than be it. Sounds familiar? We have normalized ourselves to “over living” “over doing” with no time to listen, connect, and hear our selves much less become loving, kind, and compassionate with ourselves. We beat ourselves up at the drop of a hat when we feel we haven’t done ANYTHING well enough. We are often our own worst enemies heavily disguised with well-intentioned “doing” self love.
Do you want something real – something concrete – something that actually puts you in charge – a simple ABC step by step to truly being able to self love?
Here is very simple 5 Step process of understanding the action of living a self-loving life – practice and follow the steps and feel the difference.
To even put ourselves into the position of being able to love ourselves we first of all need to learn how to STOP. Most of the time we are fast and furiously racing through our lives – not even stopping for breath far less stopping for long enough to listen to what we need at any one moment – we jump out of bed rush through breakfast (if we have it at all) rush to work often through rush hour traffic to get to the office treadmill, skip lunch or eat it on the run. We are in the habit of saying ”yes” to all the constant demands and pressures before we take time to think what we are doing, we drink too much coffee, tea and alcohol to keep ourselves going – then there is our social and family life – we have to convince ourselves that we are looking after ourselves so we run to the gym, exercise or do yoga to make sure we are fit, if we are lucky maybe we will meditate for 20 mins and then we tell ourselves we are balanced. Really we have lost the ability to stop – our point of reference for what this means has gone. The ability to stop and check in with where we are before we speak, to stop and listen to what we need in any one moment before we react to the demands and pressures, to stop and do nothing for a minute can be extremely uncomfortable for lots of people. Guilt driven stories flow into our minds, that stopping is the same as being lazy or irresponsible or some other fear driven drama that keeps us running, chasing our tails as we spin around the fast lane of our lives. So we talk about self love usually with the conceptual understanding of what it looks like and what it is but really without ever stopping for long enough to even begin to know how to truly love ourselves. If we don’t get into the habit of stopping for a minute to check in with ourselves, how can we truly know what we need for our own well being at any time of the day or night? The first step to place ourselves into the position of being able to love ourselves is, we need to stop.
Stopping is another word for taking a breath – taking a conscious inhale and a conscious exhale, a deep connected breath, then, taking another then another – doing this before you take any action – then continuing to take deep slow conscious breaths until you feel yourself connecting to yourself again. Most of the time the demands of life scatter and fragment us and we feel quite literally emotionally and energetically all over the place. We even use these terms to describe what we are feeling – “I’m shattered, I feel all over the place or I’m falling apart”! Breathing consciously will help to pull us back together. When we are all over the place it is difficult for us to make clear healthy choices that are good for our well-being – we react rather than respond. Get into the habit of slowing down by breathing when you are being faced by any choice – big or small – when you practice this habit you put yourself into the position of truly bringing self-love into your life.
Becoming still is the second step towards self-love – how so, you may ask? We can learn to stop but stopping does not mean that we are still – that is, that we have stillness of mind and body.
Stillness comes with practice and focus, it is a state of presence – stillness is quietness – when our minds and bodies are still we can be more centered, more peaceful – quieter.
Stillness puts us into the position of being able to listen to what is true, right and healthier for us in that moment and it allows us to connect to our own truth on a deeper level. Any decisions that we make from a place of stillness are normally much clearer and conscious. They are usually less reactive and are most likely healthier for our wellbeing in the long term.
These first 2 steps to self-love are vital in putting us into the position of being able to listen to our quiet inner voice – however they do not necessarily achieve it. Without them we can continue with the old habits of reactivity, jumping to conclusions and assumptions, people pleasing and building stress and anxiety in our lives. The practice of stopping and becoming still builds a way of responding to choices and decisions that are more conscious and are driven from awareness and value for our wellbeing, self-honesty, respect for ourselves and others but there is another step…
Listening is step three in self -discovery and is a crucial step to loving ourselves. This step is about getting to know ourselves, what we like, what we want, trusting ourselves, respecting ourselves, treating ourselves as if we are our own best friend – one that we really want to get to know – intimately. I often hear in my workshops that people don’t know what they want and when I ask them the question – “what do YOU want?” they look at me blankly as if I have asked them the most difficult question in the world, then with a shocked and stunned expression on their faces they stutter shakily “who me – what do I want”? It is common for them to stumble over the words –“ I don’t know – I’ve never really thought about what I want – or given that question any real consideration – ever”! This tells me how far away from self-love these people are – they will certainly want self-love
They may understand the concept of self love, and no doubt have read about self love and maybe they try to “do” self love, but, their habits of never really considering what their own wants, needs, desires, hopes and dreams are, on a moment to moment, day to day level, block them from being in the true position of really building a strong point of reference in self love. The ability of listening is essential but there is a deeper level of “listening” – initially the ability to listen is still filtered through the ego mind and is also tainted with unconscious fear driven beliefs systems and thought processes. So listening is an essential component for us as we go through the process of learning how to truly love ourselves.
To truly love ourselves from a place of compassion, kindness, and humbleness – is not the same as loving ourselves from our ego minds. We have to drop down to another level where we listen, hear and feel from our hearts. Listening from our ego mind, we are still able to talk ourselves out of what is true for us, fear, old conditioning and beliefs can still drive our decisions, however once we drop in to our hearts – we are able to hear from a different place – from our consciousness, our individual truth, from honour and respect for ourselves – from a place of love, a place with no attachment to anything but that truth.
Hearing is not the same as listening – hearing comes from a deeper place within us – it comes from our truth our spirit our value our soul. Listening comes from a more mental place. It puts us in the position to hear but we are still only listening, we are not peaceful, we are questioning and discussing and talking about whatever it is we are searching for. When we drop down to the deeper place that we all have within us and we hear rather than listen, we get a different answer – a clearer answer an answer that feels peaceful, there are no more questions, even if the answer we are hearing isn’t palatable it will feel peaceful. Our individual truth always feels peaceful. When we hear the information has been delivered from our heart we receive the information with our hear(t) – we have no more questions, it feels right, it feels true – often what we hear doesn’t make rational or logical sense but somehow we “know” without knowing why we know, but we do know that we have found our truth in that moment. We often find we are no longer concerned if others like, understand or are happy with what is right for us, we just know that for us it is right, we have no judgment in that moment and so any judgment from anyone else does not penetrate and has no affect on us at all.
The action part is crucial to understand – when we go through these 5 steps and arrive on the action step we are acting in response to a decision that we have made that is true, honest, respectful and right for us as individuals – we are not acting from need for approval, we do not need permission from anyone else, as we are connected to our own truth and are honouring that truth. We are not acting from fear or need for revenge, we are not re-acting habitually, mindlessly doing the same thing over and over. When we are stopping and breathing, creating a step to becoming calm and still, listening then dropping deeper into our higher truth of our hearts and hearing, the actions that we take come from a loving place, not only to ourselves, but to those around us who we also love. We are conscious and loving to ourselves and to others. Action taken from this place is responding, not reacting – it is responding to a choice, a decision made from value, honour and respect – a decision that is true for ourselves, one that we are making with no intention to hurt, manipulate or control anyone or anything other than ourselves, a decision free from judgement or fear, a decision that builds – we are taking the ability to respond-“responsibility” for our wellbeing, for our value, for our self-care and self-love. It is responding from a place of respect for ourselves. It builds the greatest power we can access – the power of true love, honour, compassion, kindness and strength.
Copyright Moira Darling
If you have enjoyed this blog and are interested in strengthening more loving power into your life please contact Moira on firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on one of the wonderful experiential, life changing seminars. We would love to hear your comments. Thanks for stopping, becoming still, listening and hearing this little blog – thanks for loving yourself…… Moira Darling