The Essential Practice of Self-Love
What is self-love? This is a question I have been asking my whole life. Self-love is the ability to have regard for one’s own wellbeing and happiness. This does not mean that you have to be selfish, which has an entirely different meaning: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. Often, I think the two get confused and one is judged for the other. From my perspective, having self-love is making sure you’re in a space that is mentally healthy and where you feel safe, secure, and happy. If you do not love and take care of yourself, you can not properly love and take care of others.
There is no magical way to understand your own self and learn what makes you happy. I struggled for a long time trying to find myself and where I belong and it is still an ongoing journey. It’s hard to let go of wondering what people may think of your style, your body, or your quirky personality, but sometime ago I realized that I was unhappy trying to fit a mold that wasn’t made for me. I needed to realize that I can be myself and that’s enough. I have learned to retrain my brain so I don’t automatically try to people please. Instead, I say what I believe to be my truth instead of what others want to hear. I’ve learned I can be a nice and respectful person and still have my own voice heard. Here are some things that have helped me on my journey:
- Practicing Gratitude. In The Science Behind Gratitude (and How It Can Change Your Life) By Derrick Carpenter, MAPP, it is said that “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.” Here is a great Blog by our own Dr. Elizabeth Boham about how gratitude saved her life.
- Meditation. By slowing down, breathing, and making the space for yourself to relax for 15 to 20 minutes, you are strengthening your mind, lowering your stress and anxiety, and can even lower blood pressure. It’s also beneficial to take quiet time to reflect on your life or listen to a guided meditation.
- Give out what you want the Universe to give back. My mother used to say treat people how you would want to be treated. The things we say and do have a way of coming back to us. If you are positive and uplifting to others, they are less likely to be ungrateful and ugly towards you. If being positive and respectful is not being received and given back, maybe the person you are with is not in a place of self-love themselves.
- Acceptance. Find and accept who you are. We are all human and we have flaws, but it is how we deal with these flaws that helps us discover ourselves. It’s okay to have different opinions and ideas from another person, you should never have to feel as if your opinion or feelings do not matter. Accept who you are and love yourself. In doing that, others will love you too.
No matter where your journey takes you, remember to think about what really matters to you, what makes you happy? Think about what affects your well-being and if it’s worth changing positively. As I practice gratitude and appreciation for all of the positive and amazing things in my life, I’m learning to focus on the good and not on the negative. Remember, the more you love and appreciate yourself, the more you can love and appreciate others.