There are entire sections in the bookstore dedicated to this in the Self-Help section. For a reason!
We grow up being taught not to love ourselves – from our nose, to our hair, to our body type, to our gifts, to our voice. The list is endless!
We see it reflected in the media, magazine stands, Facebook, and in Hollywood. Sure, stores like Abercrombie & Fitch may have some "diversity" in their branding, and now it's "cool" to be more inclusive and aware. But, how much of that is real inclusivity, and how much of it is for show?
Because at the end of the day...
We think our bodies are too fat or thin, so we develop eating disorders to fit into society's packaged image of beauty. We think our noses are too wide or bumpy, so we get a nose job. We think our hair too unruly, so we straighten it or decimate it with chemicals to get it to "behave".
It's no wonder, then, why our self-perceptions are askew!
Beauty and self-love become synonymous. They are concepts to be packaged.
And, then you have the illusion that you're only supposed to choose ONE: either own your beauty and be vapidly vacant, or love yourself fully and you might as well be aesthetically invisible.
NEWS FLASH: You can have it all, because you ARE it all!
I have patients who identify as feminists, but feel guilty for loving high heels and flowery dresses. I have patients who are wildly successful, yet feel bad that they are in their abundance, because others may not be. And, I also have patients who are SO very woo, and gifted, but they are embarrassed to be so, even though their gifts clearly keep them vibrant, on their path, and away from toxic people and situations.
If you're feeling guilty for being who you are (and especially if you are on top of your game), stop it. Just stop it.
You will not garner karma points for putting yourself down. Nor will feeling guilty help you thrive (because, in fact, it will block your energy from getting what you want). In addition, by playing small, you not only grow farther away from self-love, but you take a detour off your path. Not that it would be a bad thing, since some of the most beautiful realizations in life can occur when you step off the beaten path.
Ultimately, in the game of life, there is no such thing as fucking up.
Yes, I am a healthcare practitioner and I just said that.
Because, it's true.
No matter how challenging the experience, no matter how hard it is to find the lesson in the pain, you are ALWAYS being held. We all get many choices in life, and sometimes we choose the easier path, sometimes we don't. It's not a judgment call, and there really is no wrong choice.
Because it always leads you back onto the path (eventually) that you're meant to be on. Yes, even if we feel momentarily lost.
Here are some general self-love tenets that you may, or may not, already know:
When you talk about yourself with love, even when no one is looking, you are sending a clear signal to your Body, Mind, and Spirit. They hear and respond in kind. So, when you speak lovingly towards yourself ("I love who I am", "I am open to receiving joy", "I rocked that presentation!"), even when you mess up, the Body remains open, the Mind remains calm, your Spirit feels honored. Vice versa, when you speak unkindly towards yourself ("Ugh, I'm so fat", "I look ugly in that outfit", "I suck at everything I do!"), your Body constricts, your Mind goes into "fight or flight" mode (that's the stress response, by the way), and your Spirit feels downtrodden. Choose your words wisely!
Many times, depression can be a signal that you aren't listening to your Heart. Because of life circumstances, including trauma, abandonment, physical and emotional pain, and deep disappointment, we may temporarily respond by shutting our Hearts down. This is a survival mechanism that allows us to keep living, moving through life, and taking care of what we need to take care of ourselves. However, when we remain shut down, and lose connection with our Heart altogether, we become emotionally stunted, shut off from our passion and desires in life, which directly affects whether or not we own our power fully in this lifetime, and share our unique brand of fabulosity in this world that we are meant to. So, if you're feeling particularly shut off from your Heart, or feeling disconnected from yourself, start there. One of my patients had been shut off from her joy so long, she forgot what made her Heart happy. When she first started getting in touch with it, emotions poured out of her eyes like a faucet, a release that had been many years coming. At first, she felt a bit raw. But, then she said, "My Heart feels like it's dancing. I never felt that before." That is the Heart being heard!
Self-love is like a muscle (and intuition), the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Just like an athlete trains for the triathlon, you need to hone your strength, through the intention and action towards your goal, and oftentimes through scheduling things to make them a habit. When you're new to your intuition, and you're initially totally clueless about it, you have to create mindful intent to connect with it, and then start following whatever Inner Wisdom you're getting. When you act on the guidance, your Third Eye gets stronger. Same thing holds true for self-love. It's unrealistic to think that you will wake up one day and self-love will just rush through you like a cannonball, if you haven't initiated any intention or action towards cultivating it. However, if you make the intention that you want to connect with your self-love, ask your Spirit Guides to help you, and create mindfulness and awareness around ways you can talk about yourself (and treat yourself) more lovingly, that starts the ball rolling! Double points if you work on making it a habit!
I always encourage my patients who are feeling challenged in the self-love department to buy themselves roses, or drink rosebud tea (roses resonate with the Heart Chakra). And, aside from the always helpful looking at yourself in the mirror with love (even if you look like a hot mess), there are many great self-love affirmations out there to get your self-love groove on!
So, what if you're looking for more non-traditional ways to love yourself like a badass? Here are 5 suggestions:
Give yourself permission to own your woo. We all have gifts that make us unique. Call it guidance from a Higher Power, your "-claire", your gut feeling, whatever terminology floats your boat. But, whatever you call it, own it and make it yours. Because when you follow the guidance that is unique to you, and only you, life opens up to us more naturally. Accepting all of yourself, flaws and all, is ultimate self-love. So, do yourself a favor: stop making "woo" a swear word, and love it! You know you love your crystals, essential oils, and tapping into the cosmos, already!
Love your natural hair. For those of you who think this is more of an aesthetic, superficial method of self-love, because we're talking about hairdids, think of this: many women (and men) from many cultures and walks of life, have this horrid belief that what they were born with is not acceptable. Hair is symbolic of that. I can't tell you how many people fight with their natural hair, trying to conform to society standards of beauty, only to negate their own radiance within. In my private practice, I see the results of that. In fact, I've treated female patients for alopecia, not due to genetic factors. In one case, it was due to a hair straightening job gone awry – the lye had damaged her scalp so much, that clumps of hair had fallen out, and had started to create a balding pattern. I can identify with the struggle of embracing your natural hair, since I, myself, fought against my curls for the majority of my life. It is no coincidence, whatsoever, that when I started to really love ALL of me, I also embraced my curly grrrl hair, hydrating and liberating them to do what they will!
Be authentic to your voice. This means saying "No" when you mean "No", not saying "Yes" when you mean "No". This also means speaking up for your needs when they are not being met, and surrounding yourself with people who honor your truth. If you're unsure if you're in line with your truth, envision your entire body like a column of crystalline energy, aligning with the Heavens, above, and rooted in the Earth, below. Now, see where your Throat Chakra lies along this line. Is it right in sync? Or, is it off to one side? For some, especially those who are very visual, you will see it immediately. If you are the type who feels your information, it will feel off. Take note of this as a sign that whatever you're considering may not be fully serving you.
Allow yourself to get pissed off. Isn't that the most un-enlightening thing to say? Not if you've had a lifetime habit of not honoring your feelings, or disconnecting from your emotional body! Or, for those who've been taught to sweep "unpleasantries" such as emotional upset, anger, or sadness, under the rug. So many of us keep our feelings and emotions bottled up inside, until life events shake them up so much that we finally implode or explode! Either way, it's not pretty. Always honor your feelings. Of course, having healthy outlets to channel your anger is the way to go! The point is to honor your entire range of emotions, to be in touch with yourself, and maintain a healthy Sacral Chakra.
Love how you stand out. Part of self-love means loving all parts of you, including those perceived "unacceptable" and "flawed" parts of yourself. I put those in quotes, because those are almost ALWAYS based on our own judgments, not reality, and are oftentimes harsh and plain untrue. Perhaps this is due to us not wanting to get too full of ourselves, to keep us safe in mediocrity. But, believe you me, your radiance will not come from you staying in mediocrity. You are meant for much more! When you love yourself fully, you do not recoil in horror at the how you stand out, are different, and unique. In fact, you feel liberated, joyful, and free when you accept all of yourself, including how different you are from others. It is a joy to be in touch with who you are, on the deepest levels.
What are your favorite non-conventional self-love tips?