A deep inner peace arises when we learn that self-love is the key to all we long for.
Many women turn their backs on self-love because they don’t want to appear selfish, self-centred, or self–absorbed.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that putting others first and meeting others’ needs is kind and compassionate and that spending too much time focusing on ourselves is selfish.
We may believe that self-love is important at an intellectual level, but at a subconscious level, we have barriers preventing us from practicing self-love.
If we believe that loving ourselves is essential, we find it almost impossible to act in self-loving ways. Come to think of it, most of us don’t even know what self-love looks or feels like.
I have the privilege of teaching meditation and mindfulness to women. I began to see a pattern that seemed to be the norm for most women. Many of us have a difficult time loving ourselves. This lack of self-love causes many problems we attempt to fix by manipulating our external circumstances.
Most of us aren’t aware that to have the relationships, health, prosperity, contentment, and peace of mind we desire, we MUST first learn to love ourselves. We must love ourselves, not because we want to be selfish, but because we want to be whole.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, known for his bestselling writing on mindfulness and peace, put it this way:
If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves, we cannot take care of the people we love. Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.
Doing the work to heal whatever needs to be healed to love oneself fully is the greatest thing we can do for others and ourselves.
I find it helpful to think of self-love as a way of being that honours the deeper essence of our souls.
It’s often easier to identify a lack of self-love in our lives and then build from there.
What does a lack of self-love look like in our lives?
Saying “yes” when you want to say “no” or feeling guilty when you DO say “no.”
Anger, resentment, anxiety, stress, jealousy, and excessive worry.
Tolerate and accept being treated poorly by others.
I’ve understood that we can’t love others or show genuine compassion when we haven’t cultivated self-love. When we don’t practice self-love, our demonstrations of love to others are often made to fill us up and have everything to do with us and very little with the other person.
I love Maya Angelou’s quote:
“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me ‘I love you.’… There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”
Release limiting beliefs about self-love.
Instead of looking at self-love as selfishness or being self-centred, we can view it as the most loving thing we can do.
People that love themselves don’t enter into relationships for others to fill up their love tank. Their love tank is already complete, and they can express genuine love and compassion for others from a place of wholeness.
Practicing self-love isn’t easy. It requires being honest about our beliefs, behaviours, and relationships.
It requires a lot of reflection and a conscious commitment to changing beliefs and patterns that are firmly established. It’s challenging because, at some level, many of us believe that we are better people for putting others first.
Self-love is recognizing and believing that when we put ourselves first, it doesn’t mean we’re putting others second.
One of my clients asked a compelling question: If we’re not full of self-love, what are we full of?
I daresay that many of us are full of guilt, anger, resentment, regrets, sadness, and countless misbeliefs about how we should be.
Self-love is a daily practice that can be cultivated. It creates a ripple of healing, and then slowly, over time, we grow into a loving way of being and come to believe we are worthy of our love. A belief that penetrates every corner of our lives, leaving us feeling alive, nourished, and connected with ourselves, others, and our life’s purpose.
Take the first step.
The first and most crucial step in the journey toward self-love is self-awareness.
Can you look in the mirror every morning when you wake up and say, “I love you…?” If you find this difficult, you are not alone. Many healthy and prosperous women I work with have difficulty with this one.
The following is a great TED Talk by Shauna Shapiro, “The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger.”
At the end of the video, Dr. Shapiro invites us to put our hands on our hearts and say, “I love you.” I have also found it powerful to add-“I am enough” at the end of the “I love you.”
It’s amazing how incredibly freeing and nourishing it feels to know that we are enough, worthy, and loved just the way we are.
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Bev guides awakening women worldwide to make the shift from feeling stressed and disconnected to peacefully empowered, living lives that feel good to their souls. Bev’s personalized meditation and mindfulness approach empowers women to let go of stress and struggle, get in the natural flow of life and live with greater inner peace and well-being. Bev is trained as an Integral Associate Coach™, Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher, Enneagram Practitioner and Master’s prepared Nurse. She’s the author of Awakening a Woman’s Soul: The Power of Meditation and Mindfulness to Transform Your Life.