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The art of self love

Self love is often a concept we hear so much about. Yet breaking down what this actually represents and means can sometimes be difficult to decipher. The answers are varied and not always clear, so when it comes to trying to honour the idea of self love, where do we begin?

I felt this post was an important one, as being on a spiritual path in life my own journey toward loving myself has been something I have strived on a personal level to achieve. For me, the thought of being able to reach out and connect with people had to mean that I knew myself and that I needed to be in a good place within me to operate from the highest place. I haven’t always gotten the balance just right, but I generally reach a place of positive self reflection to try again.

My thoughts on the subject are what I have gathered throughout my own personal journey, as well as knowledge I have gained through Spirit’s beautiful messages. I believe it to be an ever changing ideal, one that continues to evolve with me and one that I feel should always continue to evolve with each individual. It is not a concept that people will likely just master at one given moment in life, as while love can be constant and flowing it can also be challenging.  Just as our love for others can bend and flex, so can our love of ourselves. It doesn’t mean it has gone, but sometimes it changes and we have to see the new positives and negatives of the bonds.

I hope, more than anything this post can provide a place to begin. The rest can unfold and blossom all on its own.

See how and why others love you. I believe that many people struggle to look at themselves in the same way that they can easily see other people around them. We spend so much time reflecting upon our love and sometimes woes with others in our lives, that we do not always take a moment to see what we are bringing to the table. Trying to make a list of things that you love about yourself might be a lot easier if you first see why others have fallen in love with the person that you are. I also believe that hearing precious words of love is a beautiful way of reminding yourself of the blessings in your life. This offers a means to realise the importance of you and a great way to appreciate your life and why self love is so vital. You will be surprised at how accommodating others are in being able share such information, simply ask. Return the favour, let them know just what things you love about them. Take note of the relationship you share with that person, is it a partner? A friend? Family? See yourself unfold in the role that you play in their life, it will reveal the different energies you portray, which represents the many facets of who you are.

Embrace your negatives. When we truly love unconditionally, we take on both the positives and the negatives of others. We are willing to overlook or accept the downsides of each individual in our lives when we love with our whole heart. So why then are we so overly critical of ourselves? Everyone has their downsides and of course it is not about just accepting our negative traits without striving for some sort of progress. Yet it is about knowing our weaknesses and limitations so that we can begin to change our inner dialogue. How much do those negatives truly matter? They matter only when they interfere with positive relationships, when our downsides are hurting others. Don’t allow your negatives to hurt the relationship with yourself, learn to embrace them and find ways of turning them around into something positive. I find it very healing to see what my own negative traits have provided me, what lessons have I learned? What funny stories have they created? What other traits have they allowed me to have that’s positive? Your negative aspects are a reflection of both your journey and your true self. Perfection is overrated, begin to embrace your imperfections. You never know, the things you see as a negative may be the very thing someone else has found endearing about you.

Accept your strengths. Be confident in where your strengths lie within yourself and absolutely own them. Somewhere, we begin to learn that being overly confident about the good things that we can do is considered conceited and a trait often related to arrogance. This is true when we are out there shouting to the world and boasting about what we can do in a way that puts others down or makes them feel belittled. Nearly anything can be a negative when we take it to an extreme, yet don’t be afraid to be strong in what you know is a positive trait, skill or talent. You might be a wonderful listener, a fantastic cook, someone who is organised, thoughtful, loving, affectionate, the list goes on. Do not allow yourself to continue the statements with dialogue like “I am a good parent, but…..” If you find yourself ending all your positives with criticism, be reminded that you would not likely allow a loved one to speak in this way to you without correction. Wouldn’t you be encouraging? Accept being able to speak out your positives and begin to fall in love with your strengths. These are aspects of you, the person that you are. These are the very things that allow you to fall in love with others, so let them woo your inner you.

Reserve something for you. In all good and healthy relationships, we reserve time and attention to them so they can continue to prosper. The time we reserve and give often depends on the relationship with the individual. The beauty of the relationship with ourselves, is that it can and does chop and change roles. Be honest about what you need and reserve something for you. Perhaps what you need is time alone to just unwind, maybe you need social interaction and thus, time with friends is necessary. Your inner self might be starving for knowledge, so make time to learn something new or give attention to an old interest. The relationship with yourself cannot continue to evolve if you do not give it the attention it deserves, which means recognising your needs and dedicating the time to fulfilling them.

Forgive yourself. In this wonderful journey we call life, there will be many mistakes and trials of error along the way. Learning to forgive yourself is important to enable you to let go and learn from the experience. Failure is a means to understanding the accomplishments and achievements in life. Regardless of how much damage you perceive has been caused, that is not nearly as important as the learning involved. Most of us can forgive when there is an acknowledgement of disregard or error. Sometimes, we make mistakes unknowingly, other times regrets come later with an understanding that we operated out of emotional turmoil. It’s ok, forgive the you that you were in that moment and know that letting it go means you have learned something powerful. Change happens naturally with deeper understanding and acceptance.

You deserve peace. Just as important to forgiving yourself, is being able to let go of the negative experiences and energy that others, or simply life, has given to us. At times you will not be able to understand the how’s and why’s these events have occurred, perhaps you are not meant to. Does carrying those energies around in your heart and mind make things any different? Probably not, so let it go. Allow yourself peace and reaffirm that you deserve it. The only way to creating peace is to embrace it, to invite it in. I know at times it is a harder concept to achieve in practise than it is in thought, yet truly let yourself cycle through the emotions and come to a place to set it free. Sometimes the solutions and peace come once we have lessened the need for answers or resolution. If it truly won’t lift, ask yourself why it matters so deeply. Perhaps there is something much more going on within than the experience itself. We can uncover the layers beneath when we begin to ask the right questions, so take your time but work toward the means to peace.

Trust yourself. In our closest and most healing relationships, trust is our deepest friend. We value and give trust to those we keep closest to our hearts, so it makes sense that trusting yourself is an important aspect of self love. At times we see ourselves move from seemingly failed relationships to failed relationships, or making the same mistakes in jobs. Perhaps decisions  are not working out as we had hoped and dreamed and we are no further along our paths than we’d aspired to be. This creates a lack of trust in our own decision making, as though we cannot be trusted to be the masters of our own lives. If this is true, who do we expect to dictate our future? Ironically, the failure to trust ourselves is exactly why we continue to repeat past mistakes or find we are not progressing as we desire. No one knows more than you at any given moment what you need or want. Put faith that you will lead yourself toward the positives in the best way that you can. That shift in perspective and lack of self doubt will ultimately open your life up to many more possibilities.

Honour your inner child. Lurking within you is an aspect of the child that you once were. Regardless of what the experience of being a child brought to your life path, there was a time when the world was your playground. Children carry the natural essence of freedom and innocence. They are the dreamers, the truth seekers, the world is a place of awe and magic and if it can be imagined, it can be.  Even when children are subjected to a path that is rife with harsh realities, they still carry a hope and dream about the future. They still find moments to play and just be free. Pay homage to the child that you once were and help that inner part of you heal from the issues that were thrust upon you if any and find moments to turn the something ordinary into something extraordinary. If you have forgotten how to play, watch how children do and be inspired. Allow yourself permission to dream, to get lost in the world and just be free. Dance like no one is watching, feel the rain on your face and let go of a moment of consequence to just experience it instead. Our restrictions in life are only what we have placed upon it, they are imaginary chains that we tie around ourselves – children remind us that the world truly has no limits.

Respect. One of the deepest and most important aspects of self love of all, is that of respect of the self. When we respect ourselves, we do not allow anything to penetrate our personal boundaries knowingly. While people will overstep them with you at various points in life, it is not the fact that they do – it is how you choose to respond. This is not about cutting out people left, right and centre the moment they make a mistake – when it is time to move on away from a bond with someone, I believe we know. Yet I also believe in giving others the opportunity to correct it, to learn from it. Respect of the self is knowing when it is right to make a sacrifice and knowing when you need to have something left for you. It is knowing your personal limits of acceptance, honouring what is right for you and respecting yourself enough to say no sometimes. We all must decide how much we will allow and where we draw the line. If you do not respect yourself, others will find it difficult to give respect to you. When we know we deserve positive, we attract the positive.

Self love is a journey of true inner awakening and the discovery of the person you have become. Your body, mind and heart have been moulded and shaped from your experiences. Perhaps they are not in the state of being that you truly desire them to be, maybe you look in the mirror and see all those little things that you’d like to change. Maybe they are not such little things at all, but feel more like mountains to climb in an impossible journey. Yet there is something, an aspect to start falling in love with the person that you are. When you can hold onto just one piece of that love of yourself, the rest will slowly and steadily begin to form.

Even the longest journeys begin with a single step. Hopefully, this journey lasts you a lifetime.