The notion of self-love may seem simple or self-evident. But sometimes it can be hard to grasp and even harder to put into practice, especially given the past year.
Self-love isn’t something we buy. It’s not something we cross off a list. It’s not always easy to find, and should we find it, it isn’t necessarily permanent. Like other worthwhile habits, self-love is a continual practice. And self-care is one way we practice and cultivate self-love.
Think of self-care as a seed and self-love as a plant. At this time of year, plants are seeded in the warmth of the indoors, nurtured with light and water to grow into fruit bearing healthy plants. In the proper conditions (self-care), the wonderful, explosive purpose and potential of the seed is realized as it becomes a strong, healthy plant (self-love). We cannot see the powerful potential of that seed, yet we know it to be there. What would happen if we cared for and nurtured ourselves in the same way, knowing the potential that lies within each of us?
With self-care, we can unleash what is hidden inside. With practice, we can love ourselves so well that love grows and overflows to nourish ourselves and others. As we emerge into the warmth of spring, more aware than ever before, let’s ponder in amazement our own inner seeds—seeds that may have been dormant as we quarantined for a year. How do we best nourish them? How do we cultivate them to have more love for ourselves and the world?
Self-care consists of purposeful actions taken to improve or preserve the health of our body, mind, and soul. Some of these actions include things like exercise, laughter, meditation, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, appreciation, gratitude, and so on. The intent we bring to moments of self-care can take them from being routine actions to life-affirming ones. With the right awareness, these simple moments can be transformative.
Often, however, we may find our self-care is driven more by how others may perceive us than from how we want to feel about ourselves. Have you ever started a new exercise routine or hung out with certain people because of the need to “look good” to others? If your self-care practices are motivated by a need to manage the perception of what others think of you, this may not be self-care. Think about the actions you do for you. Which ones feel like obligations? Which ones feel in alignment with who you are? Which allow you to feel alive, loved, energized and self-respected?
When we’re motivated more by what others think of us—and less by what we really need—our attempts at self-care get sidetracked. We lose sight of ourselves and forget to nourish ourselves for the right reasons. But here’s the thing: we cannot control how others perceive us. No matter what we do, we can’t control how others think of us.
Fritz Perls, the father of the Gestalt therapeutic method, says, “I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations. And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.”
When we root self-care in a place inspired by and just for us, we will feel the difference. There is a sense of “there I am”, a sense of self. We may feel energized or peaceful. Like anything is possible. When we nourish ourselves in this way, something amazing happens—our energy surges; our minds are clearer; we feel more inspired to act for the greater good. With practice, we begin to thrive.
This month, let’s nourish our inner seeds in ways that are rooted in pure intentions and the motivation to really care for ourselves. By increasing love for self, we find the clearest path to our better selves and a better world.
With lots of love,
1. It is vital in our path to self-love that we get acquainted with what our own bodies, minds, and souls need to feel renewed. I’ve learned over the years that one of the simplest ways to achieve this is through laughter. So, this month, I encourage you to do things that make you laugh! Remind yourself to loosen up every now and then. After all, laughter regulates blood pressure, reduces the effects of stress, helps boost the immune system, and it can add up to 8 years on your life! Check out the articles below to learn more about the benefits of “having a laugh.”
• Amazing Ways Laughter Improves Your Heart: https://blog.providence.org/archive/amazing-ways-laughter-improves-your-heart-health
• How Laughter Will Change Your Life: https://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/how-laughter-will-change-your-life.aspx
2. Sometimes we’re in the unconscious habit of being busy, or giving ourselves away, or managing the perceptions of others rather than being alive to own needs in our own moments. Here is a simple step to know if you are cultivating your sense of self-love or a habit of self-sabotage. Ask yourself, what is motivating your actions? Is it about nourishing or reenergizing you? Something you should do or get to do? Or is it about what others think of you? This simple awareness can create a new path of self-care.