What does self-love mean to you?
Take a moment to check in with yourself. When you hear the term ‘self-love’, what comes to your mind? What emotions are triggered? How does your body respond?
Words have great power.
I have been using the term ‘self-love’ for years now, almost every day. It appears in the posts I write, videos I record, programs I teach, and retreats I host, and I’ve come to love it!
But I know it triggers plenty of mixed feelings for many of my clients.
And working with women for over 15 years now, I can easily say this is one of the most misused and misunderstood terms I have ever come across.
Most of us have at least some negative associations with it and often we do not even realize them fully. But whether we are aware of them or not, they are the reason why we might feel mistrustful towards being appreciative and loving towards ourselves and as a result, choose to stay critical, demanding, forceful, and pushy (not to say bullying) towards ourselves instead.
So, let’s shed some light on these negative connotations and …
debunk the 3 most common myths about self-love that stop us in our attempts to become kinder, gentler, more compassionate, and truly loving towards ourselves.
Myth #1 Self-Love Is All About You.
Well, it is about you obviously, but not JUST about you.
In reality, nothing is only about you. We live surrounded by other people, things, events, situations, and circumstances.
So, self-love is always about you – in the context.
Because none of us exists out of the context – in isolation. No one is really separate, we are all connected and deeply influenced by whatever happens around us.
The most common accusation thrown against self-love is that it is selfish, vain, and narcissistic even.
And they all seem to stem from even more fundamental misconceptions. A misunderstanding that causes so much trouble in our life. A belief or even a felt sense that:
It is either me or you.
That somehow by focusing on myself and giving to myself – time, attention, love- I‘m taking something away from you.
As if, we always had to choose between ourselves and other people.
For us, highly sensitive, empathetic, and caring women- this choice always feels unfair or even impossible. And what can we do? We choose others, right?
As long as you believe – it’s either you or other people – you are at war.
You need to fight for resources – be it time, money, attention, or love.
You are better than…, you are worse than…
You need to compete, defend yourself, and attack at times.
You win or you lose.
You’re a success or a failure.
You know… the usual war staff.
True and authentic Self-Love is the way to end this war.
Because once you deeply feel, and experience that
you are OK
you are more than enough,
you have a right to be here,
you matter, just for being you
only then, you are able and happy to see that others are ok, too.
And that you are not taking anything for anybody by taking good care of yourself.
You are not a warrior, you are not a rat in a rat race, and you are not doing good to anybody by neglecting your own needs.
Myth#2 Self-love is an artificial mindset makeover – like putting a positive spin on how you see yourself.
Or, like finding a silver lining in everything. Like false positivity, that feels artificial and inauthentic.
Well, nothing can be farther from the truth.
Because true and authentic self-love is first of all about getting to know yourself.
Remember the 3 maxims inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo in Dehli? The first of them is ‘KNOW THYSELF’. We are talking about ancient Greece here. The importance of getting to know yourself has a long history!
And it is a deep, gradual, and often quite uncomfortable process. The complete opposite of artificial or fake.
It involves so much more than just your mind. It requires making peace and befriending your emotions, your memories, your life story and, of course, your body.
You need to reconnect to your whole body – as most probably you’re very used to living just above the neck.
Self-Love is about building a close, very intimate relationship with yourself. With all parts of yourself. With the whole of you!
It shows us how o overcome our tendency to avoid, hide or even cut off parts of ourselves that we don’t like, feel embarrassed or ashamed of.
Loving yourself is not about closing your eyes but about keeping your eyes open, wide open. And, at the same time, keeping them kind -no matter what you see.
It is about seeing yourself as imperfect, seeing your mistakes, your unhealthy habits, your automatic reactions, your defences, the masks you put on yourself and still holding yourself in high regard.
It means you do not fall into a puddle of contempt when you mess up – or when you look at how you messed up in the past.
It means you do not call yourself a failure even when you make the most stupid mistake.
It means you have unconditional positive regard for yourself, no matter what.
Myth#3 Loving yourself is the answer to all of your problems.
Of course, it isn’t!
You might have heard me say many times :
All you have ever wanted from life starts with Self-Love. Always.
And I do believe it’s true – we need to start with self-love. We need to start with ourselves but that is just the beginning of our journey.
Self-love gives you the best, most fundamental springboard – the foundation from which you can start to create a wholehearted life – the life that you love and feel proud of.
One of the biggest misunderstandings about self-love is that it is a kind of self–indulgence. A slippery slope into laziness and letting yourself go.
But actually, the opposite is true.
In the same way, as you need to keep your eyes wide open to see and acknowledge your imperfections, weaknesses and mistakes, you need to keep your eyes wide open to see your true power, your resources, and your gifts.
We said ‘the whole of you’ remember?
And that can be uncomfortable too.
Because so often we are used to playing small, hiding behind other people, justifying our limitations or even playing the victim, or at least staying put in our comfort zone.
But self-love comes with responsibility.
It’s your responsibility to clearly see and appreciate what you bring to the table and, as Brene Brown says, step into the arena.
Show up in your life.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Be courageous and be vulnerable.
This is what true self-love is all about.
I am sure you are much clearer now about what true and authentic self-love is and what it is not.
Now, you turn!
It’s time to let go of whatever else might be stopping you from making this most transformational shift we all need to make – not only for ourselves but also for our families, our communities and the world in general – the shift into loving yourself into a happy, meaningful and fulfilling life!
Does that resonate with you? Join us for our next 3-Day Online Self-Love Retreat and let’s create some heartwarming positive changes together!