It’s easier to love ourselves through the eyes of others. And receiving and reciprocating this love is important to living a fulfilled life. But if loving ourselves is completely dependent on others loving us first, this is a slippery slope into co-dependence. Where we fear losing others since our love for ourselves will go with them if we do. But when we can reach a place of true and unwavering love for ourselves, we can feel safer in all our relationships and life circumstances because we know we’ll be ok no matter the happens.
The first step in the path to self-love is to identify the parts within you that do love yourself and those that do not support this. We all have various parts within us that create who we are. From parts that are in charge of beating our hearts to parts that are in charge of keeping us safe.
Internally, we are a dynamic cast of parts that create the complex beings of who we are. When our internal parts disagree – the inner self-love and inner critic, for example, this results in inner conflict. Often these loops of conflict run deep in our subconscious mind to sustain our loyalties to ancestral entanglements or are habituated patterns locked down during childhood.
A great way to uncover these internal conflicts is to listen to our inner dialogue. How do you talk to yourself? Spend the day really listening to what you say to yourself. I guarantee you the world is not judging you as harshly as you are judging yourself.
It’s important to note that our goal here is not to bind and gag our inner critic while forcing it out the door. Excluding anything like this will only create more of it for growth. We want to honour what our inner critic is trying to tell us, even if it isn’t in the most productive way.
Here’s the thing, your inner critic is trying to bring your attention to a need that is not being met. Notice the inner critic and bring that complaint back to a more resourceful place by asking ‘What do I need right now’. You’ll get valuable information about what you can do to support yourself and release the need for your inner critic to poke at you about it.
A really useful exercise to help quiet the inner critic and build more self-love is this. While listening to your inner dialogue, notice when you have a negative thought about yourself. Take a pause and now come up with at least 2 positive statements.
Acknowledging your negative self-talk can be challenging, but stay with it. At first, it might take time to counter with 2 positive statements. Stay with it. Eventually, you will create a list of self-compliments, self-pride, and self-love that can be used when you feel stuck.
Since it takes 21 days to make a new habit, I recommend doing this exercise for at least 2 rounds of 21 days. It gets easier the more you do it and can be a life-changing experience for accessing and building self-love from an internal dialogue perspective.
Once your mind is supporting positive and loving thoughts about yourself, the next step is to put that into action. Do this by making self-care part of your daily routine.
Notice if any negative thoughts came up for you when I said that. Like, I don’t have time for that or that would be selfish. After addressing that thought with two positives, something like: I deserve to take time for self-care today & I must take care of myself first to best serve others & Because I love myself, I will take time for self-care today, I love myself enough to commit to daily self-care. Or whatever works best for you.
These can be small gestures like taking time to consciously enjoy your favourite cup of tea or coffee, pausing to take 10 deep breaths throughout the day, or appreciating the beauty of nature each day. Yoga or meditation, if even for a few minutes a day, is a great way to give yourself the gift of self-care. Exercising is also an act of self-care from gentle walking to athletic training.
The good news is that you are most likely already doing this, so notice these actions and build on them. Committing to creating your own happiness through acts of self-care is essential to sustain self-love over time.
If you feel it is selfish to do this, remember that the definition of selfish is doing something without thinking of others. So, be mindful to practice this from the place of knowing that by taking care of yourself, you are taking the best care possible of others too. You can’t give from an empty tank, or as the airlines tell us every time we fly we must put our O2 mask on first before helping others since we’re no good to others if we’ve passed out.
Now that you can notice self-love and support it through your thoughts and actions, the next step is to keep your self-love tank full. This is done by knowing what your language of love is and making sure you keep yourself in an abundant supply.
Your language of love is what is most important to you to know you are loved. I always work with these in relationship sessions, but working with your relationship with yourself is equally as powerful. Languages of love can be things like words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, spending quality time and physical touch.
Knowing which of these you value most can help inform your self-care practice. The idea is to practice these regularly and often, to keep your self-love tank full. So that in moments of crisis, you feel safe and loved which will help you through it more easily.
By practising these steps in your daily life, you will notice a deeper appreciation for who you are and love yourself more fully. It is from this place we draw in loving relationships and situations that mirror our own self-love. This also has the power to change the world, embodying greater self-love and joining with those like you will elevate our collective conscience energies so that all things can be loved, loving and loveable
Now let’s do a meditation that will activate self-love for your past, present and future selves.
Ready to Open Up Your Ability to Love Yourself and Activate Self-Love Across Your Timeline to Unite Your Past, Present and Future Selves in the Flow of Self-Love?
Close your eyes, relax, and let your breath flow naturally.
Take 3 long slow deep breaths and feel yourself relax and become fully present.
Self-Love Timeline Meditation:
Locate yourself and breathe your presence into this moment.
Think of an achievement that you have recently accomplished, one that you feel the benefits of in this present moment. Take a moment to feel self-love for what you have accomplished as you feel into the positive state you have achieved.
Now, with this positive feeling add to it gratitude for the past version of you that put in the work to get here.
Staying fully present here at this moment, see a picture of the past versions of you on your timeline who created this for you. Feel gratitude for those past versions of yourself. Feel love. Sense compassion for all they went through to get you into this positive place you are today.
Step back into that past version of yourself to see the present version of yourself. Allow the past self to say to the present self “I’m this because I love you and I want you to be happy.”
Step back fully into your present self to receive and reciprocate this love.
Now, fully embodied in your present-day self, today years old, feel the support and love of your past selves you just activated.
Think of a current goal you have that you are working towards.
Create a picture of a future version of you that has achieved this goal. What are they thinking, feeling, and doing? What are their surroundings? Step into that future version of you to get a sense of what it will be like when you’ve accomplished your goal. Look back at your present self from your future self-position and send love, gratitude and compassion.
Return to your present self with a wiggle of the fingers and toes and 3 deep breaths. Keeping your eyes open will help get you fully back at this moment if needed.
Now, look at that future self version of yourself. Know that you are walking the path you are now out of love.
What can you do now in the present that will pay it forward to your future self?
Feel the love behind paying this gift forward. Feel appreciation for your past self to have paved the way to be here. Feel love for your present self for being a kind and caring person working hard to make the best outcome for your future self.
Consciously connect the flow of love from your past, present and future selves. Let it flow like a figure of 8 or an infinity sign, using your present self as the centre point. Drop into your heart and let the self-love flow.
Now as you walk through your life, keep this flow going by regularly taking time to thank your past self when you achieve a goal and by regularly paying a gift forward to your future self out of love.