Self-love, Starting From Scratch - Some Practical Tricks
As someone whose self-love journey began at a place where I hated myself so much a didn’t want to keep living, and ended (or continues today) at a place where I love myself and my life so much I never want to die, I feel I’ve done a nice and extreme version of this story, now well-placed to share some tricks that worked for me, and might make it an easier, faster road for someone else. My opinion these days, is that self-love solves all the problems. And straight to the practical magic; here are the ways I recommend starting (if you can’t imagine loving yourself) and ways to continue progressing if you can already live with yourself but know you need more healing.
1. Saying “I love you” to yourself in the mirror. This can be real, real hard, especially if you don’t like yourself or your body etc. but expect tears to flow once you really start doing this, they represent the change in your physical chemistry that results from the practice. Get yourself alone, and look in the mirror, and even though you may not believe what you’re saying or feel connected to it at all, just say to yourself, without any reason needed to start out; “I love you”. As you continue doing this, you will feel the changes, and the more difficult it is to begin (some people feel anger, sadness or even just a total inability to stay in that place) the more important it is to do it. As you try to convince yourself or practice this, start to come up with reasons why it’s true. For me this was particularly hard to do because I felt like I hated myself and my body so much at the time I began that it was either this or stop living. So, I was determined, even though it felt stupid and painful and like nothing was happening, I knew I needed to just do it and do it and do it. I said to the woman in the mirror; “I love you, because no one else can love you if I don’t, and because you deserved love when you were a baby and you must also deserve it now. You’re me, and it’s my job to love you before it’s anyone else’s job. I owe you love, and I won’t let you down. I love you Holly, I love you.” I still get a full-body shiver replaying this memory because it was and is a powerful exercise. It should come to be the case that any time you look in the mirror, or catch your reflection in passing, your instinct is to kindness instead of being mean or harsh, to be kind to this person you are, whether it’s because you know it enables you to be kind to others, or just because you want life to not be uncomfortable.
2. How to love your body if you don’t love your body. There will be memories you have maybe of times in your life when you loved your body, or people you know who sort of exemplify this energy in their lives. Copy them and copy any memory of feeling you have about this. Maybe after you gave birth to children earlier in life you realised your body was miraculous for being able to do that. Maybe you can appreciate that it carries you around all day even when you hate on it constantly. It serves you and allows you to, if nothing else, breathe and exist and have a consciousness of your own. It’s YOUR body and perhaps you realise that it’s your duty to love it first, since no one else has time for that to be their key focus, only you do. And it belongs to you, it helps you achieve every great thing you’ve ever done. You might not love your skin but find ways in which you do, like in the fact that it holds all your insides in, and feels good in warm water and tells you when you’re cold etc.
3. Antidote judgmental thoughts. I found it helpful to be careful not to judge others because it reflected a judgemental nature, I was also treating myself with. When I walked along the street, I would hear in my mind thoughts of critical and cruel analysis of people’s bodies and outfits or hair styles or behaviours. It disgusted me that I had this pattern, but I was a child starting learning like anyone else and took compassion but also a firm hand in directing myself to be better than that. So, whenever I thought something unkind of someone I saw, I would immediately antidote that thought with another one of better focus. For example, if I thought “she’s overweight” I would catch the thought and say “No, how do I know what is right or wrong in body-weight? What do I like about this person’s body?” And it could be anything that I came up with next, but it had to be appreciative and loving. Like; “Their hair is long and healthy looking, I’d love having hair that shiny and healthy.” If I saw someone and was judgmental in my thinking regarding their clothes, I would ask myself without delay, “What do I like about their outfit?” And perhaps say then “The colours are beautiful”, or “That scarf is very stylish and a gorgeously textured fabric”. This is a version of the mirror work above, but applied to ourselves through mindfulness when in our environment, with the understanding that how we treat ourselves and how we treat others is indivisible. The people around you are just another mirror, so look kindly.
4. Remembering you were a baby once. I briefly lend to this at the first trick in this list as well, but it’s a great trick if you find it easy to be kind and allowing toward the beings off small children and babies, but not yourself. If it works well for you with animals and pets, then by all means, reframe this exercise through that lens. Think if the love you believe your young niece or nephew deserve, for example, or any new person to the world whom you know. Contemplate the fact that they do not deserve perfect love for any particular reason, just for being exactly as they are, and when they grow up it will be no different, just as it is no different for you. The animals around you may inspire in you the same unconditional love we’re going for here, one that doesn’t require any changes be made. So whatever works, do that.
5. There are no excuses. If there was ever a time to be cutthroat, it’s with self-hate. Be kind and loving with yourself and work hard for it, you’re worth it (and whether you feel that way or not yet, so are the people in your life and the potentials you came here to express). Get ruthless about loving yourself, even if it feels silly or pointless, trust me please, it’s not; it’s a game-changer. When you are the least loveable, love yourself harder. Be determined, be faithful, knowing it’s the least you can do, and the only thing you need to.
6. Water. You’re mostly water, right? So how do you feel about water? It’s not difficult for most people to begin working on a better relationship with water, and this only has beneficial results for you, being mostly water, and needing it in higher amounts each day than many of us consume. So, here’s the practice; acknowledge that you are water, acknowledge the clarity, purity and loving nature of water in whatever form it is, and say thank you, because it gives you life, makes you glow, holds you together and lets your brain function as it should. Dehydration is the first and worst thing that can happen to you, so get out in front, start loving water and make that one of your favourite relationships, it is after all, a relationship with you, the Earth and life itself.
7. Ever sung along to a love song, or sung one to a loved one? Picking a beautiful Adele song, about loving someone and singing it to yourself, is a powerful way to get the message into your subconscious. It’s often easier for those of us who deny themselves love, to practice love directed at others. Start using that focus to heal your relationship with you, by just flipping it back on yourself. Mimic the way you feel while singing a beautiful poem of romance to another, or to God, or whatever works for you in order to engage this unconditional and passionate emotional experience, and channel that energy right back at the one who needs it the most if you haven’t be giving it to yourself, you. It doesn’t matter at all what song you pick, but you should feel in love when you sing it.
My real-life experience was that I didn’t love myself to start with, and had no good reasons to. But by the end of the journey, certainly where I am today, I keep finding myself saying… wow, I actually really do love myself, I actually really do love being me and being alive. These days people say, oh its just Holly’s genetics, she was born this way, but I know better, and I want to tell people.
Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, literally, so start beholding your beauty. It’s hard to explain, but you get more beautiful once you start this practice, your body changes, your habits and life change without any effort. But it starts with how you look at, speak to and generally treat yourself. Be kind, go forth and be beautiful, by loving yourself first.