How to practice self love and care
In some ways self-development and self-worth publications seem to pop up with the similar regularity as the latest diet or exercise programs do.
As a result, it can be easy to ignore the importance of things such as self-love and discard all those unread books, etc. when your next list of New Year Resolutions are being locked in.
As a result of this inaction, or perhaps an apathy towards change, it is often easier to just plod along in life the same way as always.
Included in that situation is a huge list of negativities, excuses, toxic self-talk that all continue the downwards spiral rather than being guided towards more positive change.
From people I have spoken with it appears that along this path we call “life” that even talking about “self-love” has become muddied; almost to the point that they think it too is a negative concept.
For some people they have become confused about what self-love actually is; instead thinking it is about being superior to others or “up themselves”.
Put simply, it’s not. One of the best ways to explain what self-love is involves keeping it simple.
Self-love is about acceptance in all its shapes, sizes, colours, beliefs, etc.
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In researching for this Blog I came across this awesome self love speech by Becca Lee.
I am still learning.
There are days when I forget how to love myself –
times that I give in to negativity
and allow doubt to overshadow my dreams.
I am guilty of speaking unkindly to my body.
Hiding my face beneath a false mask of pretty,
and trying to change the truths of my heart.
But I can forgive myself,
and that is what makes it okay.
I have many mistakes to make and I am still learning.
I think that the sentiments in Becca’s poem hit the nail on the head. It’s okay to make mistakes.
It’s also okay to forgive; in fact, it is the key to moving forwards. You should never think that your life has to be a series of apologies because of not being what you, or society in general deems as being “perfect”.
If you want change then you have to be able to recognize, then accept mistakes so that by forgiving yourself you can truly start learning to self-love yourself.
Forgiveness is a far more powerful tool and trait than making an apology (often for things that don’t need one).
Self love, self care, self acceptance – What self-love is and isn’t
Self-love is not the same as self-esteem or self-confidence. Yes, there are some elements that crossover but self-love is something powerful in its own right.
Often things such as self-confidence or self-esteem are used to being part of what was propelling us to achieve “things”, often of a more status-oriented or materialistic way.
As we have already discussed in Section One, self-love is much more about acceptance, no matter whether what propelled that process; whether seen as “good or bad”.
Mistakes are okay, but they are also not things general mentioned in the same breath as self-confidence or self-esteem.
Throughout childhood we accepted many things such as what to do and what not to do by our parents, siblings, teachers, etc.
That “acceptance” meant that it could be misinterpreted that we agreed and liked particular things just because we were good at those things.
As a result, we were often made to do those things over and over and were basically being punished to do things just because we were good at them.
In that last example what we were really doing was self-acceptance. We were accepting that we could not change the situation, so acceptance was a part of our survival skills, hence the title self love, self care, self acceptance.
It has been suggested that as humans what we do is practice self-acceptance when we have already worked our way up through tolerating something, then progressing through a lowered impression of our self-worth and through self-hatred.
There is a respected professor and activist called Angela Davis who had this to say; “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
This is a very healthy assessment to have and a good basis for change to work towards Self-love.
Every single one of us has our own private opinion of our body shape and size but how many of us truly embrace ourselves the way we are?
Sometimes we just ignore the topic; or have a series of rehearsed lines or sayings; we even have our own jokes based on some or all of our body parts and use that as a mask of humour to hide behind.
How often though are their sad or negative thoughts we keep within?
The true basis for moving forward with a healthy outlook on life is to turn how to self-love. We have already discussed how forgiveness is there as the first building block towards that better life.
Mistakes happen, but don’t allow resistance to change and “voices inside your head” make you want to give up just because you make mistakes.
I always think it’s a good idea to look back on life from infancy forward; not just our adult life. Look at how a baby arrives in this world, defenseless, unable to talk, totally dependent on parents for food, bathing, clothing, etc.
As they grow there are milestones along the way such as smiling, crawling and walking, talking, even tantrum throwing. As parents we read them story’s (often the same one night after night and laugh inside when they know we have skipped a page).
We also encourage them to swim, sing, draw and colour in, play an instrument, make mud pies, etc. We give them guidelines to follow, yet at the same time we are trying to foster creativity and individuality within in them.
Why is it then that after 5 years of encouraging each of those things we send them off to school where suddenly all the class has to do the same thing at the exact same time?
In some instances, the children are required to wear a uniform; so once again we dilute that creativity and individuality. Is it any wonder that kids suddenly become confused, fearful of change, fearful of mistakes and unsure of where they now fit in.
A child arrives on this planet surrounded by Love and their responses show that.
However, they too get confused further with how parents change when the child starts school; being told off for not getting ready for school quicker, how we look, how clean we are, that homework was done, etc.
Are all these things enough to confuse a child that the love of parents has changed.
Maybe Yes, maybe No but it has to have some effect when everything they do now has a “Pass” or a “Fail” (Mistake moments creeping in) that they no longer understand.
Children can be cruel too; and suddenly they are mixing in a new environment and with many new faces of children that they don’t know.
Their bodies are growing fast (or in some cases they are smaller than classmates). Most children put on weight before a growth spurt but suddenly body image has an almost war-like aspect to it; children being teased and even abused because they look different to the perceived “Normal”.
All of these things contribute to lowered self-esteem and self-confidence.
Instead, how wonderful would it be that all body shapes, sizes, skin colours, hair colours and disabilities could be accepted as being “Normal”; because that’s exactly what they are.
Then we would at last have a good, healthy, solid basis for self-love to grow in everyone.
In late 2019 US Actor Keanu Reeves was seen in public with his partner Alexandra Grant, who in her mid-40’s was appearing on the Red Carpet with Grey hair.
The internet went wild with a large number of people offering their positive comments but a significant number with negative feedback.
Surely, she shouldn’t have to seek either form of comment; it is her body after all and she was clearly comfortable with how she looked; as was her partner.
This was a great example of a woman in the modern world who was showing her self-love and someone who is successful in her own right; something missing from many of the media reports.
Just remember though that “Normal” is not a stationary goal and we have to keep moving with it; often in a confused way where it is easy to become uninspired and tired. Life is like that but you have to keep strong.
Where to next after accepting forgiveness into your life?
Hopefully at this stage you are at the point of at least being willing to forgive;
Previous issues you had with your body.
That you didn’t understand why you felt the way you did; and that’s okay.
That you are different from other people, just as they feel that way themselves. It’s okay to be different.
As a part down and thinking about life up until now, you may also have reached the realization that you were self-sabotaging any previous attempts to change your life.
This is very common and is simply fear of change rearing its ugly head. Sometimes we are so frightened of change that at least the current way of life is familiar and therefore we hold on to that rather than changing. “Better the devil you know” as the saying goes.
I counter this by a simple saying a previous boss used to say, over and over with staff:
It’s amazing how successful you can be at change if you push yourself, and simple sayings like the above are ideal as they are short, easily remembered and something you can say as a mantra to yourself.
To focus on self love, self care, self acceptance, limit your media and social media intake
Have you ever stopped to count how many toxic messages you are bombarded with each day; from body image, keeping up with fashion trends, join a gym to get that perfect body, choosing Product A or Service A as the ones you have are insufficient.
What happens is that we are getting so many toxic messages that they become a negative reinforcement that far outnumbers the positive messages you are trying to use in your change process.
By limiting that toxic overload from various forms of media you are already making a positive change.
Be compassionate to yourself and focus on self love, self care, self acceptance. You have put yourself through a lot in life and now you are putting yourself through a massive change process.
You won’t get everything right how you want it the first time. Remember, that’s okay; mistakes are okay.
Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me.
Firstly, lets talk about sexuality. Is your sexuality something that is known by your nearest and dearest family and friends? In this day and age, it makes very little difference to most people.
If it does make a difference, then perhaps they don’t deserve to be in your life anyway. It should make absolutely no difference to other people what your sexuality is.
However, perhaps you have been holding back from sharing that with other people out of fear of how people would react. You need to get this one off your back as it will be holding you back otherwise.
Put simply, are you getting enough sex?
Are you even having any sex at all? If the answer to those two questions is “No”, the odds are you have been consulting with that big volume of negative self-talk you have been carrying around with you for years.
The odds are that you have been using all those body image comments, and many other things from that plethora of negative comments and excuses you have been using through life as a way of not confronting change.
The time has come to use that compassion on yourself, in such a way that you recognize that you are worthy of having someone special in your life; you are worthy of having sex.
Perhaps it has been so long since you had any sex that you are frightened and nervous about being nude with another person, let alone actually engaging in any sexual activity with them.
What you need to consider is that there are a huge number of adult sex toys and games in the market, so why not buy yourself a few items and practice playing with them by yourself to start with.
Don’t be nervous about going into a sex shop in a seedy part of town, you can buy everything online, discreetly, delivered to your door in unassuming looking packaging.
You will be amazed how much sex plays a part in your emotional growth, especially on that journey towards a healthy level of self-love.
I think that the best way of finishing this article is to go right back to the top and re-read that amazing poem by Becca Lee. She really does hit the mark in relation to what self-love is all about.
If you deny yourself that shot at self-love now when are you going to do something about it? Clearly however life has been led up until now is not entirely working for you.
It only takes a little bravery to start that change process, so give it a go and write to us and let us know how you get on. We love to hear back from our readers.
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