The Journey to Self Love
The journey to self love can be a hard winding road. At times you might think you’re on the right path. At other times you might put yourself outside your comfort zone. Or maybe you make a mistake at work or in a relationship. Suddenly out of nowhere your inner critic rears it’s ugly head. Slinging insults at you. At times like this it may feel like a journey to self love is pointless, something that will never happen.
You might know you want to extend more love and kindness to yourself, but don’t know how. I’ve outlined 5 tips to help you on your journey to self love.
Tip 1: Make room for your inner critic – it’s not going anywhere
This might not make sense at first… maybe you are hoping that self love will make the critic go away. I get it, I want that too… however looking at your experiences has that ever happened? You may have tried fighting or ignoring the critic. But did it ever make the critic go away for good? I know from my experience that has never been the case.
Another option is to make room for our inner critics and even extend some warmth and kindness to them. One way to do this is to imagine your inner critic like a character, what would it look like? What does it say to you? Try naming it something light hearted.
Next, and this can be a hard one, ask yourself how this inner critic might be trying to protect you? Is it trying to keep you safe, protect you from getting hurt, making a mistake, or being rejected? Even though it is going about it in an unhelpful way, does it have a good intention for you?
Tip 2: Focus on actions, instead of feelings
On our journey to self love we can get very focused on how we want to feel. I want to feel happy, warm, and I want this sadness / fear / guilt / shame to go away. It makes perfect sense, who would want to feel those things?
The trouble is, we don’t have a lot of control over what feelings show up in a given moment. What we do have control over is how we respond to those feelings with they show up… i.e. our actions.
For a moment I want you to imagine someone you love like crazy. Try to really picture their face… close your eyes for a moment and try to settle in that space. Notice the warmth and kindness that shows up as you think of that person…. Now what if you were someone you loved like crazy? How would you treat that person when they failed, or made a mistake? What would you do to care for them daily? Where would you take them, what would you have them do?
Notice all these questions are getting at actions. I believe this is the heart of a journey to self love. It all starts with the question: how would I care for myself right now in this moment if I were someone I loved like crazy?
Tip 3: Start small, go slow
Perhaps these questions above have brought up some answers for you. I’d go to the gym 5 days a week, eat healthy every day, give up alcohol, start meditating, take up yoga, etc. etc.
It can be so easy to jump into something new, and demand perfection from ourselves. I know when I’ve done this to myself I end up not reaching any goals, and give up completely.
That’s why tip 3 is start small and go slow. Maybe today if you were caring for yourself like someone you loved you would get up out of your chair a few times and walk around. Or maybe today you would cook a meal for yourself instead of ordering take out.
Tip 4: Understand your bigger purpose
Sometimes underneath a journey to self love are other journeys we want to take. It can be useful to ask yourself what would self love allow for? What would it mean to you?
Perhaps you are waiting for self love before you take a big step in your career, or in your love life, or an adventure you always wanted to go on.
If you did love yourself like crazy, what journey would you want to go on? Could you take a small action now in line with that journey?
Tip 5: Remember it is a practice, not a destination
The journey to self love is a practice. We never reach a destination of self love. It is something that we do, not something we have or feel. We will always stray from our path to self love. Each time we notice that we have strayed we can always bring ourselves back with one small action – a soothing touch, a walk in nature, saying some kind words to ourselves.
Self-compassion is a great practice and tool for the journey. To learn more about this practice, click here.