loving yourself

What is the practice of self-love?

Self-love is not about affirmations or proclamations. It’s not about pretending to be happy, going to the gym, doing yoga, or eating a vegan diet. It is a practice; a difficult, often scary, daily mental exercise that you can do sitting on your couch. It’s more important than anything else you do, any day of the week. If you don’t practice self-love, then you don’t have any love to give anyone else in your life.

It’s about looking inward and getting in touch with your vulnerabilities; your darkest, most terrifying thoughts. It’s about being gentle and compassionate with your screaming inner child. It’s honoring your authentic self, and listening for the divine wisdom of your intuition. It’s learning to say yes to what your heart asks of you; and learning to say no to anything that goes against your truth.

The relationship you build with yourself through this practice is the most important relationship you will ever have. Cherish it.

I am responsible for what I say. But I am not responsible for what you hear.

This is one of my favorite quotes by don Miguel Ruiz. It is such a profound piece of wisdom. When you “get” what this really means, it has the power to transform your life entirely. I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately.

Try as we might, we cannot control what other people think of us. We all want to be thought of as “good” people, but the reality is that everyone hears, sees, and judges others through their own filters in the mind. People make assumptions and judgments based on what they believe about themselves and their own realities. There is very little you can do about that in relation to another person.

When you realize this, you stop trying so hard to affect what others think of you. You just do and say whatever is in your own integrity, guided by your own truths. And how people react is entirely their business. Let them have their reactions. When you stop seeking love and approval outside yourself, you can experience the incredible joy of real freedom.

Honesty, instead of eggshells.

This is a difficult one. It sounds easy, but it’s really not. Just be honest. Just tell the truth. The truth will set you free. How many times have you heard these words? And yet, it’s such a struggle for so many people. This lesson has appeared several times in the last few weeks. It has tested my strength and courage; but when I stepped up to meet the challenge instead of hiding from the truth, it left me feeling absolutely magical.

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To look for truth, and to be honest, is terrifying. Forget big universal truths; I’m talking about little truths, personal truths. We are afraid to look inward, and to be honest with ourselves. And even if we are courageous enough to do that, then we are so concerned with the feelings of others, that we are afraid to share our truths with them. We punish ourselves with all sorts of guilt for causing someone emotional pain, when we really have no idea how they will feel if we’re honest. We jump through crazy ridiculous hoops, all because we want to avoid the turmoil of emotional pain (theirs and ours). Being honest and being kind are not mutually exclusive. You can and should deliver your truth without blame or judgment, but definitely with kindness. It just takes a little practice.

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What does it really mean to love yourself?

How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted life: loving ourselves.

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Every article, every self help guide, every book on relationships, tells us the same thing – learn to love yourself first! But what does that really mean? How do you actually love yourself? How do you get to that place where you’re not just repeating silly affirmations, but you genuinely feel feelings of love for you, within your body?

It’s a three step process.  (more…)