5 Practices of Self-Love
Somewhere along the way someone may have told you weren't good enough and if they didn't come right out and say it, you may have perceived the situation as such. At one point or another you may not have received what you wanted and you might have made the conclusion that you didn't deserve it.
Over time not having our needs and wants met can lead us to anticipate disappointment. We may start to hold back on asking for things or not doing the things we want, out of fear of failure or expecting loved ones to always let us down.
These perceptions can create an inner dialog that governs our actions and reactions.
We are always thinking. There is a constant narrative playing in our heads.
What is yours saying?
Actions and reactions based on insecurity and self doubt often come from this inner dialog when it's not being supportive. We may think "nothing ever goes my way", that in itself can be a negative narrative and could more than likely provide you more circumstance to make you believe you are right in thinking that.
Have you ever purchased a car that you had rarely seen before and then all off a sudden it's like everyone in your city is driving that same car/same colour?
It's kinda like that, if a thought is on your mind then you will see it everywhere. So let's work on creating thoughts that support us. If you think something negative about yourself often enough, you will probably only see things around you that support that thought.
And I personally don't want to support those kind of thoughts, they aren't real.
Changing our inner dialog of negative thoughts isn't as easy as just saying we will do so. We need to not only replace them with positive thoughts but build positive beliefs, that will stand up for us in difficult situations or when we are feeling crumby.
There are 4 basic human needs- Attention, Affection, Appreciation and Acceptance.
If you think back on a time you have been upset by something, more than likely not having one of these needs met will be at the root of it.
Through Ayurveda I have learned various practices, many of which I do every day. I have compiled a list of a few practices that will help you meet the above needs for yourself, without the need for anyone else.
These practices reinforce reliance in yourself and also promote building a positive inner dialog.
I found that by doing these exercises I started to believe in myself, love myself and stand up for myself. It's amazing to have supportive partners, family and friends but when you can really be there for yourself, push yourself in a positive way towards your goals, there's nothing quite like it.
1. Gratitude journal-
Buy yourself a journal. Have fun doing it, pick one out that you love. Maybe it's the cover photo, the quote on the front or the leather binding. Use this journal only for positive gratitude.
Each night once you are ready for bed (make this the last thing you do before lights out)
Write at the top: Gratitude, Date
ex. Gratitude -Thursday, December 1st,
Then list in point form things you are grateful for:
- I am grateful for my family
- I am grateful I am doing this for myself
- I am grateful for...
(featured in photo: 7 Spiritual Laws of Yoga Guidebook by Deepak Chopra and The Chopra Center, Invigorating Abhy Oil)
There may be some nights when you are getting into
bed and you think, I have no idea what I'll be grateful for today.
Do it any way.
I promise something will come. You have had happy in your life, start there and the rest will flow.
Write as many as you want but try to keep it to 5-10 to start.
Allow yourself nights you only write a few, there is no judgement or expectation.
You are bringing attention to the positive aspects of yourself and your life.
You are setting yourself up for a better nights sleep by ending the day on a good note.
You are training yourself to appreciate these moments as they come in the future. You'll notice yourself smiling at simple pleasures and moments in your day as they come, rather than only things that aren't going right... and you can write about them later.
2. Set up a romantic setting... for yourself
If you are going to be hanging out at home after the kids go to bed/ watching tv/ reading/ whatever you are doing at the end of your day, don't just do it and let time fly by. Make it worth it!
This is a big one for me. I noticed myself puttering around, busy at home, watching whatever on tv and then lights out. It's like my nights at home, weren't an event or something to be appreciated on their own. They were just happening day after day and I didn't pay attention to the quality of them.
Now when I'm home, there's quality in that and I love it! Even if I'm puttering around, it looks pretty and it's a comforting place to be. I notice now, I can stop, look around and appreciate and I've created that for myself.
We tend to prep our homes to entertain or impress others. Why not be your own host, in your own home.
I'm single but this is so important for any one to do for themselves. Don't wait for romance to be displayed before you, create it yourself. You deserve it.
-Light candles, lots of them
-Have a glass of wine
-Turn down the lights
-Have a candlelit bath, with bubbles or salts- It's nice to have the bath early enough that you can enjoy the relaxing feelings for the remainder of your night rather than rushing off to bed
-Give yourself a nice oil massage after you get out of the bath
-Play your favourite music, dance or sing if you want to
-Sit an area of your home you don't normally find yourself and enjoy this new space
I have a softly lit lamp in my apartment, it's usually the only light I have on. I light candles almost as soon as I come in the door. It's amazing what this atmosphere can do.
Imagine someone you loved had all of the above set up for you at the end of your day? How amazing would you feel? You would feel appreciation, affection, attention and acceptance. You would feel they have all of the above for you and you would feel it for them in return.
Now show love to yourself in the same way, fulfill all these needs yourself and then write in your gratitude journal about how much you appreciate yourself for the self care you give!
3. Abhyanga- Oil Massage
Touch is fundamental to Health and Wellbeing. The sense of touch can evoke powerful emotional and psychological healing responses.
The skin is the largest organ in the body. It's rich with nerve receptors, neurochemicals and immune modulators. Peptides related to antidepressants can be found in the skin, which may explain why massage often induces an elevated mood.
We often become reliant on the touch or affection of others. Whether we have a partner or not, it's still important to not become dependant on the other to be our only source of this affection. If we can give ourselves attention and affection it will greatly effect the wellbeing of our relationship not only with ourselves but strengthen the bonds we have with our loved one as well.
I do my massage in the morning prior to meditation. If you are new to meditation this is great way to start getting into your practice.
Sometimes I do a massage in the evening, if I feel like I need to relax myself in order to get a restful sleep.
Click here for How to Give Yourself a Abhyanga Massage -article by The Chopra Center
Attention, Affection, Appreciation and Acceptance.
Acceptance? What ever comes up for you in this time, allow it.
You may feel, sexy and desirable. Touch can do that, smile at the fact you didn't need someone else to make you feel wanted. Allow yourself to feel all of these wonderful feelings about yourself.
You may feel sad because you don't have someone giving you affection (whether you are single or you and your partner aren't connecting). It's ok, nourish yourself. Those emotions are allowed and by continuing your massage you are telling yourself, it's ok. And really all we ever want it is to be heard. Hear yourself.
That leads to...
4. Allow Your Feelings
We often discredit our feelings and tell ourselves we shouldn't be this or that. We shouldn't be mad, sad or anxious. If someone upsets us or we've had a bad day we may attempt to not over react or let things go, we don't actually allow ourselves to really process what has happened.
It's ok to be sad, angry or anxious. We don't need to take this out on other people (likely that won't get us what we want anyway) but we can recognize them privately to ourselves.
There are various ways of doing this. You can write about it or as funny as it may sound have a conversation with yourself about it.
I was once in a relationship where it was very difficult to express myself, I wasn't often met with understanding or compassion. I flip flopped between trying to keep the peace and not being able to hold it in. I wasn't good at holding it in and he wasn't emotionally capable of acknowledging my feelings or where they came from. When I did try and communicate, I walked away feeling more hurt than before and at fault for it all. So I began to bottle up and convince myself out of trusting my own emotions. I began to believe they weren't valid.
So I started validating myself.
I would write, often times on paper that would be thrown away or never looked at again, it was just to get it out. I would write why I was mad or hurt, say all the things I wasn't allowed to say to the other person. It didn't matter that this person wasn't going to hear it or see it, the act of writing it was saying it and I slowly was teaching myself I was allowed to speak.
And then I started talking...to myself.
Ya, I know... but whatever I was talking to myself anyway. I had a busy brain that was unhappy and anxious in my head, already saying things to myself that were unhealthy so I started saying things I wanted to hear that I wasn't getting.
I told myself things like,
"It's ok you feel this way"
"Of course you feel hurt because ____ happened"
"Yes, you feel sad! Oh my god, of course your effing sad/mad/hurt because..."
"I'm sorry that happened, it's ok you stayed"
"you're over reacting"
"you're too sensitive"
"it's your fault"
"I'm too this, that and oh my god, stop saying these things to yourself!"
The first time I did this, I was on a early morning hike and no one was around. I was so angry that everything that happened was being treated like it didn't happen so I decided to acknowledge the fact that it did myself. It felt so amazing to finally have my feelings heard and my needs met and it didn't matter that I had to do that for myself...actually it was very eye opening that I could do that for myself at all.
If you are in a place where someone isn't meeting your emotional needs, whether that be with a family member, a partner or someone you work with. Imagine what you want/need to hear from them and say it to yourself.
It's incredibly healing and empowering. And the best part is, over time that loving voice comes in more often when you aren't even trying and you start to snuff out negative one when it comes around. You notice the bad voice in your head and can start to laugh at it and prove it wrong!
Just telling yourself to get over something doesn't work, even if you are able to forget about it temporarily. Often times it's just pushed down and comes out bigger and louder the next time you are triggered. Allowing yourself to feel and deal in the moment gives you the space you need for it to move through you and out of you. Get rid of it!
The thought of affirmations was not something I easily entertained. It seemed pointless, a bit silly to me and something I would have been embarassed to even try. I guess I just imagined saying all these sweet things to myself and it just seemed so ridiculous.
My therapist at one point suggested I try it. I said I would try, didn't really expect myself to get into it and then I walked away with a list he gave me of prewritten affirmations. I looked at the list and not only did I not want to do it, I looked at the list and it made me uncomfortable because I couldn't say those things honestly. I picked out a few that I did believe to be true or some I wanted that weren't far from my reach but there were many I couldn't say and that made me sad.
I told him about this, got the impression it was a common uncomfortable place for people and he told me to "fake it until I make it". So I did.
I found that not only could I say them and started to believe them, I again was training my mind to shut down the opposite thoughts. When negative, limiting beliefs happened I started noticing them. I think they were always there, I just didn't notice them. I had so many positive thoughts now, that they stood out like a sore thumb and I could recognize they weren't true. I started to believe in myself and believe I could go for the things I wanted without fear.
At the back of my gratitude journal, I wrote a list of intentions, goals, positive things I saw or wanted to see in myself. Now when I do my morning oil massage, I go through my affirmations and really lay on the love!