The term self-love is being thrown round a lot in the health and wellness industry. But what does self-love actually mean?
The term self-love is a little ambiguous; we kind of know what the concept is and we think we might be practicing it, BUT if we were asked to give concrete and tangible steps on how to build self-love, could you do it?
Because of this ambiguity self-love is often over looked when people start their health and wellness journey, but it's actually self-love that's going to keep you "on track" and get you those lasting changes you long for.
Your self-love grows directly from your actions and how you treat yourself. So starting with the food you put into your body and daily movement is a great place to start.
Addressing these two factors will probably keep you busy and focused for a good few weeks, but then something usually happens - you get complacent and slip back into old habits, maybe you self-sabotage, or your inner voice continues to be self-critical (and as loud as ever) so you lose hope.
Then after a big dose of self-loathing you're back at square one - getting ready to re-commit to healthy living and hopping this time will be the time you master it!
Let me tell you, if you don't do anything different you're going to get the same result as last time!
So it's time to start cultivating some self-love in your life and creating the healthy happy life you desire.
Start practising these 5 steps to self-love and you'll start to notice yourself becoming brighter and happier.
It's time to start taking care of your basic needs: nourish yourself with nutrient rich foods that you enjoy and daily movement (even if it's a 20 minute stretch session), get a minimum of 8 hours sleep a night and make your environment a space you enjoy.
2. Have boundaries
It's time to practise saying no and getting over the fear of missing out. Setting yourself limits on how many hours your work, how many nights out you have and how many activities you get involved in is going to help you love yourself more. It's also going to free up some time for doing things that replenish you, bring you peace and feed your soul.
3. Surround yourself with love and support
Friends who take pleasure in your struggles, or encourage you to harm yourself physically or emotionally, to appease their own inner critic are not worth it. Rather surround yourself with people who support your goals and encourage you genuinely love yourself and life.
4. Take responsibility AND forgive yourself
It's important to take responsibility for your actions, but most importantly it must follow with self-forgiveness. You are human not a perfect being! This means you will make mistakes, just like everyone else. Acknowledge them as a mistake, not a failure or a downfall AND learn from them. Mistakes give you the chance to learn about yourself and grow from them.
5. Tackle automatic thoughts
Automatic thoughts fire off in your brain before you even realise it. Ever walked past a mirror and a barrage of criticism come tumbling into your mind? That's an automatic thought. The good news is you can change these by replacing them with reasonable thoughts rationalising.
Keep a diary for at least two week, note down all the negative and self-critical things you say to yourself and the situation you were in that triggered these thoughts. Next to the automatic thoughts write down what a reasonable realistic thought could have been and follow it up with a positive affirmation.
Situation: you walk past the mirror
Automatic thought: how could anyone love me when I look like this?
Reasonable thought: even though I am not incredibly toned, nevertheless I am loveable
Affirmation: I love and respect myself; my worth is not determined by my physical appearance!
Once you've got used to doing this exercise on paper, you can do it in your head, BUT you must also practise saying the affirmation out loud, so you can hear the kind loving words you are saying about yourself. Soon the reasonable thoughts will lead to reasonable automatic thinking and the critical automatic thoughts will slowly diminish.
These steps don't have to be practised in any particular order - you might find it easier to focus on steps 1,2 and 3, and then spend a little more time focusing of steps 4 and 5.
Remember self-love is ongoing; it's continuously expanding our self-acceptance and allowing us to live a life that's fulfilled.