Do you love yourself?
Self love is a bit like money. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you’ll do some work to develop self love and give yourself a big top up, but if there’s no maintenance the supply slowly dwindles until it dips back into the negative, and it takes double the work to get levels back up into the black.
However, unlike money, no one can give you self love.
If you don’t love yourself, you’ll likely:
Not believe compliments
Brush off achievements as luck
Not engage in self care because of a belief that you don’t deserve it
Identify as being a perfectionist
Not stand up for yourself
When you don’t have self love, it doesn’t matter what your life looks like, you’ll never be able to enjoy it because you won’t see the beauty in it. You won’t see all that you have already, you’ll only see all the areas and pieces of yourself that you perceive you lack.
Self love isn’t one of those things that once you have it, you always have it. Some people are like that. But if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you will need to do things every day to keep your levels topped up and prevent that harsh self-talk from creeping back in and becoming overpowering.
This is important because these thoughts keep us in sympathetic nervous system dominance or ‘flight or fight’ mode. This was demonstrated by a study by The University of Exetor and the University of Oxford which revealed that kind thoughts actually switch off this part of the nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system – the ‘rest and digest’ state.
The consequences of being in flight or fight mode include digestion being shut down leading to poor nutrient absorption and IBS issues, hormonal disruptions, weight gain and constantly feeling anxious and stressed.
So how do we get self love?
It has to come from within, and a great place to start is by becoming aware of what your thoughts towards yourself actually are.
Recognise your self talk, thoughts and behaviour patterns. Do you criticise yourself harshly? Do you push yourself? Do you feel like you can’t take a break because you don’t deserve it? Do you beat yourself up for little things like dropping a glass?
Now challenge these thoughts with objective evidence. Where is the evidence that dropping a glass makes you a failure? Where is the evidence that you need to push yourself because you don’t deserve love? Objective evidence is key here – look at the situation like you would if you were speaking with a close friend. Would you tell your best friend they don’t deserve love? So where is the objective evidence that this is true for you?
Flip those negative thoughts into positive. ‘I’m failing’ could become ‘I’m learning and growing’. ‘My body is broken’ could become ‘my body is growing stronger every day’. Affirmations can be really helpful here.
Then you need to have a system in place to maintain this, because no one can top up your self-love account for you.
Choose 3 things that you will do each day to nurture yourself. This could be something as simple as doing a 5 minute meditation each morning, going for a walk, playing some soothing music or eating a nourishing breakfast.
If you think you don’t have time, this comes back to that lack of self worth. Is a clean floor really more important than your mental health? When you look back on your life will you remember how clean the floor was or how much love you felt?
No one should go through life feeling like they are a failure when in fact they are such an amazing, kind, caring and incredible person who is loved by so many.