I was at a funeral of a dear friend a few years ago. The service had not begun yet, and in that hushed and sniffling stillness one of my friend’s grandchildren bounced down the aisle to me and said in a clear and piping voice, “Would you like to see my belly button?” She held up her dress so that I could see this marvelous discovery of hers. In that moment it felt like the sunshine had come out around us. She knew her grandmother had ‘gone to heaven’, but she had a belly button! There is pure joy in discovering who we are and what magic our bodies hold when we are young.
Self-love seems like it should be so easy, doesn’t it? But in practice, it rarely is. It often involves unlearning habits and beliefs that have been ingrained for years. When we are children, we twirl in front of mirrors and love what we look like. We take delight in our bodies and the wonder of who we are.
How did we lose that excitement of discovering our belly buttons?
Sometime in our early years, life starts to change our story for us. Maybe an adult in our lives is having a hard day and shouts at us, or a friend says something mean. At that age, we don’t think about their story, or the reason they snapped at us – life is all about us, our perspective, and so we look inwards for reasons things happen to us. We just believe it must be our fault. And then we start to believe that this is our truth.
It took time to build up the layers you have around your shiny inner self, and peeling back those layers will also take time. Knowing this and allowing yourself a circuitous and illogical route of unpeeling is your first act of self-love. This is the first step, the first answer to the question of how you go about loving yourself. It does not have to be sudden or immediate – it can be a process.
Self-Love is Permission to Keep Trying
Self-love means that you’re able to treat yourself with grace, acceptance, and kindness as you ride all the waves that life throws at you. It means, when life gets messy, you see this as part of life and not that you have failed. Or rather, if you have failed, you see this as growing and not a failure. After all, a higher failure rate leads to achieving success sooner.
This is not easy! Just yesterday I was berating myself for a big mistake I had made at work – even though I was doing the best I could at the time. The self-recrimination was not useful at all; besides making myself feel like a failure I realised it was making me feel cross about other things too. I purposely turned my energy away from looking at the mistake (the past) and towards manifesting a solution (the future). I immediately felt my stress levels come down.
If your gratitude journal is gathering dust, today is the day to get it out again. Focusing on what we are grateful for is one of the most powerful ways to shift your energy in an instant. There is a reason this works like a magic wand: it redirects your thoughts from the past to the present, and this is where peace lives.
It doesn’t have to be profound, it could be gratitude for the blue sky peeping out between the rain clouds, for the rain itself, for your cat purring or the healthy dinner you ate. Celebrate with gratitude all that is, in this moment.
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.
~ Bil Keane
First Do, Then Feel
The secret about these actions is that you can do them before you believe in them. Just start. I redirected my attention away from my mistake I mentioned above, before I had let go of my frustration. It was the new action that caused the change of feeling. Your body will respond to your actions, you will start to feel more compassion and love for yourself.
Stretch your arms wide, then close and cross them together over your body and bring your fingers around your back onto your shoulder blades. You are now hugging yourself! Your body doesn’t know who is doing the hugging – it will just feel better.
Now say out loud, ‘I love you,’ to yourself.
You are a messy, awesome human. You are not meant to be perfect. Don’t you just love that about yourself?
P.S. Thank you for all your emails – hearing from you makes my day. If you need a hug, want to book a healing session, or would like more info about our March yoga retreat, click here.
P.P.S. The Yoga and Meditation Retreat for You
I have struggled with my ‘new’ strange 54-year-old body with all its bloating, disrupted sleep and flushes, and have met so many women who are also struggling.
Whatever your age, however you have changed shape, or not changed shape at all, but would like to feel comfortable in your skin, this is for you.
During the March retreat I will share the gentle yoga practice and the easy eating plan I used to get my body back and beat the brain fog.
The retreat designed for all bodies – love the unique body you are in!