Ultimately self-love is important, yet it’s a term that is bandied about so freely on social media that it has almost become conceptual. What does it actually mean? And how do we do it? I want to outline some key ways you can show yourself some love in a way that still feels natural, honest, down-to-earth, and accessible.
Indulge in your vices.
For instance, maybe eating your favorite indulgence all the time isn’t the best way to show your physical body self-love—but hey, if it nourishes your soul, then the most loving thing you can do for yourself in that moment is to follow your desire and eat the thing while holding a compassionate space for the part of you that loves x, y, or z. Your indulgence doesn’t have to be in the form of food, either. Whatever the indulgence of “vice” may be, it’s all about how we frame things. If you indulge and beat yourself up with negative thoughts, that’s not the most loving thing you can do for yourself. It’s about how much pleasure we can bring into our lives and how much we can hold a loving space for all aspects of ourselves. Having a vice doesn’t make us “bad,” nor does it undo all the “good” things we do for ourselves. Being contrived and contracted around things and trying to cling to control is doing more harm than good in itself.
Choose happy when you can.
Why do you drink green juice, take adaptogenic herbs, go to yoga, walk in the park, or meditate? Hopefully, it’s because they make you feel good and enhance your life in more prosperous, generous, and healthy ways—for yourself and others. We all want to be healthy and look good because we believe it is going to make us HAPPY. Yet if we only practice habits that we believe will “make us healthy,” without stopping to evaluate how these actions really make us feel, we’re not acting in service of ourselves but instead in service of expectations from outer influences.
Experiment with what works for you.
If something doesn’t enhance your life in any way, it’s probably best to avoid it, regardless of popularly held beliefs. A case in point: I stopped drinking green juice because making it didn’t feel fun or joyful. Even though green juice is technically considered healthy and has a plethora of benefits, I found myself begrudgingly washing, chopping, and pressing those veggies every morning to the point where it became a burden. It became an ineffective use of my time and energy and something I came to resent. There was definitely no pleasure in that process, and it also prevented me from enjoying the green juice itself, so I stopped. Even if every wellness guru is telling you something is the best thing in the world, if it doesn’t make you happy, then it’s not the best thing in the world. We get to be our own gurus and choose the parts of Mother Nature that are beautiful and exciting to us.
Explore those negative emotions without judgment. When you allow yourself to experience negativity with an open space to feel, and really sink into it, you give yourself permission to acknowledge every shade of you: It’s a type of freedom that’s loving and free of judgment or disdain—to accept all parts of yourself. Imagine if we could unleash all of our colors. Stepping up and into who we are and accepting all parts—especially the ugly—is very loving. Vulnerability can be frightening at times, but it can also open up the portal into a whole new self.
Take a moment to pause.
Sometimes we just need to do nothing—a mindful pause. This is so restorative, soothing, and loving toward our minds and bodies. Simply allow the time and space for our bodies to quiet down. This isn’t something that’s pre-prepared, clearly defined, or set out. It’s simply blocking off an hour in your diary and acknowledging the need for time to dive in—dive in to you. Hold no expectations for that time, and set no standards. Don’t regiment yourself to “I have to do x, y, z act of self-care in order to take care of myself.” Don’t put yourself under more stress of even more things to do. Do in that moment as you please—it can be as simple as finding a patch of grass and lying down to look up at the sky and watch the clouds.
Self-love doesn’t sing to the tune of how much kale you ate this week or how many times you had your workout clothes on. Self-love is about how we can relax into ourselves and make space for the freedom to feel, think, and do as we want. If something gives you a kick in your step, puts a cheeky grin on your face, a twinkle in your eye, or gives you a bit more zeal, then please do it! We need more vibrant and alive human beings in the world. Is today the day you choose yourself?