How to Love Yourself
Everyone seems to be talking about self love these days, but you might be wondering what that really means. Loving yourself means that you're listening to your soul. You're paying attention to your own needs. It means that you say no when you need to. Loving yourself means that you let go of the judgements. It means you put yourself first.
Self love means that your heart is open, you feel love, and you know how to turn it inward.
It means that you give yourself what you need before the needs of others. Ya know, the whole airplane mask thing. That's self love.
why you don't know how to love yourself
We come into this world tiny little balls of love, and then we get squashed by life and pain. In automatic defense we shut down our hearts, and we don't have a clue we're doing it. Life keeps on moving, and no one sets you aside to teach you to heal.
Our pain grows cumbersome in our bodies. It manifests into physical and emotional disease. We use alcohol and drugs to numb out. We lose our sense of compassion. We turn our anger on those we love. We shame ourselves. We find ourselves stuck in a depression with no idea how to get out. Anxiety holds us back from living our dreams. Tumors grow in our bodies. We suffer, and we move further and further away from self love.
Instead of seeking to understand what the pain is pointing to we just want it to go away. Instead of considering the root cause of the huge blow out with our partner we kiss and make up with little reflection. The fear of what might be exposed or what might be lost is just too great. We're terrified of going deeper because we don't know how to deal with the truth.
how to start loving yourself
In order to solve anything we have to go to the source. We have to start asking, "Why?" and then show up for the answer. Sitting at the root is often a big gaping hole you've been trying to fill with everything aside from the thing that can actually fill it up: your own love.
Try this breathing meditation to connect to your heart:
- Place your awareness on your heart chakra, the energy center in the middle of your chest.
- Get really present and connected to your body.
- Breathe long, slow, deep breaths in and out of your heart chakra filling your lungs completely.
- Be present with any sensations arising.
- You can start to close your eyes as you do so.
- Imagine your heart opening up more and more with each breath.
- Continue this for 5 to 10 minutes.
If you're in tune with your body you might have felt energy swirling in the center of your chest. This is the energy you need to turn back into yourself to fill the emptiness. You generate the love that needs to fill your wounds. There is no other human on this earth who will do it for you. There is nothing you can purchase, nothing you can eat or drink, nothing you can say or write that will fill that void. Only your own love can do that.
how to love yourself when you're grieving
I was left utterly devastated from a blindsiding breakup a few months ago. I felt emptier than I ever had in my life, and I was shocked by how deep my pain felt. I had been practicing self love for years, so where was it when I needed it?
Just like how we sometimes need to forgive more than once, sometimes we have to heal the same wounds over again. I had gone through a similar experience in a breakup a few years prior. It was a time when I realized what it really meant to love myself. But the grief from this recent breakup made me realize I had only scratched the surface of my wounds. I had to journey more deeply into the pain to see how I could truly heal myself.
It was not pretty. I felt utterly worthless, and on top of that I felt ashamed for feeling worthless because of everything I stand for. I felt empty, like nothing could ever feel the void within. I felt like nothing mattered in the least. I knew I had to feel it all, but I still wanted to fight it.
I was still so sick and tired of feeling so awful that I begged for the pain to just go away. I wanted to push it deep down within me. I wanted to numb it out. I wanted to just pretend like everything was ok. But I couldn't. I had to feel it all.
For a few weeks I was just lost. I couldn't seem to figure out how to fill myself up. I was stuck in the dark abyss of devastation. But little by little I began to open up to the knowing that no one else was going to get me out of there. I had to start showing up for myself.
So I began by taking care of my body. I started to eat more, to sleep when I felt tired, to get out in the fresh air. Then I started to tell myself the truth. I deserved a partner who wouldn't just walk out without warning. I deserved to be loved truly.
And then I started to fill myself up. Whenever the waves of pain came on I cried and cried and held myself. I gave myself the love I was longing for from my partner. I turned it inward. I felt abandoned so I vowed to never abandon myself.
Self love is a choice.
Some days I didn't love myself. Some days I sunk back into a depression where I forgot who I really was and what I was really capable of. And then I woke up and remembered that I have to be there for me. So I started to choose to love myself again. You don't choose yourself once and then it's over. You have to continue to show up for yourself in every moment.
You love yourself when you take care of yourself, when you honor yourself, when you start to dig more deeply and you do it with gentle care. Learning to love yourself doesn't mean you never feel bad again. It doesn't mean that you won't feel pain anymore. This is constant work. It requires you showing up for yourself. It's the bravest, most important work you can do for yourself.
Remembering to love yourself will change your life.
I'm going to leave you with a little story of a ring. It's a tool I started using. I was on retreat a few weeks ago and had an incredible healing session around my breakup. She said so many beautiful, soul-touching things to me, but the one that lingered went something like this:
Imagine a ring on your right ring finger. That is your commitment to yourself. A ring will live on the left finger one day, but it's not your concern right now. Your concern is the commitment to yourself, the ring on your right finger.
I kept finding myself looking at that finger as I drove over 3,000 miles across the country. I was in a small store in Nashville and saw this beautiful ring. I asked the woman if it was quartz (I still don't know too much about crystals), and she said it was a Herkimer Diamond. I loved it, and I bought it, and I put it on my finger.
Every time I look at my finger, every time I feel the ring, I remember to give myself love. I am constantly doing it throughout my day, and I feel amazing. It's reminding me to keep showing up for myself. Anytime I feel sadness, doubt, anxiety, or any other negative feeling in my body, I look at the ring and remember to give myself love.
A few days ago I discovered what a Herkimer Diamond is. It is a quartz crystal, but it's harvested in full and looks like a diamond. It feels perfect, this ring. A diamond that's not really a diamond (I'm not a fan), but is a healing crystal that represents my commitment to myself. It's perfect.