Self-love is incredibly important. By re-arranging the narratives and learning to love our imperfect selves we open up a whole world of happiness. We stop comparing ourselves to others and start living through trust rather than fear. Self-love is talked about so much and is something that we should all be trying to cultivate and embrace, but is it also an easy escape for self-abuse and self-inflicted suffering. Are we using the notion of self-love as a way to abuse our bodies?
Move your body with love
Moving our bodies because we love them is an excellent way to boost mood and self-esteem. Even going for a daily 10-minute walk can make you feel happier and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Yoga and dance can help us become in tune with our bodies and express ourselves creatively. Basically, movement as a form of self-care is good.
This is difficult to do though if you are one of the many people who struggle with body image issues. It is common for people to move their bodies as punishment for eating something or to allow themselves to eat something in the future. It’s movement to gain a desired acceptable shape. We are moving our bodies because we hate them not because we love them.
With the rise of #selflove on Instagram and videos of people doing workouts every day it can be easy to disguise our underlying hate for body positivity. We are being praised for snapping pics at the gym or encouraging people to work out in the same way that we are. But what we are missing is that these messages we think are motivational and positive may actually be triggering for others. Or it could be that they are triggering for us but we can push those feelings aside because we kid ourselves into thinking our obsessive working out is self-love when really it is us engaging in a form of self-hate.
How self-love might not look like we think it does
Part of self-love is doing things that help you grow and make you happy. A lot of people fall into the trap of forcing themselves to do these things because they think that they ”should”. Obviously, discipline is important but it’s equally as important to be able to distinguish between a reason and an excuse. Sometimes if you want to sit and watch TV after a long day that is perfectly fine and just what you need. We have entered into a world where we feel guilty for relaxing and not doing the ‘right’ thing.
Self-love is about learning to listen to ourselves. It’s about tuning out the mental chatter and the opinions of others and truly acting in our best interests. This does include tough love and setting new habits such as meditation every day, but it also involves tuning in with what is right for us at that moment and not beating ourselves up for feeling sad or in a rut. Self-love is about loving where you are at while working towards being who you truly desire to be. It’s not about forcing yourself to do something you think you should for the hell of it.
How self-love can be distinguished from self-hate
The key thing that will determine whether you are acting out of self-love or self-hate is your desired outcome. Are you working out because you hate your body for not looking a certain way? If so you’re using it as a way to punish your body. The outcome of anything should always be to bring us joy, make us healthy, and help us feel fulfilled. A lot of confusion lies around the ‘healthy’ aspect. Healthy does not mean looking a certain way. Healthy means that you are thriving in your own body whatever that looks like. Healthy means having the energy to do things you want and feeling comfortable and vitalised within your body and mind.
It isn’t always easy to get to the route of your desired outcome. We have been told narratives all of our lives about what the right thing to do is and it can be difficult to unpick that and find your own unique essence. This isn’t as simple as saying “Ok, I’m doing this because I love myself, not because I hate myself.” It’s about sitting with the discomfort of relearning what it is in life that makes your soul come alive.
Quieten the mind and fill it with new stories.
Meditation and Mantras are really going to help you get to the root of your desires. Meditation helps separate thoughts from self and when we quieten the mind our intuition is able to shine through.
Mantras are a way of rewiring the brain. You can use mantras for anything from self-confidence to money. Mantras are small statements. Here are some examples:
“I am confident.”
“I am beautiful.”
“I am enough.”
” Money comes to me easily.”
” I am going to achieve my dreams.”
You can pick one of those mantras if they resonate with you or simply make up your own. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day, say it so often that it starts to become annoying and then some more. By repeating mantras we are telling our brains that this is our new story — we are changing our realities.
Realise that you are enough right now and that you will always be enough.