What the Heck is Self Love Anyway?
So we all could go on google and type in “what’s the definition of self love” and we’d get over 5 million answers. But today, instead, let’s riff on why self love is important, not only when it comes to having your best life, but also when it comes to your love life.
Self love is the foundation to any relationship that you are in. Your self love relates to any sort of communication and relationship. It always comes back to how you love yourself and perceive yourself.
Self love is a project.
You can acheive self love, and once you acheive a certain amount, there’s no going back.
However, self love is a constant relationship with yourself. Its a constant realtionship with how you treat yourself. And let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t treat ourselves that well. Sometimes it ebbs and flows and sometimes we have to come back to it again and again.
So, let me give you an example. For me, part of my self love and self care is about how I take care of my body. The foods I eat, how I sleep, how I manage my stress. All of that factors in quite a bit in my own personal self love.
If you don’t know me that well, let me explain. I’ve had Crohn’s disease for over 20 years. Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease in the digestive tract. I also have Hashimoto’s Disease, and have had that for about 6 or 7 years.
In fact, Crohn’s Diesase and I have essentially become spiritual partners in my life. Crohn’s has taught me so much about life, self care and self love. Hashimoto’s and I haven’t become so close, however it also teaches me about the same things.
Crohn’s Diesease can be pretty debilitating. For me, I maintained Crohns for 20 years with medication. And in the past 2 years I have been exploring healing Crohn’s with food and supplements with the support from a Functional Medicine Doctor. (Now I’m not saying if you have Crohn’s that you should quit your medication! When I decided to come off of medications, I was in a healthy place in my disease and was able to successfully and safely let them go. I highly recommend chatting with a functional medicine physician if you are curious about doing the same thing.) But, stopping medications was a pretty amazing thing for me.
To be honest with you, self love has come into that conversation in SO many ways, and still does. And the reason why is because food plays a huge part. I am a HUGE foodie. I love food. I love tastes and textures. I’ve always enjoyed foods and honestly food is a constant highlight in my life.
The diet that appears to help my heal my Crohn’s is quite basic, and consists of things I’ve not ever eaten before! (If you are curious, it is a Macrobiotic diet. It incorporates a lot of whole grains and vegetables, a limited amount of fruits and a bit of seafood. No gluten, dairy or sugar.) It has taken me a long time to accept it and to like it.
But I like the way I feel when I eat this way. And here’s where the self love piece comes in for me…
So let’s say we are in a holiday season like we are in right now, and I want to partake in ALL the yummy holiday foods. I’d love to dive into the hot chocolate, whipped cream and heavy meals.
And sometimes I do. And when I do, sometimes I feel bad. And this is where I could really be mean to myself. When I eat the foods that cause me to feel less than stellar, I could beat myself up! But instead I work at accepting my choices and moving on. It’s that ebb and flow, it doesn’t have to be so rigid.
It doesn’t have to be me saying to myself “You are being horrible to yourself because you aren’t eating this diet.” And it doesn’t have to be saying “You don’t love yourself if you fail.” The self love comes in by loving myself whether I folllow this diet, or I don’t. The self love comes in and I get sick. Instead of beating myself up.
And, the self love comes in making the choices ahead of time. It comes in by saying no to the things that hurt me when I know they are going to hurt me. These choices aren’t because I have to miss out, these choices are about loving myself.
And honestly, this is something I struggle with. The constant need to take care of myself and make choices that are in my highest good, when I really love to have a piece of chocolate!
Self love is going to bed at 8pm because I am exhausted. Self love is going to the gym because moving body is a good thing. Self love is eating the right foods because I’d like to not get sick, but self love is also not beating myself up if I don’t eat the right foods.
Self love is creating boundaries with people that are toxic and hard. Self love is about saying no and yes. Self love is about loving myself no matter what my body size is. Self love is about loving myself no matter how healthy or ill I am. Whether I am depressed, or down, or also when I am feeling amazing.
What I think is really cool about self love is that it is an ongoing relationship and ongoing action for how we treat ourselves. It isn’t definite.
Today self love could be that I go to gym and work out really hard. I am taking care of body and heart. But tomorrow, I could be sore and self love could be sitting on the couch or taking a nap! It changes. It’s not concrete and that’s where it gets tricky.
If it was concrete, then we’d know. Because if it was concrete then I would go to bed at 8pm everynight, but some nights I just don’t need to do that!
So the complicated piece is about knowing what self love is on a moment to moment basis.
Eating a salad may be a great version of self love for you… with all of the yummy and nutritious ingredients, but for me, eating a salad could really hurt me. So eating a salad isn’t always self love for me. And sometimes we are looking self love that looks the same. Sometimes we want our self love to look exactly like other people’s and it actually our versions of self love are completely different.
When we get to the heart of it, we realize we are unique. We may base what we are doing for ourselves on what other people are doing and it just might not be true for us.
So here are some questions for you to get clear on what self love means to you:
What is your center in terms of self love? (For example, one of mine is eating a diet that is healing for my body. Another example would be getting enough sleep.) What are the things that impact your self love? Food, Sleep, Time with Loved Ones, Time Being Creative… If you are open to drawing it, it would be cool to see what it might look like.
2. How does your inner critic get in the way of self love? Your inner critic is the voice in your head that is critical. What does your inner critic have to say to you and how does it get in your way?
3. If you have ever experienced unconditional self love, what does that look like and feel like?
So if you can, write out the answers to these three questions and see if your answers bring you to new insights about your own version of self love.
And to be honest, self love is always changing, because self love is a relationship. Your relationship with yourself is the best platform for other realtionships in your life. So it starts with you and how you treat yourself. And then it extends into how you treat others and how others treat you. Because we are all energetic matches for how we treat ourselves.
If you felt like sharing any of this, I’d love to hear about it or see drawings of your self love in the Happy Love Project Facebook Group.
Like we were talking about at the beginning of this post, you could go on google and get millions of definitions of self love, but what’s yours?