Self-love is crucial for our happiness. All the reasons won’t fit in the time and space we have here but I can share a few that float to the surface: 1) It reduces dependency on others for emotional fulfillment and to feel good about oneself 2) It reduces our sensitivity towards others’ opinions or judgments of us. 3) It allows us to create an authentic life built on our heart’s desires and inclinations. 4) Self-love opens up to other ways of being and living and makes us more accepting of others.
As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Banu Sekendur, MA.
Banu is an intuitive relationship coach and a healer. She moved to Hawai’i to start a new life after a near-death break up and became the coach she needed when she was going through hell. Her passion is finding and cultivating what makes people light up as well as removing energetic, emotional, and mental splinters that create blocks to it. You can connect with her through her website and her Facebook Group.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
Thank you for having me!
I have always been interested in psychology and started reading up on it since I was young. In 2003, I decided to pursue a dual Master’s degree on Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy. By the time I graduated, my spirituality had already started calling me. I knew that I wasn’t going to practice as a therapist for long. Little did I know that my first conscious dark night of the soul was just around the corner (2006). In 2013, my third dark night of the soul came hitting hard when I almost died after a break-up. My heart broke and I heard a sound along with intense pain on my heart. I couldn’t eat or sleep much for three weeks, lost thirteen pounds and drove myself to the ER at 97 lbs. to save my life. As I climbed up from that point, I learned that I didn’t know how to love myself and that this was my lesson from the relationship. It has been a journey since then. I started coaching about 9 months after this event.
I now mostly work with folks on relationship issues and challenges because I believe that relationships are the vehicle for personal and spiritual growth. This is where our biggest pain points arise. These pain points also become gateways into higher consciousness and immense growth for us. I am excited to be a part of people’s transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. To me, this is the highest act of creation: Transformation of Self.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
I am working on a book. It is still being formed as I write it…I think it might be a memoir. ☺
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?
Yes, almost losing my life after a near-death break-up. I was rudely awakened to the fact that I did not know how to love myself. This rock bottom made me examine everything. I had to accept myself because that was what was on the table- bare naked and cracked open. I had to take it all and build something with it.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
This is an unfortunate fact we are dealing with. We live in the era of social media and selfies. We are constantly looking at biologically perfect people (or their best selfies) daily. This skews our sense of self and where we fit on the continuum of “attractiveness”. Also, we have erroneously learned to associate worth and attractiveness with physical symmetry. We are not encouraged to learn about who we are and love our own uniqueness. We don’t recognize that our voice, mannerisms, quirks or even our walk can make us “attractive” or sexy.
There is so much money being made based on our sense of lack. No one tells us, “Look, you don’t need make-up or this 200 dollars bra that promises to make you look like a movie star”. Instead, they are trying to sell us make-up, clothes or merchandise but they don’t tell us how we can love ourselves as a whole being. Then we are bombarded by a plethora of “Be uniquely you” messages that suggest that we need to find our happiness and embrace our uniqueness. We are confused. Our looks are the easiest place we can be hard on ourselves and remind ourselves of how we are not fitting in. It all comes back to the fact that we haven’t learned what self-love is. As a result, we attach it to all things external- which are all mortal and man-made. No wonder we are unhappy.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
Self-love is crucial for our happiness. All the reasons won’t fit in the time and space we have here but I can share a few that float to the surface: 1) It reduces dependency on others for emotional fulfillment and to feel good about oneself 2) It reduces our sensitivity towards others’ opinions or judgments of us. 3) It allows us to create an authentic life built on our heart’s desires and inclinations. 4) Self-love opens up to other ways of being and living and makes us more accepting of others. I could go on and on…
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
Phew. This is a biggie. I have certainly been there. Well, for one, we don’t know any better. We are not happy but we don’t know why. Our relationship or partner is included in the “not happy” box we have been hiding away. If the relationship has gotten stagnant, it is mostly because people aren’t honest with themselves and each other. We disown our unhappiness and disappear into work, TV or who knows what and get further disconnected.
A happy relationship is based on two people being individualized enough to self-assess and to be honest about what they are experiencing emotionally, mentally or spiritually. A good relationship is not without conflicts. Happiness within is happiness without. If one has a mediocre relationship, it is because they have a mediocre life personally (even without that person)- which is completely our own responsibility. Life can be fulfilling when we open ourselves up to new people and new experiences. This brings on the possibility of getting hurt. If a relationship has gotten stagnant this can also mean that they are walled off for the fear of being hurt if they surrender completely. Where there is fear, love cannot find a seat. Fear distorts our view and distances us from our true nature. We can only love and be loved from and by our true nature.
We sometimes stay in mediocre relationships because we are too unhappy to make changes but not unhappy enough to make them. When we love ourselves, we pay attention to our own needs and take actions to fulfill those needs. If one finds themselves in a mediocre relationship, the first thing to do is to spend introspective time with oneself to discover the truths in their hearts. It would be very helpful to journal and to interview yourself with a curiosity to get to know your own needs, longings and aspirations. If we build happiness in our lives, we will attract people with a similar vibration who value working on themselves and attending to their own happiness.
When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
Questions such as:
“Why are you unhappy? What is bothering you?”
“What do you like about your relationship?”
“What are you dissatisfied with in your relationship?”
“What are your needs in a relationship and how are they being fulfilled?”
After my last relationship that left me almost dead, I realized that I needed to look at the ways I do relationships. I dove deeply into the patterns I created or participated in and the whys. If something keeps happening in your lives, it is a pattern. It is not a life sentence. We can break free by examining it and looking at it from all angles. In the end, I had to get honest with myself and surrender to uncomfortable truths. I had to find the strength within me to go into a deep self-inquiry. The powerful thing is, when we dig out our own truths and live through them, no one can take them from us.
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
When we practice self-love (as best as we can), we are more attuned to our own inner nudges. Some people need more alone time than others. I believe that we grow in solitude and being alone is a part of having a relationship with yourself. This is essential to having a balanced relationship with someone else.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
When we develop the habit of recognizing and respecting our own needs, we automatically become sensitive to others living their version of self-love. It removes the need to judge people for the acts they carry in order to feel valued, loved and powerful. Understanding the necessity of self-love is a game changer. It was for me.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
Self-love should be taught in schools just like sex ed. This would stop all wars.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
- I spend alone time
- I talk to myself lovingly in the mirror.
- Reward myself for doing things that I wasn’t too excited about (such as mundane tasks)
- I listen to my feelings and inner nudges when it tells me to leave a place or walk away from a certain person.
- I journal to connect to myself.
These change according to priorities but slacking off on my self-love practice shows up right away in my life in the form of decreased happiness and increased stress.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
That list would be too long. But I will pick my top five to share:
- Hands down my number one is: Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth”. This book is one of my bedside books. It is an incredible book that will help you learn the inner workings of your own ego and how to stay present in order to avoid getting entangled in it.
- “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. It is my relationship “Bible”. My copy is worn and torn and well-loved. It is and will be a classic for years to come.
- EFT -Emotional Freedom Technique. It is another free resource that we can do anywhere. It works on the energy meridians in the body and is recommended by Deepak Chopra, (late) Dr. Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, etc.
- “I need your love. Is that true?” by Byron Katie. This is another book on relationships and love that explores the difference between receiving and giving pure love vs needing that love and giving to get. “Loving What Is” is another Rockstar book by Byron Katie.
- “Five Languages of Love” by Gary Chapman. This is another relationship classic that helps us understand how we like to give and receive love as well as learning how to recognize it when love is given to us. This knowingness requires us to feel enough self-worth to explore and identify how and when we feel loved and communicate them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
Hmmm. Good question. It would be getting everyone to journal daily, even if it is just a paragraph. I believe that it is one of the simplest and most effective free tools that guarantees a continued relationship with oneself. To me this fits with needing alone time to recharge our souls and bring ourselves back to the vibration of our own truths…
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
My philosophy is this: Everything in my life is either a test or a blessing. I am not in charge of my curriculum on earth school but I am aware that how I respond to my challenges determines whether I suffer or I learn. When I am faced with a challenge that feels too big I ask myself what I am learning and I pray (to a Higher Power of my own choosing) for guidance and support. It has saved my life (literally) and brought in miraculous solutions to troubles I had gotten myself into. Pray. This is my best advice for everyone. Genuinely pray for help, guidance and understanding. It will come.
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!