The irony of writing an article on self love is not lost on me. It has been three weeks since I appeared on my list of priorities and I can feel it. I am cranky, anxious and life feels like a struggle. I have been solo parenting while my husband works overseas, the whole family has been battling the flu and I am running a business.
On the positive side, I know what I need to do to get back on an even keel. That wasn’t always the case.
About a year ago, I had a horrible realisation. Every day I write a to do list; business priorities, tasks, life administration. My own needs were not last on the list, they were not even on the list.
It is the reality for a lot of us, we prioritise everything and everyone but ourselves. This is where the practice of self love, self compassion and self care come in.
The simple definition of self love is “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness”. Achieving it is about creating daily habits that nurture you.
1.What makes you feel good?
The first step towards self love is identifying the practices that make you feel nurtured.
The first step for me was to look at the unfulfilled goals on my list. “Practice yoga and meditation daily” kept cropping up, yet I didn’t have the time (or make the time) to do it. I had to find a way to do this that fitted in with my life.
2. What works for you?
If there is one thing that contributes to feelings of failure, it is unmet goals.
I looked at my life and schedule; I have two young kids, I run a business, I travel frequently and I have no desire to get up at 5am to squeeze in an hour of self love.
The answer for me was walking the dog. (I realise that I have combined my self love time with a practical task but hey, it works). I aspire to drop the kids to the school bus at 8, go to the beach with the dog, do 10 minutes of yoga and meditation while I am there and be at my desk for 9am.
3. Form a habit
I heard a tech founder talking about the key to entrepreneurial success. He said that while many founders talk about having good habits, in his view the first thing we have to do is learn to form habits.
Can you practice your self love habit everyday for 30 days? Could you book a weekly massage a month in advance? Can you book and pay for that exercise class?
On the days when I am not travelling, I don’t even think about my routine, I drop the kids off and go straight to the beach.
4. What story are you telling yourself?
An Instagram search for #selflove has 25 million hits. I thought, “is this just one more thing that I am failing at?” (That thought is the anthises of self love). It is important to tune in to your inner voice. What story are you telling yourself? We often focus on lack – lack of money, lack of time, lack of love. Train yourself to focus on the abundance in your life. Practicing mindfulness and gratitude are key factors in feeling a sense of contentment with your life and yourself.
5. Comparison Kills Self Love
As a teenager, I came across the poem Desiderata, this line has stayed with me:
You know that feeling you get when reading about a successful woman who gets up at 5am to journal followed by the gym and a green smoothie? The feeling is failure. I had a horrible moment (but a great insight) when I read an article that someone had written about me. Who was this woman living a magnificent life, going to the beach every morning to practice yoga and meditation before work? This is the person I aspire to be, but it is not a daily reality. We all put the best version of ourselves out into the world. Look at social media. How many photos are there of harassed parent’s trying to pack lunches while persuading their kids that yes, you do have to wear undies to school?
Ask yourself this: Am I doing my best, with the resources I have available to me right now? Shifting your focus to honouring yourself and what you want and need in your life is much more productive than comparing yourself to others.
Self-love is a journey. It’s the gentle, daily work of building a loving relationship with yourself. Start by telling yourself every single day; “I am enough.”