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The rundown on self-love

Mindfulness, Mind, Body, Soul Wellness & Healing | Counsellor & Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach in Newcastle Australia

Let's start off with my definition of self-love…

Self-love is feeling complete acceptance of the person we are. It's about being kind and loving towards ourselves, no matter what the circumstances are. It's creating awareness and honouring where we're at with the resources we have. It's about allowing space and energy to grow as individuals.

Self-love motivates us to do better and be better. With self-love, we will make choices that will nurture your overall well-being and when we're in a place of experiencing self-love, everything else seems to simply fall into place.

Self-love is not selfish. Self-love is about taking care of our needs. If we want to be happier, healthier and thrive in our life, we needs to learn how to practise self-love.

And if we you would like some more research based reasons why you should practise self-love, then some evidence-based benefits of self-love are:

  • Better mental health and less anxiety

  • Higher self-esteem and self-acceptance

  • Stronger determination and motivation

  • Increased self-awareness

  • Better sleep

  • Better recovery from stress

  • An overall more optimistic outlook on life

Some signs you may not hold the greatest self-love are:

  • You treat your mental and physical health poorly

  • You are incredibly hard on yourself

  • You seek approval, love and attention from others

  • You care more about other people's opinion than your own

  • You can't forgive yourself for your past

  • You excessively people please

  • You talk negatively about yourself often

  • You have unhealthy relationships

Self-love is a topic that I feel is everywhere lately, and I love that it's spoken about so much, but I also think that a lot of people only speak of the light and fluffy side of self-love when really, there's lightness and darkness to self-love.

The lightness to self-love is the beautiful, soul-filling things like massages, getting our hair done, taking bubble baths, long walks, journaling and catching up with our girlfriends.

The darkness to self-love is the incredible soul-nourishing things like saying no, setting boundaries, shadow work, getting therapy, getting outside of your comfort zone and letting go of sh*tty habits and routines.

I love the light self-love. I practise that kind of self-love every single day with so much excitement, joy and rarely skip it. It feels good. It is magic in it's own form. But we aren't practising true self-love unless we also incorporate the dark self-love. The stuff that feels uncomfortable, icky and hard to work through. I make sure I'm practising the dark self-love too. It doesn't feel like magic when I'm doing it, but it is magic in it's own form too. We need a balance of the darkness and lightness. We need both forms of self-love in our lives.

If you're feeling like maybe you need to practise a little more self-love, whether it's the light or dark self-love, or maybe both, then don't stress! I'm going to give you some practical tips you can take away from this episode. But before I do, I wanted to let you know that when I began my mental health and wellbeing journey, my goal wasn't ever to love myself. I was in a really dark place, so that felt too hard for me, and I really didn't believe the answer would be to force me to love myself.

So instead, I focused on feeling neutral about myself. When I woke up, my only goal was to be aware of what was happening and that I wanted something different.

My journey to self-love really started with self-acceptance of where I was at, the circumstances of my life, the thoughts and beliefs I had and from there, I went deeper.

And going deeper was a lot of therapy and actually feeling everything. There was a lot of anger and crying. There was grieving and there were so many days where it just felt really heavy and hard.

When you’re in the depths of life, starting a self-love journey can feel unrealistic and if I’m entirely honest, it can absolutely be unrealistic, so if you're in a place where this all sounds ridiculous. That's okay. I get it. Instead of setting the goal of loving yourself, start with the goal of feeling neutral about yourself. The self-love can come later with more ease.

Though, if you're ready and would like some tips on increasing your self-love, keep reading!

The first tip I would love to take care of the basics. You want to ensure you are drinking enough water and having nutritious meals, moving your body, getting quality sleep, fresh air and sunshine as well as having a support system and healthy habits and rituals.

The second tip is to practise gratitude. I know it can be tricky to find gratitude when you're in a negative space, but that's when it's most important. When you can find the positives in life to appreciate, your going to be in a better mindset to shift your relationship to yourself. It's okay to want somethings to be different in our life, but if you're listening to this, you have things to be grateful for. You most likely own or at least have access to some kind of phone or computer to be listening to me and the internet. You have access to a free resource to improve your relationship to yourself like this podcast. You have the ability to actually hear me and absorb this information with your ears and mental capacity… there are always things to be grateful for.

The third tip is to recognise how you're feeling. Please stop discrediting your feelings and putting them under the carpet. Your feelings, your experiences, and you matter. Take the time to determine how you're actually feeling and let yourself feel that. Be sad. Be angry. Be happy. Let yourself feel the entire feelings wheel and be okay with experiencing any emotion that comes up. Let's all just collectively agree that we're done invalidating our feelings.

The fourth tip is to create a bliss list and do 2-3 things off of it every single day. This is a list of 100 things that bring you happiness. It can be big things or small things. It could cost money or be free. There's no right or wrong. And I'll warn you, it may be harder to think of 100 things at once, so take your time. Start the list and come back to it until you get to the 100 things, don't give up on the number, it's supposed to be hard and make you dig deep. This tip is purely that light, fun, beautiful self-love we all want to do!

The fifth tip is to set boundaries. It can be hard to find self-love when the people around you aren't respecting or honouring your needs or wants. Start saying no more often. You don't need an excuse. You don't need a reason. You don't need to say anything other than "no" if you don't want too.

It's safe to say no to going out for drinks with your friends. It's safe to say no if you don't want a second date. It's safe to say no to working overtime. It's safe to say no for anything you don't want to do or anything that is misaligned. Remember… Big, beautiful hearts need to have big, beautiful boundaries.

And the sixth and final tip for this episode is to ask for help. Life can get messy. It can be sticky. It can be chaotic. And sometimes, it can be too much. But you don't need to do it on your own. Reach out to friends, family or professionals to ask for help or support. They say it takes a village to raise a baby, but I think it takes a village to care for anybody. Baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult. We all need help sometimes so please don't ever feel embarrassed, ashamed or scared to ask for it.

I have one thing to end on… You don't find self-love through self-hate. If you want to embody true self-love, you need to stop the self-hatred. This means you need to let go of nasty comments about yourself, breaking promises to yourself, refusing to accept compliments, nitpicking in the mirror, not prioritising yourself and your health and letting other people treat you poorly.

When you can stop the self-hatred, you can come to a place of neutrality where you can then learn self-love. But you can love yourself while still actively hating yourself (which includes doing things that don't serve you!)

Finding your self-love again (because we're all born with it) is a process. It will take time but I promise it will be the most rewarding thing you ever do.

With love & support,

Shorina | Mindful Soul Collective

Counsellor & Wellbeing Coach



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