What I Know Now But Never Learned About Self Love

What I Know Now But Never Learned About Self Love

“Make a list of five people you love.” This was the opening question of an energy workshop I attended at the front edge of 2023. As we went around the room, people listed off the usual suspects, “My kids, significant other, friends, my dog…” Not a single person, including me, said, “Myself.” Maybe that explains why we’re so quick to judge ourselves and so slow to love ourselves. Why it’s so easy to focus on where we’ve failed. Why we conform, hide our authentic selves away and have no problem listing off what we need to improve or fix about ourselves. Why we ruminate at the end of the day on everything we should have done, should be doing- what didn’t get done.

Why are we so resistant to celebrate what we accomplish and where we make a difference because we participated? Why is it hard for us to acknowledge every little courageous step forward we’ve taken that led us to progress and growth? Why do we shy away from the kind words and compliments other people share with us? Why is it so hard to feel proud of ourselves? To allow ourselves to sink into the fullness, imperfection and joy of who we are?

Why is practicing self sabotage so easy and self love so damn hard? 

In my case, it was childhood conditioning. The words ‘self-love’ were not part of my Southern family’s vocabulary. I was raised by good, kind, well meaning women who were never taught the concept or practice of self love. They learned that loving yourself was selfish, even egotistical. They rarely ate a hot meal or sat down (to enjoy their cold meal) before every dish was done. They went to work, even when they were sick, and rarely left the house without their “face on.” They valued what other people thought of them more than they valued how they thought about themselves. They pushed beyond exhaustion and considered it a badge of honor. They were industrious women who thought sleeping more than four hours a night was for the weak. They shared their opinions but it rarely occurred to them to speak up for they needed to be healthy, happy and whole. Focusing on what you did well was bragging. Loving yourself first was blasphemous. When it came to love, God came first. 

To be fair, the women in my family lived through some seriously hard shit like The Great Depression, polio and world wars. They were taught to “Suck it up. Grin and bear it. Power through. Be grateful for what you’ve got and don’t ask for a bit more.” I’m sure these beliefs helped them survive but they also killed any notion of self-love. Watching them and listening to their stories made it easy for me to feel selfish for ever thinking about putting myself first. I learned to compare myself to them, judge myself when I fell short, question my value and quietly settle for less than I wanted or deserved. The way I was raised primed my pump for self-sabotage.

After decades of self-work- mindfulness, introspection, meditation and coaching, here’s what I know now.

  1. Self love is unconditional, not selfish. 
  2. Self love is essential to thriving.
  3. Self love is the ultimate act of kindness we can offer ourselves.

Holding deep, unconditional love for ourselves changes the way we think, feel and make decisions for ourselves and our lives. In practice, self love is forgiving ourselves, knowing the light and darkness in ourselves and accepting them equally. Self love is speaking up for what we need, want and deserve and not tolerating a darn bit less. It’s celebrating ourselves, being kind to ourselves, and believing in ourselves.

We are mirrors for everyone around us. As we practice self love, that love we hold for ourselves becomes the lens of forgiveness, beauty, celebration, kindness, and belief that we share with the people in our lives. Imagine how this type of self-love could change your life. Imagine how it could change the world! 

Here are three of the questions I offer in my life coaching practice to help my clients develop awareness around self love:

  • Who’s first on your list of the people you love?
  • How are you practicing self-sabotage?
  • How are you practicing self-love?

*If you’re ready to cultivate self-love for yourself and thrive in your own life, let’s talk

Understanding Your Self Narrative

Understanding Your Self Narrative

Do a quick inventory of the people who have played a significant role in your life. Have you ever stopped to think about whose voice is in your ear, impacting your choices and behavior? Which did you listen to when your chose your path after high-school? How about when you chose your career? Which one shows up in your relationships? Which one tells you what type of parent you should be? Which one judges you? Which voice do you turn to for approval? Which one do you try to please? Whose narrative is shaping the way you see yourself and the world around you?

For better or worse, the people in our lives become part of our mindset fabric.

The experiences we have with them stick. Their voices and narratives shape our values, belief systems, patterns and behavior. They become part of our conscious and unconscious mind. We learn from them, run from them and mimic them. We try to make them proud, prove them wrong, and please them. We can spend our entire lives doing our dead level best to live up to their standards. They’re the voices of our parents, the kid who bullied us in school and our former bosses. They’re the voices of our teachers, lovers, coworkers, and friends. They are the regretful voices of our present, the relentless voices of our past and the worry wart voices of our future. All of these voices play a big role in framing our self narrative- what we believe about ourselves, the world around us and our place in the world.

Mindfulness can help you understand whose narrative is impacting you, your life and your ability to thrive.

This type of awareness can connect you with who has had and who currently has the greatest influence in your life. This awareness can help you better understand what’s behind your choices, habits, and behavior. Once you’re clear, you can choose to listen to the ones that serve you well, silence the ones that don’t and live life on your own terms. 

Here are three of the questions I offer clients in my mindfulness-based life coaching practice:

  • Whose narratives are impacting my life now?
  • Which ones do I want to silence?
  • What will change for me if I start listening to my own voice instead?

*If you’re ready to reset from toxicity, tune into your potential and thrive, let’s talk