What on earth is self-love?

Self-love is a word, or two words, being thrown around a lot in the personal development/spiritual world. What does self-love even mean and where do I begin to start loving myself more? Many people equate self-love with being selfish and self centred as if self-love is at the exclusion of loving others or believing that you deserve more than others. I don’t believe this to be the case as loving myself has shifted my life substantially. Instead of being selfish, self-love is really the opposite and is the way you can give even more to people in your life.

I talk to clients about giving their energy when the tank is empty. This giving from fumes is not great quality energy and you aren’t giving the best of yourself. Giving from a full tank of energy, from overflow instead is giving the best of your energy which is a much better gift. The same principle applies to love. To give from overflow instead of fumes, you must fill your own tank with loving yourself first before you can give the best quality love to your loved ones. Doesn’t sound very selfish to me.

So what is self-love? Let’s start with what it is not. It is not judging yourself, beating yourself up, denying and running away from your feelings, numbing yourself out in front of the tv or stuffing your face when you feel down. It is not surrounding yourself with rainbows and hearts, telling yourself only to feel good feelings when you actually feel sad. Self-love is not putting yourself on the back burner constantly and looking after everyone else first or giving at the expense of your own well-being. Denying our feelings and fears closes the opening to our essence and soul. When we hurt ourselves by beating ourselves up, self-judgement and negative self talk, we hurt others as well because when we aren’t in a state of loving ourselves, we are not expressing the truth of who we are. We are withholding the gift of our soul’s unique essence from others in our life and robbing them from experiencing the real us.

Self-love is looking after yourself – eating healthy food, exercising, getting enough sleep, having a daily practice, time to replenish and refuel but to me, it goes much deeper than that. It really is about acknowledging, accepting, feeling and expressing our emotions, all of them, not just the ones that feel good. You may be wondering, how can letting myself feel negative emotions be loving to myself when they feel so awful? I get it. Who really wants that? The thing is, if we don’t allow ourselves to feel those yucky emotions, they stay in our bodies and wreak havoc until we do feel them fully. I have seen the results of that time and time again in my physical therapy practice. On the other side of those negative emotions though, lies our joy and we can’t get to the joy until we do the tough work of feeling our emotions and seeing what new insight about ourselves is waiting for us. Is there fear doing this work? Absolutely! That’s why it takes courage to practice self love and why I think so many people don’t.

Taking loving action can be quite difficult and scary – ending a relationship, leaving a job, cutting ties with friends, speaking your truth even though it may ruffle some feathers, going against societal norms and risking being rejected. Not taking loving action, however, will eventually hurt more in the end.

When I don’t practise self-love, I am setting the example for my children that it is OK to not love yourself. I am also taking away the very love that my kids need because if I can’t give love fully to myself, I can’t fully give them the love they need. OUCH! That was so hard for me to hear and I immediately began beating myself up for not loving myself more when I learned it was hurting my kids on some level. This was my lesson to learn and theirs as well. Isn’t it crazy that it took potentially hurting my girls for me to start loving myself fully? I would do it for my girls but not for myself. I guess it takes what it takes and in the end, we all benefit from it.

Accepting all our feelings is the path to wholeness. We only feel whole when we accept and embrace every feeling and fear. When we embrace and express our emotions, they lead us to the false beliefs that may be causing them. When we see the false beliefs for the lies that they are, we can then choose truth which allows us to heal. Feelings are full of information if we are open to hearing the messages. They are our greatest teachers. We can learn so much about ourselves and how we can treat ourselves better.

Self-love and acceptance is the way to true connection with your essence and source. Self-judgement and deprecation cuts of this connection. This is my life changing epiphany. I used to feel that there was something missing in me, that I was broken and defective in some way, that I wasn’t good enough. Now I know that that feeling was a disconnect, not a defect. It was a disconnect from my heart and soul, my essence, my spirit and source. It was a disconnect from my body, my emotions and my true self. I was living up in my head all the time. I remember being asked what I was feeling in my body and I had no idea what they were talking about. You want me to feel what? Here I was, a physical therapist, working with other people’s bodies all day long and I had no idea how my own body felt. I was so in my head and out of my body. It is what we do as a form of protection, not feeling physical or emotional pain. I was running away from the pain I experienced in my back and neck by ignoring it and staying up in my head. It took some time to be aware of how my body felt and listen to what my body was telling me. Now I know what it feels like.

The other night, I was giving a good friend of mine a coaching energy session and she called me her “spirit guide”. I laughed at first but then realized she was right. That is what I do. I guide people to reconnect to the essence of who they are, their spirit, their soul, their truth. I have been reluctant to fully own that. I consider myself a pretty grounded, down to earth person and “spirit guide” sounded so woo woo. I mean, what would people think? Another good friend said that I have been dancing around owning it for the past two years. I can’t deny it any longer as it resonates so deeply within me that I know it to be truth for me. Does that mean that I am fully connected and in my essence all the time? Heck no! It is something I am aiming for, being in my essence more times than not. Every day, I set my intention to be in my essence with my loved ones, my patients, my clients and anyone I connect with that day. It doesn’t mean that I am in my essence every moment of the day but setting my intention to be so helps the odds of it happening.

What does it feel like when  practising self-love and being connected to your essence? You feel happy, alive, passionate and yet a deep sense of peace, empowered, connected, authentic, creative, non-judgemental and whole. You give from fullness rather than at your own expense. You value and speak your truth despite any potential consequences. It just feels damn good! Loving yourself affects every area of your life because it is who you are being. Imagine how your career, relationships, health etc. would be if you were practising self love and being in truth. They say the truth will set you free, and it does. Love and truth are one and the same. They create more flow, peace, joy and harmony in your life. Love is all around us but when we can’t see it, we look for it, seek and strive for it from external sources. We just need to open our hearts and allow the love in. The love around us is the beauty of nature, the miracle of birth, the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly and an acorn into an oak tree. Love is the life force that pervades everything. When we open our eyes and hearts to this love all around us, we can stop struggling to find it and relax into it instead.

Ask yourself, are you willing to love yourself today? Start with baby steps. I know it can seem like a big leap to go from how you may feel today to loving yourself and knowing what that is. Start your day setting your intention to act from love and if you aren’t sure in the moment if you are doing that, simply ask yourself, “Am I acting from love or fear?” The two can’t coexist. I find it easier to know if I am acting from fear so if I recognize that I am acting from fear, the next question is “What would love do?” and I do that instead. Choose compassion and caring over fear and watch your life change.

Until next time, be good to yourself and let love flow in your life!

Much love,

Glenda

 

No, no ….. not another shit storm! Aaaahhhh!

See if this sounds familiar to you. You decide to commit to making a change in your life. It may be changing a habit, embarking on a new venture or maybe it is changing who you are being. You know deep in your heart that it is what you want and it is the right thing for you or you wouldn’t have committed to it. You feel really good as you start taking the first steps towards what you desire. Then it happens!

Enter the shit storm! Everything seems to go wrong. Your once felt euphoria morphs into dismay and frustration. You become filled with fear about everything that could go wrong if you continue on this new path you started. You want to run away to avoid feeling the pain and discomfort. This is not what you wanted or what you asked for and you start doubting whether it was a good decision in the first place. Instead of moving forward, you stall or pull back and retreat, feeling so enmeshed in the grip of fear. How can this new path be the right thing when it now feels so awful?

Ever have an experience like this? I have, countless times and in the moment, it feels pretty revolting. I used to be consumed by the shit storms, paralyzed by fear, feeling like I wanted to flee. The very last thing I felt like doing was continuing to move forward towards my desire for fear that even more shit would hit the fan. I still have moments when I am unconscious to what is going on and get carried away by the fear but it happens with much less frequency.

So what really is going on? Bottom line….transition is uncomfortable! This saying really sums it up, “When one door closes, another one opens but it is hell in the hallway”. Transition is being in the hallway and yes, it can feel like hell on wheels. I remember telling my coaches in the past about how horrible the shit storm was and thinking “How can they be so calm? How come they don’t see how bad this is?”. Now I know that they knew something I didn’t know. They knew this was a normal part of the process. It was the breakdown before the breakthrough.

There are actual biological changes occurring at a cellular level. On a recent video , Todd Herman described what happens on a cellular level when we try to create change. Our cells are constantly receiving information and are replicating themselves. They are used to receiving cortisol (a stress hormone). The cells then want more of it so they send info up to the brain saying “give me more cortisol” and they get it by creating more stress in their lives. That’s why we still feel stressed even when we don’t think we are. Our cells are used to cortisol. So when we start taking steps towards improving ourselves, positive emotion goes through our bodies and the cells get bombarded with feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin instead. The cells start vibrating to change their receptor sites to receive these new hormones. It is this vibration that trips us up. It is the very cause of self sabotage and resistance. We attach our own story to the discomfort and interpret as “this doesn’t feel good, it must not be right for me”. This is when we pull back and stop moving forward to making the changes we desire. Right when our cells are making adjustments from receiving mostly cortisol to mostly serotonin/dopamine, we quit because it doesn’t feel good. This is the hell in the hallway. Change is happening and if we just hang in there and keep taking steps forward during this transition stage, transformation will happen. Our cells will want more and more dopamine/serotonin and less cortisol so we will start choosing more activities that lead us to release more of those feel good hormones instead of continuing to create stressful situations for ourselves. You can relax into the change now that you know the biological changes happening at a cellular level. Transition is literally a cellular adjustment period.

That’s the science behind it and it can be very helpful for people to have something that their logical minds can grasp on to. There is also another perspective that has helped me immensely. I can’t truly say that I am thinking about my cells when the crap appears. Here is the realization that has changed how I look at the storm. When we ask for something we really want by making a decision and a commitment to making changes, God/Universe/Source shows us everything that is in the way and has been running the show. We are being shown our patterning in our subconscious mind, what needs to be seen, healed and cleared before we can have what we really want and be who we want to be. The gremlins are being shown to us by a big ol’ spotlight shining on them instead of hiding out in our subconscious minds where we aren’t aware of them.

Amazing things happen when we can welcome and embrace the fears/doubts/discomfort because now that we are aware of them, we have choice. Without awareness, we don’t have choice and feel pretty helpless. Awareness brings choice and power and we get to decide what we do with the storm. We can continue to resist or flee (fight or flight) or we can recognize that we have an opportunity to really look at what has been running our lives and change it if we choose. We can continue to move forward in spite of the discomfort and find out for ourselves if we are really on the right path. We can gather our own evidence instead of believing the fear. When we resist or flee, we are choosing to believe in the fear instead of what is really true for us. Find out for yourself instead of taking fear’s word for it. I am so grateful for my coaches helping me through my transition periods because it can feel like a very torturous time. I still need help from time to time when I get caught up in the storm, and yes it still happens, but not to the same extent and not as often. I now believe that life supports me. Life has my greatest good in mind, not punishment or suffering or lack. What do you believe about life? Is it working for you? Do you want to change your beliefs? It is possible and I am living proof of that. If you don’t believe you can change your beliefs and thoughts, that’s just fear yipping at you:) Until next time, may you welcome the storms in your life and see them for what they really are – an opportunity to know yourself even more.