Loving our self is an essential and very important part of our healing and evolution. When we love ourselves we offer the gift of love to everyone around us as well. Self-love is the most compassionate, gentle, loving and kind thing we offer our Self.
Not Loving Ourselves
Most of us on the journey of life have invariably made a few mistakes along the way. If we judge ourselves for what we did/didn’t do – then it’s likely that we have feelings of shame/guilt. Holding onto these feelings prevent us from experiencing self-love, and keep us in a place of inner conflict or turmoil. When we are out of balance like this, we tend to hurt other people too.
Compassion: Loving Ourselves
What if we viewed our mistakes through the eyes of compassion? We’d understand that each mistake we’ve made is/was a stepping stone on the path of life. It was all part of our growth. When we give ourselves permission to learn from our mistakes, we forgive ourselves and this ultimately sets us free.
Have You Been Good to Yourself?
A few days ago I was in the car going home, listening to night-time radio. Cillian Murphy was being interviewed and he was sharing some of his favourite songs. He introduced a track written and sung by Johnnie Frierson: ‘Have you Been Good to Yourself?’
The lyrics blew me away:
“Have you been good to yourself?
Have you been getting your proper rest?
Have you been sleeping at least 8 hours?
Have you been eating the right kind of food?
Have you been getting enough exercise?”
I have to admit based on my behaviour that week, most of my answers to those questions were ‘no’.
The song continued and Johnnie came to the most powerful part of the song (for me):
“If you’re not gonna be good to yourself, then you’re not gonna be good to others…
If you’re not gonna be good to yourself, then you’re not gonna be good to others…
When mistreat yourself, then you mistreat others…
When mistreat yourself, then you mistreat your family….
When mistreat yourself, then you mistreat your children….”
What is Loving Ourselves?
When we don’t love ourselves then everyone suffers. No-one gets the best from us, not even ourselves.
A few years ago I was working in Asia offering a variety of workshops & consultations there. One workshop I facilitated was around the topic of love. I asked the participants in the group to take a deep breath and consider the following NLP questions:
- What does ‘loving yourself’ mean to you?
- How do you know when you are loved?
- What do you see being done to you?
- What do you hear being said to you?
- What are the sensations that you feel?
- How do you know you are loveable?
I then asked them to write down their thoughts and feelings. The sharing that followed was incredibly insightful. We uncovered many beliefs about loving and not loving ourselves. Lots of things came to light. Then some of the participants asked “How do we love ourselves?”
Steps to Loving Ourselves
Here’s what I shared:
- Firstly become aware that you have needs.
Often we put everyone elses’ needs before ours – and think this is loving and healthy. It’s not, it just causes resentment, anger, sadness and frustration with others and our particularly with our self.
- Next listen to your needs.
We listen to everyone elses’ needs, why not our own? Who said we couldn’t /shouldn’t or mustn’t listen to our needs? More often than not, we ignore them.
- Finally give your self what you need.
Without feeling guilty or selfish. Know that this step is a necessary part of our journey: to feel worthy/deserving/requiring of what we need.
I love the Persian poet and Sufi master Rumi. His quote sums up so much:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Barriers to Loving Ourselves
So what type of barriers might Rumi be refering to? Here are some, there’s probably a lot more, but these are a start:
- Feelings of being unworthy or undeserving of happiness/love
- Feeling insecure, needing reassurance, jealousy
- Self-sabotaging behaviour and sabotaging your relationships
- Acts of self-denial including downplaying compliments
- Painful experiences in love
- Doubt and self-doubt e.g. that the relationship will last or that it’s ‘too good to be true’
- Not taking responsibility, playing the victim, self-pity
- Harbouring guilt or making others feel guilty
- Negative beliefs/programming/experiences around self-love and love
- Fears e.g. abandonment, intimacy, guilt, failure, sexuality
- Self-abuse – in the form of addictions
- Fear of the fear of rejection, betrayal, humiliation
All of these barriers limit our ability to love ourselves and others. These barriers can be due to the conditioning we’ve received in our childhood. In addition, there are beliefs that are handed down through generations from grandparents/extended family members. We observe their behaviours and demonstrations of love and these patterns become our internal road-maps. Then we subconsciously navigate our life, love and relationships with these sometimes (outdated) road maps.
It was at that point in my early 30’s that I read one of the most powerful books written by Robin Norwood titled ‘Women who Love Too Much’. I realized something within me needed to change – I could identify with the entire book. It was as a result of reading Norwoods’ book that I began my own journey of healing.
Self-esteem, Security and Self-love
I’m not perfect, I like to think I’m a work in progress. There are times when I “get it right” – and other times when improvement is required. It’s all part of my journey of evolution and growth. What I’ve discovered is that self-love comes from the inside out – it’s an inner state, made from feelings of love, strength and happiness. These feelings give us a sense of security and self-esteem. It is this inner security that becomes the well-spring of self-love. When we listen to our needs and give our self what we need then we are truly loving our selves.
“The most important relationship you have in the world is the one you have with yourself;
everything and everyone is a direct reflection of the quality of that relationship.”
If you’re ready to change the relationship you have with yourself and begin a journey of self love, then contact us to book your private, confidential consultation. Appointments can also be booked online. If you don’t live in Ireland, we can work together online via Skype and Zoom from the comfort of your office/home. Call us on: (Ireland) 0871492338 or (UK) 07857369619 to chat.
Alternatively join us for our potent Weekend Retreats, if you’d like to delve deeper and uncover/discover more about yourself!
My thanks to Cillian Murphy for the inspiration for this post and the wonderful local photographer Mary Kidney for allowing me use her beautiful photo (of blossoms) at the top of this page.