What is important to you?
Self~Love; regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.
Self~Worth; the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person.
Self~Care; the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.
Or is it all three?
For me the answer was yes, yes, and yes ~ I have a long history of yo~yo dieting and self~loathing. I have extreme episodes of being very high and then very low.
In the past my weight was often the sole focus of how I judged and compared myself to others. It was mostly contained by exercise, long walks with the dog and tennis. When the ability to exercise was taking away from me I started to become bigger. Then when medication for mental health and pain relief were added to the mix, not to mention the 5 months of oral steroids, my weight increased even further.
Feeling sick, weak, and bloated made my self esteem nose dive to below rock bottom, I was sub~rock bottom!
Then I decided to do something about it. I have dabbled with self love on a number of occasions and then fallen off the self love wagon.
This time I am determined to stay above rock bottom, paddling furiously I refuse to sink down and undo all the work I have put into my project of achieving self~love, self~worth and self~care.
The turning point came when I met with Kathy from Hypnassist ~ she helped me to see that my weight issues weren’t the cause of my issues but a symptom. The cause ran much deeper and was rooted in how I perceived myself and what I had taught my subconscious to do in order to care for me ~ it felt a piece of cake or chocolate bars were self~love and self~care as I was gaining comfort from having them. Sadly I also self flagellated afterwards too with a deep sense of self~loathing, disgusted with myself for “breaking the diet” and of being weak.
Using the tools she gave me, along with teaching me how to recognise when I was hungry or when I was bored or using food for comfort has helped enormously. I don’t follow “meal~times” and instead follow my gut, literally!
I have rediscovered my love for water, especially fruit infused water and am maintaining a mindset of drinking water first in case I’m actually thirsty and not hungry.
I have since purchased Mels books via Audible
I’m half~way through the first book and it marries perfectly with the work I have done with Kathy. The beauty of Audible is that I can close my eyes and really listen to what Mel is telling me as she narrates her own books, plus I can re~listen as often as I desire to really imprint her words into my mind.
So why is it so important to nurture your self~care, self~worth and self~love? I’ll break it down..
The University of Metaphysical Sciences say..
“Society and the modern mentality often make us feel ashamed of taking too much time for ourselves or thinking of ourselves first. We are taught that by spending money on ourselves, pampering ourselves, or otherwise indulging that we are being selfish and somehow not honoring our highest self. In the extreme, others may even suggest we are stealing time, love and energy from our families and friends in some way.”
Many folk, including myself, are so busy doing and running around making those they love, they work for, their family and friends happy that they forget to take care of themselves. Yet if you don’t self~care then you can end up not being as efficient or effective as you would like plus you may become frazzled and a little resentful of those you are caring for.
Taking care of yourself is so important, as we can end up with poor health among the resentfulness and exhaustion. I believe strongly that our mental health is equal to our physical health in importance. Self~care is about nuturing them both, if you feel nutured and have cared well for yourself then you will see that benefit when caring for others.
Self~care comes in various forms; don’t allow negative, critical thoughts to take root ~ instead compliment yourself and take the compliments from others graciously and believe them.
Meditation and Mindfulness are two key practices to help you on your journey with self~care.
I have used the Headspace app on my phone before but since seeing Kathy and participating in the Self~Love Advent Challenge I tend to use both Kathy’s and Mel’s guided meditations instead as they are more personal to me and my goals.
However both definitions below are from Headspace as they are short and to the point..
“Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.“
“Mindfulness is the ability to be present, to rest in the here and now, fully engaged with whatever we’re doing in the moment.“
I tend to meditate in one of two ways, I either lie back on a comfortable chair or bed with my earphones in and close my eyes then listen to the guided meditation. I take the time away from everyone and everything in order to give myself this time out. If I don’t feel like doing the lying back and listening option I sit at my zen garden and listen to the guided meditation via my blue tooth speaker and create a mandala using various utensils and stones. My mind is empty and the only thing that I am aware of is the sound of the voice guiding me in my meditation and the peace of creating something visual as I do. I always feel better after meditating, it gives me a feeling of peace deep inside.
Mindfulness is harder to maintain, you have to constantly be monitoring your inner monologue, to recognize negative and critical thoughts, acknowledging them and then pushing them aside to pursue being in the moment, reveling in the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of my what I am doing in that moment. It is so easy to be distracted and not take in your surroundings and we miss so much when we do this. Being mindful helps me to make better decisions because I am “Present” and can “See” which direction I need to take.
It is very important to be selfish when you need to be, take the time out each day to do something just for you. Treat yourself to something, take a deep bubble bath, take time out to read a few chapters of a book ~ whatever it is that you desire ~ do it!
The most important part of self~care is to ensure that you only surround yourself with positive people and remove those mood hoovers and negative people from your life and social media accounts. Having like minded people around you makes life a much happier and fulfilling one.
Self~worth is about who you are and not about what you do. Don’t try to measure yourself against others, you will never feel your worth that way ~ it is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking, I’m worthless, look at what *insert name* does ~ I could never achieve or be that. We can always find those we feel less than and by doing that we are reducing ourselves in our own mind into being worthless, less than, no good. Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself too ~ we all have things in our past that we aren’t proud of but instead of holding on to them acknowledge them and forgive yourself then let them go. Holding onto them is unhelpful and creates a whirlpool of self loathing ~ let it go.
Look deeply into yourself and see all that you have achieved, that you can do and what you plan to do. Put an end to judging yourself via external factors and do it now!
Dr. Lisa Firestone says “We all have a “critical inner voice,” which acts like a cruel coach inside our heads that tells us we are worthless or undeserving of happiness. This coach is shaped from painful childhood experiences and critical attitudes we were exposed to early in life as well as feelings our parents had about themselves. While these attitudes can be hurtful, over time, they have become ingrained in us. As adults, we may fail to see them as an enemy, instead accepting their destructive point of view as our own.”
The answer is to listen to and acknowledge your critical thoughts and then turn them around ~ treat yourself with kindness and compassion. See your value and your abilities, talk to your subconscious / inner critic and tell it what you are in the present tense i.e.”I am worthy of love because I am a good and worthy friend. I love my body because it cares for me and works hard to protect me. I am slim and healthy because I only put good natural foods into my body to feed and nourish it.” These are just examples, but you catch my drift?
Treat yourself with the love and care you would treat a loved one.
Dr. Dan Siegel describes this as the “COAL” attitude, which means being;
towards yourself and your experiences rather than being self-critical.
There are three steps to practicing self-compassion:
1) Acknowledge and notice your suffering.
2) Be kind and caring in response to suffering.
3) Remember that imperfection is part of the human experience and something we all share.
An article from Psychalive concludes; “By challenging your critical inner voice and stopping comparing yourself to others, you can begin to get a feeling for your own self-worth. By pursuing activities that are meaningful to you and acting in line with your own personal beliefs, you can develop your sense of yourself as a worthwhile person in the world even further.”
It takes a while to fully achieve self~love and I am aware I’m not quite there yet, it’s a journey and one I am pursuing doggedly. I am practicing nurturing my inner self, my subconscious by focusing on self~care and self~worth.
Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. writes in an article in Psychology today titled “A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love”
“Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.
Self-love is dynamic; it grows by actions that mature us.
When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.“
She then moves on to give us her 7 step prescription for self~love which are..
Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel and want. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.
Act on what you need rather than what you want. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.
Practice good self-care. You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interactions.
Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.
Protect yourself. Bring the right people into your life. I love the term frenemies that I learned from my younger clients. It describes so well the type of “friends” who take pleasure in your pain and loss rather than in your happiness and success. My suggestion to you here: Get rid of them! There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and life”. You will love and respect yourself more.
Forgive yourself. We humans can be so hard on ourselves. The downside of taking responsiblity for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes in learning and growing. You have to accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect), before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes; there are only lessons learned.
Live intentionally. You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. You need to establish your living intentions, to do this.
Its not easy to achieve the big three, self care, worth and love but I believe wholeheartedly that in order to be all you can to others you have to be all you can to yourself first.