I worked through the question of self-love many times in my journey to become a wellness coach, but it emerged as an issue for me again in a big way when I hit menopause a couple of years ago.
Among other things I faced a moment of truth about the fact that it’s simply not possible to outrun a lack of self-love indefinitely, and when the chips were down with my hormones all over the place.
I realised that I needed to get things into perspective and reign in some of the self imposed negativity that had crept back into my life.
The first thing I did to get back on track was to ask myself what conditions I needed to have in place, for self-love to become my default setting again. The answer to that question included the following –
- The ability to forgive myself for only doing the best I could in the past, present, and future.
- The willingness to give myself permission to be well and happy.
- The generosity to cut myself some slack whenever I make a mistake.
- The courage to take life as it comes and stop trying to control everything.
- The wisdom and the strength to lean into discomfort rather than pulling away from it.
- The generosity to stop caring what other people think.
- The wisdom to stop comparing myself to others.
- The ability to feel my feelings and above all else, the ability and willingness to receive love.
The next thing I did was carry out an exercise that I regularly give to my clients to help them flush out any attitudes and habits that are likely to erode their wellbeing in general and their self-love in particular.
I offer you a condensed version of this exercise to keep handy whenever you feel like your own self-love is waning. The exercise includes answering the following questions;
- Where am I applying perfectionism in my life?
- How do I feel about that aspect of my life right now?
- In what ways am I doing really well in this aspect of my life right now?
- In which other areas of my life am I doing really well?
- What drains my energy?
- What could I do to limit this drainage?
- How do I show myself respect?
- How else could I show myself respect?
- How easy or hard have I made it to feel good?
- What could I do to make it easier to feel good?
- What do I say to myself when I’ve made a mistake?
- What’s a more empowering thing I could say?
- What do I say to myself when I’m tired?
- What’s a more compassionate thing I could say?
- What things could I do to cultivate more self-compassion?
And lastly, I re-established a set of rituals that have helped me to get emotionally healthy in the past that for one reason or other had been gradually watered down over time.
Again I’m sharing this with you in the interest of helping you to maintain a level of self-love that works best for you. The set of rituals involves the following four parts.
Three Relaxing Minutes:
Every night before you go to bed:
- Sit comfortably with a pad and pen nearby. Close your eyes, breathe deeply without forcing anything, and just feel into your body. Notice any thoughts, feelings, emotions, worries, sounds, smells or other sensations that arise. Don’t engage with them or try to suppress or change them in any way. Just observe them.
- Maintain this practice for three minutes.
- Then open your eyes and notice your body supported in the chair. Notice what you can see, smell and hear. Wriggle your toes and stretch your arms above your head to ground yourself in the here and now.
- Now take the pad and pen and write down –
- Any ideas or feelings that came up during this exercise.
- At least one thing about yourself that you like.
- At least one thing that you did well today.
- At least one thing you feel grateful for.
- Now take the pad and pen and write down –
Three Grounding Minutes:
On waking every morning:
- Spend a moment to remember what you’re grateful for. Just sit with the felt sense of this gratitude in your body for 3 minutes. Again just observe any thoughts that cross your mind without feeling that you need to do anything at all about them.
- Set your intention in relation to what you plan to achieve today and what you need to do to achieve these things (specifically in relation to writing your book). Write this down on one or more post-it notes and stick these wherever you’ll be able to see them during the day. Make a point of reviewing your progress toward your writing goals at least twice during the day. Remember to acknowledge yourself for getting these things done, and make sure to reschedule anything that doesn’t get done.
Three Focused Minutes:
Somewhere around the middle of the day:
- Sit quietly with your eyes shut and just sit with the sense your body working beautifully. If there’s only one place in your body that feels good on a particular day, feel into that part.
- During this time, say to yourself in your mind “I have everything I need to write a great book”, and/or anything else that needs to be said, eg “I am enough”, or “I am happy, healthy, and strong”. Repeat this mantra for the duration of the practice.
- Notice if you’re holding on to any tension in your body. Just breathe into that place and notice the breath enveloping the tension until it dissipates.
- After 3 minutes, bring your attention back into the room by wriggling your toes or whatever works for you, and if there is any unresolved tension, ask yourself “what needs to happen for this tension to be released”? Sit with this question until the answer comes, or until the tension dissipates.
- After a while if nothing has changed ask, “Am I prepared to let this tension go?” If nothing comes up for you just ask, “What needs to happen for me to be ready to let this go?”
- Repeat this until you get an answer, or until you feel like it’s time to stop. Sometimes things like this are automatically processed overnight once you shift the energy via shining the light of awareness onto them during a practice like this. It might take more than one day in some instances. The cumulative effect of daily focus in this way should ultimately release the tension.
Whenever you notice negative thoughts coming up throughout the day, make a point of noticing how and where you feel this in your body, and ask yourself:
- Where did this thought come from?
- What need, issue or problem does this thought serve?
- What can I do to address that need?
- How does this thought limit me?
- What would a more resourceful thought be?
- What comes up for me when I stop and look at my thoughts?
- How does this exercise shift the energy around the thought?
These are deceptively simple yet very powerful exercises that I really urge you to put the time in to setting up a routine around. This will slowly but surely change your life and make an abundant flow of self-love much more available to you.
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Jane Turner – Woman’s Health Expert