What is Self-Love Anyway?
I have both personal and professional experience with the rumbling with self-love. However, I am not the expert on the subject, nor am I the expert on you. YOU are the expert on you. What I want to outline in this post is a starting point to the path of self love, an alternative perspective to what self-love means, and offer a little gift for you at the end.
We often embark on this journey to self-love when we realize that the way we have been living life has been through a lens of self-hatred and depreciation. After a considerable amount of time you may realize you are too damn tired to continue living that way. You may recognize that you have been living outside of your body and your desires. Maybe your needs have been de-prioritized in favor of trying to make others comfortable and happy, or that your self worth has been placed into the hands of something or someone other than yourself. You find you are running on empty and there is just enough fumes in the gas tank to provide for your basic needs. You meet a rock-bottom of sorts.
A precious thought of "I want to feel better" or "I deserve better/more" can land your feet at the edge of a new path, the path of self love. Initially, the term self-love might feel too big or too distant to ever fully claim, so you might dismiss this idea all together and continue to acquiesce to an old and familiar pattern of thinking, feeling, and like you don't matter. It may take several attempts at beginning before you get traction and momentum. Additionally, once you start, you may take two steps forward and one step back or even find yourself at the beginning after some time. That is just a part of it. The path is not linear, it is cyclic.
The path to self love does not start with spontaneously loving yourself or buying yourself nice things. The path to self-love begins when you make the commitment to getting to know yourself. You cannot fully love what you do not know and you cannot truly embrace what you are not emotionally vulnerable with.
Self love means coming to love all parts of you, light and dark. If you only want to see and love the light and socially acceptable parts of you, you will only be open to love at half capacity. Additionally, if you judge and dismiss aspects of self that are less desirable, displeasurable, scary, dark, or evil, it makes it very difficult to fully love and accept others.
Self-love is not a place you arrive. It is something you continuously cultivate because you are, and will forever be, changing. This means a consistent and compassionate self-inquiry that both honors and challenges you. Creating a self-inquiry practice that allows you to look inside with curiosity and non-judgement is the first step to garnering love for yourself. During this ritual, you practice moving down from your thinking brain and into your body. Connecting to self love involves a sacred homecoming to your body and getting to know any part of you you have previously disowned. You know you are on your way when you feel a settling in your body instead of a resisting.
I have attached a PDF guide that will gently nurture you in cultivating a self inquiry ritual. Since getting to know yourself is the first step to self love, it is crucial you create a deeply personal and intimate experience that you can repeat over and over again.