My journey to self-love was a curly one - at best. And the self-love I’m talking about it not simply taking a nice bath, and giving yourself permission to eat your favourite chocolate - although those are great places to start!
The idea of self-love that I’m most passionate about, looks like knowing yourself and living in way that supports your true and compassionate desires, wants, and needs as an absolute non-negotiable.
It’s completely unsurprising that self-love is difficult to identify and master. Afterall, we aren’t taught it in school and it was unlikely to be modelled by our parents, or any adult role-models in our lives.
Yet, self-love is the most powerful and potent relationship we will ever experience in our lives.
And for some of us, including my confused, sad and lonely younger self, self-love is something we don’t even realise we are living without.
I remember that I was always enthusiastically passionate about having a life I love - and yet I have spent more time than I care to remember in self-doubt, criticism and rejection of my true self.
This internal conflict came to a head in highschool, when in the face of much turmoil at home and relentless fall-outs with friendships at my catholic girls-only high school, something inside me didn’t believe that it was my ‘personality’ to be sooo secretly sad, and lonely.
I remember my very first school counselling session, where I gave voice to that very quiet but convincing internal whisper, “I feel like I’m such a bad person, but I don’t understand why, because I believe I’m good”.
That session was the first of many, and years of different therapeutic explorations and even more unanswered doubts and questions.
In the meantime, thankfully, I kept listening to that little voice, and continued to be inspired by a blind faith, that I was in fact at least, even a little bit good.
Somehow that journey took me first into the world of Yoga.
In honesty I wish I could remember the how and why I even began Yoga, but looking back it seemed appear in my life - like a divine, serendipitous, gift that would later become a lifelong friend.
And as a note of clarity, the Yoga I was introduced to at that time wasn’t commercial, or cool, and there certainly wasn’t any Lululemon either. In fact most classes were full of people at least 30 years older than me so I wasn’t even going to hang out, or keep up with, peers.
Yet, in this strange thing called Yoga, it was there that I first encountered a space, and opportunity, for me to be completely and authentically with myself and at home in my body.
I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, Yoga was a moment in time without striving and judgement: no commentary about my looks, my grades, nor my performance.
I had never experienced this before. It was in such stark contrasted to my daily life, where everything was about success, striving and accomplishing.
Unsurprisingly, this pure, freedom and body liberation was incredibly powerful.
Particularly as other pressures began to arise; my external world was increasingly consumed by my body image and I had begun a rollercoaster ride of dieting every spring, ahead of the summer ‘beach body’ season.
I realised now that the main reason I was rejecting myself so much was that there simply weren’t any role models for me in the mainstream. The world around me was grossly lacking in diversity. In the face of this, and feeling so alien and unacceptable, it was unsurprising I had internalised a message of self-hate.
And yet, there was still Yoga. And singing. And art. These three things had a critical common denominator: a focus on feeling and being and creating.
In a world where education, work, online and social media is designed to have you thinking and doing, and consuming - these practices help me to bypass my thinking and analytical brain and directly engage the senses.
And everytime I engaged them they would ever so gently and quietly invite me to be present to myself, physically in my body, and to act, move and experience my incredible humanness in a way that was outside of language, analysis and ultimately, criticism.
I now know that embodied practices like yoga, music and art are a powerful unfiltered, un-mediated and uncensored practices through which I can safely be in my body, and return home to myself.
It is here in these acts of playful, creativity that your capacity for deep self-love is fortified and can expand.
Committing to consistent acts of feeling and being is how you can powerfully embody your unique creative possibilities. Doing this over time becomes evidence for the truth: you are innately good and self-love is yours to have and define exactly as you choose.
I hope this helps beauty, I would love to hear your thoughts.