“I love me,
I love me enough for the both of us”
– Jhene Aiko
Every person on this planet is a piece of the universe; we are all connected to an ongoing thread, leading us back to one source. Without realizing it, we influence each other by every action, every word, and every frequency we send into the universe. The cause to all pain and suffering is linked to one thing: A lack of love. However, the biggest way we influence the world around us is by how we treat ourselves, how we care for ourselves, and how much love we hold in our hearts for our own existence.
Photo by Jay Alvarrez
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Washington Thurman
How we treat others and live our lives is a direct result of how we feel about ourselves. Loving yourself allows you to love others. Self-love is the facilitator of kindness and self-awareness because you care enough to put yourself first, which allows you to be a filled vessel for the world around you. The same way someone is in love with another person and wants to know everything about them, what makes them happy, sad, angry, and excited, is how we should feel about ourselves. Besides, our longest commitment is to ourselves and there’s no breaking up with that.
What is self love?
Self-love has so many layers and forms. Some individuals think loving our bodies is self love, or loving the weird parts of your personality. Others think its simply putting yourself first, treating yourself out to a shopping spree, or simply deciding to get up in the morning. But which is the right answer? Is there one, all dominating answer? Fortunately for us, there is no right answer. Self-love is complex and comes in different forms. It is the practice of loving the whole self and everything in between. It is accepting who you are (body and spirit) and letting go of the idea of what you want to be. It is the service of being kind to yourself during growth periods of your life and loving the failures that shaped you into the divine being you are. It is the decision of loving yourself in the light and the dark, during dark moments of self criticism and depression, forgiving yourself when you make silly mistakes, like locking your keys in the car at 11pm at night when you have a 7:30am class the next morning, and above all, choosing what sets your soul on fire. It is also important to remember that self love, just like anything else, takes practice. No one gets it right all the time and that’s the beauty of it, but where do we start?
How do I practice self-love?
Most of us have asked questions like, “How do love myself more?” “What can I do right now to change how I see myself?” “Or where do I even start?” See, because self-love is like a lifelong puzzle, we are constantly evolving and trying to find a new piece to complete ourselves. When a new challenge arises that forces reflection on parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed, we learn to love those areas, too. For instance, when an athlete gets injured during a game and goes into physical therapy, that person is discovering a limitation they haven’t encountered before, he or she probably never felt physically vulnerable in their lifetime, until that breaking moment. Although we are all cosmic beings with limitless potential, our physical selves are sensitive and immortal. So when we embark on that journey of self discovery, we have to love our inevitable tendency for failure.
So, how do we start practicing self love? Well, I have created a list of self love practices based on the 7 love languages by Gary Chapman. Although Valentines day is approach and the 7 love languages is built around romance shared between two people, its principles can be applied to the self as well (as they should).
1. Words of affirmation
The same way we need validation and affirmation from others, we also need it from ourselves. A great way to practice this form of self love is through affirmations during meditation (see. A Guide on the Seven Chakras for a list of affirmations). Journaling is another great way to practice self-love. Manifesting self- love by materializing loving thoughts about yourself is a power message to the universe and to yourself, which will inevitably attract positive situations to yourself.
2. Quality Time
Many of us are too busy giving quality time to our loved ones that we neglect the time we need for ourselves. Quality time is essential for recollecting our thoughts and coming back home to our inner selves. The practice for this is easy, just spend time with yourself! Take that cute self out on a date, go to the spa, get that massage you’ve needed for so long, or dedicate time every day to mediate. Sometimes a simple bath with some epsom salt is enough. The goal here is to give yourself time to rejuvenate and recharge.
3. Receiving Gifts
This may come off unintentionally materialistic, but gifts do not always have to be superficial. The importance behind this love language is the meaning behind the gift and the thought put into it. Some good ideas for self gifting is buying those pair of shoes you wanted, or buying that book you’ve been interested in. Cashing out on a shopping spree or making it rain on a buffet meal is also never a bad idea.
4. Acts of Service
Actions speak louder than anything else, so when it’s time to ride for yourself, hopefully we all will love ourselves enough to take action towards our well-being and overall health. Acts of service to yourself include preparing healthy meals for yourself, planning out your week and month in advance, taking action by eliminating certain energies in your life, and keeping your dwelling filled with positive vibes that make you happy. Some other acts of service include:
Purging old things that remind you of negative people
Creating a bucket list of all your life goals
Invest and take action toward your vision
Quit the job that’s making you miserable
Start taking calculated risks toward your goals
5. Physical touch
Now, I know what you are thinking, so get your mind out of the gutter for a second (or not). Touch is a powerful force, it is how the universe came into existence. But how does one practice self-love through touch? Well you guessed it, onanism or masturbation, is definitely on the list for practicing self-love. Masturbation is frequently looked down upon and has been marked as socially unacceptable to talk about with others (even though you don’t need others to do it). However, self pleasure is important and necessary, we are sexual beings by default. Thus masturbation, just like any other sexual action, should not be looked down upon. Some other ways include getting a manicure and pedicure, developing a healthy facial routine, moisturizing your body with oils and lotion, and checking in with your doctor to maintain your physical health.
As you can hopefully see, self-love harmonizes the universe and changes our world for the better from the inside out.