As a woman, fitness business owner and mother I hear a lot of grumblings from other women and girls about things they dislike about their bodies and selves. And I of course have my own dissatisfactions with certain qualities about myself. Let's be blunt, American popular culture does nothing to empower us or help us feel good about our bodies, sexuality and/or ourselves. I could dive deep into that topic and it's many many offshoots....but that's an entire blog series unto itself! For now I want to focus on a key concept that is so important to your total well being! Unconditional self love. It feels pertinent to me that the first topic we explore (and hopefully inspire in you) as part of our wellness campaign #FallinLoveWithYourself is unconditional love for yourself. That is; accepting and loving all parts of yourself, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Here is a simple exercise that you can do that can help you ignite this experience + read the following blog post for more ideas!!
Write a letter to yourself at a younger age -- if there is an age that stands out in your mind as needing more love then go with that. I chose age 10. In the letter tell younger you how you feel about him/her, tell him/her how amazing they are, tell them all the things they deserve to hear. Then read it back to yourself.
Here are some excerpts we loved from other blogs about self love -- peruse at your leisure! I've included the links to the full articles if you want to explore further.
Mind Body Green says that there are 10 wonderful ways to practice self care and self care is often times a stepping stone to self love...here they are:
"1. Create a self-love ritual: this can be as easy as taking a bubble bath every day (with candles).
2. Build a precious community: Their words, not ours. But seriously: surround yourself with positive people that make you feel like a rock star. It's effects are pretty much instantaneous.
3. Make a “What’s Working for Me" list: Just write down all the good things in your life.
4. Know that your body is a loving vessel: Working out and eating comforting, wholesome foods make you feel good. It's a fact.
5. Clean out your closet: I mean there are books about how therapeutic this is.
6. No more comparisons: Even if this means a couple of "unfollows" on Instagram or Facebook.
7. Explore your spirituality: This doesn't have to be religious spirituality. Sometimes it's just therapeutic to think about how you fit into the world.
8. Do something you're good at: Duh.
9. Find your happy place: "Think of a place that makes it simple to just be."
10. Build your letting go muscle: Let go of stuff from the past that makes weight heavy on you."
The Positivity Blog say's this:
"Childhood bliss is, unfortunately, something many of us don’t experience — and even if we do, don’t experience it fully enough. Imagine a baby cuddled in mother’s arms. You just exist, and your parents love you. You may not understand their words, but you get the message from their touches, their smiles, the tone in their voice. They tell you: we are glad you were born.Unconditional love is a birthright. It’s the builder of our foundation, the ground on which the rest of our psyche is built. But many (or most?) of us are given the gift of compromised foundation. You may not recognize it as such in your day-to-day struggles. But consider these common symptoms:
- Chronic, mysterious and/or incurable health conditions (migraine, skin rashes, perpetual history of getting sick or injured one way or another)
- Difficulty trusting other people
- Scarcity mentality
- Dependency (substance, food, approval of peer/parent/boss)"
They list "5 Practical Ways to Self-Produce Unconditional Love" that you could try out...the idea of play is what intrigued me the most. Just the simple act of playing in sand and seeing where your mind takes you sounds very therapeutic. And there is also a lot to be said for buying a cheap set of watercolors and just going to town.
Psychology Today talks about "Self-Esteem vs. Self-Acceptance":
"Though related, self-acceptance is not the same as self-esteem. Whereas self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, or worthwhile, we see ourselves, self-acceptance alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we're self-accepting, we're able to embrace all facets of ourselves--not just the positive, more "esteem-able" parts. As such, self-acceptance is unconditional, free of any qualification. We can recognize our weaknesses, limitations, and foibles, but this awareness in no way interferes with our ability to fully accept ourselves...I regularly tell my therapy clients that if they genuinely want to improve their self-esteem, they need to explore what parts of themselves they're not yet able to accept."
This article is an interesting read and also has a bit about Self-Acceptance vs. Self Improvement which is something that seams really important to touch on early here. "Accepting ourselves as we are today doesn't mean we'll be without the motivation to make changes or improvements that will make us more effective, or that will enrich our (and likely others') lives. It's simply that this self-acceptance is in no way tied to such alterations. We don't have to actually do anything to secure our self-acceptance: we have only to change the way we look at ourselves. So changing our behaviors becomes solely a matter of personal preference--not a prerequisite for greater self-regard."
Elephant Journal breaks practicing Unconditional Self Love down into 5 Rules:
Rule #1: Leave the past behind
Rule #2: Stop comparing
Rule #3: Focus on your strengths
Rule #4: Do stuff that makes you happy
Rule #5: Dream a new dream i.e. go back to the drawing board
"Focus on your own strengths" is particularly important here. There's nothing more empowering than finding your strengths and using them in all aspects of your life. It really serves as an umbrella for the other rules in a lot of ways. And good news! This is a shameless plug for the upcoming SHIFT event THIS SUNDAY which talks about JUST THAT. Here are some details about that.
"Self-love is our fuel; it’s the foundation for who we are. Everything builds on top of this foundation, and if it isn’t solid, life feels shaky. For those of us who have experienced the power of self-love, we can agree that the effects can often feel quite magical. The moment we start loving ourselves, we experience shifts—positive shifts. Life begins to move forward with more ease and things begin to magically fall into place. Relationships improve. Health improves. And life begins to feel good—really good—ridiculously good."
They talk about how for a lot of people the difficulty in practicing self care is guilt and feeling that focusing on yourself is selfish but the better care you take of yourself, the more you can help others.
That's all for now. Keep checking social media -- we'll be posting little nuggets of wisdom and tips to help you start loving yourself unconditionally!