“How can I authentically practice self love if I don’t truly love myself?” My client’s question took me off guard as it illustrated one of the limitations of the world of self improvement. So much advice is predicted on self love, but what if the feeling isn’t there? We cannot command self love to manifest, nor should we “fake it till we make it.” But I believe we can nurture it along. The key to the practice ofself love is… “practice.” The following are ways that you can begin to practice self-love now, and remember, it’s just practice, so be gentle with yourself.
1. Tend to your instrument: First and foremost you are a spiritual being with a desire to be human and not the other way around. Make a daily priority of nurturing your mind-body-spirit connection by practicing presence and awareness with conscious breath and meditation. Your body is the instrument your soul has chosen for this human adventure. Be kind to it. Be sensitive to the feedback and power of this incredible spiritual-biological miracle that you ride around in. Attuned and optimized for the manifestation of your soul's destiny it will support you in your quest for self love and soul realization.
2. Turn your compassion inward: Be mindful of your inner dialogue and notice how you speak to yourself. Would you let another person speak to you that way? Just like everyone else, you need acceptance, attention, and the permission to feel and heal. Don’t avoid your own internal suffering or discomfort, instead meet it head-on. Be your own best advocate, the kindest and most compassionate person you can imagine.
3. Practise forgiveness for yourself: We all know the importance of forgiving others: by letting go of anger and resentment, we not only release them but we free ourselves from negativity. But what about forgiving ourselves? Years ago, through shamanic journeying, I came face to face with my own five year old self. A little girl who’s beauty, ferocity, exuberance, strength, humour, and connection to spirit brought me to tears. Yet, as I gazed upon her, her exuberance began to fade into an intense sadness. In my haste to become an adult I had left her behind. The feeling broke my heart.
“Forgive me,” I pleaded. And she easily did.
But the hardest part was yet to come, I needed to forgive myself. I choked on a range of emotions as I breathed through the process. As I did the little girl and I began to merge together and become one. The gesture of self forgiveness was tremendous.
I realize now that the this unconscious guilt had been keeping me separate from innate parts of myself that were crucial to my happiness and self actualization.
You can practice self forgiveness without shamanic journeying: look in the mirror and lock eyes with your reflection. Breathe deeply and look deep into your eyes with kindness and tenderness. Consider that these are the eyes of the beautiful, fierce, exuberant, strong, funny, little child that lives in you. Offer the same compassionate and generous forgiveness that you would naturally extend to any innocent child. With each deep breath, soften your heart and allow yourself to accept all that you are, smile at yourself, and with your final breath whisper, “I love you.”
Here is one of my very favourite videos on self love. It's a clip from Luc Besson's movie Angel-A.