The greatest love of all - it's inside of you
Self-love. That's a phrase that triggers a lot of people.
What is self-love ? Why is it important that you heal the relationship with yourself? Why is self-love so difficult for all of us?
The concept of self love is something that I've only recently learned, just how important it is to love and accept yourself. And I've come to realize that most people I meet don't even like themselves, never mind love themselves. And before we can talk about healing or changing anything in our life, we need to come from a place of self acceptance, and that means sometimes looking at the things that you've done in your life, maybe thinking about the mistakes that you've made and realizing you know what? You are OK.
I'd like to invite you to think about self-love as maybe not being the self-indulgent, navel gazing thing that you think it may be. How about just thinking about it as being kind to yourself, treating yourself with the same love and respect as you would do to anybody else, especially somebody that you love, somebody that you can think of that is close to you. How do you treat them and do you treat yourself in the same way?
It's never too late really to change the relationship that you've got with yourself, and it is one of the most fundamental things that you can do for your health and happiness. And there's research that's been done quite recently about behaviours and attitude and what simple changes you could make to your life to improve things.
The research looked at everything changing your diet, meditation, having a gratitude practise, exercise, seeing friends and having a good community. All the things that I'm going to talk about in further blogs about being important to creating a healthy and balanced lifestyle. But THE most simple and the most profound impact on the quality of your day-to-day life is simply being kinder to yourself.
It's the one we practice the least! And I know for many years that little nagging voice in my head, and we all have that little monkey mind or that little voice inside that picks us up or pauses up and tells us when we've done something wrong. ‘Oh, you're stupid’. ‘Oh, you made that mistake again’. ‘Oh, you always get that wrong’ ‘What an idiot you are’.
And I've now learned to stop that little voice in its tracks. I still have it, still have those thoughts, but I refuse to listen to it anymore. Because I now understand now the importance of self-love and positive self talk, just talking to myself in the same way that I would talk to a good friend.
If I had a good friend who was struggling with anything, I wouldn't say to them, ‘well, you messed that up again. Oh, you always do that? You'd a bit stupid, aren't you?’ But we think nothing of thinking those things to ourselves. And why is that? Sometimes, if we think about it, it's self-protection. We don't want to be arrogant, and unfeeling towards others, we certainly don't want to be overbearing.
We really don't want to be the sort of person that other people don't want to be around. And why is that? For m, as a little girl, I was conditioned, if you like, from the people who cared for me. They did this with all good intentions, but I was told that little girls should be ‘ seen and not heard’, I was told it's very important to be a ‘good girl’ and to listen to other people and think about other people who ‘know better’.
So your elders, your teachers, and for me, it was priests at the church. It was all these people that I was told were more important to me, that knew more than me and I should be quiet and listened to them. And that's fine when you're a small child and you do need to learn things. But when you grow up and you still have that subconscious belief that other people know better than you, it's time to look that belief, and understand that it's no longer serving you.
It goes back really for generations in history. If you think about when we lived in caves and we lived as a community, it was really, really important for the rest of the community to love and protect you. You really didn't want to be different, or kept apart from the people who would feed and look after you.
You didn't want to be ostracized, certainly because that could lead to death if the rest of the village stopped talking to you. You would be left alone, not fed, you wouldn't be protected. So it was really important and that sort of primal instinct that we have is that other people must like us, other people must include us, is sort of ingrained in our psyche without us even being aware of it.
I can remember it's quite a long time ago now, but as a teenage girl at school, that is a time when it really comes to be important that if you are not in the ‘in crowd’ there's something wrong with you. And for me, my family didn't have a lot of money. I didn't have fashionable clothes, thank goodness it was before social media!
But even at those dim and dark days back in the seventies, I knew that those things were important and those things made me different. And for a while I thought those things made me less than other people. And now looking back, I can think it doesn't actually matter what you wear, it doesn't matter what car you've got, or how smart your house is.
But at the time, again, it was a subconscious message more than anything, I felt real pain and embarrassment often. I thought that other people were better than me and I wasn't quite good enough. And when I left school at 16. I didn't go into further education, but when I went into work, I worked really hard and I studied and I got promoted and I worked my way up to being a senior manager.
But I also very subconsciously, I think at the time, thought that the other people that I worked were better educated than me, maybe they were more well-spoken, maybe they'd been to a good school or university or came from a ‘better’ family. In other words, a, a richer family. And again, self-consciously, I had that message that I wasn't quite as good as them.
So I overcompensated by working really hard, by going the extra mile, by proving myself, by being the first one in the office, by being the last one to leave at night. And that's great, to a point. If you think about that from a positive point of view, it got me promoted, it got me the jobs that I wanted. It got me the big salary.
But what was it doing to my sense of self worth? My relationship with myself ? That to me, looking back now was much, much more important than what other people think of me. And so I'd invite you to think about self-love and accepting yourself and the relationship that you have with yourself as being the most important thing you can do for a happy and healthy life.
One of the things I've learned, and I've learned this by studying other people, by reading lots of books, and doing lots of self development, is what other people think of you – It’s not your business! That took me a while to get my head around that. That's their business. Not everyone is going to like you in life. I'm sorry to break this to you, but that's not a reason for you to try and please everyone, you know the saying ‘you can't please all of the people all of the time’. But for a while I tried to!
You may have heard that saying, and why should we want to? I want to please the people that I love and respect, the people that are around for me, the people that support me, the people that are going to help me. And so I can't be all things to all men and I don't really want to be. But if you just be yourself, if you can just find that confidence to really be yourself, the right people will love you for who you are. And those that don’t? Well they are not your people.
And I'm going to talk more about confidence in future articles. That confidence of knowing that you are good enough, realizing you are good enough, you are not perfect, nobody's perfect. You may have made some mistakes in your life, I'm sure you have. I've made plenty. That doesn't mean I'm going to keep beating myself up about the mistakes that I've made.
I can look at those mistakes now and think, okay, what can I do about that? I can't change the past, but I can learn the lesson. I can go forward and make sure I never do that thing again. I may decide that's something that I was such a painful lesson, which is where I am now. I want to teach out to other people.
I want to teach them that the consequences of not loving yourself are that you live a very small, insecure life, and is that really where you want to be? Because for me, I am all about helping people to live a happier and healthier life. And so many times it starts with loving yourself. My eldest son suffered for many years with addiction and obviously that was a terrible time for our family and I'm very fortunate and grateful that we've come out the other side of it now.
For over 10 years, my son was lost in addiction. I'm not an expert in addiction, but I know what our family went through and I know why it started. It started from my son coming from a place. of not loving himself. Him not thinking he was good enough. And to me, you know, as his mother, I lookde at this child that he was, this teenager that he was, thinking he had everything.
He was good looking. He was athletic. He was sporty. He was clever. He went to grammar school. He was sociable. He had lots of friends. He was funny. He's witty and smart. And yet to him somewhere in that deep place that we all have in inside, he felt not good enough. And I think that's really what started him on the path to addiction.
And I'm not going to really unpack that today, but I would like you to think if any of this resonates with you? Are there areas of your life that you are not happy with? In the past I have lacked motivation for things that I wanted to change about myself. And that sometimes came a place of thinking, ‘I'll be happy when I'll be happy when I lose 10 pounds’ or ‘I'll be happy when I paid that debt off’ or ‘I'll be happy when I get that next promotion’.
But really the only thing we have at the moment is the here and now. So what can you do to be happy in this moment - right now? And the most fundamental thing you can do is realize you are enough. You deserve to be happy. Believe that.
The right people will love you. But it all starts with loving yourself. And if that feels like a stretch too far, maybe think about just being kind to yourself and accepting yourself because you are enough.
You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be healthy. So let's start by just being a little bit kinder to ourselves.
Stay safe. Stay sane!
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