There is No One Way to Love On Yourself
The media often pushes the stories and imagery about love and relationships, coaxing us to fall in love with the idea of attaining a partner to share the winter season with. But, can we shift the focus? Let’s emphasize on identifying and creating self-love practices that get us through the year. I spoke to three women that share their journey of learning how to love, accept and trust themselves.
Chelsy, on self-acceptance.
I assemble so many moments of solitude in my day where I can think and reflect on the person that I am. I am curious about myself; I want to know absolutely everything! From the insignificant, “how come I developed a beauty spot on my right cheek two years ago?” to the mighty, “why have I not always been so in love with myself?”. There are truly no limits to what I want to know about the person that is me. It is this same curiosity that encourages me to perform like Narcissus whenever I am close to a reflective surface. Why does my waist curve in so dramatically before swelling to my hips? Why do I have dimples on my ass? (Is this cellulite? If it is, do I hate it or do I love it?) Why do my boobs refuse to grow bigger? (I’ve been asking this last question for many many years). I love myself by asking all of these questions and taking in the answers, whatever they may be. If I am unhappy with an observation, I narrow in and work on it until it makes me giggle with joy. (Don’t let my tone fool you,) sometimes this process takes weeks, months, years, of unlearning and deconstructing structures that influence how I walk/talk/eat/sleep/love…everything. Once this process is done, I have to ask myself a new set of questions: Do I care what people think about me? Do I care if they don’t like how hair grows freely from all parts of my body? What if they don’t like how I sit quietly or walk confidently? The questions are never-ending.
My self-love practices have taught me always to demand respect when interacting with others. I don’t care who it is; I refuse to sit ideally by while someone disrespects my being. As a result, many family members and even more men can hardly stand to be around me. They all like to say I have an “attitude.” Well, if this means I know my worth and what I deserve, then I guess I have one big fat luscious A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E.
On the other hand, my self-love practices have taught me to be gentle with others; I want to care for others the same way I care for myself. This means checking in on loved ones, listening when they speak (ears open, mouth shut), making sure they stay hydrated (even going as far as asking for photographic evidence), and giving them the same space that I crave for myself. Most importantly, I think my self-love has taught me that if I do not know who I am, and what my likes/dislikes/pet peeves/obsessions are, then I cannot build healthy, sustainable relationships with those around me.
Natasha, on creating healthy practices.
I love myself by making my mental and physical health a priority, I value my solitude and precious moments where I can meditate and clear my head. Once I started working out again, sweating daily, mediating multiple times a week I noticed my self-talk and overall attitude shift. I found myself loving and caring for myself more in comparison to my past.
If I start neglecting myself of personal love and care, I notice my relationships with others will suffer along with my encouragement. I start getting more irritable and take out my frustrations and anger on others, and I become the victim if I'm not treating myself with love and care. As soon as I catch myself going down that road, I know it’s time to reset and start creating new loving habits that will stick. Some self-love practices I do on the daily are morning meditations, working out, I dress up for me and nobody else. I like to keep a zen environment at home and work, so I cleanse my space with Palo Santo or Sage daily.
Tash, on the importance of change.
The most fundamental way I show myself love is by being relentlessly curious about how I can bring pleasure and joy into all aspects of my life. I accept, and the opposite end of the spectrum is pain and maybe some suffering and this I will take as it comes. I try my best to formulate into sentences what it is that will bring me joy. Sometimes the sentences sound like: “Man I want ice cream.” or “I want to find love that knows no bounds” or “I refuse to feel sick so I must move my body at least twice this week”.
I repeat the thing I want out loud to get more clear about what it is I want. “I’d like to be healthier” is a little vague and I say it enough times that sentence becomes, “health radiates from within to try and understand your tendencies so you can understand what blocks you from making the best decisions for your damn self, you fool.” Some people may say this is manifesting; I think this is getting to the bottom of it.
I accept that I am a fluid being and that what I want changes as often as possible, so I remain curious, this is the most expansive way I show myself love. I show myself love by releasing the version of myself that no longer exists, I thank her and honour all the work she did; where would I be without her? I must then be gentle at the version that is brave enough to continue this leg of this human experience.
The most impactful way I show myself love is being a relentless shame detector. Shame is a feeling I actively combat every day, sometimes every moment but each time I am triumphant, it is a celebration. Shame dares to look me in the face and say I am not worthy, I am not enough, there’s no way, and so every act against it is an act of courage and by proxy self-love. Defiance is an act of radical self-love as well as an investigation into my motives, intentions and when shame is detected, it is released into the ether and never thought of again. Goodbye.
This has a major effect on my community and the relationships I choose to foster and cultivate because everything is a damn mirror. The nicer I am, the nicer you are to me, the more real I am, the more real my connections become. The more I uncover about myself, the more I reveal about the external world around me. I accept that this is a life's worth of work and so I dedicate this life to it.