Developing Self Love

Moving to a new country can shake up your perception of yourself. It can be difficult to fit in with a new workplace, new friends, and a new culture. It can be even more difficult to remember that there are more important things, like your mental wellbeing. This weekend, let’s try something different by developing your own definition of self-love.

When we don’t have a strong and resilient love for ourselves, we tend to block our intuition-  aka our gut feelings. It then becomes easier to focus on pleasing other people and staying in the often experienced place of living out our lives to meet the expectations of others. This is your life, not your family’s, not mine, not the life of a co-worker, boss, or the person next door to you… you get the picture.

We often think that we’re doing our own thing and living out our own truth and hopefully, that’s what’s happening. But, we also oftentimes find ourselves inhibited from living or even finding that truth because we are so anxious from the demands of our busy lives. Self love frequently takes a backseat to work and schedules.  And what might be happening is that we’re actually attempting to quiet the voices in our head that insist that such and such get done by a certain time, and so on. This applies to how we work out and how often, eat, how we socialize or not. You name it… living without a slow, genuine love for ourselves leaves us ripe for the pickings! Ripe for lowered immune systems, a short temper, low moods – all sorts of vulnerabilities.

Imagine a well loved child. These sentient beings know the feeling of being cared for; being held and touched and nurtured. They know that there is consistent care being offered to them. They feel secure and have the inner strength to experiment and try new things. Taking a risk is easier because they know they have a loving foundation to fall back on, and, because they have built in confidence off of that nurturance. The same principle applies to adults.

Here are some of my thoughts around strengthening and practicing self-love and what it looks like:

The research, and perhaps even your own experience, will tell you that having or gaining love of yourself is not something that happens overnight. The potential for practicing self-love happens all day long and into the night! There are loads of opportunities as we are served small, medium and large size challenges every day… and of course, the design of having challenges constantly is there to help us learn life lessons (and more about my genuine and authentic self), and to help us become stronger and healthier in the Resilience Department of Ourselves. The other important piece on the topic of the opportunities to practice self-love is the ‘R’ word… i.e. taking responsibility for myself. Being able to detach from the current drama or challenge and continuing to walk forward in spite of the reality that might not be what we desire at all.

Finally, self-love is all about upskilling, learning the trade secrets of this thing called ‘living your life’. When you encounter a problem that you have decided is worthy of a solution,  learn how to solve the problem or issue. Note to self: Pick your battles. Not all battles need to be taken on. Monitor your energy. You know how to reach out as is evidenced by being a counselling client. You know how to research and hopefully, know what resources are solid, well-founded and grounded in real research (as in the double-blind, random trial kind of research aka bona fide!)

Self-love is about realizing that here on 3rd dimensional Planet Earth, not everyone will or needs to like you or even part of you. That’s simply a fact of life. If someone doesn’t like you, that’s on them, not you. However, what you choose to do with that information is an opportunity to practice self-love. You know who you are, and you practice realizing the positive aspects of yourself everyday…remind yourself of 5 cherished and lovable things about you, and that are worth giving back to yourself. And do it! Treat yourself as you do your neighbor - with consideration, love and acceptance.

Through practicing self love you allow yourself to feel emotions as they come, but, more importantly  allow them to pass without judgement. Feelings last for seconds of time usually. All feelings generally break into the following: joy, fear, anger, sadness, love, pain and shame. So, practicing self-love is taking responsibility for feeling the feelings; having an awareness of thoughts; and taking positive action for yourself in that situation, whatever it is.

And, it might be that being quiet for 10 minutes is the self-love act that is needed. Or, it might be that sitting in nature, or exercising for 10 minutes is your way of practicing self-love. Or it might be that exploring the  world around you helps you to feel grounded and more confident as an expat in a new country. What way will you practice self-love over the weekend? May it be a practice that you share with yourself alone! If you’re an expat, you may need to devote time to self care more than the average person. Moving to a new place takes courage and self discipline. Pat yourself on the back. You're one step closer.