Love Yourself Like it’s Your Job
Upholding Your Essential Worthiness
If it’s not your job to love yourself, well…then whose is it? It may seem easier to find someone else to do it for you, but this love is incomplete. It is conditional, and also creates dependency as we then rely on another to fill the void of love. And when this love is removed or simply not what we need, then what are we left with?
Self-love is an honouring of the divine being that you are. It is recognizing your perfection and practicing compassion with yourself. Even in times of fear, of lack, and seeming failure.
We spend so much of our time, energy and effort trying to fix or improve something about ourselves. And yet, as we have learned, there is nothing that needs fixing. Let’s make a vow right here and now to get back to the essential truth of our inherent worthiness and let go of all the striving that is creating suffering in our lives.
I get it. We don't always feel this deep sense of worthiness I'm speaking to. But this is simply because we have forgotten how to be present with ourselves and our moment-to-moment experience. We have forgotten what it means to be connected with our essence. And what it means to be in the deep NOW.
To learn more, check out Episode 4 - Love Yourself Like It’s Your Job on the Inspiration Network Podcast…
The Stories We’ve Collected
Leave it to Bukowski to cut straight to the core of it. Setting out on our journey of Self-Love we must first remember who it is that we are without all the stories. Uncovering the untruths and the memory of who we are is the essential first step in realising your inherent worthiness and the magic that you have to share.
So, let’s get real for a moment. If you could totally strip away all stories and beliefs you hold about yourself, what are you left with? Really imagine this. Who would you be if you weren’t young, old, smart, stupid, poor, rich, a sister, a mother, a brother?
We collect stories of who we are based on our life experiences and the relationships we are part of. These stories blend together in a mosaic of “I”. And while these experiences and relationships are natural parts of being human, they don’t come anywhere close to representing the true perfection that you are.
You are so much more than your stories. And when you forget this, it is very easy to get caught up in the opinions of others and even your own self-judgment. The key is to first become aware of the stories you tell yourself, and then to consciously choose and practice stories of self-love.
Step 1 - Awareness
If I asked you to share all of the lies that you’ve told about yourself, would you even know where to start? We lie to ourselves in so many ways, both big and small. We tell ourselves that we can’t or that we aren’t good enough. We allow in beliefs of lack and limitation - I’m not deserving of happiness and good things only happen to other people.
It’s nearly impossible to take an inventory of all of the untruths we agree with. We must start where we are. Right here, right now. And so, we begin with awareness. With listening to the inner voice, to the stories.
This listening to our stories may sound easy, but it can be one of the most difficult parts of the practice of Self-Love. When we become aware of the many ways that we limit ourselves and hold ourselves back, it can feel like we have dug ourselves in a hole so deep that we need to climb a mountain just to see the light of day once again.
And maybe this is true. Maybe we need to understand that this journey isn’t achieved in a day, or even a month. That it is an ongoing practice of awareness, and that this practice alone has the power to remind us of truth.
Step 1 Reflection - Revealing the Inner Critic
To reveal the inner voice that detracts from self-love, it is helpful to write it out. Look at the different areas of your life and reflect on the stories you speak to yourself.
Start by asking the question, What do I dislike about myself? (also, what is lacking?) as it relates to the following areas:
Step 2 - Rewriting Your Narrative
As you become aware of the narratives operating subconsciously in your life, you realize that there is opportunity here to write a new story. One that is more in-line with the truth of your worthiness and the highest Vision for your life. A narrative of self-love.
In this way we write a new story for ourselves. Consciously choosing the beliefs we hold by practicing positive self-talk.
The mind is a beautiful thing. It is changeable, adaptable, and always responds to the input we offer it. At first it may feel like this isn’t true, but this is only because it has taken us a loooong time to build up the belief patterns that we hold. To change a deeply held belief takes time and ongoing practice.
Step 2 Reflection - Choosing Positive Self-Talk
Building on Reflection Part 1, I invite you to consider the beliefs you revealed of your feelings of dislike and lack. This time, consciously choose the perspective of self-love and ask the question, If I loved myself completely, how would I change this belief?
Go through the following areas and explore the positive self-talk that you may choose:
Step 3 - Practicing Affirmation
Once you have found the words that are true, it is essential that you practice speaking them to yourself. This is self-love in action. Practice is speaking the words of truth, being compassionate with yourself as fears and untruths arise, and offering gratitude for the learning.
There are many ways to speak words of truth to yourself. One of the ways that works very well for me is affirmations. Affirmations are meaning statements that are based around he 3 Ps - Personal, Present, and Positive. These statements, when repeated, help to train the mind in the direction of truth.
Step 3 Practice - Creating Affirmation
Now that you’ve chosen words of positive self-talk, let’s turn these into Affirmations. You do this by creating a statement that is Personal, Present, and Positive. 2 of these can be achieved by beginning the statement with the powerful words I am…
Then, complete the statement with a positive aspect of truth. This means that instead of creating an affirmation such as I am not fearful of public speaking you would create the positive aspect such as I am a powerful public speaker. The subconscious mind tends to think in very simple concepts and when we utilize negative modifiers, it has the potential for actually supporting what we DON’T want.
Ok, let’s create a few of our own based on the Reflection Part 2 - Choosing Positive Self-Talk. For each of the areas, create 1 affirmation. Remember the 3 P rule - Personal, Present, and Positive.
* Body - I am… ______________________________________________________
* Mind - I am… ______________________________________________________
* History/Experience - I am… ____________________________________________
* Relationships - I am… ________________________________________________
* Achievements - I am… ________________________________________________
Once you have created your affirmations, it is essential that you repeat them often. You can do this by incorporating them into your daily routine. Perhaps writing them on stickies and putting them on your bathroom mirror so that you see them first thing in the morning. Or, recording them on your phone so that you can listen to them in the car or when you need a positive self-talk booster throughout the day!
Another aspect of self-love is offering compassion to our limiting beliefs and patterns. The radical truth is that we are NOT wrong or bad for creating or holding beliefs that are untrue. The beliefs we hold are based in a desire for good. To protect ourselves, to keep ourselves safe.
Compassion is the attribute of kindness and well-wishing that desires only the greatest good for another. While compassion is often linked to empathy, this is not a complete understanding of what it means to be compassionate. Empathy is ‘feeling the feelings of another’, while compassion is maintaining the understanding that we are each in our own experience. Empathy says “I feel your pain”, and compassion says “I hear that you’re hurting and wish only the best for you”.
Compassion embodies a deep respect and encouragement. It does not pretend to know or to be able to fix. It is simply present with and desires only the highest good. Compassion can be cultivated, just as positive self-talk can be and is an important aspect of self-love.
“Loving What Is”
Compassion is rooted in non-judgment. In the words of Byron Katie, it is “loving what is”. Compassion offers ease and an acceptance of what is present right here and right now, and favors understanding over criticism.
When we recognize the divine perfection in all things, it is easy to see that what is present for us is what is meant to be. When I began exploring this concept, I found it difficult to accept. I mean, how can pain and suffering be ok? But this isn’t the meaning of loving what is.
To love what is, we need only recognize that the present moment is all that exists. And that to continue to relive thoughts that are painful is to create further suffering.
This doesn’t mean that we allow ourselves or others to be hurt. It simply means that we don’t continue to hurt ourselves over and over again by reliving the pain through resistance and judgment.
If you are interested in learning more about this and the process of The Work offered by Byron Katie, I highly suggest checking out the website www.thework.com. There are a ton of free resources there and lots of support to help you get started.
Loving-kindness is grace. It is the truest demonstration of love, expressing through and as me. If you are wishing to cultivate the practice of compassion, I highly recommend incorporating a Loving-Kindness Meditation practice into your life.
In a Loving-Kindness Meditation practice, we employ loving-kindness as a means to share compassion with both ourselves and others. Also called metta, this practice has been found to tap into the positive emotions associated with coherence and positively affect both ourselves and those we direct our energy towards.
In what ways are you holding onto blame and shame? Even if you are practicing positive self-talk and compassion, it is likely that there are actions you have taken or beliefs you have upheld that you are afraid to welcome in.
It’s hard to look at what we have allowed into our life when we see the ways that this has hurt both ourselves and others. Our past actions and beliefs are a part of our experience, and in this way it is a part of us and of who we believe ourselves to be.
But as we have seen, we are NOT our past. We are not even our beliefs. We are the one who watches. We are the observer of our experience. And we are the untouched truth that lies beyond any possibility of imperfection.
It is essential that we forgive ourselves for the choices we made to act and believe untruth. If we do not, it is very likely that we will foster resentment for these aspects of our past, and ultimately harbour resentment towards ourselves.
Release and acceptance
Forgiveness is about both release and acceptance. Sometimes we hold onto blame because we are afraid of the letting go. Perhaps we fear that letting go means that we support the action or belief and allow it to continue. Or maybe we believe that by letting go we are letting go of a part of us.
The radical truth is that forgiveness is not about continuing harm or denying our experience, but rather it is letting go of the shame that we hold. It is recognizing that in that moment we did the best that we could. That in every moment, we are always doing the best that we can.
The Fourth Agreement, as shared by Don Miguel Ruiz is “Always do Your Best”. And while this is an important tenet for life, it is more than just an agreement. It is an essential truth. We are ALWAYS doing our best. And this best changes from moment to moment.
What Ruiz is pointing to is that to be aware of the fact that we are always doing our best is to live in a way that is free of self-judgment. From moment to moment, our best changes. It is dependent on how much energy we have, how we slept the night before, what beliefs we hold.
When we know that we have done our best then there is no way that you can judge yourself. There are no regrets. No holding onto blame or shame.
When we choose forgiveness, we are choosing to recognize that we do not need to hold onto the untruths of blame or shame any longer. We can let go of the energy that keeps us trapped in the belief that we could have done better, and accept the truth that we are always doing our best.
Self-Care is Love in Action
Now that we’ve touched on the importance of speaking only truth and kindness to yourself and cultivating compassion, let’s look at more ways that you can actively love yourself through practices of self-care.
Self-care is essential to the practice of loving yourself. Self-care is “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” (PsychCentral) This means that self-care is an individual experience. And likely changes from day-to-day and even moment-to-moment.
Your self-care may look very different than another’s and will very much depend on the life circumstances you are experiencing. There is no one-size-fits-all version of self-care out there and it’s up to YOU to decide what you need and to uphold this.
Remember, loving yourself is YOUR job, not anyone else’s. Another person cannot know what it is that you need because they cannot know what you are experiencing or what state of mind/body/spirit you are currently in.
While I cannot know what it is that you need in any particular moment, I can share some excellent tools that have worked for me. Please know that these are just a few of the ways that I have supported myself and that they will likely change even as my own experience shifts. Remember to add your own in and to put your needs, wants and desires first!
I am going to write a short list of self-care actions that I use. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but is a good start and I hope can help you begin to build your own:
Self-inquiry practices such as The Work or Compassionate Inquiry
Connecting daily with friends
Daily nature hikes
Sleep! Lots and lots of sleep
Morning infrared sauna sessions
Eating healthy (to me this means listening to my body and responding to its changing needs)
Water! Lots and lots of water (just like sleep ;))
A ton of alone time
Doing work that fills me up
As I’m writing this, I realize I could go on and on… But that’s not really the point here. The point is that I have built an extensive toolkit that I draw on for self-care practices. And I make a very conscious point of incorporating a lot (of not all) of these into my daily life.
I find that when I sacrifice these practices, I begin to feel “off”. Sometimes I catch myself early and get back to what I know I need to feel well. And other times, I let it go too long and end up feeling disheartened, uninspired and even ill.
Choosing the practices of self-care take ongoing care and attention. It is easy to let them slide or even to ignore them altogether at times. The beautiful thing is that we can always return to them. Every moment is new, and we can always choose again. Actively loving ourselves through practices of self-care.
Loving Yourself IS Your Job
Take a moment and consider what it would be like if loving yourself was your only really purpose in life. Imagine that instead of going to work in the morning, your main tasks in the day were to speak kindly to yourself, offer yourself compassion and forgiveness, and to practice self-care.
My question to you is, what is holding you back from doing this? If it is your job, or your life circumstances, then perhaps consider how these could change or evolve to include more self-love. If it is your beliefs holding you back, then it’s time to get on creating new belief patterns!
Whatever it is that you need to do to uphold your essential worthiness, it IS your job. It is actually the single most important thing that you can do in your life to realize the truth of your worthiness. And from here, all else is built.