Monday, 8 September 2014

Self-Love September: Ten Self-Loving Acts for Inner Peace and Ultimate Empowerment

My life is a process of self-love in action. I make my decisions, create my goals and conduct my relationships in accordance with my solid commitment to love myself no matter what. Here's a list of ten things I do consistently to keep self-love at an all time high and make sure that I have gentle reminders of how worthy I am, should I ever forget! I hope these ten pointers can help you to think more about your own self-love journey.

1. I journal about my thoughts, feelings, fears, dreams, memories and desires. I once asked a friend of mine why she didn't keep a journal even though she wanted to. She told me that she didn't feel as though her life was important enough to write about. What she hadn't realised is that her life could be enhanced overwhelmingly through keeping a record of it. We can solve our problems through journalling. We can get clear on our thoughts and emotions, figure out the next right action, vent our frustrations and have a private outlet for our confusion. Journalling allows us to meet ourselves within and discover what's really going on at the bottom of it all. It helps us to recognise our defense mechanisms, our ingrained thought patterns and our limiting beliefs. Looking back over what we have written can be just as illuminating as the act of writing itself. Getting into a regular journalling habit can be tough at first. But I advise you to find the flow and appreciate how even five minutes of jotting down key words can help you to bond with yourself and invite some vital introspection.

2. I ignore the chores and make art instead. Ok, so the chores need to be done, that much is true. But they are not always the most important thing in my life and that's intentional. It's a conscious decision on my part to feed my creative spirit instead of always finding something else which needs to be finished first. People suppress their creative power for years by telling themselves that the floors need to be mopped, the laundry needs to be folded, the curtains need to be washed and the insides of all the cupboards need to be thoroughly cleaned before they can possibly sit down and do a collage. Says who?! We are surrounded by harmful messages in this fast-paced, goal-oriented society. The messages tell us that it's selfish to spend time in our dream world, it's lazy to enjoy ourselves when we could be doing something 'productive' and it's indulgent to follow our joy paths when there's work work work to be done! Rile against that ridiculous mentality with every fibre of your being!

3. I let myself be an introvert in an extrovert's world. I don't force myself to go out for the evening if I don't want to. I don't convince myself that I am obligated to circle a room and make small talk with twenty strangers. I don't adopt a chatty persona if I'm not really feeling it. I leave early when I feel that it's time to end the evening (and I won't be persuaded to stay). I let myself read a book alone in the corner of a café. I like socialising when I like socialising and I like chilling in solitude when I like chilling in solitude. There is no room in my life for pretending to be in one kind of mood when I'm really in the other. I let my higher mind guide me and I don't make excuses for its final decision on the matter. I unabashedly enjoy the pure luxury of curling up on my bed alone, turning my phone off and belonging to myself.

4. I never speak until I'm ready to do so. Long ago I noticed that tense situations, misunderstandings, arguments and times of confusion can cause some people to force you to talk before you are ready. They will be furious if you tell them that you need time and space or that you're not ready to talk it through yet. If they are spoiling for a fight or in the mood to vent their anger, they are not likely to appreciate the fact that you didn't RSVP to their personal shit storm. Some people say the first thing that comes to mind, even if their words are full of rage and cruelty. They don't give themselves the necessary distance to calm down and make good choices about the words that come out of their mouths. I will not be dragged into that trap. I step away and recalibrate before returning to the discussion with a calm and centred approach. I talk to myself before I talk to anyone else. I check in with myself and make sure I'm happy with my own position. This ensures that I don't say hurtful things to others in the heat of the moment. It also means that other people are less likely to be able to persuade or manipulate me. Most importantly, it means that they can't rattle my cage or strip me of my self-worth. I have strengthened my core and given myself words of love, so they can do their worst and it makes not a scrap of difference!

5. I seek closure from within. The world is full of people desperately waiting around for a family member, friend or partner to say the right words, do the right thing or make a different decision. They cling on in the vain hope that someone who's wronged them will apologise. They convince themselves that they can't heal until those who are acting from a place of fear and rage start acting from a place of love and acceptance. This is an illusion. My closure comes from within. My healing comes from within. One of the greatest acts of self-love in my life was in realising this and refusing to wait around for someone else to make it all better. I don't need anyone else to change their mind, 'see the light' or stop their crappy behaviour in order for me to have an amazing life. Neither do you.

6. I recognise how far I've come. Regularly looking back on your winding road of struggles and challenges, flying the flag for your own awesomeness - that's a real self-love essential! I have learned to look back on my journey and applaud my strength and endurance. I don't berate myself for the seven times I fell down; I admire myself for the eight times I got up.

7. I hang out with my inner child. I let my inner child have a say in how the day goes. I let her dress me in the morning. I let her choose the occasional movie to watch or book to read. I cater to her needs. Somewhere inside of me, I'm still a six year old who loves to walk around in her grandmother's heels or make a collage out of stickers and glitter. The more I have connected with my inner child, the more I have been able to let her know that she is awesome just as she is. She doesn't need to put on an act for anyone. No one offered me that advice when I was younger, but it's never too late to give myself an amazing pep talk!

8. I don't always explain or justify myself. Sometimes I just make a decision and I own it, regardless of whether it's understandable or popular. I am the ruler of my own kingdom and everyone else is the ruler of theirs. If I don't have it all figured out yet, I might say as much. If someone pushes me for more information, I'll just shrug and say, 'Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.' I don't feel the need to rationalise my intuition; it is, by its very nature, not rational. I don't feel the need to explain to concerned women why I don't want to have children. I don't feel the need to explain to family members why I don't want to get married. It's like Anne Lamott said: ' "No" is a complete sentence.' So is, 'I just don't want to', 'I just don't feel like it' and, 'It's just not my thing'. You know what else you can pull out of the bag if necessary? 'I don't feel the need to justify my decision.'

9. I see my successes as indelible. If I ever screw up and do something which isn't self-loving, I don't beat myself up about it. Repeat - I don't beat myself up about it. Because beating myself up is not self-loving. Every little victory for self-love is indelible. It is not eliminated just because you slipped up. It is still there, it still happened and it is still evidence of your purest intention to love, respect and honour yourself. It doesn't get wiped off the slate. Don't even try and tell yourself that!

10. I don't torture myself. I know my triggers for self-love sabotage and I stay the hell away from them. This is how it works. Don't immerse yourself in fashion magazines on a daily basis if you know that they trigger toxic comparison and body shame. Don't stalk your ex-partner on Facebook to brood over how happy they seem to be with their new life. Don't continue to have the same conversation fifty times over with someone who just isn't willing to see your point of view and will try to make you feel bad into the bargain! Take accountability for the ways in which you disrespect yourself and create a solid action plan to make positive changes. Stop self-torture, start self-love.