Mindful Monday; Self Love
This week I was reminded that we all need to work on self love. We can’t truly extend love to others until we learn to love ourselves. Sometimes that means accepting ourselves the way we are with love and compassion, and other times that means working to develop in the areas we desire to become better at so we can add those to our list.
Why Self Love?
Nourish My Soul has many programs that focus outwardly on food – education, justice, and sovereignty. We work with children and adults, ages 5+. In each of our programs, we include age appropriate components of social emotional learning. Our From The Ground UP high school leadership program does a lot of this. After all, we are building the leaders of the future and we need them to be self aware, compassionate, confident, and thoughtful if we want that future to be a better version. Each weekly meeting begins with a question. These questions build trust, community, and vulnerability. One question I pose each year is a version of “What three things do you love about yourself?” It is amazing how difficult this is for our leaders to answer, especially the females. How about you? Were you able to answer that question quickly and easily? If you are like most people, then probably not. We need to change this. We need to normalize and practice more self love.
How Lack of Self Love Manifests
My work prior to Nourish My Soul was as a Nutritionist in private practice. The majority of my clients were people who struggled with this concept and it manifested in disordered eating and negative body image. It is easy to abuse our bodies as a form of punishment when we feel lacking or not worthy of love. My solutions for these clients was less about food and more about learning to cultivate self love and acceptance.
How to Cultivate Self Love
This is a REALLY difficult skill, and our society has ingrained in us that loving yourself is arrogant and negative (especially for females). Let me be very clear, arrogance and self love are very different. Arrogance is believing that you have all the answers, have nothing to learn or gain from others, and have an inflated love of self. The self love I am talking about is the unconditional love and acceptance for yourself as you are, while knowing that you have unlimited potential to learn, grow, and improve.
- Once a month write down 3 things that you love about yourself and place them in a jar. At the end of a year, you will have collected 36 qualities that you love about yourself. Hold onto these to reflect on when you have times of self doubt.
- Are you struggling to identify 3 things? List 3 qualities you desire to have in your self love inventory. Focus on building those qualities over the course of the month. Work them into your daily intentions.
- Are you a parent? Pose this question to your child(ren). Share your personal answers to this question with them through conversation. Normalizing self love by modeling it and encouraging them to reflect on it will dramatically alter the way our world operates. I strongly believe that love is the key, and we can’t ever reach that full love potential without first learning to love ourselves.
- Help your loved ones build their capacity for self love by practicing your mindful gratitude. Instead of offering generic thank – yous, go deeper. What are you truly grateful for? Make those offerings of gratitude personal, genuine, and thoughtful. By identifying the qualities a person exhibited and how it made you feel, you are helping to strengthen their ability to see the good in themselves.
A Step Further
Want to challenge your self love even further? Become mindful of all the negative chatter happening in your brain. Studies have proven that all that negative reinforcement, and self criticism is profoundly detrimental to our ability to overcome adversity. For most of us it is constant; “I’m so stupid, I can’t believe I did/said that!”, “I have no self control – I will always be fat and unlovable because I can’t stop eating (fill in the blank)”, or “I will never be as good as (Insert name)”. Does this sound familiar? Much of the time it happens without us even being aware of it. When you do catch yourself thinking these negative thoughts, lovingly add in something from your list. For example: “Ya, I over did it on the chocolate today, but I am a thoughtful friend and the chocolate doesn’t change that.”
I would love to hear some of the things you love about yourself as you incorporate this mindful practice into your life! Let’s start normalizing the self love!
With Love & Gratitude,