Self-love, WTF does that even mean?!

A couple of years ago I was in Shavasanna after a pretty intense Kundalini class… for the non-yoga doers, I was basically just laying down in that state that occurs right before we sleep. My mind was running and the question I had asked myself was, “Why haven’t I found someone yet?”

To which someone replied… I’m not sure who that someone is, but let’s call her God, the big U (Universe, not Uterus), and said, “Your search has always been for yourself.”

Excuse me? What? Sounded like some existential bullshit I had heard before uttered by so many self-help authors. But I had never really understood what it meant, until that moment.

We are all constantly bombarded with cheesy ass shit like:

  • “Love yourself first.”
  • “You can only love someone else as deeply as you love yourself.”
  • If you want to find the one, be the one (okay, okay… I’ve said this one many times)
  • Self love, self love, self love….blah blah blah blah, and more self-love.

When I first heard about self-love I had no fucking clue what people were talking about. I thought I was supposed to grab some lube and kleenex and head to the bedroom. And then, like so many others, in the moment of post-coital observation, I felt no more self-love. In a way, I felt more empty (no pun intended).

Self-love seems rather elusive doesn’t it? It’s a buzzword that people love to spew but no one ever tells us how to fucking get it. It’s become the “conscious” lingo that everyone talks about, but no one actually knows what it is. It’s like Fight Club, except we already know how to beat ourselves up. What we seek is peace from the regular emotional shame we experience. We want a vacation from the poisonous self talk and perhaps just one glimpse of this fucking promise land so many “gurus” speak of.

I’m no guru, but I’ll tell you what I have learned from struggling as a human to feel like I am worthy of love. In that yoga class that day, I finally understood that I was not living a life of true self-expression.

I finally got it:

If you want everyone around you to behave with integrity, to love you, to honour you, to appreciate you, to support you, to value you, to give to you, to invite you to grow and change, you have to become all of those things. Your life has to embody what you want. Ie. If you want to find the one, be the one.

So WTF is self-love and how do we create it?

Well, first off, it’s important we understand that it’s not a destination, it’s a journey. You don’t just get to this magical moment where you’re like, “I DID IT! I FELL IN LOVE WITH MYSELF!”

Self-love is formed through the habits and rituals which fill our daily lives. It could be the choice to go to the gym instead of the club. It’s cultivated by creating a life that sends the message to ourselves that we matter and are loved and respected by ourselves, first. It’s declaring our values, and then having the courage to live them. 

Uh oh, I’m starting to sound a little guru-ey, aren’t I?!?

Okay, to make it a little easier, here are five self-love must-haves if you want to wake up, look in the mirror and be able to say, “Good morning you sexy mutha-fucka! You are going to kick-ass today! I love you bae.”

1 – Become best friends with yourself

What do I mean by this? Take walks by yourself, take yourself to dinner. Learn you. Listen to your thoughts. Develop a meditation practice. Go on trips. Take drives. Spend quality time in your mind and heart. Go for hikes. Hug trees. Make love to yourself. Pursue your passions. Find a hobby.

We can’t love ourselves if we don’t even know who are. We can’t express our true feelings if we’ve never listened to them.

2 – Making healthy choices (food & exercise)

Eat more vegetables. Exercise. Get out in nature and hike. Stop eating shit that’s basically rubber.  Self-loving choices are not picking fries over salads all the time, or sitting on the couch instead of getting out for a run. People who love themselves have very different habits than those who don’t. We can’t begin to love ourselves and our bodies if we don’t make choices that cultivate that desired belief.

Start now. Go for walks. Do a workout. Join a gym… learn about food. Start to cook. Go to yoga (it has the benefit of movement and meditation). And for all my gym junkies and workaholic entrepreneurs – give yourself permission to rest. 

3 – Boundaries

What are they? They’re guidelines and requirements for people to understand how to treat us. They communicate what makes us feel loved, what we need from a relationship, what our standards are when it comes to communication and how people need show up in our life, if they want to be in it.

But there’s something even more important that boundaries provide, and it’s that they cultivate self-worth. They communicate to others that we are worthy of being loved and respected. And at the exact same time, they send the message to ourselves that we are worthy of being loved and respected. Win-Win.

Careful though, because just as quickly as boundaries can create confidence, one slip up or “exception” can eradicate our self-worth faster than Amazon Prime. You must understand how important this skill is because we can’t have high self-worth without making decisions that reflect that desire. If we let toxic and disrespectful people into our lives and allow them to stay there, we will have no choice but to form the belief that we are unworthy and don’t deserve more. Fuck that. You do. But you’re the one who has to create those boundaries.

Having clear and healthy boundaries is easily the quickest way to cultivate self-love and self-worth, and to improve your Tinder profile. Okay, okay… it won’t help with Tinder, but it will help with what you swipe “yes” too…I even wrote a whole course about it.

4 – Share your feelings

When we share our feelings, we send the message to ourselves that our feelings matter. When we tell other people what’s up, we allow them to peer into our hearts, which also sends the message to ourselves that we’re worthy of being loved. Vulnerability invites others to join us in a vulnerable space. One person always has to go first… be that person.

5 – Let yourself be loved

Until we let people in and choose people who can fully love us, we will never truly believe it.

A lot of us get stuck in this space where we’re SO GOOD alone and build a life that is centered around us. This is great…. But there’s a difference between walls and boundaries. Outwardly it might appear as though these people are selfish, but self-love and selfishness are two very different things. And in the latter case, the selfishness is really just fear masquerading as awareness and boundaries. What we’ve built is walls and walls keep people out; boundaries teach people where the door is.

The bottom line of self-love is this:

Stay true to you. Honour your needs. Create agreements in your relationships. Stand the-fuck-up for yourself.

We must stay the course. It’s SO EASY to just go back to the habits and life that led to us to the moment where we woke up and realized that we weren’t happy. It’s easy to do more shots, to try to hump away our pain, to take that job that doesn’t fulfill us or to say yes to a relationship with someone who just isn’t it. We have to live a life that is in alignment with our integrity and our hearts.

How we want to feel has to be more important than the fear that we’ll never feel that way. What we choose demonstrates whether we’re living a life moving in the direction of our dreams, or our excuses. We can’t do both, so choose wisely.

~ Words by Mark Groves