I'm sure you've heard somewhere about the importance of loving yourself enough. You've probably read articles or books; been told in a webinar; watched a documentary on it, or heard experts expound on the importance of self-love, as well as how a lack of self-love is the root of so many problems, including physical and mental illness.
Why then does it seem so terribly hard to actually do it? Why are we all so quick to criticise ourselves and so reluctant to praise ourselves, or to accept compliments?
First, let's understand what ever-present, insidious self-criticism looks like in daily life. For example, do you regularly say things about yourself, or to yourself, like the following:'Oh silly me,' 'You idiot', 'For God's sake, what's wrong with me?!', 'that's typical of me', 'I've never been good at ...', 'I hate it when I do that...', 'what am I like!?', 'Ugh, I've gained so much weight', 'I've got a great face for radio!', 'I've never looked good in yellow/stripes/skirts...' , 'I've messed up again...', and so on.
Many of us spend many of our waking hours basically apologising for ourselves, or trying to compensate for our self-perceived 'failings'. Always putting the needs of others before your own is a lack of enough self-love. Working yourself into the ground to 'prove' your capable and worthy stems from a lack of enough self-love.
As well, compare how often you find fault with yourself, with how often you say something nice to, or about, yourself, such as: 'I've got a great memory', 'I'm really knowledgeable on...', 'I'm a wonderful cook/ baker/ gardener/ craftsperson/musician/ writer / listener...', 'I deserve some time off this weekend so I'm taking myself to a spa or cafe...', 'I love my hair / eyes / hands...'
Why is this important? Because self-love is the key to EVERYTHING! This is not just about your personal happiness, it's about saving the world! I mean it! More of us loving ourselves, knowing our worth as Divine beings, is the key to solving the climate crisis; the key to ending poverty, wars, inequality and injustice. it's the key to shifting life on planet Earth. How?
Because it is a lack of self-love that drives mean, cruel, jealous, thoughtless, ruthless, selfish, fear-based behaviour. It is when we do not love ourselves enough that this spills out into the world as abuse, submission and oppression, environmental damage, apathy, violence, greed, and more. On a micro level, when we do not love ourselves enough, we feed our bodies 'dead' food like processed sugars, we fill our amazing bodies with alcohol, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, etc. We end up feeling hopeless, lost, despairing, powerless.
We cannot care for others or for the planet if we do not love ourselves first. Love is like a fountain that must be flowing within us before it can spill out into the world around us. If our fountain is flowing with self-hate, then that is what we spill into our world.
When did we learn to criticise, denigrate and belittle ourselves? Mostly in childhood, which is where almost everything is seeded. It comes from our parents and relatives, from media and culture, from teachers and religious leaders. Some of it is learned behaviour that we absorb from our parents. For example, if we saw our mothers belittled or put down by our fathers, we may absorb the belief that women are lesser; women must stoically bear suffering, women are unworthy of love and must 'earn' love through struggle and sacrifice, etc.
How do you get more self-love into your life?
1. First, see it. Notice your self-critical behaviour and start to change it. If you hear yourself chivvy yourself, or judge yourself, say 'no, cancel that, from now on I am kind to myself.'
2. Listen to your language. A sign of subtle self-bullying is the word 'should' and shouldn't. Hearing yourself tell yourself that you 'should' do something. 'I should do the cleaning', 'I shouldn't eat that'. Why should you? Swap it out with the word 'choose' and notice how better than feels. So, 'I choose to do the cleaning because I feel good when the house is tidy' or 'I choose to not eat that because it is not beneficial for my body, I choose to eat this instead...'
3. Forgive yourself for everything in your life that you regret. 'I now forgive myself for all the times I was less than kind, I forgive myself for all my perceived mistakes, I forgive myself for holding myself back, I forgive myself for the missed opportunities, I forgive myself for not being as rich / famous / educated (or whatever) as I hoped to be by now...'
4. Be open to the idea that you can accept yourself as you are: Each day, say, 'I am open to the idea that nothing about me needs to change. I am open to believing that I am already good enough. I am open to the idea that I have nothing to prove.
5. And forgive yourself when you find this hard and fall back into the old criticisms like 'I'm too fat/old/stupid...': Each day, say to yourself, 'I am now walking the path of self-love and acceptance and I forgive myself when I stumble.'
6. Forgive everyone who played a part in your lack of self-love programming: 'I forgive everyone who ever taught me that I was lesser, unworthy, undeserving, inferior, powerless... I forgive them because they were also programmed with a lack of self-love; they were doing the best they could from a place of their own pain. But I now choose to do better than that. I choose to love myself unconditionally. I choose to appreciate myself, I choose to appreciate the gift that is my life, I choose to appreciate my body, my talents, my abilities. I choose to allow myself to feel joy and have abundance in all areas of my life.'
All the very best with loving yourself more! We are all a work in progress on this!
Lots of love, Zoe xx
As 2020 comes to a close, I hear a lot of people already looking towards 2021 and hoping for a brighter and lighter year ahead. As the saying goes though, 'if nothing changes, nothing changes' so I thought that, in this blog, you and I could have a think about how we can make different choices that would allow a 2021 that is a lot more fun and enjoyable than 2020 has been for many of us.
The challenge we now have, as a species, is that so many of us have moved into fear, despair, anger, blame and judgment. Unfortunately, thanks to the immutable laws of the universe, what we feel and think about, we get more of! And if thousands, or even millions, of us are going around feeling despairing and hopeless, what does that achieve? A dispirited world. And you do not get to joy and harmony city by walking down the road of despair!
Admittedly, it's very easy to get riled up these days. Just watch or read the news. Let me summarise the current news headlines for you: 'Doom! Economic ruin! Panic! Hide! Be afraid!...'
Let me offer you a different news briefing: 'Amazing people are doing amazing and generous things to help others; the majority of people who get sick recover in a few days with only mild symptoms; many businesses are thriving in this new environment; people are discovering innovative ways to work and connect online; the planet is getting a much needed break from the pollution of the aviation and petrol industries, as well as a respite from our insatiable consumerism; many people have reprioritised relationships with friends and family; and so on... can you add anything?
What if this watershed in human history is a time for us to re-evaluate, regroup, realign, and rebirth ourselves? What do you want from your life going forward into 2021? Who do you want to be? What are you ready to let go of? What limiting false beliefs are you ready to release? (eg 'I'm not good enough/ I'll never succeed / I'm too old/fat/short/broke...') How would you like to spend more of your time in 2021? What new passions and interests do you want to explore? Maybe you want to try paranormal investigating, or pottery, or Pilates, or pigeon racing... let your imagination run wild. As with everything in life, it is we who put the limits on ourselves.
Here are my suggestions for how you can roll out the red carpet for a sensational 2021:
1. Write a list of all the things you would like to do more of in 2021
For example, 'I want to see more stand-up comedy; I want to do an online yoga course for beginners; I want to bake a show-stopper worth of The Great British Bake-off; I want to get a dog or cat from an animal shelter; I want to volunteer at an animal shelter, I want to take an acting class or join a choir...
2. Write a list of the emotions you want to feel more of, eg:
Love, compassion, excitement, pride, connection, joy, calm, appreciation...
3. Now write a list of how you might be able to feel more of those emotions, eg:
4. Finally, write a list of all the things you want to let go of
Why should you bother taking this stock of your life? Because this is how you transform your life! Remember, 'if nothing changes, nothing changes'!
When we remove or reduce the stressors and limiting beliefs in our life, we transform our reality. Really! Our bodies transform and our lives transform. Say for example, you are carrying the subconscious beliefs, picked up in childhood, that ‘my best is never good enough’ or ‘I’m only loved when I struggle’ or ‘I mustn’t be too clever for my own good’, ‘I don’t belong here’, and so on. These are stressful things to believe and so these subconscious beliefs have us feeling slightly on edge a lot of the time, they activate our nervous system… ‘I have to struggle all the time, I have to struggle all the time…’
What does this do? It keeps us in a low grade ‘fight or flight’ state for much of the time. This means our adrenal glands are working over-time to produce cortisol and adrenaline; as soon as you have cortisol in your system, you get insulin, and when insulin is around, you’re storing fat around your middle. The thing is though, you cannot feel your body pumping out these smaller, continual squirts of cortisol and adrenaline. It’s easy to feel a big hit of cortisol and adrenaline, like when you bungee jump off a bridge into a canyon. Your stress hormones are pumping like there’s no tomorrow and you can feel it in every cell of your body. However, the smaller, continual amounts are not so obvious. And if you’ve lived in that low level anxiety state for years, even decades, you think it's normal to feel this way. It is the norm for you and you know no different. It’s like when an air-conditioning unit is whirring in the background but you don’t hear it until it gets turned off and then you realise how loud it was and you feel your body relax.
If left unaddressed, ongoing low-grade stress can lead to adrenal exhaustion and chronic fatigue. From there, conditions like fibromyalgia and diabetes can develop. I see this in my clients all the time. Years and years of continual low-grade stress slowly erodes their health... and yet most of them will say to me 'but I'm not that stressed...' Our society has become so sick with busy disease that we think it's normal!
Change your beliefs and you change your hormonal balance, and you change your life. Repeat after me: 'I AM good enough!'
Lots of love, Zoë xx