"Self Love is a concept that may seem esoteric in nature and fleeting. Self Love is characterized as a positive regard of self and commitment to healthy practices that fosters happiness and well being. Self Love is often reinforced by daily practices, attention and attuning to one’s emotional, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual centers."
When I begin to introduce Self Love principles to clients in individual session it is often misinterpreted as narcissism or being generally boastful in nature. In a selfie culture where the emphasis of self validation through social media likes and re-tweets are the norm; a clear definition and distinction of authentic self love is necessary to add to the collective consciousness. Enjoying solid self love can increase:
The Quality of Relationships with people that is based in honesty, integrity, communication and expression.
Self Esteem and Self Concept. Self Esteem is characterized as the positive regard for self and behaviors. Self Concept is considered the core definition of our identity, sense of self in the world, morals and belief system.
Overall Happiness and feelings of Joy. Conscious self love infused activities on a daily basis is shown in positive psychology research to increase overall Happiness experienced by people despite their socio-economical or educational status.
Self Expression and Creativity. When People feel more connected to self and in-tuned with their higher self creativity and the ability to express is amplified. The less likely one is to edit themselves and second guess their potential.
Having access to authentic Self-Love can reduce:
Depression. Self Love Practices can reduce twisted thinking patterns and toxic loop patterns that increases risk of depressive feelings.
Anxiety. High levels of Self Love can reduce anxiety symptoms by fostering effective relaxation and coping tools and identification of anxiety triggers.
Toxic Relationships. Having access to healthy expectations and standards can reduce repeating toxic patterns in relationships and increasing assertive communication and safe dating.
Body Image Issues. Mindful self love practices and reduction of self criticism patterns can reduce the likelihood of eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
Self Love is a consistent process that is life long and on a continuum. When I work with client’s in therapy we begin to work on some basic principles in order to begin the exercise of healthy self love. Here are 3 straight forward tips to begin this evolving life long process:
Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness can mean meditating for 15 minutes per day in silence which includes guided meditations, guided visualizations or nature sounds. Sitting in silence for fifteen minutes a day focused on your breathing can drown out mind racing, general anxiety, reduce blood pressure and overall stress. I would suggest surfing youtube for guided meditation videos and choosing videos that are soothing and relaxing. Mindfulness can also mean focusing on one task at a time. I suggest to my client who are embarking on beginning a mindfulness practice to begin by eating mindfully. I suggest to clients to have one meal a day in which they sit without distraction or television, focus on the smell of the food, sight of the food, texture of the food, listening for the sounds of the crunchiness of the food while eating and the taste and flavors of the food. I challenge my clients to spend at least 15 minutes enjoying a meal without judgment or rush. For a quick introduction to Mindfulness, Check out: http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm
2. Going Fishing For Feelings. I speak to my clients about this concept of going to fish for feelings when feeling overwhelmed, anxious or sad/depressed. We often repress, avoid or suppress our feelings which then results in heighten anxiety. Feelings that are not explored or identified then results in greater anxiety and deepening of sadness. I encourage clients to keep a journal to write down underlying feelings. I also suggest when anxiety is identified to be able to look at the possible cause of triggers for anxiety (situation, people and thoughts). If identifying feelings is difficult or produces panic attacks I would suggest visiting : www. psychologytoday.com and searching for a licensed therapist who has experience with cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy experience and skills.
3. Set Small Manageable Goals. Building on successes can improve self mastery and increase goal completion thereby increasing compassion for self. Setting small manageable goals can reduce self criticism. Control brings us happiness and fixing small problems helps us fix bigger ones. As people we perform at higher levels in our lives if we begin to see ourselves as masters of our own fate. Taking a look at what we have control over in our professional, personal, social or relational life that we can improve and set goals for can be a first step in this process. For example if one of your goals is to save more money being able to create a budget and establish a saving goal that is attainable and making a plan for this could be helpful.
It is important to be mindful and remember that self compassion and non self judgment is an important part of the process. Remember that set backs are a normal part of the journey!