Whether you are just starting your journey of self discovery, a regular self lover, or if you consider yourself an expert in this area, open yourself up to the possibility of loving yourself on a whole new level to see what other brilliance opens up in your life.
Before I dive into the steps to self love, I’d like you to consider two questions.
1. What does self love FEEL like to you?
2. And if you felt this every day, what would you be able to do that you couldn't do now?
I love myself enough to ride out the highs and lows while keeping the faith that it is exactly as it meant to be. A few years ago I learned (and am still learning) an important lesson about self love. If you don't give yourself love by responding to what your heart and soul wants each day, it will find a way to get it, usually in less than healthy ways.
Know that self love is there for you too, all of it. You simply need to choose it for yourself.
This article will cover the three simple but powerful steps that make loving yourself easy and the biggest obstacles that get in the way of loving yourself.
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Steps to self love
Self love step #1 - Know thyself
This is so important because everyone is made to express self love in their own unique way. So the better you know yourself, the more you will be able to give yourself the authentic expression of love that truly lights your heart. Finding your most authentic expressions of self love is easy.
Here's how. Reflect on these three questions for yourself.
1) Think back to your childhood. What were the ways your parents showed you love that felt best?
2) Think back to moments with others you love. What ways do you most enjoy showing love to others?
3) Think back to your most joyful moments by yourself. What ways do you love to express love to yourself?
Trust what comes up, and jot down everything that comes up, big and small. Notice, are there are any patterns? For example, I love having focused quality time together. I remember feeling so loved by my dad in the moments where he poured his complete attention, enthusiasm and passion into playing silly and scary games like monster hide and seek (he would dress up and jump out and scare us) with me and my sister. He was completely present, and he put all his emotion into us.
Now that quality time is how I most love expressing love to those I care about too. It is in the deep connection time over coffee or being fully engaged in an activity together.
And for the joyful moments by myself, I love journaling, hiking solo and other activities that let me connect deeply with my feelings.
TIP: It can be helpful to see what your authentic expression of self love is by looking at Gary Chapman's five love languages:
Love language #1- Words of affirmation (compliments, words of affirmation)
Love language #2 - Quality time (sharing, listening, participating jointly and meaningfully)
Love language #3 - Receiving gifts (symbols of love given, demonstrating care and value)
Love language #4 - Acts of service (doing something for the good of another)
Love language #5 - Physical touch (gesture of love through forms of touch)
Knowing your most loving self is about knowing how you love to give and receive love. Which one or two love languages you relate to the most?
Self love step #2 - Be thyself
What does it feel like to embody your most loving self? What are the feelings, the thoughts, the sensations?
It is so powerful to know what authentically feels loving to you. It's like being introduced to yourself :). At the stage of knowing yourself, it's almost like the information lives in your brain. For it to start making its way into your real life, it needs to live in your body. Which brings us to the next step, be yourself. Being yourself means to allow yourself to fully relish in the whole sensory experience of your most loving self.
Here's how. Bring back a specific moment from childhood that made you feel most loved. Almost watch the moment like you would a movie. Describe what you are seeing. What do you look like when you are feeling most loved? For example, your eyes are wide, your smile is big. Now imagine stepping into that body of yourself as a child. What does it feel like? Is it exciting? Do you feel tingles in your shoulders? Now, is there anything you notice about the sounds around you in that moment? For example, when I was playing hide and seek with my dad - it was quiet (as we waited for him to find us) and then loud (as we screamed in delight). What about in your intuition, or what you are sensing? For example when you felt most loved, it could have felt like your senses are heightened and you were feeling very present.
Notice how you feel, even just reflecting back. Good, right? You're building self love already :)
Self love step #3 - Do as thy most loving self does as a practice every day
Note that practicing self care on a daily basis likely means taking radically different actions and making different decisions than you are doing now.
Once you know your most loving self and have connected wholly to the sensory experience of your most loving self, the natural next step is to express it. That brings us to the final step in learning how to love yourself - doing as your most loving self does, as a practice. Have you heard the saying, "use it or lose it"? Building a practice of self love is like building a muscle. If you know the mechanics of what it takes to build a muscle, and you connect to what it feels like to build a muscle, that will start your journey, but what really lets it grow is by actually doing the reps.
Here's how to build a practice of self love. Ask yourself, what am I inspired to do more of for myself? What is important about that for me? What would get to happen as a result of doing this consistently?
Choose one tiny thing you would love to do for yourself that lights your heart, that supports your authentic expression of love. For example I journal three things I love about myself each night before I go to bed, and this satisfies my self love need for expression of quality time.
Add some detail to your plan. When and where will you do this for yourself? When you add in when and where you can increase the chance of follow through from around 30% to over 80%! As an example, you could commit to journaling for two minutes each night, right before you go to bed for five of the next seven days. Ask, what is one thing you can do to make this inevitable? For example, you could ask your spouse to remind you or set a reminder on your phone.
TIP: Small hinges swing big doors. Small is better than large when it comes to sustainable habit change! As inspired as you are right now to try 10 things all at once, don't do it! Some criteria for a powerful action are as follows: you look forward to doing it, it is small enough where it feels relatively easy and it is just large enough where you still feel proud of yourself. Detail out when and where, and opt for something you can easily repeat consistently (rather than bigger tasks you do less often).
That’s the three steps. It’s that simple.
But there are many obstacles that get in the way of self love, so let’s have a look at what the most common ones are.
What stops us from loving ourselves
Have you ever found yourself spending more time thinking about what you would love to do for yourself rather than actually doing it? Where you're chatting with a friend that is going on about the fabulous massage they had, or an amazing social event they attended, maybe a new dish they tried out for themselves. You get all inspired to do something like that for yourself, then find yourself having all the good intentions, but not doing it.
Believing that you have to stay late at work or that your family needs you, or that you have to clean the house, or whatever other reason.
Or maybe you've been at this so long that you are secretly resenting the people that do practice self love. You start telling yourself stories. For example they can't possibly have the demands that you do, they must not be taking their other responsibilities seriously, they can't possibly have the stresses that you do. Is that you?
Well, me too. I remember one of my pivotal moments of me realizing that I was denying myself self love. I was working with my HR Manager on a training program, and I was, as I have always done, trying to take it another step further, pouring out my passion. Abruptly he said, "Crystal, it's not like we're trying to change the world or anything."
That comment tore into my heart like a knife. I remember part of me being angry, and the stories started. How dare he? He doesn't care as much as I do. He doesn't understand what it really takes to go to the next level. Then it hit me. I was angry because he showed me what was actually true that I did not want to admit to. I remember uncontrollably sobbing that night, realizing he was right, the organization I worked for was not trying to change the world. Then a harsher realization, that I actually did want to change the world, but the work I was doing wasn’t aligned with that.
Today I am listening to the whispers more. I am making more decisions based on what my heart and soul actually want, even if it is as crazy as me wanting to change the world. I give myself that respect to honor that, even if I don't know how yet. And some funny little things have been happening. I lost weight, and didn't gain it back, I hike almost every day, and I look forward to it. I started this business that is now my life's work, and it is growing its reach – a big achievement for me, I nearly doubled my revenue last year while lowering my expenses. The big kicker - I did this while spending more time with my family than I have ever done before. The best part is, the more I show love to myself, the more success I enjoy and the more fully I am able to love others.
It hasn't always been this way. In fact, I look at my life today and I have a hard time believing it’s mine because for much of it, it couldn't have been more of the opposite.
As a child I didn’t want to embarrass my family so I didn't ask my friends for the comfort I desperately needed when I lay in bed choking back tears as I listened to my parents fight night after night. As a mother of two young children, I didn't give myself the grace I desperately needed as I tried to be the perfect mother, and instead put myself into post-partum depression. I didn't leave my job when I knew there were other pursuits more important to my purpose. And I kept denying that part of me until it screamed out. All were ways I was betraying myself and keeping myself from the bliss of true self love.
One of my clients, a mother of an autistic son, after years of pouring into her family, at first felt guilty about giving to herself. How could she possibly make time for herself when she had his therapy appointments, soccer lessons, duties as a partner, etc.? She did so anyway and after three months found herself actually having more time. Her clothes were neatly put away, she was meal planning and doing everything she wanted in life.
If practicing self love is so powerful, what stops people from doing it? There are two big blocks I find get in the way.
They don't think it is possible. Can we just dispel that now? I'm here to tell you, it absolutely is. It was possible for me to find a way to love myself, and I’m actually still doing it. For the clients I work with, self love is helping them reach their goals. 100% of them say that they love themselves more after our work together.
They can't handle being that happy. What a thought. Can you believe that we are the ones holding ourselves back because it's scarier to go somewhere we are unfamiliar with? Who are you without that hurt? Can you handle that?
Which obstacle applies to you the most?
How to act now to start loving yourself more
I believe that every individual has the right to a healthy, happy, hella successful and fully expressed life no matter where they might find themselves now. And deep unapologetic self love is the foundation of that.
I am committed to helping as many people as I can to step into their most loving selves so they can live the life of their dreams.
To start making self love into a daily practice and a lifestyle, it is imperative that you do something now, not six months from now. Whatever vision you saw when you considered what self love would like for you and what would your life be like if you felt that every day, think of one tiny step you can do to take yourself a little bit closer to that.
As powerful as this information is, the statistics show that the great majority of people who plan to do something to improve their lives will not take consistent action. That is why it is so powerful to seek assistance. When you have someone giving you the system (right steps in the right order) support (encouragement when you're feeling stuck) and accountability (holding you to the highest version of yourself so you are following through and constantly dreaming up) you can live a powerfully aligned life where you are knowing, being and doing as your BEST YOU does. The foundation of your best self is YOU, AS YOUR MOST LOVING SELF.
I'd like to invite you to a free initial BEST YOU discovery session. It is a one-hour phone call where we'll look at where you are stuck and how to get unstuck and what your plan of action is to experience a total transformation. You will walk away with at least one major aha about how to break out of some lingering habits and get you on the path to your BEST YOU. Book your call here.