When I am working with new clients I often send them documents to fill in so I can get a measure of who they are, where they come from and how they rate themselves in relation to key criteria.
For example their level of daily joy, or happiness, or optimism. Plus I ask them about their perceived level of Self Love. Invariably, something like 90%+ of my clients (who also include high performers) rate their level of self love below 7/10. So it is definitely an area that we all have a little challenge with.
But here is the thing. Our brain is malleable. We have this thing called neuroplasticity going on. Which means we can rewire our brain (regardless of our age). We can also build up anything that is weak. Whether it is the muscles in our body, our mental faculties, our memory, and even our emotional resilience. We just need to find and commit to the right workout.
So for me, our level of Self Love can actually be increased if we do certain things. Here are 5 practical ways to get you started and then let them be the catalyst for coming up with other ideas. Here’s to more Self Love and all the joy, happiness, success and abundance that it unleashes.
Self Love Exercise 1: Me, myself and I love it when I shake it up
I did say it was going to be practical. 😉
Moving your body is an act of self-love. The body craves movement. Life (and living) is the opposite of stagnation (and death). When we move our bodies we are not only doing something physically good for the body, but we are psychologically supporting it to. We feel good about ourselves after we workout. This is probably the results of a number of chemicals being released in the brain and coursing through the body (like BNDF – brain-derived neurotrophic factor – which promotes the health of nerve cells).
Taking care of your physical body, is an act of self love. It makes you feel better about yourself. The more you move your body, the more you experience this feeling. And it is something you can CHOOSE to do (and unfortunately, choose not to do).
Self Love Exercise 2: Would you feed that to someone you loved?
I am guessing you can see where this is going.
All of you reading this have a pretty good idea about what food is good for our health and what foods are not-so-good (or outright BAD) for the optimum function of our body. Not only your brains know this, but the nervous system of your body does too. Millions of years of evolution has created a body that knows what is good for it, and what is not. It responds differently when it gets fed foods that are high in nutrients, fibre, chemical and additive free, bursting with colours and vitality; as opposed to some processed thing that is masquerading as a food source.
Again at a psychological level – where this self love thing hangs out – do you feel better about yourself if you eat a healthy salad or if you eat a Big Mac? Not whether your taste buds are having a party, but do you feel good in your heart?
Choice number 2, to increasing self love, is be kind to your body and give it what it most needs.
Self Love Exercise 3: Be nice
I am going to make an assumption. Something I tell people not to do. 😉 But I feel pretty confident about this one. You are human. Right? (If you are not human please contact me and tell me what your planet is like – I am curious). As human’s we do stupid stuff. We make mistakes. We say inappropriate stuff to people. We offend people. We let people down. We annoy the crap out of our partner. We overcommit. We cut corners. We do what we know is not good for us. Or am I just talking about little imperfect me? 😉
So one of the practical exercises for increasing your self love when you do something stupid is:
- Rant like a crazy man or woman for about 1 minute (and maybe up to 5 minutes if it is a really bad one).
- Accept your imperfections. My favourite line: “Even though I (am deeply embarrassed that I was such an insensitive knucklehead to my girlfriend) I still accept and approve of myself”… (because I am human and not from a 4th dimension of highly evolved spirits).
- Fix up what you can.
- Learn from this event (and therefore grow).
- Get on with life (and probably repeat in the next few days ;-)).
Acceptance of your humanness is a key to self love.
Self Love Exercise 4: This is only for the courageous
Look I have been fully immersed in this ‘self development’ stuff for a good 16 years now. So I have had a bit of practice. I have peeled back a LOT of layers. I have forgiven myself for being a total wanker in my late teens and early 20’s. I have forgiven myself for being a bit of an insensitive (beeeeep) to different women over my life (mostly pre 30 – but Ferry would probably disagree).
I have forgiven myself for countless other ‘mishaps’ along the way. So now I am in a position where I can do crazy stuff like this: I can look at myself in the mirror and say ‘I love you Carl Massy’. Now I can almost hear the cringes. Especially from the dudes who have the courage to read my newsletters (well done guys for sticking with me!).
For me self love is an active practice. It is not something I am necessarily born with. Maybe some life circumstances make it easier for different people. But it is not something you either have or don’t. You can work on it and increase it.
So try this out. Look at yourself in the mirror. Pull silly faces if you need to. Give yourself the ‘thumbs up’ as you look at yourself. Say “You’re alright” as a warm up. Maybe just smile at yourself. Build up on this practice. The goal is to look into your eyes in the mirror and say “I love You” without cringing too much. Now this may take weeks. BUT. It is a choice. You have control over it. You can do it. I know you can.
Self Love Exercise 5: meditate on this
Maybe you are thinking… ‘Is he going to rant on about meditating again?’ And the answer would be ‘yes’. Meditating changes your brain. Meditating changes the expression of the genes in your body. Meditating calms your mind. Meditating relaxes the nervous system. Meditating allows you to connect with the present and drop away some of your mental stories and picture shows (shows from a past that is gone, and a future that is mostly unknown).
Meditating or mindfulness exercises or prayer or sitting still or whatever you want to call it allows you to cut through the bullsh_t and get to what really matters and what really exists. You. An amazing person, that is yet to tap into 100% of their potential, who at their core is pure goodness, who is loved by many, and who I know with 100% certainty is worthy of a truckload of love. That is the reality. All the other stuff is stories. Excuses. Half-truths (or complete falseness). Someone else’s gunk.
So sit in silence and connect to the bigger version of you.
I tried to stop at 5
Here are some others that I just felt the need to slip in…
- Practice gratitude (it impacts the chemistry in your brain and body)
- Practice random acts of kindness (you will know your worthy of love then)
- Practice saying ‘I love and approve of myself’
- Practice spending time in nature (it is not only beautiful but teaches you non-judgement amoung other things)
- Practice spoiling yourself with a massage
- Practice hanging out with inspiring people
- Practice saying ‘Thank You’ 20 times before 9am
And the list goes on…
The Final Takeaway
Self Love is a practice. Not something you have or you don’t, or that is fixed at a certain level. Every choice you make has the potential to add to your self-love or subtract from it. But even if you have subtracted from it for the last 3 decades, it is never too late. The homeostasis point of the body, mind and spirit, is equanimity. Calm. Centred. Grounded. Joyous. And this thing we all know – ‘science’ still has not worked out how to measure it, bottle it up and recreate – called ‘love’. To steal and modify a line from the movie Troy (said by Brad Pitt as they storm towards the beaches). “Self Love. Take it. It’s yours!” ;-) (Brad’s line was: ‘Immortality. Take it. It’s yours!’)
As always, please ask questions of me, or share your thoughts in a response email or by putting a post on Facebook.