A field guide to self love

The first thought that crosses my mind as I’m drafting this post is what the bloody hell was I thinking? What can I, the person who struggles most with accepting myself, possibly say about self love?

And then I realize – just the fact that I was excited about doing this, shows how far I have come on this journey of loving myself.

field guide to self love journal prompts, meditation

It’s been a long, often bumpy road. I’ve gone through years of hating myself – my contradictions, my physical appearance, my lack of passion. I’ve tried to outrun all my vices – envy, anger, irritation – to sweep it all up under the carpet and act like they weren’t there. I’ve spent hours berating myself for every morsel of food I put into my mouth – be it a square of divine black chocolate or a healthy spoon full of oats. I was either eating all the “wrong” food or too much of the “healthy” food – if I didn’t love my food so much, I’d be living on water and fresh air!

There isn’t one single turning point that helped me convert all of this self hate into self love. There were many small a-ha moments, and an immersion in self-help books and psychology journals; articles by life coaches like Martha Beck and essays by feminists and body positive advocates; reports on nutrition, exercise and health.

There was a lot of inner excavation, an examining of beliefs and labels. There were hours spent with pen and paper, writing like my life depended on it {it did}. Slowly, I started to peel off the layers, to deconstruct the body dysmorphia, the weight of other people’s expectations, the loud voices of the diet and fitness industry trying hard to sell a shiny, glittery dream of a “perfect” body that is always just out of reach.

Slowly, I started to find my voice, synthesize my findings, figure out my world view, dance with my shadows. And slowly, and gently, I started to love myself. There are still days when I fall into a negative spiral of self-contempt, but I have been getting better at catching myself and practicing radical kindness.

If there is something I can tell you for sure it is this:

The journey to self love will be hard, you will fall, but you can get up and keep on walking. Click To Tweet

You can reach a place of gentle love, of loving kindness, of fierce love. And when you have reached that place, you will fall again, but the falls will be slighter, you will get up faster, and you will love yourself – gently, fiercely, protectively, kindly. Self-love is an ongoing process.

Some resources for your journey…

Journal prompts

These are some of the questions that I explored in my journals – I hope you find them useful.

These questions are to be used as a set to explore what you wish to change and why:

What is the one thing that I wish I could change about myself?

What will change for me if I make this change?

Do I want this change, or is it being dictated by someone else (parents/media messaging/peer pressure)?

What steps can I take to make this change?

What would it take to accept myself as I am now?

Here are a few more prompts that you can explore:

What do I love about myself?

My perfect day looks like….

How can I indulge myself?

What is the kindest thing I can do for myself when I am in pain or hurting?

Blog posts

Moving into fear

Reframe your personal story

how to find yourself when you've been running too long

How to find yourself when you’ve been running too long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A guided LovingKindness meditation

How is this month of self-love treating you so far? Let me know in the comments!

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28 Comments

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about this too, MG. It’s been a long hard journey for me. Just when I think I’m on my way to loving myself, something will pop up. But now I’m learning to pick myself up much faster and focus on loving myself back to wholeness.

    • I love that – loving myself back to wholeness. That’s exactly what it’s about isn’t it? If you don’t love yourself, you don’t think you’re whole, and nothing could be further from the truth! It’s also an ongoing process – love, loath, love again. We gotta be alert and keep bouncing back.

  2. Your post has got me thinking Shinjini. I’m learning to be kind and loving to myself and being more accepting of the person that I am and it isn’t easy at all, but life is about letting go and I’m learning to practice self-love more openly and honestly without prejudice these days. That this feeling can be very liberating at times is what I’m discovering.

    • Yes – it’s so liberating to love ourselves exactly as we are! Most often our verbal lashing is over things that aren’t important to us. Finding ourselves, loving ourselves exactly as we are while still being open to change is what this journey is all about.

  3. As I was reading this post, I found myself drifting to my past days where I was loathed and criticized for most of the things I was – my physicality, my being overtly quiet, plain thinking and certain more things. The criticism happened so often that it became my inner voice too. When you say self-contempt, I know it with you. I am not sure how self-love is practiced or what did I do exactly to get over all that, but I feel more comfortable in my skin now. There are bad days, for sure, but I am a work in progress.

    • So often it’s well-meaning people who criticize us the most. And when we grow up with it, it becomes “our” voice. But we can never be that harsh with ourselves – learning to distinguish between that voice and your own is so important. We are all a work in progress…and this work is never done, I believe.

  4. Journey of self love is most rewarding and unique- I have found my inner voice to be my sanest guide and I have found it via meditation. Refusing to put up with Sh** is another thing which has got me going plus surrounding myself with peeps who love me has helped me a great deal. I choose to give a chance to ppl and never hesitate to make friends…..

    • Meditation is very helpful for a lot of things, including helping us love and accept ourselves unconditionally. Personally, I’ve found self love has little to do with people and friends and everything to do with how you talk to and treat yourself. 🙂

      • Each to their own for sure. I have found similar minded friends thanks to my self love- I get what I give out- being the maxim here. And when such connections bring joy, the feeling of self love us simply enhanced,. I feel giving of myself in friendships makes my self love stronger…. 😊

    • Finding time for yourself and doing things you love can put you in a meditative state, which helps immensely in loving and accepting yourself just as you are. 🙂

  5. Self love and accepting oneself is the most important trait one would need. I have made it a point of living in the present Jini! Though there are a series of plans and ambitions, what I do is work towards it, there are times when some things are totally different from what I expect, but I take it that there is something better waiting for me.

    • Yes, self love and self acceptance are super important traits. Living in the present helps us to be kinder to ourselves – hmm, perhaps. Though we could also be in the present and speaking harshly to ourselves, don’t you think?

    • Getting out of our own way can be so damn hard sometimes though! I’ve found that to be true when I paint as well – I’m translating some of the lessons learnt at the easel to the rest of my life too!

    • Yes, it does! I found myself to be more loving and accepting of my partner’s flaws when I started to become more loving and accepting towards myself!

      Thank you for sharing the article. 🙂

  6. I love every word you poured and the reflections about self-love, questions asked to grow and the prompts. I simply adore this quote, The journey to self love will be hard, you will fall, but you can get up and keep on walking.

    Keep believing for the self matters.

    • Thank you Vishal. That’s what I found to be true on my own journey – it’s a distillation of my own learning. Glad it resonated with you too!

  7. Just such a motivating and stonily written post! We can be so hard on ourselves and we need to show so much more kindness to who we are #mg

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