Published in Women Enough
How often have you heard the phrases, “love yourself” or “grow your self-love?” But how do you truly grow self-love? What does it mean to fully love and accept yourself?
About 10 years ago I had an inkling of how to do this self-love thing. I would embark on a courageous journey to fix myself. My quest would begin by taking workshops, reading lots of books, and learning brilliant techniques to repair the broken, ugly, and unfavorable parts of myself.
Umm... not so right.
Over time it became apparent that my self-love journey was not working. By approaching the goal of self-love from a context of trying to fix myself, I created a recipe for endless “fixing” and little self-love. I began to see that I had an unconscious belief that I could only love the parts of myself that were perfect, as if all the other stuff was simply unlovable. It took a few years, but I learned that attempting personal perfection was like trying to summit Mt. Everest with a fussy, thousand pound gorilla on my back.
What soon became clear is that if I chose not to love myself just the way I was, then I would never love myself. There would always be more “work” to do on myself, and it was time to wake up and see that I was worthy of love. This realization catalyzed a radical awakening within me. It started with minuscule droplets of love, and then, for the first time in my life, I began to love myself.
From my personal journey, and through working with numerous clients around the world, I created a homemade self-love recipe. This 5 Step Self-Love Recipe is a powerful process that will lead you through self-awareness, emotional literacy, acceptance, forgiveness, and commitment.
The self-love journey begins as an awareness practice. It is not possible to selectively love yourself, meaning, love only the favorable parts. Imagine expanding your awareness to fully see all parts of yourself: your shadow, judgements, regrets, fears, insecurities, as well as your courage, honesty, big heart, loyalty, and integrity. Your willingness to face all parts of yourself is often the most challenging, but most potent first step towards self-love. It is easy to have a belief that you can only love the parts that you perceive as “worthy” of love. What is true is that every part of you is fully worthy of love. So start by being willing to fully face yourself.
I am willing to fully see all parts of myself.
2. Welcoming Your Feelings
Once you have opened the door to facing all parts of yourself, emotions may begin to arise. One of the biggest ways you can block your ability to fully see yourself is by getting afraid of your feelings. The truth is, you cannot control when and which feelings emerge, yet you do have choice around how you respond to them. You may notice feelings such as fear, sadness, anger, resentment, or shame. How can it be ok to simply feel these feelings? It is important to remember that feelings do not last forever, they all flow to completion. As your feelings organically arise, give them your presence, breathe with them, and take time to feel them to completion. If you do this you will notice greater depth of presence with yourself.
As I fully face all parts of myself, I welcome my feelings to flow easily and to completion.
The next phase of the self-love journey involves acceptance. Once you have fully faced yourself and allowed your feelings to flow, acceptance naturally emerges. Acceptance is awareness in its most grounded form. Through accepting yourself, (all the different and sometimes contradictory parts of yourself) you will deepen into a space of acknowledging reality as it is, without a need to change reality or hide from it.
I acknowledge and accept all parts of myself.
Start by asking yourself, “What have I been unwilling to forgive myself for?” Forgiveness is the act of inviting the light of your awareness and love to things you previously deemed unworthy of love. Forgiveness is not a mental experience, it is a somatic experience. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful steps in the self-love journey. When you shine the light of your compassionate awareness on anything, you initiate an alchemical process of radical transformation.
I am willing to forgive myself for....
5. Commit to Loving yourself, all parts of you
Through this process you may begin to experience the tiny seeds of self-love. Do not judge the amount of self-love you experience. Instead, take the time to appreciate what is here. Through your consistent loving attention you will inspire your self-love to grow. Once you begin to feel self-love, you may ask yourself, “how do I hold onto it?” You can’t. However, you can make a commitment to love ALL parts of yourself. At some point you may drift from your commitment. When you do, notice it and recommit. Just this simple act will change your world.
I commit to loving myself... and I recommit to loving myself
Self-love is one of the most awe-inspiring things in this Universe. It is born from our ability to fully see, feel, accept and forgive ourselves. Self-love is not a destination that we finally arrive at and say, “Wow, I am so happy I am here!” Instead, it is a life-long journey of deepening, growing and opening. It is a pleasure to be on the journey with you.
~ Juna Mustad