Being a better you through self-love
9 April, 2023, 5:30 pm
Bula Fiji. Thank you for reading my first article, Managing Depression, in this brand new column, Bula Vakasaama, about practical strategies on mental health and mind wellness.
I am truly grateful for the overwhelming positive response that I have received in my email inbox and on the Bula Vakasaama Facebook page. Vinaka vakalevu.
Today I would like to talk about something most of us struggle with almost daily. I’m talking about self-love.
Self-Love…What is self-love and what does it actually look like?
Self-help books and life coaches talk about loving yourself, but what exactly is selflove and what does it look like when it is practised in real life? What does it mean to act out love towards one’s own self that can be felt and believed in, and translated into positive regard of one’s own worth and image?
A teenaged client of mine recently asked me to define self-love and to give her examples of how she could practice that in daily actions. She said something that got me thinking. She said that she knew about the concept of loving yourself, but she didn’t know how to do it.
She said that she was trying to say the words ‘I love myself’ but she felt like a fake because she didn’t believe in that sentence when she was saying it as her daily affirmation. Her question made me realise that indeed self-love is discussed as an abstract concept and not many people know exactly how to act it out.
And that’s probably why most people struggle in relationships with others too because there is an absence of daily selflove practice.
This leads one to function from self-loathing or self-hate, constant putdowns of one’s own abilities, negative thought patterns about one’s body image, intellectual abilities, and perceived successes and failures of one’s life.
Ultimately it leads one to project their own self-hate and negativity towards others through resentment, anger, toxic bondage, hate-speech, insults, and sometimes even physical and/or sexual violence, and emotional, financial, or spiritual abuse.
My personal struggle with self-love It took me thirty-five years to understand what it meant to love myself and how exactly I was meant to practise it on a daily basis. When I learned to love myself, I realised that it wasn’t that I hated myself – it was that I hated all the choices I made in my life that brought about negative experiences. It was that I hated my past behaviours that shackled me in shame, guilt, blame and regret.
It was that I couldn’t differentiate that my body was different from my soul. I found it extremely difficult to move past my own guilt about behaviours that I had chosen when I hurt others through my thoughts, words, and deeds.
I didn’t know how to forgive myself and I didn’t know how to believe in love in general. There was a point in my life when I thought that love was a lie and that anyone who talked about love or self-love was kidding with me, mocking me.
And then one day, a miracle happened. The miracle of forgiveness and mercy. My daughter, barely seven years old at the time, cupped her tiny hands around my sobbing face and said to me: ‘Mummy, it’s okay. You can cry it out. God knows you. You are special. You are my mummy and I love you. It’s okay, mummy. I know you are sorry. I forgive you. Now you forgive you too. Now you love you too just like how I love you.’
That was the day when I witnessed what unconditional love and true forgiveness looked like. Now you may become angry with me when I tell you the incident that happened right before this moment when my precious child spoke her words of kindness, love, and compassion to me.
What had happened minutes before was that I had acted violently towards her due to my intense rage about someone else. I was heavily triggered at the time by my traumatic experiences in a violent marriage that I had just escaped.
The rage had consumed me to a point where I was beginning to feel triggered by my child’s facial expressions because she began to remind me of her biological father, who was at the core of my traumatic triggers.
My child’s divinely inspired words helped me believe in love again. I began investing my time and energy in learning strategies on connecting with my essential self — my intuitive voice, the voice of my soul.
The soul’s voice never misguides because it is pure and isn’t affected by past conditioning. I realised that I am a pure soul created by God and I must love this being that dwells inside my body. My daughter’s words were pure because she spoke from her soul.
She did not speak from vengeance, resentment, anger, blame, shame, regret – she spoke from her soul’s pure love. Strategies to practice daily self-love
- Being kind in how you talk to yourself about yourself, meaning choosing kinder words to describe yourself and not use put-downs and negative words;
- Being patient with yourself regarding the pace at which you do things and understand things and action things. Everyone has their own unique pace and their own comprehension abilities;
- Being accepting of your humanness. God created you as a human being who is not perfect in behaviour. You are here to lead a human life, not a perfect life. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation for a human being. We are created to go through challenges and learn from our experiences;
- Being grateful for all of God’s creation, including yourself (your life, your abilities, your body shape, your facial features);
- Being a reformer not a punisher. To reflect on your choices and reform rather than punish yourself or judge yourself harshly. Learn from your mistakes and make a better choice instead of punishing yourself with guilt and negative self-talk; and
- Place your hand on your heart and breathe with gratitude and remember that you are first soul then body.
• PRINCESS R LAKSHMAN is a counsellor, clinical nutritionist, writer, narrative therapist, and certified life-coach. She is passionate about mind wellness and an advocate for kindness and self-care. She lives in Sydney and will soon open mind wellness hubs in Fiji to provide free mental health counselling and workshops exclusively to Fiji residents. The views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper. She can be reached at info@princesslakshman. com