PRACTICING SELF-LOVE: The most transformative act of Self-Care
Many of us are rather good at taking care of our health, eating nourishing whole foods, exercising and nurturing our relationships - all incredibly important and necessary for our well-being. But there’s one underlying act of self-care that is so very often neglected, and it might be even more important than all the others:
The practice of loving yourself.
When I mention self-love during my private yoga retreats in Ibiza most of my clients have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. Isn’t loving yourself narcissistic? Quite the opposite actually, but if in doubt read The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, one of my favourite books.
I truly believe that growing a sense of self-love and developing a loving relationship with yourself is the most important gift you can give to the world. It creates a massive snowball effect far beyond the boundaries of yourself.
But the practice of self-love can feel rather weird, and I totally get it, I still struggle with this. I’m not sure whether I have ever learned to truly love myself on a subconscious level, so I have to make it conscious.
They say that you teach what you need to learn…
Whilst introducing my Ibiza yoga clients to the practice of self-love I have seen HUGE benefits in my own life.
And trust me, it’s not just dedicated women and mothers who struggle with this. My thriving business clients find the concept of self-love even weirder. We are programmed to value concepts like success or selflessness over self-love. But to truly serve others AND have a fulfilling career, we first need to serve ourselves, look inward and practice loving our own unique spirit.
So put on your oxygen mask and breathe love…
Imagine pouring love into the heart of the person most important to you, doesn’t that feel great?! Now try doing the same thing for yourself. That’s self-love, and it’s a completely foreign concept for the vast majority of people.
How would your life unfold if, just like drinking 8 glasses of water, you would give yourself at least 8 doses of love every day?!
I grew up in Germany where there’s still an overwhelming culture of “just getting on with it” so no wonder that practising self-love still feels utterly indulgent to me. But I also know that this is the most important practice in my life, not just for me, but for the benefit of everyone around me.
My clients come from all walks of life, and pretty much everyone I meet is hard on themselves in some way, there is always some kind of stress and pain. Disappointed in themselves, angry at themselves, constantly feeling inadequate.
Does that sound familiar? When we get quiet and actually listen to our internal dialogue we might find a good chunk of this in ourselves.
It’s the basic problem that most of us face, every single day. Instead of being kind we beat ourselves up. We stress out and can’t relax (note to self). We neither challenge nor trust ourselves. We hold back and don’t allow our gifts to flourish. Instead we get angry at ourselves for eating too much, drinking too much, messing up in social situations, getting distracted, etc. etc. We can be so brutal to ourselves.
And of course this affects everything in our lives. It makes us more stressed, less happy, less focused, and incredibly anxious. So we run away from ourselves in countless ways, getting even more out of sync.
But if we could give ourselves some daily portions of love, acceptance and forgiveness, maybe we could start to heal all of this nonsense. And as a consequence we would respond to pain, uncertainty, chaos and difficulty in a much more mindful way.
So please give yourself some L O V E. It is such an important act of self-care, and yet we rarely do it, certainly not on a conscious level. But HOW you might wonder??
The practice of Self-Love
I’d like to share with you my personal rituals that helped me to reframe my thinking and increase the love I feel for myself, which in turn enabled me to give back to the world from the full capacity of my heart.
But first, until this becomes a habit, set reminders for yourself. Put a note on your fridge, your computer, phone, and mirror. Anywhere you like. In your car, at your desk, or on your bedside table.
Two simple words: LOVE YOURSELF.
And when you see the reminder, put it into action and practice, practice, practice. This is what works for me but feel free to adjust:
💕 1. Turn up the volume of your kind thoughts and mute negative self-talk
Becoming aware of your internal dialogue is crucial. I discovered that eliminating this depleting, judgemental, perfectionistic voice in my head was one of the first things I needed to do on my journey to self-love. When I started using encouragement and praise instead of criticism, I was able to accept myself with all my flaws and faults. Or at least I could laugh at myself in situations when I did mess up miserably 😆 Give it a try and notice the difference in your mindset.
💕 2. Feel your pain
Our habitual response to any stress, self-doubt, anger, or anxiety is to run away from the discomfort. But instead I’d like you to pause, breathe, name it and accept it. Let yourself feel it for just a few moments.
And then give yourself the balm of love. Imagine first that you are sending love to someone close to you - your child, partner, parent, or best friend. Pour your love into them, wishing them all the peace and happiness in the world. Notice how that feels in your heart. And now try it for yourself, generating the same feeling in your heart, but sending all the love and peace to yourself. I know I know, it’s difficult. It still makes me cry when I realise how hard I am on myself.
💕 3. Set your own standards of beauty and grace
Self-love can happen now, regardless how messed-up and flawed you might feel. There’s no need to wait until you’ve established the perfect morning routine, started meditating, exercising, and cooking like Gwyneth Paltrow. Tell yourself you are beautiful exactly as you are. NOW in this very moment. Of course, you’re not perfect, you never will be, and I love you for it.
It may feel difficult at first, but with conscious practice you can stop trying to be someone else and start loving yourself for your own unique qualities. The inner critic will always compare and demand more. But by changing your standards of inner beauty you can nurture and carry yourself into a place of self-acceptance. It will make you attractive, peaceful and free.
💕 4. Pamper yourself like the precious gem you are
I’m lucky enough to live in the beautiful north of Ibiza where the cost of pampering is lower than it is in Germany or the UK. I simply switch off my phone, take a book, and go to the beach. Or I spend an entire afternoon in the hammock. Or I go for a long hike and practice yoga on the mountain.
But regardless of where you live and what pampering looks like for you, there are ways to make it a priority without having to spend the earth. Yes, it’s wonderful if you can indulge in a luxury spa day, but it really doesn’t need to be extravagant. Simply recognising that you’re tired and giving yourself a long sleep in, or taking a hot bath after work, or a barefoot walk in nature, or putting on candles and classical music just for yourself, or cooking a nourishing dinner…
I can think of countless acts of self-love, if only we could get out of our own way. So please, prioritise our health and actually do it. Write it in your diary and book a date with yourself.
The world needs you and you need this care. Don’t hold back.
Ibiza Private Yoga Retreat
If you wish to dig deeper and work with me one-on-one, then I’d love for you to come to Ibiza and experience your own healing power during a tailor-made, bespoke yoga retreat.
From transformational yoga and meditation classes to exhilarating sunsets by the warm waters of the mediterranean sea. From horse riding to restorative pampering sessions - how much or how little you do is all up to you. This is YOUR cup that I’d like to fill until you overflow with energy, gratitude and love.
The goal for my private Ibiza yoga retreats is to enable each and every client to reconnect and shine. I want you to understand that your self-worth, beauty and success in life is inherent rather than defined by your outer circumstances. I want you to embrace yourself in all your wholeness, and use your own uniqueness to fully express your energy in the world.