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There's More to Self-Love than Self-Care

Written by: Alyson Williams, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

People these days are very aware of the need for self-care. We hear descriptions such as the airline safety message that ‘you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs’ or ‘you need to fill your own cup first because you can’t give from an empty cup.’ We are implored to take time out, to have a massage or do a spa treatment, to meditate, have ‘mental health days’ off work, or to spend time doing what makes us happy as an individual. These pampering activities are great for calming the nerves and soothing the soul in the short term. I wholeheartedly applaud each of these recommendations. In fact, I suggest them to many of my coaching clients and even follow some of these myself.

However, there’s more to self-love than self-care. Self-care is, indeed, a vital ingredient in self-love, but it is not the entire recipe! Self-love is the ability to love oneself unconditionally. There are three key parts to achieving self-love — awareness, acceptance, and action.


These three components encompass honesty with ourselves, accepting ourselves, self-compassion, and forgiveness, having the desire to change, and then taking action to change.


Delving Deeper


The first ingredient in self-love is awareness through honesty with ourselves. Without (sometimes brutal) honesty, it is not possible to move towards self-love. This can be quite confronting and even scary for anyone with deep-seated self-doubt or even self-loathing. But it is absolutely vital, for without complete honesty about the lack of love for oneself, there cannot be the desire to change the status quo. The next important ingredients are the desire to change followed by acceptance. Knowing that we want more or better for ourselves then leads to accepting the lack of self-love within.


Acceptance of self is about knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves — warts and all, and treating ourselves with compassion. Accepting ourselves is being comfortable with who we are, being authentic, real, not putting on false airs or graces to meet someone else’s standards. It’s about being comfortable in our own skin. This stage is about identifying our strengths and weaknesses. Although someone with low self-esteem/self-love may find it hard to identify their strengths, everyone has both. Our strengths are generally based on our knowledge, skills, and attitudes; everyone does have these in some measure. Once we identify our weaknesses, we can then mitigate or flip them by increasing our knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the required area. For example, someone who procrastinates can learn some time management and motivational skills. It will undoubtedly be a challenge, especially for someone with low self-esteem, but it is possible; that’s the point — it is possible to change and improve!


Similarly, our negative beliefs about ourselves can also be changed. Our past does not equal our future! If this was the case, then the world would not have seen the huge shifts in the lives of people like Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President who experienced repeated failures in his personal, business, and political life and yet went on to become one of the best known of the US Presidents. Richard Branson, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, did not let the fact he was dyslexic or poor at schoolwork or have many failed business enterprises stop him from becoming a billionaire. I’m not saying changing negative beliefs is easy. I am saying that we do not have to let other people’s opinions of us (which is where most of our negative beliefs originate) stop us from living a life of fulfillment, of which self-love is key. (NB. Other negative beliefs come from our childhood either because we misinterpreted an event or incident or because we were labeled by people who themselves were ‘flawed’ or didn’t know any other way. I say ‘flawed’ without judgment because we all do the best we can with what we have at the time.)


A third key element to knowing ourselves is knowing what we stand for, our values. Values are the important determinants by which we live our lives. They are the big-ticket items/the deal makers or deal-breakers that underpin our behavior and by which we make decisions. Take loyalty, for example. Someone who has loyalty as a value may not remain friends with anyone who repeatedly gossiped about them behind their back or be fulfilled in a relationship with a partner who continually cheated. A person with this value who accepted these behaviors from their friend or spouse would be extremely unhappy. On the other hand, someone whose value was freedom and believed in an ‘open relationship’ would likely not feel betrayed by their partner. A good friend of mine values quality over price; she prefers to save her money until she can buy a good quality product rather than have a cheap imitation more quickly.


Acceptance is also about self-compassion and forgiveness. Forgiving others who have hurt us physically or emotionally is not about condoning or agreeing with the person or their actions. It’s about letting go of the hurt that we’re carrying. Forgiving ourselves for the past is also important; even if we don’t blame ourselves, it is still worthwhile to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness also assists us in trusting ourselves (again).


Trusting ourselves is another important ingredient in the self-love recipe. Once we know who we are and what we stand for, it’s much easier to trust ourselves. Trust in our abilities and capabilities. Trust in our humanness, i.e., our honesty to ourselves about ourselves because no one is perfect, but knowing that we need to be honest about whether we’re living by our values and our highest purpose. Trust in the ability to keep our promises to ourselves and our willingness to stand up for ourselves because we are worthy.


Having strong boundaries is also part of trusting ourselves. Boundaries are the standards of behavior we hold for ourselves and others. Our boundaries are closely aligned with our values. People for whom respect is a value are respectful to others and require other people to respect them in return.


Another important component of self-love is championing oneself, which is about standing up for ourselves against others and not giving up on ourselves in the face of ‘defeat’; persisting to achieve our goals and dreams knowing that we’re worthy and deserving. Championing ourselves means no longer putting our needs last on the list, and it’s also being able to accept praise and acknowledgment, acknowledging our worthiness and deservedness in these instances.


The final component of achieving self-love is action. Taking action can take various forms. Action can be getting assistance through learning courses/workshops/on the job training; by doing the homework following through consistently on the recommended activities, making one’s progress a priority, and practicing self-discipline. Having mentors, coaches, a strong support network in friends and family, accountability partners, and a like-minded community helps achieve greater self-love. A greater challenge is to cut negative influences/people out of our lives. Sometimes, it is impossible to cut free from all negative people, especially if they happen to be our boss, our spouse, or our parents. However, having a strong sense of our values and establishing firm boundaries are a good start to reshaping how people interact with us and establish a strong sense of self and self-love. Sometimes, it might mean letting go of these negative influences, whether it be a new job or a divorce. Not small decisions, but definitely life-changing if it leads to greater fulfillment and happiness.


A key factor of action is celebration. Celebrating every little achievement goes a long way towards affirming our progress and the development of unconditional love for ourselves. As mentioned before, the self-love journey is not an easy one, but it is definitely an important one. It all starts with one step best to start with baby steps!


Even those who have achieved a strong sense of self-love still have instances of self-doubt or self-sabotage. The difference is they do not stay in that state for long. They can ‘pick themselves up, dust themselves off, grow from the experience and move on.’ This is not meant to sound glib; it is a generalization. Self-love is a journey, not a destination. Each of us is on our own journey, at different points along the road. We should not compare ourselves with anyone except ourselves. ‘Success’ is about moving forward at our own pace, and just one step forward is progress, worth acknowledging and celebrating.


In a Nutshell


In summary, the key steps on the journey to Self-love are:

  • Awareness know where you are and that you want to change.

  • Get in touch with Who you are strengths/weaknesses, negative beliefs, know your Values.

  • Acceptance accepting you are where you are. Being comfortable with yourself without shame/blame or guilt. Know that you want to change & you’re willing to do the work because it can be confronting, but it IS possible to change. Our past does NOT equal our future!! Treat yourself with compassion and forgiveness. Forgive those who wronged you. Trust yourself. Champion yourself.

  • Take Action- get assistance learn, do courses; do the homework; get support/mentors/coaches; cut out negative influences/people. Start with baby steps.

  • Celebrate each win, no matter how small. Surround yourselves with supporters and champions!

Alyson runs a 3-week course on Self-love called Your Journey to Self-love Course. The next one is on Wednesday, 14, 21 &28 April from 7-9 pm (AEST). It cost AUD 100. See Eventbrite for booking or click here. You can also DM Alyson for information on the upcoming course or for further dates.


Learn more from Alyson’s article about Extended DISC and attend the free webinar called “Extended DISC Your Key to Unlock the Mysteries of Human Behaviour” on 17 April 21 from 12-1.30pm (AEST).


Book now or email at coach.pylc@gmail.com. You can also visit her website, linktr.ee, or contact Alyson via Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, or via +61 432 580 886.


 

Alyson Williams, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

In her previous life, Alyson was a teacher. For 12 years, she taught first adults, then high

school students. After that, she became a public servant, retiring in 2019 after 25 years with

the Australian Department of Defence.


She started coaching because all through her adult life, Alyson has been informally

coaching and mentoring family, friends, and colleagues. Following the collapse of her

comfortable life in 2013, she overcame several major challenges to now live a life of purpose

and fulfillment in her new career as a coach.


Alyson is an NLP Master Coach, Extended DISC practitioner, relationship coach, leadership

coach and trained hypnotherapist.

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