Self love is one hot topic lately, but needless to say it is often misunderstood. Self love is not selfish and please allow me to explain what is self-love and why it is so important.
Lately I started to encourage myself to express self love. I’m an introvert with very low intra-communication ability. It is hard for me to connect with myself and relate to others. I used to shut myself, my emotion, my thoughts to basically please others (I did this because of the pressure of social and culture expectations). And by doing that for years (or decades I must say), I started to feel the results and the damage I did to myself. Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger and loneliness crept in. Without me knowing how to handle them, my physical health started to get affected.
I realise now that without the ability to love and accept myself fully, I will never be able to love others nor accept others fully, too. Even when you’re experiencing low cabin pressure on airplanes, you’re encouraged to help yourself first then help your child (or people around you).
So with that revelation, I started the journey of expressing self love. I read many books, tried a lot of things. I wanted to get to know myself more. What I like, what I don’t like, what I enjoy doing, and what I don’t. By knowing myself better, I can love myself better.
Here are some things that I do to express self-love:
Surround myself with the right people. I’m so lucky that I have my family members and a partner who understand my mental state. They give me the space I need but also understand when I need someone to talk to. My partner is so patient with me. He always listens to what I have to say, and tries to understand where it all comes from no matter how stupid or ridiculous they may sound. I’m so grateful to have you by my side Calvin, you never take any of my expressions for granted.
Take a hot bath before bed. I use my bath time to reflect on the day and get lost in my own thoughts. Having a bath is so calming, it makes me able to think clearly and calmly. I usually get ideas and solution faster when I’m calm and clear headed. After that, I put myself to bed. I fall asleep faster after a calming and relaxing bath. I always put aside time for myself before bed each night. Keeping my balance after a day of interacting with others is very important for me.
Get a massage. I set a special budget to get this nice treatment every other month. My partner always schedules a special massage time for us on each holiday. It’s great that we both enjoy it. We also massage each other to wind down.
Do things that spark joy. For me, it’s my ballet class, it’s cycling in the gym while listening to my favourite podcast, The Minimalists. It’s doing house chores while listening to my favourite musical artists (shout out to George Ezra and Mumford & Sons, your brilliant songs are constant companions to my daily ironing, cooking, cleaning the house sessions). Burning aromatic candles and oils while working also help adding a little spark of joy.
Learn new things. Lately, I have been practicing minimalism. I find such great joy and liberation on my minimalism journey. I never realised how weighed down I was by all the things I own. How my shopping addiction came from my dissatisfactions in life. I thought that I would be happy by owning the next thing and the next. Yes, it made me happy, but not for long. So, it’s not a permanent solution. It did more damage, especially to my finance and all the clutter of the things I accumulated finally took a toll on my mental health. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, I would like to recommend two books that have changed my life : The More of Less by Joshua Becker and L’art de la Simplicité: How to Live More with Less by Dominique Loreau. I’m so grateful that I have found these materials. I learn to let go of the stuff, people and activities that don’t contribute to my purposes in life. I learn to curate my life.
There are a lot of benefits in taking care and loving yourself. It makes you a better caregiver. People who neglect their own needs and spend time only taking care of others are at risk for getting burnt out which later will disable them from taking care of others well. I can serve my family, partner, employer and friends better when I am in good condition spiritually, mentally and physically. Please take time for yourself, only when you love and nurture yourself, you can love and nurture your neighbours.