Imagine a flowing river. Its source is an underground reservoir, a pure, deep freshwater lake. Over time this river has become dammed; with sections pinched off from the flow. What once was a gushing river, now is a small rivulet.
This is sometimes how our relationship with our Self develops. Our soul’s source and individual spirit is like that eternal wellspring, it is always there, but its free flow has been diverted, blocked, eroded, dammed, siphoned away and pinched off through the trials and tribulations of life and love. This is what leads us to lose connection and love for ourselves.
In the process of learning to grow up, conform, fit in, and be normal we learn how NOT to be ourselves. We learn to dismiss our natural intuition. We learn to believe the opinions and judgements of others. It is very hard to be immune to this conditioning of society and we all unknowingly and inadvertently participate in this culture of assimilation.
However, there can often come a time in our lives when we start to question that. Usually this happens at a time of real adult maturing. Sometimes it can arrive at a time of crisis – a health, relational, career or even financial crisis. The distance of disconnection from our Selves becomes too great and causes too much distress, unhappiness and chaos.
What this maturing asks of us, quite paradoxically, is to UN-learn much of what we know and believe. Our first relationship and lifelong relationship is the one we have with ourselves and it makes sense that to be in control and thriving in your life requires you to be in deep, intimate and loving relationship with yourself. Just like a great leader or manager who inspires their staff to deliver their best through encouragement, support, appreciation, respect and reward, so too must we treat ourselves with the same approach.
But more than that, to truly thrive, we need love. Not love from an external supply but love from within. Love from self for self. We need to access that pure, deep, freshwater lake and allow ourselves to restore our natural flow and run our true course.
However, I know from my practice, and personally too, most of us are not in intimate, loving and compassionate union with ourselves. We usually are our own worst critics, our most abusive drill sergeants and gaol wardens in our self-made prisons of guilt and unworthiness. These deeply held beliefs can be so hidden, we may be unaware of the extent of their influence, but I challenge you to pay attention to your inner dialogue over the course of a day. You may be shocked at what you say to yourself.
But a belief is simply a thought we have repeatedly thought. It doesn’t make it true. Our ‘non self-love” is simply a habit. We can learn to challenge our old thoughts and develop a practice of self-love, compassion and intimacy beginning with these simple steps:
- Notice your most negative thoughts/beliefs about yourself. Pick the 5 most prevalent ones and write at least 5 objections to each one, demonstrating how that is NOT true.
- With each of those five thoughts/beiiefs, in your mind’s eye, mentally see them written on a piece of paper. Imagine scrunching that piece of paper up and bringing it into your heart. Bombard that scrunched up ball of paper with love with each beat of your heart until it disintegrates with the heat of your love, feel the warmth flood your body, and say to yourself, “I forgive myself for thinking those thoughts for so long and release them now as they no longer serve me”.
- Choose 5 qualities that most positively describe who you are, write them on a post-it note each one” I am ___quality___” and display it where you will see them each day, for at least 30 days or forever.
- Develop a daily morning devotional/meditative practice, maybe in those first moments as you lie in bed before you get up. Use this time to honour your 5 qualities by saying aloud to yourself “I love how I am __quality__. How can I express my ___quality___ today?
- Any time you remember throughout the day…..SMILE and tell yourself you love yourself. By smiling you release within you a surge of happy love hormones and this embeds your self-love belief/thoughts more strongly with a new neural pathway and matching body chemistry.
Much love. Sarah
Sarah Tolmie is a Life & Love celebrant, coach, pastoral carer and consultant assisting people to celebrate, navigate, grow and heal through all their life & love transitions. Her practice focuses on love & relationships, families & children; life success & fulfilment, death & grief. As a Celebrant Sarah create profound and meaningful ceremonies for all life & love events. Sarah has an academic background in Social Anthropology and a Masters in Communication. Sarah is also a Laughter Yoga Practitioner. You can receive her Daily Love updates on her Facebook page at Sarah Tolmie – Life & Love.