Self-Love-February: 28 Days of Awareness - 3 Profound Revelations
\ ˌself-ˈləv \
: love of self: such as
a: an appreciation of one's own worth or virtue
"Self-love begins when we observe our actions and words with compassion as if we were our own best friend."
— Sara M Bosworth
I came across the term a lot since I started my journey of healing from two burnouts four years ago. Nowadays it seems to be everywhere, more or less acurate to its meaning and more or less beneficial in being practised. When I came across the self-love challenge during the month of February, I felt intrigued but, admittedly, also as if I would not be that challenged by it. After all from where I had started out from, this being suicidal, depressed and with a phobia of people, and where I am now, seemed to me as if I truly was on a very good path to mastering the art of self-love. Of course I was aware that I had my whole life in front of me to get better at it, nonetheless I felt like I understood what it meant generally as well as for me specifically.
It started out with an Instagram post challenging you to devote yourself to a self-love month during the whole of February. I am a sucker for self-development and by the end of January I did indeed feel like it would not be a bad idea to focus on self-love. Journaling (and in general writing) is part of my everyday routine which meant that participating in this challenge would not require any additional task or efforts. I was all for it, did the preparation work recommended by Teal Swan and sat myself in meditation to hear out two parts of myself, one opponent against the idea and one all for it.
Clarifying at this point is necessary, so what I mean with the "two parts of myself" is that in my belief system all of us are made up of multiple different parts of perception of reality. You might think of it in a way of behaving differently in the presence of your family versus in the presence of a distant acquaintance, using different body language, words, clothing or really anything that you would not identify as your usual You. For me all of these different personas or multiple me characteristics have one thing in common: they appear to make up for a lack of some part of you that you were made-believe was not accepted, good enough or wanted. An example of myself would be this: As a child I oftentimes tried to get what I wanted which is pretty normal for a child. Being called out for it as being manipulative, I developed a manipulative part to get what I wanted, all the while hiding behind a mask of politeness and amiability. I was not being my true authentic self, even worse I did not even realize or knew I was being manipulative and thought of myself as a pretty ordinary decent human being.
Coming back to my point about sitting down in meditation and inviting both sides to state their cases if they wanted to do this self-love challenge or not. As I am a writer, my form of meditation and discourse for this practice, played itself out in my journal- one side all for it and the other against it.
I wrote down everything that came to me, acknowledging with compassion and respect both parts of me and all they wanted to voice. Surprisingly the opposing part in me used a language I had not uttered in years while the other part came across rather enlightened. It might seem crazy and it may sound crazy but there was something, I felt both parts whilst being an objective bystander at the same time.
Rage about financial security, desperation about the loss of a cozy home and life, anxiety about not knowing what the future held, overwhelming fear of humiliation without a success story to show, paralyzing exhaustion over all the years of self-development work- a flood of feelings I would not let come to the surface so freely and easily, now I treated them with compassion, gratitude and understanding.
Immediately after that gesture of letting this part be heard almost all of it had vanished.
While I let the other part express thoughts and feelings, I felt that the opposing part got calmer and quieter already. By the end of this practice a smile slowly emerged on my face as I felt the opposing part surrender to the positives that a challenge like this would have to offer, moreso as the pro part had given an overview of how far we have come with all the self-development work we have done over the years.
So far so good, step one, discussing with myself if I wanted to do this challenge or not, done.
It started out as an pretty easy task. My normal routine would consist of writing a blog post or a private journal entry about the previous two days in turns. So for this challenge I additinonally wrote down my thoughts about every day and wether I had done, felt, thought things that would reflect self-love. When I started on the 31st of January I had been travelling for nearly four weeks, the majority of them being quarantined but nonetheless having reached my first dream location: The Outer Hebrides, the Isles of Lewis in Scotland. I would have thought it easy to find at least three things that suggested self-love daily, I was where I longed to be after all!
Easier said than done and within the first four days I only had one small thing to write down. With an accident that prevented me from seeing anything for three days and four nights, I was left alone within my head, left alone with my thoughts. I took that as a good way to devote myself to this challenge and showed myself the utmost compassion and love. Usually I would have hated myself for not being able to work while my hosts provided me with such generosity and loveliness, usually I would have gone to the limits to meet Marjorie's needs ignoring that I was incapable to do so, usually I would have been in my head with demoralizing thoughts of not being good enough and not belonging. This time I did the opposite, I loved myself and thanked my body for healing itself, one hour at a time, repairing one cell at a time. Witnessing the ability of your own body to self-heal from day to day, really feeling what is possible and what is too much, the extravagance of giving yourself time, appreciating the process of healing, all of that was extraordinary and would not have been possible for me if it had not been for this challenge to remind me of self-love.
Week one had passed, my eyesight was back on track and with a now daily routine of work around the farm I felt a high of gratitude. Each day I found more signs that spoke of an improvement of my self-love. Things like not doing two walks per day with Marjorie without feeling guilty, actions like treating myself to TV and treats without thinking about gaining weight or being ugly, revelations like achieving daily goals without pressure because as soon as the pressure is off you realize you want to achieve them and not have to.
By the end of week two another daily task was added to the challenge. For five minutes you were supposed to hold a glass of water in your hands and think about all the things you love about yourself and if that was not possible, think about all the things you love like a pet, family, friends, nature, food or anything else that you associated with love. Initially I would have thought thinking for five minutes about things I loved about myself or within this world might be long and challenging, but finding the five minutes within my day was much harder. I had a small post-it note on my kitchen counter to remind me each day of what I had to do and I proudly can announce that I did. Mostly the "Love Water", as I called it, consisted of thoughts about the things I loved about the day, the things I identified as self-love within a day or just generally the beauty I saw in people, animals and the planet or universe as a whole. As I read my daily self-love journal entries back another surprising fact emerged. From the third day onwards of introducing this "Love Water" to the challenge my self-love skyrocketed.
Week three and four can be summed up to an average total of phenomenal and fantastic. I have no scientific proof of why I feel like I feel now and in all honesty I do not care for any. If I aim for something and am able to get there, how I did that is irrelevant, the result is what is relevant to me. I feel at peace and I feel appreciation for myself, I feel respect for my storyline and my personality, I feel love for myself on another level. What emerged from within during this practice of self-love is something words can barely describe, which is why I can only share it with you to a certain degree. This is something to be experienced, this is a deeply intimate and very personal journey, different to each and everyone one of us.
Apart from the immense difference I feel within my every day life, within my perception of things, within my approach to things, three very specific key revelations can be singled out as the most profound.
Receiving without guilt:
I have never been able to feel the love people have for me. From since I can remember I was trained to give more back than receive, constantly in a state of accounting. If someone had done something for me I had to double to pay the debt, or even better done threefold the favor. I was unable to receive. My life was bound to become toxic if I had to keep up the pace within my working environment, my family, my friends or my partner. This month taught me that I am allowed to just receive. Spiritually speaking "You reap what you sow", meaning that if people are kind to me it means that I have been amiable as well, if people are honest with me I have been my authentic true self.
I love people, I really do and maybe this is why I have been gifted with such generous, loving and kind hosts here in Scotland, caring and supporting friends back home in Switzerland and thoughtful, treasured family in Austria. A support system I could have never in a million years have dreamed of just three years ago.
Offering skills with confidence:
If you would have asked me just one month ago what talents I could offer, what skills I bring to this world I probably would have shrugged, smiled a little bit, felt ashamed of myself and would not have been able to give a straight answer. Now it is different, which to me is surprising because I have been doing a lot of volunteer and professional work, have been praised for years for several things that I can do very well and yet I never acknowledged any of them. Compliments never suited me, I seemed undeserving of them, they would make me cringe and I would brush them of with a gesture of my hand, immediately referring to something I admired in the person that had offered me the compliment. We could spend hours analysing where this behaviour came from, and how it seems to be very common within most of us, but for now the only thing that matters is that I can elevator pitch my skills as well as traits to you without flinching. I am confident in what I can do and I am convinced that whatever I set my mind to I can achieve it, be it with learning a new or improving a skill or even getting out of my comfort zone to try something out and see if I am good at it or if I like it. And that makes me so very proud of myself I am at a loss for words.
Most of you know me and therefore know that I would describe myself as a spiritual person. What most people perceive as spirituality is a way to enlightenment and this is probably where I should interfere. I do not seek enlightenment in a way a monk does, I once thought that this was the ultimate goal yes but not anymore. Everyone is special and everyone has their own path to find and choose, for some this might be enlightenment and for others it might mean having a family with eight children and six dogs. I do not yet know what mine is, what I do sense though is that part of my path is the search. I seek something and I might not yet know what I am looking for but self-development, which basically is self-love at its root, is similar to a compass guiding me towards it (whatever "it" might be). If I can make room for reflection, meditation, quieting my mind, ultimately a practice to increase awareness, I feel myself getting closer to where I need to be. To make it sound even more crazy, the less I spend thinking about the past or the future, the more I am in the Now, the closer I feel to my inner guidance, my compass, my spiritual practice of self-love and finding my path. So this challenge really brought me closer to my compass and to seeing very clearly how at peace I am able to be if I just stick to the present, stay there and enjoy the flow of life.
I really, truly, deeply hope that some of this might be useful to anyone out there. If I can be of any assistance let me know because we all are in this world together and we can heal the world once we start healing ourselves.
Love and light, beloved souls