Few of us would deny that self-love is a good idea. Could you imagine telling a child, “Hey you, don’t love yourself, that’s selfish.” Of course not. And chances are that if asked, “Do you love yourself?” most people would say, “Yes, of course I do,” when in fact the majority of us don’t really have a clue what self-love actually means, or requires.
This lack of understanding about self-love isn’t surprising when you consider that the current definition of self-love on dictionary.com is ‘conceit, vanity and narcissism’ (no kidding!) Or when you look at the pressures today’s woman faces, equal to men in many ways, knowing she can do anything, but exhausted by her attempts to do and be everything.
As an independent, self-confident women with tons of self-esteem, I sure thought I had self-love, until I found myself at the age of 30 almost marrying Mr. Wrong because I was afraid to be alone. Add on how much I hated my cellulite and called myself fat (I am a size 8), beat myself up for everything that I didn’t accomplish (I have my MBA from one of the best business schools in the country), and drove myself to exhaustion because ‘resting’ made me feel guilty, and I had to stop and ask myself, “While I might have self-esteem, I am surely missing something.” And that something was self-love.
My definition of self-love is quite different than the dictionary.com version – and it boils down to this: Do you have unconditional love and respect for yourself? A big question for sure. Self-love can feel so intangible and vast to attain, but there is a path, there are milestones – I’ve experienced at least 5 of them myself over the past 10 years. I call these milestones the gates of self-love. And you can use them to see where you have load of self love and where you don’t.
In honor of this February 13th, the international day of self love, I’ve created The Self Love Test to give you insight on where you are ready to grow more self love. My self-love dare to you is that on Feb 13th, you choose one gate of self-love and make that the gate you focus on this year. You can learn more about each gate as well as the vows and hows of self-love in the free self-love kit at www.ChooseSelfLove.com For now, take this test and as you read about each gate, ask yourself, have I already passed through to the other side, or am I still climbing my way up to new levels of self-love here? Then ask yourself, “If I was to choose one area of self-love to grow in 2011, what would that be?” Dare to choose self-love.
The 5 Gates of Self-Love
Gate #1: I know who I am and what I want from this life.
This is the first factor to loving yourself, because if you don’t know who you are, how can you love that person? Most of us go through life doing what we think we are supposed to do and be, influenced by the society around us. These experiences and people form our beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions, until the day we realize that how we really feel and think is different. While you will continue to learn about yourself forever, self-love requires that a. You make a choice to live self-aware, b. You know you want from your life and you are not settling for less than your heart and soul desire. c. You know who you are NOT, as well as who you are. d. You have healed your emotional gapers.
Gate #2: All of my relationships support me to be my best me and to live the life I want, or I don’t have them.
This can be one of the hardest milestones, because it means setting boundaries and being honest about your relationships. It requires honoring yourself SO much that you only have relationships in your life – friendships, romantic partners, even relatives – that give respect, trust, unconditional love and truth. You love and honor yourself so deeply that all relationships in your life make your life better, help you reach your dreams and be a better you. This doesn’t mean that the relationships are perfect, void of difficulty, or that you are absolved of giving the same respect you desire. What it does require is that you choose me before we in every relationship – let go of ones that don’t serve you, change ones that have the potential to grow, and open up to let new ones come in.
Gate #3: My body is my temple.
I recently took part in a survey in which 78% of women admitted that the thing they were hardest on themselves about was their body. Not a shocker, but sad. Let’s face it, we are all guilty of body hate and what I call ‘body slavery’ – treating your body like a drive-me-til-I-drop workhorse, ignoring her needs completely. For me like I said, it was my cellulite. “Every time I sat down wearing shorts it screamed at me, ‘Here I am! Look at me!’ After being tortured by it for years, I did a self-love practice of loving my cellulite. Every day, I told it, “I love you.” I meditated daily, visualizing my cellulite pockets being filled up with love. Today, I can’t tell you if I have any less of it, but I do know that I very rarely notice it. And when I do, while I may not like my cellulite, I can love it. Its appearance now motivates me to walk more, instead of hating my body for having it. Self-love requires that when you notice something about your body you don’t like you choose love vs hate. Self-love also means shifting your relationship to your body from her being in servitude to you to you being grateful for this beautiful temple you get to inhabit while on this earth.
Gate #4: I am nice to myself.
We are harder on ourselves than anyone else could ever be. In fact, if the outside world could hear the thoughts inside your head, they would call the authorities. Every woman has an Inner Mean Girl inside of her spewing out rants like, “You are not enough. You should be able to get more done in a day. You don’t belong.” She compares your worst to everyone else’s best. Some call her the inner critic, but she is way more personal than that! As part of your self-love journey, your job is to love this Inner Mean Girl to death, so that instead of hurting you with her self-sabotaging thoughts and habits, she can help you see how beautiful, powerful and whole you are right now, just because you are you.
Gate #5: I can and do take care of me without the guilt or burden.
It’s like we have a DNA pattern that says take care of everyone else before you take care of you, and if we try to buck that pattern by actually taking care of ourselves, we can’t help but feel guilty or like we should be doing something more productive. This self-love milestone means being able to say, “Yes… I make self care a must, not a nice to do… I take care of me without feeling guilt… I meditate, relax, or take a walk and see it as productive time vs wasting time. I am aware of what I need, I am make sure I receive it.
Love is a practice. Start by practicing on you.
Originally published in 2011