Many many great people have echoed the sentiment of how every relationship is a mirror of one relationship, the one we have with ourselves. An extension of this standpoint is our responsibility towards learning to express love in this all-important relationship clearly. This is of great importance, not just because of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, it is because matters relating to wellness and self-care are a function of this.
In my one on one coaching sessions with women, I ask them how they’d express love or appreciation for themselves. They’ll say how they’ll buy themselves a gift – anything ranging from a book to saree to experience – like a spa treatment, eating out, travel, etc. This is all okay, and I’m not going to find fault with any of these choices. That said, it doesn’t convey love deeply enough to the person inside you. These are more like toppings on ice cream! What good is the topping _without_ the ice cream?
What does self-love look and feel like?
It involves being in your own company, showing a deep interest in your inner person’s feelings, needs, fears, and shortcomings and hand-holding her through her challenges patiently and lovingly. Not criticizing her or feeling exasperated for her errors and fall-downs. Learning about what she likes and dislikes and allowing for them by way of learning to speak up for her. Seeing her as deserving of good things in life and joining hands with her to bring her dreams to fruition. This will very likely mean that you’ll have to let go of your leanings for comfort. You’ll have to develop ease for doing newer and more complex tasks. And herein lies self-love – seeing your inner person and her desires as worthy of being pursued.
If you did not carve out time and space for this type of engagement with yourself, no amount of shopping for handbags, eating chocolates, drinking beer, or buying sarees would satisfy your inner muse. This fact feels very awkward to deal with, for a lot of women. They’re better giving/expressing love to others, but with themselves, this is the only way they know to do it they say. Or they kind of feel lost.
Here is a very personal post in that sense – I am sharing notes from how I express love to my own inner muse. The promises I’ve made to myself likes and dislikes that I’ve come to accept as important to me, rules that she’d like me to live by are all part of this. The only reason I share is to motivate you to compile and curate your own list. And keep in mind, love is a verb. It is a promise of what you’ll do as an expression of self-love. So, write it like you mean it – using action words as if it is a to-do list.
- say it exactly like it is – ‘tell the truth to yourself’ can sometimes feel heavy and hard. It can even make you defensive. Whereas ‘say it like it is’ is simple and easy to follow.
- comfort myself when I feel down – I’ve collected some of my fav songs, speeches, discourses, and activity prompts so that I don’t have to think at that time.
- find myself opportunities to do what I do well.
- feel your feelings – pretending like they aren’t there, or like they don’t matter, or suppressing them is going to make them show up at odd times – better to feel them as they come.
- own your power – it comes with immense responsibility, and you can learn to be responsible. But girl, own your power! There’s no greatness in being a doormat.
- evaluate criticism wisely, Girija – don’t do things to stay in somebody’s good books – somebody else’s good books is not a good reference point.
- do the right thing – don’t overthink this – all day long, you live with you, so do what’s right by your standards.
- see clearly – see things for what they are, not what you’d like them to be.
- Meet friends in person whenever you can – but don’t let this bother you when it’s not possible. Virtual meeting and connecting over the phone is not all that bad either.
- Share a hearty laugh whenever you can – I’ve learned to honor my goofy side.
- Learn to ask for and receive help gracefully.
- State your position on things – this will effectively sieve out those that may not vibe well with you.
- Release the need to like and go along with everyone. And for everyone to like you and go along with you.
- Get-together with people can be over a walk or painting or a shared activity of some other kind.
- Gift books – you don’t have to loan your books. As a younger person, I’d love for a friend to read the books I read, and it would pain me when they would lick their finger to turn pages, ugh!
- Stop – do not compare your inner story with somebody else’s outer story.
- Remember – if hunger is not my problem, then food is not my solution.
- Eat just enough.
- Cook with love.
- Stop – never ever force me to finish the food on the plate.
- Don’t accept food if I am not up for it.
- Don’t accept enjlu or joota – I had an aversion for this even as a child, and I’d sneak out at the time of cake cutting and birthday parties given how adults indiscriminately offered ten people a bite out from a same damn piece of cake.
- Eat with joy, always.
- Eat only plants! Period.