Sometimes life thrusts upon us a change, sudden, or maybe a long-time coming, but still, a painful transition comes about and we are displaced by it.
It can feel as if our life is being held up to us, and we are suddenly a spectator to ourselves, and in that moment, we can either embrace the chaos, or shrink away from it.
I recently chose a bit of both as a reaction to my own life as it altered in front of me...
I shrunk away at first, because it’s what I needed to do. I then re-emerged like a grumpy bear leaving hibernation, because it’s what I had to do.
I then had another choice; shrink away once more, or continue emerging.
I chose to keep going, ambling toward something scary and yet invigorating, believing that it was truly the course of action I had earned, the course of action I needed to run toward, diving into my very own half-full glass.
I believe self-love to be a way of living directed to building your own self-esteem, confidence and happiness.
I also believe self-love to be a reaction to a life where we might have had these pillars knocked down by the words or actions of others.
Self-love can be about overcoming insecurities, changing negative self-beliefs and re-training the mind to live a functional and positive life.
Self-love can be an attitude to how you arrange your daily life, placing care for your own well-being of primary importance, and this the core way I am approaching it in this post.
I will write more in the future about the other points including my own experience of bullying and overcoming the cruelty of others and its impact on self-esteem.
My life-changed last month, and it goes a bit like this:
I very recently went from being with someone I love 24/7, to suddenly being alone, most of the time (apart from my stalker mother and lovely family) and so I have been thinking about ohhh, just a million different things, whilst also rolling with some viscous emotional punches.
I also went from world traveller with that annoying instagram-able life, to unemployed home-body; cue automatic depression and disillusionment.
Throughout all of this I have been wondering, how do I adjust healthily, and learn to be happy with my new reality?
I have all this empty time, an empty calendar, empty hours which I need to fill with something, right? So I've been thinking maybe I could try and not fill every day with Netflix and food, and actually give self-sufficient happiness a good old go.
I don’t propose #operationlookatmei'msohappy with a view to being #foreveralone or #foreverjobless, but with a solid understanding that I may be in this state of uncertainty for a while, and that even when you have the relationship and the job, as cool as those things are, they rarely hit all our satisfaction points, especially if we are intrinsically unhappy within ourselves.
I think most people acknowledge that inner contentment and just being generally sorted, definitely helps with relationships, but sometimes love just happens out of nowhere, when we probably weren't ready, but we submitted anyway.
Maybe we are lucky enough to resolve our inner discord, thanks to the love of another, or maybe we end up several years down the line, loved and built up, but still not entirely okay with ourselves.
Sometimes in life it isn't that we don't feel okay with ourselves for the most part, but a different issue arises when we put our all into someone else and neglect to fully grow ourselves and our own interests.
Sometimes we just aren’t in the right head-space to love another without their also being upset and conflict, and it can be painful to accept this, but its also a strong impetus for us to start focusing on number 1.
The longest relationship you will ever have, is with yourself, as said by many wise people before me. But it is a fact of life, that friends, loved ones and even your pet cats, come and go, and if we move from one distraction to the next, reliant and dependant upon them to feel even a tiny bit happy, we need to make some time for some self-relationship counselling.
Self-love isn't just important for people in my exact situation.
All the single ladies, bear with me for just a few sentences whilst I direct some questions to the not-so single ladies:
Listing all the things your significant other brings to your life, what main themes jump out at you?
When you think of all the things you disagree upon, what are the most common topics?
Considering the ways in which your relationship could improve, what are your hopes and goals?
Okay, now back to my single ladies... come back in, come come.
Within your daily life and assorted routines, what are the main aspects at play?
When you think of the elements which bring you stress and sadness, what are the most common causes?
Considering how you might want your life to change for the better, what are your plans for helping this happen?
Ladies, compare notes!
I pose these questions to make us think analytically about where we are at in our self-love journeys, and then relate that back to our relationship status, because I personally sacrificed my self-love pursuit whilst in a loving relationship and that's why my life-change has inspired all of these ideas around how to love myself better.
I have been asking myself, how much of that which we seek for ourselves from an intimate relationship can we still obtain whilst single?
Can we meet our true inner needs and desires whilst alone, if not in a relationship, and or if already in a relationship, with no plans to be alone...
Can self-love and placing a firm importance on our own self, dependent of relationship status, just, prevail, actually?
During my life-changes, my goal has revealed itself to me, and it may not be yours, because you may be perfectly content with your newly single status, or even your loved-up status, or maybe, you are long-term single by choice, and if so, I still think these ideas can help you.
My self-love mechanisms for dealing with a life change are not aimless but are instead rooted to the desire to become somewhat fulfilled alone, so that my future relationships become more about fun, connection and all the best bits of love, because I will be more able to let it all in.
I am keen to discover how we develop coping mechanisms and build structures into our lives that help keep us going, thriving even, even if someone else no longer wants to be a part of our journey.
I admire others who have become self-loving and self-sufficient to a level that strips back the pain points associated with relationships because of the way they approach love in general is healthier.
Obviously it is the human condition to be resolutely complex and eternally up-and-down to a point where of course, a romantic relationship also becomes a source of emotional support and stability.
A relationship should be the place where you can express yourself imperfectly, where you can blob about like a broken little human, and it be totally okay.
You can remain tolerable and deserving of love at your low points, just as at your high points.
But, but, but, still, is it not a worthy notion, that we can endeavour to become as happy in ourselves so that we actually improve our future relationships based on having a level of inner strength and self-love that enables it to flourish.
Can we self-love our way through a life change, and move toward a life more fulfilling and eventually, more open to other kinds of love?
I do need to bring in a note around mental illness. You can't self-love yourself out of a clinical illness and such advice to do so is unhelpful and dangerous. Trauma, grief and loss, these kind of life changes have their own implications and effects upon us. You can however embrace self-love at the times when you feel able to, and in co-ordination with medical advice and whatever other methods you need to bring in to feel healthy again. I say this because I have suffered with clinical depression, the kind that no external situation bears any impact upon, the kind where your life looks amazing to the outside world and yet feels like a living hell. I've been there and I know the difference between fighting through a down period, using it to make your life better, and suffering a serious illness.
How I am loving myself with patience and kindness:
Yoga and stretching to a motivational TED-talk.
This mindful form of exercise is an old-faithful suggestion for building happiness in yourself, but I cannot advocate it enough after actually consistently doing it now I have the time.
Every morning I have spent 30 minutes with myself stretching my body, moving it, using it and just generally strengthening it.
The TED talk, or any motivational Youtube video part, is totally optional, however I have found this has helped me access the recesses of mind that unlock inspiration and new ways of thinking about myself and my life.
I had a moment of crazy emotional clarity one day after a yoga session with one TED talk. It was cathartic, relaxing and uplifting, all at the same time.
I felt like i was almost in a meditative state because my mind was focused on what my body was doing that it allowed some emotions to flow through that had been hidden beneath my distracted overthinking.
Walks with podcasts and music.
I cannot tell you how buzzy I feel after I get out of the house and take a walk around my neighbourhood. I combine this sometimes with some other exercises and way too loud music pumping in my headphones.
I have woken up feeling demotivated, down and angry, and then felt like a completely different person after I sweat a little.
This is an age-old piece of advice but general exercise, light or intense, is a medically supported suggestion for people suffering mild depression or anxiety.
For me, my little walk means I move my body, I feel my heart beating out my chest, and I am outside, a part of the world, indirectly encouraging all my good hormones to soar.
There is really no downside to this tip. I suppose if you are particularly busy this idea might seem like too much of a time-suck but I believe when we are trying to enrich our daily lives, we really need to trade in our unnecessary go-to actions for ones that might change things for the better.
Not prescribing to any rules for taking time to heal.
If I feel completely devoid of physical and emotional energy that day, I will give into it, wholeheartedly.
I don’t force myself to do my yoga or my walk, because those are the things I do on the days after I have allowed myself to completely rest amidst whatever emotional storm is brewing in my mind.
I do not believe in trying to skip ahead through a difficult time, and I have come to accept that some phases in life are only eased with the passing of time.
I don’t beat myself up for the sad days, and I don’t try to make every-day a good one, sometimes I just let myself feel and indulge in rest and binge-watching things, if that is what feels right and nurturing on that day.
Viewing my life goals as a process not a pressure.
So i want to feel healthier in my body, and so I am eating better than before, and of course, moving more, but I am not counting calories or evaluating my day based on how restrictively I adhered to these goals.
I make well-intentioned choices at the supermarket and it makes it easier to make good dietary choices, but if I want a plate of salty, vinegary chips, I will have them, I will love them and I will not feel guilty.
I also want to establish my career, and I could be getting ground down by this undercurrent, but I'm instead setting aside a couple of hours a day to focus on this, be it job applications or studying.
Going at 100mph for hours on end to climb some ladder of success certainly works for some types, but for me, slow, steady, considered and focused will win my own internal race.
Accepting speed-bumps along my mindfulness journey.
Within my self-love pursuit, I could be bowled over by the different things I wish to get comfortable with, but one of those things is my ability to be relaxed and present in the moment.
But I am not quite on it with this...
My Eckhart Tolle book, 'The Power of Now' is more often being used as as mat for my tea cup.
I still can't seem to sit still long enough to meditate, either doing something or thinking about what to do next.
I do often think about my future and wonder where I will end up, as we all do, but I do tend to dwell in this area of thought.
Amidst this I am allowing myself to be okay with the fact my zen is being evasive, because my own personal version might not look like others.
For me, right now, an intuitive daily routine is working through the negative emotions and slowly strengthening my sense of optimism, the sort of feeling that means you take the day as it comes and shape it to your liking when you are able to. Loving myself through my life change is a daily process, a brick-by-brick approach to nurturing my own spirit. It may look different to you, but however you do it, and from wherever you approach loving yourself, remember it will be have to be a self-loving process in itself; patient, forgiving and natural.