“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr
When we contemplate the word love, every one of us will have our own views, stories and definition of what it is, because of this: love is a tricky concept to explain, but is so easy to feel. Is love a feeling? Chemical reaction? Thought? Or an action? Maybe it’s all. Although everyone’s views may differ, one thing is for sure, we cannot survive without love, so it’s no surprise that they say love makes the world go round. When we say the word “Love”, our children, lovers, family and friends all naturally spring to mind. We live to love and love helps us to live and lead a happy life. Love is the energy that drives us forward and brings us joy, it gives power to our desire and brings ease to our aches, and it is what we seek in life and what we crave from others. We focus primarily on the love we project and give others, and we readily receive love. But how much love do we give ourselves? Are we really listening to our inner voice and honouring our desires and being the best you in a life that is full of happiness and joy?
I believe that self-love is the key to lead us into a happy life, a full life filled with gratitude and fulfilment. We know the gift of love from others is magickal, but as Pierre Corneille says “Self-love is the source of all our other loves”. Therefore, knowing how to love ourselves whole heartedly means we have more to offer others and can inspire others to love themselves too. If our relationship with ourselves sets the tone for all other relationships in our life, are we really making self-love a priority? Self-love is power, and this will be the catalyst to pursue a life that is full. We are the constant in our lives, we can rarely escape our thoughts or feelings, so nurturing a loving relationship with yourself will create an abundance of happiness. Everything begins with your self belief and how you feel about yourself, when you shift your outlook and realise you are deserving, worthy and valuable, regardless of outer circumstance and despite any expectation or failure, life will flow easier and the world will look brighter.
Lack of love in ourselves and from others can emphasise our fears and sadness but why is it considered such a negative concept to love ourselves? Society has conditioned the masses to feel as though ‘loving yourself’ comes from the place of the ego and is driven by a need for attention. Society has taught us to put others first, when we have a compassionate nature it is easy to feel good, helping others. It shows a good heart, but it is easy for our giving nature to become our identity. How many people do you know that set aside their own needs for the benefit of others? How can we truly be at our fullest potential if we are not following what we really want in our hearts? It is important and healthy to keep a balance of where your loving energy goes; you cannot give from an empty cup. So having a good practice of self-love will ensure you are able to be of service to those you around you. Learning to truly love yourself is a never ending process that will take commitment every day, but the more love you develop for yourself the easier it will become and the more you will begin to honour your inner wants and desires meaning that you will begin to have more joy in your life. The journey into self-love can sometimes be uncomfortable; being honest with yourself is such an important factor in the practice. Being able to really know yourself, identifying your mistakes and owning your imperfections and knowing your triggers will give you an enormous amount of relief. It takes the pressure off and allows you to live more in the present moment. Being honest with our feelings will also empower us to be true to ourselves, when negative feelings come up, question them and identify where does the emotion come from and how can you heal from them? True healing and self-love comes when you allow yourself to feel these uncomfortable feelings and be ready and willing to release them. A huge relief will come when you know what feels good and what doesn’t. When you challenge your inner shadows and shine light on to them through love then you will begin to shine brighter outwardly.
Be gentle on yourself, there are so many pressures in our life, being driven and focused will allow you to achieve what things you want in life, it is so important to not fix your happiness on a goal, be happy and grateful of the process and make inner happiness a bigger priority than material gains. Start small, take the time to honour you, it could be to have that extra-long bath with your favourite book, when you know there are dishes to wash. Follow your gut, do what you know will make you feel good in that moment. If it is for your highest good then there should be no guilt attached. Guilt comes from the ego, learn to quieten that voice that says you should conform to how you think you should be living. Life should not be lived in a constant state of anxiety, take that bath because you want to, not because you’re burnt out and exhausted. Set your standards of self-care high, treat yourself as though you are a good friend, light the candle when you are alone, do something every day for you and do it because your worthy. When you set your expectations high you will receive nothing less.
As adults we are responsible for raising the next generation. Children are born with an abundance of love; it should be our mission to have our children hold onto this inner belief. When children have a strong sense of self they will feel more empowered in their own abilities. Ask your child everyday what they done that they are proud of? This will be a practice that will stay with them and embed their understanding of how amazing they are. Instilling their confidence and strong inner voice is important so that children realise their worth from an early age. When children feel worthy, they will have the ability to respond better to negative situations and be more determined to protect their positive energy. Tell them how strong they are or how well they responded to a situation, which will then instil self-belief leading them to have confidence in deciding what is right for them. This will support them through adolescence when faced with peer pressure. We cannot stop the lessons and experiences that children will have to deal with, nor would we want to, but we can equip them with the tools to deal with situations that they may be exposed to in their lives. We can lead them to develop strong inner directive thinking by giving them ownership of how they respond to the world around them. Instead of telling them how to be, give them the opportunity to choose how to react and discuss it with them, talk about outcomes of situations, and explore how things made them feel and how they can grow from it. Over time, it means they will have a deep understanding of their likes, dislikes and beliefs which mean it will be easier for them to listen to their own voice and realise what is in their best interests. Being comfortable in their own skin will also lead them to be less judgemental and have more empathy for others. It may also help them to realise that’s it is okay to not be liked by everyone, this is something that as adults we can model and teach. If my daughter says that someone doesn’t like her, I will ask “but do you like you?” As long as children know they are enough they will not be trying to become something they are not. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next generation don’t have as many scars to heal from when they are adults, have more energy to be the best versions of them, and have a happy, fulfilled life that is enough, regardless of the situation or circumstance?
Self-love allows us to see that we are enough and will guide us to live in contentment with the present rather than holding onto the past and worrying about the future. So let’s light the way and be authentic in who we are, let’s see our flaws and love ourselves regardless. It is not selfish to prioritise your wants, it’s essential, a happier version if you is of far better service to others, as is showing our children what they really deserve. Through a self-love practice we can really work on our ego and remember the person we want to be, we can choose not to live in the shades of ourselves and allow the best version of you to shine. Be unapologetic in how fierce you love yourself, no one is you, and that is your super power.
Gemma lives in Carlisle, Cumbria with her two children. She works in a school, supporting children with additional needs, and runs nurture groups for children with varying needs. Her experience of working with children and passion for children’s happiness and wellbeing has led her to train as a Mini Me Yoga Ambassador. She is now on a mission to bring yoga and mindfulness into every school setting and home in and around Cumbria. She offers numerous workshops to educators or any adult who is interested in using Mini Me Yoga with the children in their lives. Gemma can also provide yoga sessions at home or in educational settings for children aged 3-14. She invites you to get in touch to find out more about her services and how to discover the magick of Mini Me Yoga.