AAAHHHH SELF LOVE.......

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How many of us actually know what it even means? A mani and pedi once a month? A nice massage? How about a long bubble bath? All these acts certainly qualify as self-love, but you are selling yourself short. Let me explain.

You see, we are ALREADY LOVED. We are ALREADY WHOLE. But riding out this lifetime in a skin suit means we may forget these simple Truths. I know I have and continue to. But we have to gently (and repeatedly) remind ourselves that love is our essence. We are worthy of love because love is who we are. So how do we remind ourselves? By choosing to practice self-love.

My definition of self-love is the practice of honoring yourself by CHOICE. So go get that mani and pedi! Indulge in that massage! But those acts are merely the tip of the iceberg. Real self-love involves choosing to get down and dirty...and that's why many of us, including myself, resist self-love.

Whyyyy??? Well, it just HURTS sometimes. It hurts to make choices that align with your Truth because those choices can cause upheaval in your life. It is much easier to remain in the realm of comfort and security, even if your perceived 'comfort and security' continues to hurt you. At least it's a consistent hurt you can rely upon right? [YES, THERE IS A HINT OF MADNESS THAT LIVES WITHIN US ALL]  Not to mention it hurts to love those 'unloveable' aspects of us that we wish would just be gone! 

But when you make the choice to love yourself, even if it causes you a significant amount of pain, it ALWAYS leads you to the right path. Yes, choosing self-love hurts sometimes. It just does. You are consciously CHOOSING to go through "pain", holding onto nothing but faith and hope. It takes a grand amount of courage to do so, but I believe it is beyond worth it at the end. It brings you that much closer to completely loving and accepting yourself for who you really are. (And ultimately, isn't that what all of us strive for as human beings?)

So how does one practice self-love besides the obvious spa visits? I have been experimenting for a while now because well, I just didn't really love myself as much as I deserve. I am still doing the work, but BEHOLD! Here are a few ways I've learned to CHOOSE to love myself:

(WARNING: They are not that easy, but SOOOO worth it!)

1. Analyze Your Habits

Do they make you happy or empower you? Do they bring you a sense of joy or peace? Do they positively affect your health? Or do they leave you feeling empty, drained, guilty, or angry? Make the CHOICE to hack away at the demoting habits that hurt your mind, body, and soul. There are plenty of books that can teach you how to create new, healthy habits in place of the ones you want to get rid of [I suggest reading "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg]. But please, do not try to re-wire your entire life in one week. Start off with one or two simple habits and snowball from there.

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2. Analyze Your Inner Dialogue 

If your inner voice(s) was audible, what would that sound like to the rest of us? Would we want to stick up for you because you are just so damn mean to yourself? Cut it out! Make the CHOICE to be kinder to yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend [I'm sure you wouldn't tell your friend she looks absolutely hideous. So why would you tell yourself that?] You can practice this by being more aware of your thoughts and quickly replacing the negative ones with positive ones. Or just simply apologize to yourself for that rude thought and give yourself a compliment instead. SELF-ACCEPTANCE GOES HAND IN HAND WITH SELF-LOVE!

3. Analyze Your Circle

Are there certain people in your life that are super negative, extremely needy or extra critical? What about people who constantly gossip about others? Or those who always flake out on you at the last minute? Take a step back and see if they are worth keeping around. DON'T GET ME WRONG...No one is perfect. You and I sure as heck aren't either. But when someone does more bringing down than lifting up, it's time to step away for the sake of your own sanity. CHOOSING the right company is very important for your well-being. What about family? Same rules apply. Just because they are family doesn't mean you need to continue to be subjected to their crap. Minimal contact is best, but only you know what works for you and your situation. Point is to make sure you have plenty of love and support around you. (And ahem...make sure you are extending love and support to them as well!) 

4. Pay Attention To Your Inner Child

STOP! Think of a couple of super fun moments in your childhood. No for real, look away and actively bring up those memories. Are you smiling yet?? Adulting can be sooo monotonous. You can quickly lose touch with your inner child by tending to life's endless responsibilities and tasks. But they are still inside of you, waiting to be played with. Make the CHOICE to let that aspect out of you out once in awhile! Laughing, having fun, and just enjoying life is practicing self-love. Who knew right?? Here are a few ideas to get the fun started: go to a park and ride the swing or slide, play hop scotch or skip around, make sand castles or dig in the dirt, play your favorite childhood board games, finger paint or draw in coloring books, share silly jokes, play with toys, race or have tickle games with your children. Use your imagination! 

5. Just Breathe

 I LOVE THIS ONE. This is a simple exercise you can do for a couple of minutes every morning as soon as you wake up. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and breathe. Feel your heart beating. Feel your tummy rising and falling from each breath. Close your eyes and say to yourself (or think) "I love you". Continue to breathe. Smile. Try to conjure the emotion of what it would actually feel like if you truly and completely loved yourself. Would you feel freedom? Peace? Acceptance? Happiness? Wholeness? Try to FEEL these feelings..and JUST BREATHE THEM IN. You do not have to do this particular exercise, but make the CHOICE to dedicate a few minutes of your day to do one that connects you to your breath. Meditation, perhaps? 🙂

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NOW GO GET'S TAH LOVIN' YOSELF <3 

Top Image by: Rita Loyd // Other Images by: Elliana Esquivel