Holistic Self Love
"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do." - Brene Brown
I was recently hanging out with a girlfriend who has been going to a hard time. She was telling me about how much she has really started to love herself over the last few months. It's sounded really great! She firmly believes in herself. She appreciates her body and her mind and how she's been feeling rather empowered.
As we continued talking, I broke my heart when I realized that she was not fully appreciating what self love is. When I started to dig deeper, it seemed like she was loving herself on a superficial level only. She definitely believed in her mind and what it was capable of. She has a huge appreciation for her body and feels confident in it. However, she was still letting people in her life treat her terribly. She was still allowing situations to go on that were that are not helpful to her.
In my conversation with her, I realized that we need to be chatting about self love in a deeper way. In my coaching practice and yoga teaching, I always like to approach things in a holistic way. A holistic approach focuses on connecting the mind, the body, and the spirit or soul.
I firmly believe that self love needs set be looked at holistically as well. If you only love your mind and you don't have appreciation for your body, self love won’t work as strongly as it can. There are people who love themselves at a soul level, but have a dislike for their minds and bodies. We've got to really take that step back and re-evaluate how we are discussing self love and look at the whole picture.
Let's dive in to what it looks like to really love your mind, your body, and your soul. I’ll also give you some practices that we could do to help us find more love and confidence in all three areas.
Loving the Body
Body love is probably the easiest form of self love to understand. When we love the body, we’re fully embracing and enjoying the way that we look and the things that were physically capable of. We have a deeper appreciation for anything related to our physical self.
This can show up for us in a lot of different ways. When we love the body, we are happy about the way we appear in the mirror. We are accepting of our image and the way we present ourselves to the world. More importantly, we are taking care of ourselves in a way that shows love. We're making sure that we're giving our body is the fuel it needs to perform.
We've thankfully started a social movement of really loving and appreciating your body, which is amazing! I really want everyone to love and appreciate their body no matter where they fit on a scale. However, I do want to also talk about how important it is to care for our bodies.
If you love another person you're still treating them like garbage, that's not deep love. That's a superficial version of love. To really love somebody, you want to fully take care of them and be the best version that you can be for them. When we eat, we should be giving the body what it needs to do its best, to feel good. This might mean making sure the nutrients that we're giving our body are working. It might look like making sure we're getting to the gym. We might be finding movement to ensure the body is saying active.
This might also be the need to rest and slow down. For those of us who are always on-the-go and moving fast, we are draining the body. To love the body, we must enjoy rest and giving our bodies the time to heal.
Practicing Body Love
If you’re having a hard time practicing body love, I suggest doing this mirror practice. Stand in front of the mirror and find the things you can appreciate about your body. Even if it seems like something simple. For example, you can think “I love my eye lashes” or “I appreciate my body’s strength to carry my children.” Grab some paper and make a list, even if it is small. Come back to this practice every day to see if you can expand the list of things you love about your body.
The other challenge is to re-evaluate how you’re taking care of your body. What simple things can you be doing better to show our body that you do love it (or are trying to love it)? You can possibly commit to a five minute stretch each morning or doing to bed on time each day.
Even if we don't feel that way yet, the more we can start to give and practice these tools, the more we’ll start to actually believe in body love.
Loving the Mind
This is the practice of truly appreciating the mind and what it can do. When we are in alignment with loving the mind, we focus on our mental strengths, rather than our weaknesses. We celebrate our personal intelligence and accomplishments. We are also avoiding too many mind numbing activities, such as television, and enjoy pushing our mind to new levels.
When we’re unhappy and not in love with our mind, it can show up in ways, such as self doubt around our abilities, around our wisdom, and around our creativity. It can also show up in ways where we're not fully appreciating the things that make our thoughts unique. In this case, we are undervaluing our talents.
This is a harder one for me, as I have always had a better relationship with my body and soul. The mind was something that I always struggled with. In the past, I’ve been quick to admit that “I’m not that smart” and tended to discredit my professional success. I was not love my mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good relationship with this part of my self love practice.
I tend to move through life with a lot of anxiety. Depression can creep back into my daily routine rather easily. This is just part of how my brain naturally works and for so long, I fought against it. I was convinced that I couldn’t love my mind because my mind was constantly “out to get me.”
I had to reevaluate the attitude I had towards my mind and find a way to work with it, not against it. Instead of feeling frustrated with my limitations, I began to appreciate my creativity and my ability of organization. Small mental victories needed to be celebrated, even something as simple as praising a well written email.
Practicing Mind Love
Take a moment and do a quick inventory about your thoughts or judgement related to the mind. How do you feel about your intelligence? What do you think of your creativity? How do you feel about the mental patterns that you have? As we acknowledge the areas of the mind that we want to work on, we must also appreciate where we sit right now. Celebrate your mind! Take some time to praise all that your mind is capable of.
Just like we need to take care of the body, we also need to be taking care of the mind to give it what it needs to be performing at its best. Like a muscle, we must work the mind to build it's strength. One of the best things you can do to take care of yourself, as far as loving the mind, is to be learning. Learning can be as simple as reading books, listening to podcasts, or having hard conversations with people. You can explore new hobbies and explore new topics that peak your interest. These are all things that are stimulating your mind.
Loving Your Soul or Spirit
This is the deepest aspect of self love. The soul or spirit this is where we find love for our personalities and emotions. We can become our own best friends when we're content with our own presence. This helps to reduce loneliness and dependency on other people.
Additionally, loving your spirit might involve a spiritual or religious practice. When we can get in touch with our own definition of a higher power (or even purpose), we are taking care of our deep self. This can be done through prayer, study, meditation, or whatever practice feels most natural for you. For some, this might be as simple as sitting outdoors and enjoying nature.
What does it look like when we aren't practicing self love of the soul? Sometimes, it is a feeling of being disconnected with who we truly are or feeling lost. We tend to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of the material world, but may feel empty inside.
Practicing Soul Love
Get to know yourself beyond the labels and roles you embody. What are your core values? What drives you? Who are you when everything else is striped away? I challenge you to begin exploring this through journaling. There are many books and websites to helps you better understand your deep personality, whether that's through a quiz or written exploration. Start digging deeper.
Allow yourself to become still. It is when we can quiet the world around us and our busy minds that we can begin to connect with something bigger, whether that's your higher self, God, spirit guides, etc. Spending time in meditation, whether seated or active meditation, can help us to access our soul or spirit.
When we are exploring self love in all aspects of our life, we may see some miraculous shifts. We begin to form unapologetic boundaries with others, say no to the things that aren't meant for us, and stop allowing mistreatment. Self care becomes a priority, developing a deep belief that our own care is for the betterment of everyone around us.
Comment below: Where can you direct more self love in your life? How do you plan to practice that?
Keep up the incredible work. I believe in you and am proud of your curiosity to explore self love. Rock on!