This time of year can sometimes feel like a bit of a love overload - it seems like everywhere you look, all you see is romance and red roses. But with Valentine’s Day just passing, I started to think about how easy it is to forget about the type of love that matters most: SELF-LOVE.
Whether you’re happily single or coupled up, how you relate to yourself has a huge impact on your life, your happiness, and even the love you can give to others. But, just like any other relationship, you need to put in time and effort to keep the fire burning - and, like all relationships, it can be challenging at times.
So, now that the Valentine's presents are out of the way, here are three gifts you can give to yourself, to show that you truly care about YOU.
1. The gift of solitude
When we stop spending quality time with our partner, friends or family, it doesn’t take long for the relationship to fall apart…so why don’t we do the same for ourselves? Even with our busy lives, it’s so important to find blocks of time that we can put aside for doing things we truly love. ALONE.
It’s amazing how much a walk in the park or heading out for dinner alone can clear your mind. It might feel a little weird at first, but trust me: no-one is looking at you. As soon as it becomes a regular practice, being alone stops being lonely, and you’ll start to actually look forward to these periods of solitude.
I often like to spend my ‘me’ time somewhere in nature, just simply being. Meditating and/or practicing yoga - which the Bhagavad Gita calls “a journey to the self through the self”. This is a great way for me to find stillness in my busy life, and really listen to my own intuition, so I can become more connected with my inner self and what it is I TRULY want.
2. The gift of positive thoughts
Often it’s easier to be kinder to others than is to ourselves. Putting yourself down simply becomes a force of habit,
but if you actually tune in to the thoughts you’re having, then you can start to recognise when you are feeding yourself negativity. When you do - STOP! Ask yourself if you would say this to your best friend - if the answer is no, then don’t say it to yourself either.
One thing I really love about LV Chair Yoga is how we, as teachers and students are encouraged to be cautious of our words, and to choose them wisely, always speaking from a place of non-harm (Ahimsa) and truth (Satya) to ourselves and others. It really has a profound effect not just on us personally, but everyone else we come into contact with. Check out this video review and the positive effect this is having on one of my students - Julia.
So, it’s time to break the cycle of negative thoughts and feelings. Instead, replace them with kind, compassionate statements that help to remind you that you’re worthy of being loved. Especially by YOU!
To get you started - I recorded a short guided meditation with some of my favourite affirmations. You can listen to it here. Repeat your affirmations throughout the day, as many times as you need to feel that they’re true!
Here’s another idea: begin your day in a place of self-love by changing any negative words into positive ones. For example, you could look in the mirror and say out loud “You are beautiful!” or “You are loved!”. You can choose any statement you like, as long as it helps to change your regular thought patterns. The most important thing is to say it like you mean it - even if it seems silly at first, eventually, you’ll start to remember that it was always your truth.
3. The gift of dreams
It is said that: it is only when you quieten the mind, can you truly hear the whispers of the heart. Once you’ve become quiet and used to listening to your deepest thoughts, you can be honest about how you want to live your life and what you need to do to make that happen.
This means giving yourself permission to chase your dreams - and realising that you deserve to be HAPPY! You may need to remind yourself that it’s okay to do the things you love, and that following your heart doesn’t make you selfish.
Start by thinking about how you would spend your time if you had no restrictions (money, work, time etc) - and write down a list of the passions that light up your soul. If these dreams feel out of reach at this particular moment, then break them down into more achievable goals that will help you to work towards the bigger ones. For example, if you want to paint a mural, start by enrolling in an art class. You may not be able to travel to a tropical island, but you CAN go to the beach and put your feet in the ocean. Every little action counts towards building up true self-love.
Remember, life is not just about the destination - but the journey we take to get there. Take it one step at the time - and you never know what you will discover along the way! Happy travels :)
PS. While you're showering yourself with love, why not nourish your body, and give yourself the gift of delicious food as well? Here are two of my fave recipes: a healthy detox turmeric and lentil soup plus yummy vegan ice cream sandwiches for dessert!