“For many years, I wandered through the desert in search of a narrative that was not mine. I did not feel I belonged here. I was borrowing a landscape until I found my own. But when I stopped searching and settled into the erosional peace of the redrock desert, I found myself quietly healed by an immensity I could not name. I took off my clothes and lay on my back in a dry arryo and allowed the heat absorbed into the pink sand to enter every cell in my body. I closed my eyes and became simple another breathing presence on the planet. “
Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds
Do you love yourself? Not just tolerate yourself, co-exist with yourself, or even just have a heightened consciousness of who you are and how you operate in the world? Do you adore the way you act, the being that you are? Do you delight in the ways you show up in the world and the words that spill out of your mouth and the beautiful, detailed thoughts that your brain constructs?
For many of us, self-hate is the default. Self-criticism. Self-judgement, self-censorship. For years, I struggled with this myself. My internal dialogue was a raging battle, a constant back and forth between the crushing weight of the things I thought I should be doing and the unbridled anger at myself for the things I’d felt I’d done incorrectly, or not well enough. There was no peaceful middle ground there; my mind had no space for self-love, for appreciation and gratitude for the millions of things I was doing right, no place for compassion or appreciation for the tiny miracles of the everyday. It was full to the brim with the worry, fear and frustration I was allowing in, and there was simply no way I could fit in the self-love conversation.
That’s why I believe that the first step in practicing self-love is an emptying of the mind. There’s no way to add to an overflowing cup without spilling – you have to first allow some of the noise to drain out of your processing mind before you have any flexibility to start more powerful mindset practices. For me, meditation has been the tool to my self-love success. Meditation allows me to empty my mind momentarily, and practice intentional reflection. Only when the negative self-talk is silenced can I focus on the positive: using that quiet time in the morning to honor myself and my accomplishments, to feel immense pride in who I am and to look lovingly at my self, like I would a dear friend.
It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. What if instead of focusing on your external commitments, celebrations or the champagne and strawberries, you spent some time with yourself? Quiet the mind and create the mental and energetic space for a conversation with yourself about the miracle that you are. Acknowledge your innate gifts, the qualities that you love about yourself, the accomplishments you’re most proud of. Keep the meditation (or journalling, or vision boarding) in the positive, no self-hate allowed. Give yourself the gift of love, rather than focusing only on sharing love with a significant other. You deserve it.