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Owning Your Journey to Self-Love

By Aundria Layne, Mind-Body Wellness Practitioner & Coach


Merriam-Webster defines self-love as ‘‘An appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue.”

However, defining self-love can look different to everyone and because of that, when speaking about self-love with others, I often dive in a bit deeper. I spend a lot of time with my clients working through their personal definition of what self-love means to them. I let them know that their definition may change or grow over time — the goal is to find ideas and meanings that resonate with their core beliefs while aligning with their values. 

For me, there are three main components to the practice of self-love: self-care, values, and boundaries. These three pieces have many individual parts and when combined, allow us to grow fully into ourselves.

 

SELF-CARE

Do you remember the advice given every single time you fly? Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping the person next to you with theirs. There isn’t much help you can give to someone else if you aren’t breathing yourself. I happen to find this advice to be pretty spot on in life, as well.

We can often become so focused outwardly that we forget to take care of ourselves. We forget our own oxygen mask in times of need, not remembering to take a much needed deep breath of self-love before offering our assistance to someone else. What we don’t realize is that this lack of self-care can create harm to ourselves and spiral out to those around us. 

There are many forms of self-care: physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, spiritual, and financial. How we honor our needs and what self-care looks like can change day to day. Sometimes self-care can simply look like a long bubble bath before bed or heading out to the batting cages to hit balls until your arms feel like jelly. It can be saying ‘no’ to the daily trip to the coffee shop to save money for the house you’re planning to buy, or passing on the promotion that offers you a huge raise but would leave you extra stressed and with no time to spend with your family.

I like to remind my clients each and every time I see them that by simply showing up for our session, they’re already practicing self-care. 

 

VALUES

If we aren’t operating from a space aligned with our values, we’re ultimately not operating from a place of self-love. Defining our own system of values can be done in a three part process, starting with our core value system.

Core values are most often learned during our upbringing. They are the values and cultural expectations ingrained in us that were either intentionally, or sometimes unintentionally, modeled by those around us. As a child, we absorb like a sponge the behaviors of key people in our lives: parents, friends, caregivers, teachers, and more.

Personal values are also a key component of our values system. These are values that often change over time with our experiences as human beings. As our emotional intelligence grows, so do the ideas of what is important to us. Your personal values define how you show up in the world, including your self-discipline, transparency with others, trustworthiness, and expectations of your life and the people in it.

The personal core value system is the combination of both the core value system and the personal value system. When I am helping someone to define their personal core value system, we start by discussing their lowest moments — how did those events make them feel and how did they grow or get through those times? Then I ask about the greatest experiences of their lives — and I’m able to learn what fills them up with pride, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment. 

Defining these moments and feelings can be a valuable pathway to determining your own personal core values of who you are and want to be, helping you to align your individual beliefs of what is most important to you in life, work, and love. In order to ensure we are operating from our values, we need to be able to set healthy boundaries.


BOUNDARIES

I always remind my clients that boundaries are not easy to set — there is a lot that can go into the process, and often our boundaries change from person to person. But setting boundaries is a great form of self-respect and self-care. By setting boundaries, we enhance our own well-being and promote positive relationships of all types. A great place to start when setting boundaries is to first become aware of what is important to you and to get in touch with your own feelings.

We set boundaries based on what we like and dislike and how certain behaviors or actions from others make us feel. Boundaries help us to stay focused, keep us safe, improve relationships, and signal to others what feels good for us and conversely, what we will not tolerate. By setting clear and consistent boundaries, we can reduce stress, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion.

Steps to setting a boundary:

–       Tap into your own feelings about what brings you joy, stress, pain, or uncertainty.

–       Acknowledge those feelings and needs.

–       Identify individuals in your life who bring unwanted feelings or experiences to the surface for you — this could be a boss, partner, friend, spiritual advisor, or even yourself.

–       Determine how a specific boundary may need to be placed. Consider how this boundary would provide feelings of physical, emotional, or mental safety and security. Will it open your possibilities for more positive growth? Boundaries can look very different from person to person and may be something as simple as setting defined hours of work so as to not impede your personal life, taking a needed break from social media, limiting interactions with a certain person, or even limiting negative self-talk.

–       If the boundary is with another person, identify the appropriate time and tone of voice for delivery. Communicate it clearly and concisely without over-explanation.

–       Determine any alternative solutions or consequences for others who do not honor your boundary.

All in all, self-love lies at the core of our being. It requires self-care to grow it, values to define it, and boundaries to protect it. We choose how it looks and feels to each of us on our own terms. Understanding the meaning of self-love is just the tip of the iceberg — what lies beneath can be so much more rewarding. I encourage you to get out there, be courageous, and define what self-love means to you.

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