The Art of Loving Yourself

For Love is the kingdom, and Love is the power, and Love is the glory. Forever and ever.”

In our culture, there is a lot of talk about loving yourself. “Just do you”, “treat yourself”, “I do what I want”, and my all time favorite, “YOLO”. But, somehow we’ve appropriated these slogans to mean something a lot more subversive than real love, in fact, they feel more like ego-driven narcissism to me, which is not love at all. We throw around these terms as justification for bad behavior, as admonishments for anyone who is heart broken or sad and we even commodify self love so that it becomes something you can purchase to feel better. Like maybe some hair extensions, or new jeans, or fast food, and none of it works.

Self love has become elusive. We all know that the way to true happiness is through loving yourself, but no one is talking about how to do that. How do you really look in the mirror and like what you see, then stick with it through thick and thin?


At 30 years old, I realized I didn’t love myself at all. In fact, I had spent most of my life telling myself I wasn’t good enough, or when I did pull up my socks to get out there and stick to my guns on practically anything, a little voice in my head would say, “who do you think you are?” It’s taken me 5 years to break down these deeply engrained messages and turn them into a beautiful, deep love for myself; and with that new found love, I have spilled over into those around me, attracting as much love as I beam out.

LOVE YOUR BODY GOOD

First, I made friends with my body. I’ve never been fat by a societal standard and I have never been unhealthy, but I sure felt fat for most of my life. A few years ago I was living in Bali, land of the ultra thin, beautiful beach body and I was ferociously going to the gym, trying to beat my body into losing a few extra pounds I’d picked up over the winter. And then one day I just got sick and tired of it. I made a conscious decision to just stop altogether. That didn’t mean that I was going out to the nearest McDonalds to throw garbage into my sacred vessel. It just meant that I was going to stop comparing and start complimenting myself. Every time I felt good, I’d tell myself that I looked good, I felt healthy, my hair was nice, my skin was flawless. I stopped focusing on what I wanted to change and started making lists of what I liked. And I stopped talking about it too. I just decided one day that I wasn’t going to hate myself anymore.

I stopped wearing makeup and cutting/colouring my hair around that time too. Beauty comes from within and no amount of lipstick or bleach is going to change that. I’ve met eons of pretty girls who are insecure and it shows. You need to wear yourself like you’re a fine piece of cloth and it will beam out from within.

That was the real turning point, and I struggle with it still all the time. The second I put on five or ten pounds I start that old bullshit again. But I just stay focused on a healthy diet of mostly fresh whole veggies and fruit and keep exercising daily and the feeling goes away. Sometimes I have to just go up a size for a bit. It’s not that big a deal.

Be gentle with yourself. I started treating myself like I would treat a lover. I am a sucker for lavishing people with gifts of all sorts and I started to throw myself into the mix. And I don’t mean buying myself gifts per se, but I started gifting myself time alone. Sometimes I go to the beach in the afternoon and just read a book by myself, or I gift myself a massage, or rub my feet. When I do these loving gestures, I tell myself all the things I love about myself. I compliment my feet, I give gratitude to my body and the universe for providing me this extra time to myself.

COMMUNE WITH THE UNIVERSE

Get with God. It’s not surprising that “God” is such a loaded word in the West. It’s not in advertisers best interest for you to have a solid relationship with the Divine-how are you going to feel miserable and end up blowing $200 at H+M if you feel connected to the trees and air that surrounds you? Whatever your qualms with God are, work on getting over them. Try to understand that the negative imagery of God is really just what humans are doing. Maybe start with nature-it’s a good opening to a communion with God. Take walks in nature, sit under a tree and then make a list of the ten things you are grateful for in your life and say thank you to that tree for them. Do your gratitude list every day and make sure you include gratitude for your body so you can keep growing that inner love flame.

PLASTIC HAS GOT TO GO

Get rid of toxins. This was a really huge one for me. It took about a year of questioning everything in my bathroom cabinet and in my kitchen cupboards. If it came in plastic, I looked for an alternative in glass or metal. One day, while washing my hair with an expensive salon-brand shampoo, I started to wonder what the ramifications might be of placing chemicals on the membrane between the outside world and my brain? I looked into making my own. I got rid of all the products that I was using to clean my house, even Seventh Generation (because it came in a disposable plastic bottle), and started going back to old faithfuls like baking soda, vinegar and lemons. I threw out my Toms of Main Toothpaste and made my own (baking soda and coconut oil with a bit of peppermint I keep in a little glass bowl by the sink). Slowly, but surely I questioned everything and replaced what I could. The difference is incredible. Not only is it a fraction of the price, but the gentle nature of my products and the spiritual, environmental and physical benefits of removing plastic from your life is immeasurable. You will feel much more connected to yourself and to the world without all those chemicals in the way.

I’m a kinder, gentler, less affected person as a result of these three major choices. I haven’t worn a bra in years or any makeup and I have never looked or felt better. I don’t buy my food wrapped in plastic or use anything processed on my body or in my house and it feels great. Wrapping all that in one big God-driven package has kept me feeling more highs than lows and able to brave the lows a lot better. I feel connected to other people on the planet and more likely to help than hurt and I have saved thousands of dollars in the selfish messaging from above.

I think in different terms now, “just do us”, and when I do what I want, I’m doing what I want for everyone, not just for me. I’m treating myself the way I want to be treated and therefore treating others well too. And I’m giving myself the ultimate treat at that, the gift of self love and acceptance. As for YOLO-well if this is really our only go-around, then don’t you want it to be easy, fun and filled with joy?

There are lots of times that aren’t easy, and there are lots of times when I can’t be bothered to go the extra mile, but even in those times I repeat this mantra, “I love you for who you are, where you are. Always.”

Photo Courtesy of: © The Things I Wish I Knew

Author Description

Anna Von Frances

Anna Von Frances is a yogi and a traveller. She travels the world looking for all the off-beat places and the most far-out experiences. Having lived in Canada, Europe and the States, she spends most of her time in Latin America teaching and learning about what it means to be a loving human being. She's most passionate about the environment and the study of LOVE. She can howl at the moon with the best of them. Follow Anna on instagram @FullPowerYoga Facebook.com/annavonfrances www.fullpoweryoga.com

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