The Ultimate Guide to Self-Love
It’s time the single most important thing we can learn in life, is broken down and explained in a way that actually makes sense. Yes, Love Out Loud the book provides a very simple, effective and thorough process to return back to your nature (love); however, I felt the intense pull to create an easily digestible, shareable and practical article.
I’m going to keep this real as fuck, so buckle up friends.
First things first: why the hell don’t we love ourselves?
It’s a very important and relevant question, and here’s why; we are love. It’s what we’re made of. So, the first very important distinction is this: we cannot be in a pursuit to love ourselves, we must become self-aware enough to recognise, notice and be in harmony with what it is we already are.
Does this distinction make sense? Read it slow.
You can’t search for love; as when you remain in the search, or the pursuit, you give signals to the world (the universe – the infinite source energy – God) that you are without love; and this creates a feedback loop of not enough-ness. Rather, by placing your awareness on what it is that’s already inside you, you remain secure and whole – and guess what, the world will mirror this back too. Pretty god damn magic, right???
Just a quick reminder that YOU ARE THAT POWERFUL.
Okay, so we’ve established –
- You don’t need to look for love.
- It’s about recognising and noticing its presence that’s already inside you (love really is ever-present – phewwwww).
I can now hear you saying; so then, what blocks us from experiencing it, if it’s so ever-present, Nicole? Let me explain;
Self-Awareness & Emotional Intelligence
Are you able to truly be with yourself? With all your feelings? Notice all your thoughts? Here’s the beginning. Let’s talk about what self-awareness and what it actually is, as I think the message has been a little diluted in the realms of millions of Instagram posts of people who have never meditated a day in their life, meditating in Bali or South America.
Good news: self-awareness doesn’t actually need a beautiful location to be eminent, nor does it need to be captured in perfect photos of perfect bums or warrior poses.
I’m even practising self-awareness right now as I write this on a plane;
“man, I wonder if the government worker next to me loves creating that PowerPoint presentation that I’d put money on no one reading.”
“I feel irritated”
“Why do I feel irritated?”
“I’m really excited about sharing this article, it’s super important.”
Just a short glimpse into the inner workings of my mind. We’ll keep it surface level for now. Self-awareness is in the noticing.
When you truly begin to notice, something very magical happens; you begin to really see what’s hijacking you and taking you away. It’s the perfect entry point into emotional intelligence. See, our feelings are always trying to communicate with us, yet we often don’t realise because;
- They’re so familiar to us we can’t see outside of them.
- We notice them but don’t know how to place or name them, so we dismiss them.
- We notice them, know how to place them, but we don’t feel safe to express them.
Do any of these sound like you? Yeah, I thought so.
I like to see becoming aware of these things as an activation of the matrix. We get to actually SEE how our reality is the way it is; and once you see the exact navigation system that’s been driving you, you get to decide if you want to change the course of your path. When you see the way a lack of self-awareness, a breakdown of your emotional intelligence, fears, insecurities and self-sabotage patterns are driving your car away from love, we get to bring it back on track.
Oh yeah, once you’re back in alignment with love – you really do get to surf the best, most expansive cosmic wave of all time.
Okay, what’s next?
Our behaviours. WHY do we do the things we do, even when we know it’s terrible for us?
Some of you may have heard of this model of understanding our conscious and unconscious before;
- There are things we know we know (I know how to drive)
- There are things we don’t know we know (I know I don’t know how to do long division without a calculator)
- There are things we don’t know we don’t know (I obviously can’t give you a suggestion)
So, when it comes to becoming more self-aware, and thus being able to love yourself, there may be things you know have impacted you, e.g. a childhood trauma, however you might not know the exact way that’s created and shaped you.
It can be difficult to slow down these programs for long enough to catch your inner operating system. I’ll provide a personal example;
Recently, I’ve become increasingly self-aware of my (former) inability to vocalise my needs in moments. My default pattern was to go immediately into service of the other, neglecting myself. As this has been such a foundational element of how I’ve navigated life and relationships, it hadn’t even occurred to me that this is something I could change or a sign of an imbalance in me (a lack of self-love). It came to a head in a very intense argument with a loved one, where I defaulted into similar behaviour patterns I did as a teenager (the complete frustration and build-up on not feeling seen and heard or being safe to express myself). The intensity of this unfolding, triggered me to realise there was some deeper, inner work I needed to do; so I went to see a therapist that specialised in The Felt Sense (I’m a very big fan of this model, look it up if you don’t know about it).
What I uncovered was fascinating.
Firstly; there were things I knew;
- I knew I struggled to leave situations if I was tired, overworked, uncomfortable if I thought the other people involved had needs/ needed something from me.
- I knew I had a succession of intimate relationships where I felt misunderstood
- I often experienced an anxious or ambivalent attachment style
- I knew I had adolescent trauma
The things I knew I didn’t know;
- I knew I didn’t know the exact impact of the teenager trauma
- I knew I didn’t know how to consciously navigate particular triggers in personal relationships
The things I didn’t know I didn’t know (that have now become known, knowns);
- The adolescent trauma had created a deep pattern of internalisation (no wonder – I experienced anorexia for years (self-neglect and taking those emotions out on myself/self-punishment).
- I didn’t know there was a link between not feeling safe as a child/teenager to voice my needs (being told “why can’t you just be normal?” “why do you have to be so intense?” “how could you be so selfish as to have a mental illness?”) and not being able to make my needs equal in my work and intimate relationships.
- I didn’t realise how the positive reinforcement I experienced during my weight loss period and decline into anorexia, was a similar positive reinforcement I was experiencing being “a good listener”, “so selfless”, “incredible space holder” “a true leader” , matched with my level of confidence and self-assurance (which I had to develop as a means to protect myself in a world I deemed unsafe), made it near impossible for people to challenge this pattern in me, and reach a deeper level of vulnerability with me, and perpetuated a pattern of attracting people that only wanted something from me, rather than having an awareness of what I may need or want.
- I didn’t realise the link between feeling misunderstood and not understanding myself.
- In moments where I was being approached abrasively, or I felt unsafe, I’d actually either disassociate completely, or I would powerfully redirect my focus (usually to work) as a means to escape the feelings anchored in these deeper wounds.
By placing more awareness over what was already there, has now unlocked a huge capacity to love myself in moments I previously remained a victim of, unable to protect myself.
It’s a revelation!!
This is what self-love ACTUALLY IS.
Not god damn bubble baths or Champaign. It’s awareness. Its understanding what parts of you still remain in the dark, in the unknown (and thus, in fear). We fear what we are yet to understand.
Here’s how our behaviours are shaped:
Experience à Belief à Need à Emotion à Behaviour
Being dismissed in a moment of vulnerability (becomes) à I am not acceptable unless I’m perfect (becomes) à I need to be accepted à anxiety of always needing to control myself in a situation à checking out of emotionally challenging situations and focusing solely on work.
Now, I want you to do this for yourself. Think about some situations in your own life and map this out.
Have you ever noticed that the world insecurity spells in-security?
We’re so busy hating, resisting and trying to force ourselves to overcome our insecurities that we forget that our insecurities have been developed as a means to keep us secure. They’re keeping you small, yes that’s true – but this is a mechanism of our ego, to keep us safe. Perhaps because we’ve been shut down in our fullness, and we become scared of risking social exclusion (a survival mechanism), and thus we develop insecurities. These kind of… defects… that allow us to be less triggering and challenging, potentially more relatable, to those around us. They allow us to travel under the radar.
So, please please please, stop hating on them. Take a moment to appreciate them. They’ve assisted you. they’ve helped you survive. That doesn’t mean they have to travel with you forever, however they’ve had their reasons to travel with you up until now. Have grace in how you process these things.
You have defences for one reason, my love: you have been under attack.
Sometimes in situations it’s not literal attack, but rather a feeling of being attacked. A string of words, or actions or inactions that have caused us to feel like we’re not safe. Within this lack of safety, the brain has a very, very clever mechanism: it protects itself. It builds walls of defence around these parts of you to keep you safe and out of harm’s way (aka builds walls to prevent anyone else in who could potentially re-trigger those same feelings of unsafety).
When I was struggling with anorexia as a teenager, I had extreme defences around what I had (or hadn’t eaten) in a day. Why did I build these defences? Because I so often felt others were trying to control what I was eating and I needed that control to feel safe; so, I perceived their care as attack, and built very strong defences to fight others who got too close to that vulnerability in me.
It’s so important to understand that it’s in ours and other’s defences that we need the most compassion and love. It can be hard to remember when we’re being met with defence as it can often feel confrontational and aggressive. Just try and remember; this person, irrespective of your intention, is feeling under-attack for some reason. There’s a trigger and a wound there that needs a lot of love.
Understanding and Self-Compassion
Most of us haven’t actually had someone in our lives that is genuinely seeking to understand, beyond their own beliefs, bias and projections. What has this meant? We feel a perpetual feeling of needing to protect ourselves at all times! Perhaps some of these suggestions sound familiar;
- To hide yourself (remain small)
- To be secretive
- To only subject yourself to situations that we feel we can control (never leaving the comfort zone)
- To only dominate situations / reject or dismiss other’s vulnerability as a means to not feel it yourself
When we can become self-aware enough to realise the triggers in our life that cause us to step into these behaviours, we can begin to rewire our relationship with the outside world. compassion is essentially; it’s the true ability to hold someone lovingly (including ourselves) in our awareness, without taking on their experience as our own. To hold the higher ground and use the power of our love to elevate their vibration. The same thing happens we hold our own wounds and triggers in loving awareness.
These parts of us are begging for our attention. Listen.
Rejection is Protection.
I’m going to introduce you to a pretty high-level concept, so please – brace yourself if necessary.
Evolution is always happening. We cannot be separate from it. Yep, it’s true. This means, although sometimes it feels like we’re “going backwards” in life, we actually can’t – we are all subjected to the natural flow of evolution that’s ever-present.
What does this have to do with rejection? Well, if something isn’t a “yes” – it’s actually the universe just bringing you closer and closer to the right opportunities.
You may have heard of these clichés;
It’s always on the way, not in the way.
You can’t get it wrong.
The obstacle is the way.
So on, so on.
Yet, we can get so caught up when we feel we’ve been rejected.
Because it’s triggering all those dormant insecurities you’ve been pretending you’re stronger than. All the dormant shame and fear and that usually manageable inner critic tends to start firing at full speed leaving you with no protection. It’s a lot.
So, how do we change this in-the-moment reaction, when our pre-frontal cortex us shutting down and we lose ability to think rationally and calmly?
It takes practice and a very important reframe in mindset;
In periods of rejection and perceived failure we are becoming remarkably more self-aware! We are seeing what in us is still in the dark and needing our attention and love. So, in these times the practice means taking back all the power you’ve assigned to another (the person rejecting you) and give that energy back to yourself; whilst thanking the other (on the inside) for mirroring what’s not yet healed in you.
This is an unstoppable mindset. When this becomes fluent, nothing will stop you – but rather propel you. Discomfort and limitation will become a launching pad for your greatness.
I need to be brutally honest with you for this one.
Self-love isn’t always lovely.
True self love is looking in the mirror after rejection and choosing to not reject yourself.
Self-love is choosing to believe that hard times will be followed by victories.
Self-love is believing in yourself when there’s nothing to your name, and no one else can see your dreams.
Self-love is boundaries, even when you’re not sure if someone will love you after putting them in place.
Self-love is building up a counter voice to your inner critic.
Self-love is taking the risk on yourself that you wish that boy or girl would.
Self-love is very often bitter medicine. Eighty percent of the western world experience loneliness every single day. I feel called to bring this to light. The absolute number one ingredient to self-love is being able to be alone, without being lonely. For so many, this is unnatural because we don’t have a healthy relationship with ourselves. So, without the stimulus, without the busy-ness, without the distraction – when it’s just us, with ourselves, we fall into the abyss of loneliness.
Here’s the risk of not working on this;
We go our whole lives making choices from a place of fear, a place of insecurity and a place of not feeling whole.
Yes, choosing to love yourself can feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar and sometimes even selfish, or triggering, or bring up so many emotions from all the times you haven’t chosen self-love; but the alternative is so much worse.
The alternative is a half-life, a life where either subconsciously or consciously you numb yourself. You minimise feeling, because feeling would mean having to look at the truth.
I don’t want this for you. the world needs more from you. I need more from you. I need you to love you. I need you to step fully into who you are, with total permission and acceptance. It’s the only way I can show up fully as me.
So, what does this have to do with judgement?
See, judgement keeps us safe. Judgement keeps us in our limitation. Judgment stops us from seeing the areas where we’re still not complete and empowered within ourselves.
If we judge that person’s success, we enable our absence of responsibility.
If we judge that person’s looks, we prevent ourselves from discovering our own beauty.
If we judge that person’s kindness, we enslave ourselves in an identity of “being too cool”.
If we judge that person’s behaviour as ‘wrong’, we rob ourselves from understanding and compassion.
When we point a finger, three are pointing back at us. Judgement only ever poisons us. It becomes our prison, not the others.
We begin to miss out on life. On truly meeting ourselves.
Ultimately, we are always the perceiver. The filter we experience anything and everything through is our own.
Judgement is a symptom of fear. Fear is a state of survival.
We judge because our identity feels under threat. Our ego feels challenged so it throws a judgement out as a means to defend itself.
The way through is to thank our ego and thank our judgment for teaching us where our edges are. Where we’re fixed and what areas we can lean into to expand our capacity to love ourselves.
Acceptance is a practice. The spiritual law “The Law of Humility” says “we must first accept something before we can change it.” When we finally accept, we become complete with something, rather than resisting or fighting it. This practice allows us to continually expand and evolve.
Judgement = Fear.
Acceptance = Love.
Fear = Closed.
Love = Open.
Fear = Threatened.
Love = Confident.
Fear = Contracted.
Love = Inclusive.
There will even be ways to identify this in your body; in how you feel.
Ask yourself: am I contracting around this topic, situation or person or do I feel expansive and inclusive?
How does your body feel? Does it feel like you’re getting smaller and more threatened, or are you in a state of growth (acceptance)?
We can train ourselves to enter a state of non-resistance and learn to be complete with all things. This is what love creates for us; this is the power of love – pure unity consciousness.
Self-love is where life begins.
It is no the “end game” – it is the beginning. It is the fertile soil in which everything else grows.
Please share this article, send it to a friend that you know needs to read it. Read it to your children, your partner, your parents. Begin having the conversations that matter.
If you’re wanting to learn more about the concepts discussed in this article; purchasing Love Out Loud the book www.love-outloud.combook/ , as well as our eCourse is an absolutely fantastic and practical place to begin; www.love-outloud.com/online-course/
If you’re feeling really brave, perhaps you should consider one of our retreats. We host them around the world. Retreat gives you an extremely profound opportunity to re-meet and rebirth yourself. To watch videos and testimonials of our retreat visit: www.love-outloud.com/retreat/