Hello everybody, welcome to episode 203 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is on practical ways to build self-love.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Now today folks we’re going to do something we haven’t done in like 100 episodes or so. Long time listeners might remember that in the show’s earlier days, I’d occasionally sprinkle in questions that I’d received from my own viewers through my website. I thought it might be fun to do a little throwback again and revisit a question I received a little before I partnered with the OLD family. We’re going to look at a question about cultivating self-love! Can’t ever have enough of that. So let’s jump in and learn about what we can all do to love ourselves a bit more.
QUESTION: “What are some practical tools to cultivate self-love? It’s easy to say that you should love yourself. But how?”
The Simplicity of Loving Yourself
All right. I love this question. What I really like is how you acknowledge how simple it is to SAY that you should love yourself, because that’s really the dilemma I believe a lot of us are facing in different areas of life.
Especially in self-help we’re told all these things about what’s right for us to be doing and feeling and we can get motivated by that and feel electric for a day or so, but after the fun wears off, we’re left to question HOW we actually make long term changes, because it’s not easy to do that and one pump-up session is rarely going to have lasting effects.
Sure we “should” love ourselves as you put, but that “should” creates added pressure when it’s not the kind of situation you can resolve just by snapping your fingers. It requires personal examination. It requires a deep dive.
So let’s move through the question block by block and dissect it.
Practical Tools to Build Self-Love
It’s awesome that you’re emphasizing practical tools rather than just a belief system, because specific action is definitely necessary rather than just thinking about these things a lot or chanting a daily mantra.
But CULTIVATING self-love is great specification. “Cultivating” is different than “making time for”, though I might argue that making time for self-love is a precursor to cultivating more of it, so let’s start there.
Making Time for Self-Love
Making time for current self-love is relatively easy, it just requires rearranging one’s schedule and being honest with oneself. So the first step to cultivating self-love is to make time for the love which already exists, because that builds momentum.
So hone in on the things you love to do or the things you love about yourself without regard to others. Ask yourself what things about you you love and appreciate as is. Ask yourself what things you like to do that you’d still be doing if no one was watching. It’s possible that you already have all the self-love you need, but just aren’t making time for it.
I know that life gets hard and that things get in the way, but societal pressures and obligations can easily become so strong that keeping up with them slowly but surely alienates us from what we love about us.
What personal values of yours are you so out of touch with in your daily life that it could be taking a toll on how much love you feel for yourself? What lies are you falling into about how much money you need to earn, or what kind of car you need to drive?
Honestly, even the idea that you need to focus on your own goals more and accomplish more for yourself can be a trap, as it can potentially isolate you from community and achievement for others.
Mental Space and Time
The list of ways we can get sucked into poor values over time is endless, and thinking independently of them is very difficult, but very necessary for generating both the mental SPACE you need to see what self-love you can currently extract and the TIME you need to put it into practice. That’s step one.
Self-Loathing and What You've Been Avoiding
To CULTIVATE self-love, however, it is necessary to focus on just the opposite, which is self-hatred. We look after ourselves every second of our lives. We know our intentions and motivations. We know that we’re trying our best at all times. Loving ourselves is our natural state of being. It’s more a state that we try to get back to rather than achieve from the beginning.
To re-find self-love, we must focus on what’s gotten in the way of it. We must focus on what we no longer love about ourselves.
Ask yourself what you’ve been avoiding. What have you been staying away from to avoid the surfacing of feelings you don’t want to face? Make a concerted effort to list the things about yourself that you don’t like, whatever they may be, and all of the ways they manifest themselves.
Pay attention to these things. Where do they start? Why are they there, and why do they have to be so bad?
Upon reflection, it’s common to find that a lot of the hatred we have towards certain elements of ourselves is completely justified once we pinpoint how it started and how limited our knowledge was of it and of ourselves at the time.
Examining this hatred, which, depending on who you are, might be done best with the aid of a therapist, and leaning into it rather than resisting it is the first step towards forgiving yourself for it and maybe even coming to like it. The more elements of ourselves that we tuck away, the more disappointment we feel towards ourselves and the more distant self-love can feel.
The only way to not cultivate it but RE-CULTIVATE it, is to pay attention to the things we don’t like and confront them. Practically speaking, making a point of taking part in any sort of activity that highlights that which you don’t like about yourself (in a way that’s non-harmful to others of course) will reinforce to you the truth about the fact this thing isn’t going to kill you.
So if you’re not talking to a therapist, think about creative and healthy ways that you can express that which you don’t like and get back in touch with that side of yourself. The forgiveness that can come from such a process is how love is cultivated from within.
Everyone, it’s really important to realize that this is a guide; a jumping block. Of course, all of these episodes are guides as I know very little about the people sending questions in and I only know as much about their circumstances as they disclose. But this in particular is one of those hugely personal questions which requires such a unique journey.
So if you, the asker, or whomever is wondering something similar wants the greatest effect and is having trouble getting over the hump, I’d recommend talking a professional on an ongoing basis. With that being said it is often a unique tool that we can use – focusing on the opposite of that which we seek to improve. So for self-love, we’d investigate self-hatred and go from there. Very applicable in a lot of scenarios, so give it a try.
Time to wrap this one up, team. As always, I thank you for showing up and hope you come away with some pointers today. I’m going to get going, but I hope to all see you in the next one. Until then.