Written by Zhenya Alperovich
Hello and Happy Spring, beautiful people! What an honor to be writing for Benevolent Heart Fit and all of the kind, beautiful things Brandi stands for.
Today I want to honestly and openly explore a very important topic – self-love. From self-love memes to body positivity campaigns to self-care smartphone apps, the last couple of years have seen a steady rise in self-love talk. In a time of significant social and political stress, this trend offers hope, encouragement, and much-needed balance for our society. But what does self-love really mean?
Self-love is simple, right?
Just be nice to yourself and do nice things for yourself.
Actually, self-love is not so bright and shiny. To truly love yourself, you must first ask “How, where, and why do I resist loving myself?” Self-love requires examining your relationship with yourself. Getting real, getting raw, holding up a mirror and noticing how you feel about what you see. We must compassionately explore our shadows – the dark, injured, uncomfortable pieces of ourselves – in order to find and nourish our inner light.
How do I resist loving myself?
Each of us has a unique, completely personalized collection of self-limiting or self-sabotaging patterns. These are the toxic habits we resort to when we are not feeling self-loving. This could show up in the form of negative self-talk, addictions (food, drugs, and otherwise), toxic relationships – anything that is harmful to your being.
Where/when do I resist loving myself?
What environments, situations, or circumstances trigger non-self-loving choices? Think about different social and physical environments. A specific time of day, day of the week, or season? Notice what’s happening around you when you go into self-sabotage mode.
Why do I resist loving myself?
Our beliefs about life and about who we are come from somewhere and are reinforced by something – both internally and externally. Self-love means exploring and challenging these beliefs. You get to choose what you want to reinforce and what you want to transform.
How to Practice Self-Love
Self-love is a process of self-reflection, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, and self-care. It is persistently and consistently attending to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. It is also learning and recognizing what healthy balance feels like and noticing when you’ve come away from it. Here are some ways that you can begin or enhance your self-love practice.
· Notice your limiting self-talk. Observe the things you say to/about yourself, working towards gentleness and self-compassion. Practice acknowledging your precious, perfect inner child who is worthy of your unconditional love.
· Journaling. Journaling is your archive for self-expression. It is a place for reflection, analysis, venting, ranting, musing, drawing, organizing, and anything else. Your journal is where you provide space for and validate your own feelings and experiences.
· Set small goals to address areas in your life that need a little more self-love. This is part of an (ideally) regular self-check-in. Ask yourself, “What can I do to give myself the love, respect, and freedom that I deserve?” Write it down and make it happen.
· Sharing time with people (and animals) who nourish your soul. These are the beings that support you, listen to you, and truly see you. We are social creatures, made for bonding and loving each other. Dedicate time for the people who raise you up.
· Movement that you enjoy. For me, this is yoga, walking my dogs, and dancing every now and then. Movement allows our life energy to flow. Use your exercise time to intimately connect with your body through breath, movement, and presence.
· Massage. As a massage therapist, I have reflected deeply on the value of massage therapy. Regular massage (including self-massage!) is a powerful way to consistently show your body that it is important, lovable, and loved. Consider what it means to intentionally receive therapeutic touch.
This is just a small list, with plenty of room for expansion and customization. Each person’s self-love journey is ongoing and ever-evolving. It is a dynamic, non-linear, multidimensional process, as challenging as it is rewarding. Most importantly, self-love is how you get closer to the most important person in your life: you.
What does self-love mean for you? When was the last time you did something self-loving?
Zhenya Alperovich is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Wellness Coach, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and Promotion. Her strong background in integrative health and wellness has given her a unique perspective on working therapeutically with the body. Zhenya offers holistic, high-quality therapeutic massage, that acknowledges you for the extraordinary and complex individual that you are. She is based in Reisterstown, Maryland.