Former The Bridge Retreat participant Selina Barker is a career and life design coach, co-founder of Project Love and creator of the Project Love ‘Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020’ journal. Over the past seven years she has been making it her business to explore and discover what it really takes to practice self-love on a daily basis.
Here she shares some of her top tips on how you can get really good at loving yourself and turn self love into a daily practice.
Self-love is such a misunderstood topic. There is a commonly held fear in modern society that too much self-love and self-care can lead to selfishness and indulgent navel-gazing. That if we love ourselves too much we’ll turn into self-obsessed narcissists who are too busy relaxing in bubble baths to care about anyone else. Instead most of us are brought up fed on the belief that to be a good and caring person you must put the needs of others before your own. That that is what a caring and responsible adult does. This belief fuels our constant busyness, our inability to say ‘no’ and our chronic refusal to make our own happiness and wellbeing a top priority. And that is why daring to love yourself really IS a rebellious act. A rebellious act that has the power to change your life.Because when you learn to truly love yourself and become THE source of love in your life, everything changes. Your life transforms from the inside out. If you’re looking for a loving partner in life then self love is the magic that will attract that person in. If you have ambitions for the year to come – things you want to make happen, goals you want to achieve – then self-love is the fuel that will help you make it happen while remaining grounded, fulfilled and in flow. If you’re in a relationship, self-love is the glue that will keep you together and keep the love flowing and if you’re a parent wanting to create a happy home for you and your family, then self-love is your secret weapon. So if you’re up for being a rebel and ready to join the self-love movement, how do you actually do it?
Well that is something that we have been studying over at Project Love for the past 6 years and what we’ve learnt, ultimately, is that self-love, like any love is a practice. It is something that you DO. It is something that you cultivate.
Self-love in action is about putting your wellbeing and happiness as a top priority in life, designing a life that you love, doing meaningful and fulfilling work, surrounding yourself with people that nourish you and clearing the blocks to love so that it can flow fully into your life on a day to day basis – through your relationships, your actions and the choices that you make.
There are lots of ways that you can practice self-love. Here are four of our favourite ways:
1) Speak to yourself like you would to your best friend
How do you speak to yourself as you go about your day to day? Do you speak to yourself with love, respect and kindness? Or is that inner voice usually quite critical, negative, sometimes even downright mean? If you tend to speak to yourself with a critical voice then you’re not alone. MOST people start out speaking to themselves like that. But with healing and practice you can turn the volume to that negative voice right down and turn UP the volume on your kind, loving, supportive voice. The one you use with the people you love. A great way to start doing this is to write a letter to yourself from your kind, loving side of you. The kind of letter you would love to receive from a best friend. It’s time to be that best friend to yourself. Next time you catch yourself saying something critical to yourself, stop yourself and ask yourself ‘what would I say in this moment if I were being a best friend to myself’?
2) Do one loving thing for yourself each day
Self-love, just like love, is a practice. It is something that you DO. The big myth that gets us all tangled up in modern society, is that love is something that you can only receive from another. And in particular one special romantic partner. This confused understanding of love is preventing many people from recognising that THEY are the ones that have the power to make themselves feel fully loved and cared for. On a daily basis. So start by doing at least one consciously loving thing for yourself each day. It might be taking a detour to walk through the park on your way to work, giving yourself a nourishing meal at lunch time, buying yourself flowers, getting to bed early to read your book, going for a run, going out with friends. Loving yourself is all about taking the time to listen in to what it is you need to feel loved and cared for and then giving yourself that. No one is expecting you to remember to do that 24/7, but if you do just one small loving thing for yourself each day, you will really start to feel the difference.
3) Do The Bridge Retreat, The Bridge to Remembering and any workshops run by The Bridge team!
I am a HUGE advocate of The Bridge. I’ve done a lot of personal development work over the years and nothing compares with the deep healing and love that I experienced during The Bridge Retreat and then later The Bridge to Remembering. I have sent many friends and clients across The Bridge and it is always a life changing experience for them. If you want to dive deep into healing your relationship with yourself and want to learn how to open to love yourself and others, then there is nothing better than The Bridge. And if you’ve crossed The Bridge then I can’t recommend The Bridge to Remembering more. Wow, I thought it would be a little touch up on what I had learnt on The Bridge but it was another beautiful life-enriching, healing journey that took me even deeper into a loving relationship with myself.
4) Marry yourself
Now this probably won’t be the place you start your self-love journey, but I encourage you to allow yourself to consider it: that one day your relationship with yourself could be SO good that you’ll want to declare your commitment to loving yourself unconditionally until the day you die. Because that is exactly what Donna did, on her 50th birthday, with Gabi by her side. She’s shared about her experience of saying ‘I do’ in The Bridge blog before, but I got the chance to sit with her for an hour and ask her ALL about it. The conversation was recorded as an episode for the Project Love podcast.
It was such an inspiring conversation. We talked about it all: what made her want to do it, what the ceremony was like, the vows and commitments she made to herself, how she knew a lot of people would roll their eyes at it and above all the difference it has made to her and the relationship with herself since saying ‘I do’.
5) Design a life you love
If you are committed to loving yourself, then the greatest act of self-love there is, is to design a life that you love living. One that has you doing the things that make you come alive, spending time with people that you love, in places that you thrive in. A life that is designed with your happiness and wellbeing as a top priority and one in which you listen to your dreams and bring those dreams to life. And that is what life design is all about and what the Project Love journal, ‘Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020’ is all about.
‘Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020’ guides you through a journey that helps you to say a proper farewell to 2019 as it comes to an end and create a vision and a plan to help you to thrive and create a life you love in the year to come. It’s a journal that I created for myself nine years ago and one that I have used every year since to help me create a life that I truly love. And now I get to see people all over the world using it to design lives they love too.
Find out more about the journal at The Goodbye Hello Journal.
And finally learning to love yourself takes time, patience and healing. It’s not an over-night job and there is no fast-track to doing it quickly. So take it slowly, take it step by step and be kind to yourself.
And thank you Donna, Gabi and Freddy, for your unwavering commitment to loving yourselves and teaching others how to love themselves too. Thank you for leading the rebellion!
Selina Barker, Professional Career Coach