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No, this isn’t another self-love article about yoga classes, expensive lattes, and long walks in the forest. (Though, all highly recommended.)
This piece is for all the people who feel like they’re doing all the “things” yet continue to suffer.
You eat all the right foods, exercise a few times a week, get enough sleep. You’ve built a successful career, have a decent roof over your head, perhaps even found a loving partner.
You don’t drink too much, your journal is full of positive affirmations, you’ve gone vegan (well you dabbled), you even spend your commutes listening to motivating podcasts. You’ve embraced mindfulness and make a chorus of weird breathing noises aligning your chakras while sitting on an organic meditation cushion that was delivered by a made-from-all-recycled-materials carbon neutral drone.
Despite doing all the things that are supposed to bring you joy, it still seems like life is a grind. Sometimes, the smallest things twist you into anger. You feel far from at peace. You carry an invisible weight into each week.
Life isn’t supposed to be like this.
I know you feel this because I’ve felt the same.
At the risk of adding yet another cog to your self-help wheel, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the three things (that are not actually things) that have helped to finally reduce my suffering.
Self-love is about much more than a yoga class on a grey Saturday. Self-love is about how you talk to yourself. Self-love is about cultivating a thriving relationship with the voice in your head.
For years, I have been wired to push and achieve like a good type-A-stubborn-ambitious-Capricorn male. This mindset has proved useful. I’ve done an Ironman, built a successful engineering career, and own a place to call home.
So naturally, when I was faced with rebuilding myself after the end of my marriage, I took my quest to return to happiness like any other project I had previously conquered. I was going to type-A the crap out of my destruction.
Except this mission was different. In the years after the breakup, I did all the things to cleanse my soul of the pain. I went vegan, gave up booze, hugged all the trees. I did experience a transformation; hell, I even wrote a book about it. I had capitalized on my life’s carnage. I showed her! But despite the progress, something still wasn’t quite right.
One of the problems was I was searching for external validation of all my “doing” (cue the overly vulnerable Instagram posts) to fill the holes in my heart. What I should have been doing is repairing the pain from within.
Most of us are experts at giving love to other people. But when it comes to loving ourselves, this is something we were never taught.
What does it mean to love yourself? (I just lost all my buddies with that line.)
To love yourself means to rewire the push, the struggle, the negative self-talk narrative and replace it with a kinder, more compassionate voice. Catch yourself when you start to beat yourself up. Become aware of it (I’m punishing myself) then replace it by acknowledging the effort you are putting in, the progress you are making (I am doing my best; I am making progress). Just like you tell other people you love them, tell yourself you love yourself (I love you). Walk down the street actually saying these words in your head. I do this. It is transformative.
Channel Michael Singer à la The Untethered Soul (“you are not your thoughts; you are aware of your thoughts”) and build that one-millimeter gap between your old negative self-talk, and a new loving voice.
There is only one guarantee about what will be with you your entire life. Relationships, family, careers, houses, cars can all vanish in an instant. But you will always be with yourself.
Learn to cultivate a radiant relationship with yourself. Become your own best friend—your own soul mate—and you will seek for nothing else to bring you joy.
Like self-love, worthiness isn’t something that is earned; worthiness comes from within.
My coach recently shared this visual: imagine walking into a nursery at a hospital. In front of you lie five perfect newborn babies. All they have done has been born into this world. They have achieved no degrees, made no money, have zero followers. They own no property, have never gone to the gym, don’t have a life partner. They have accomplished nothing beyond crying and crapping. Yet lying beside one another, they are without a doubt each worthy of all the love in the world. Each of them is worthy of living the most loving life of their dreams.
They are whole. They are complete. They have nothing to prove. They just need to be. And so do you. You don’t have to do anything to be worthy of love.
We come into this world whole, worthy, and complete. We will leave the same way. Why not spend the time in-between radiating in this same feeling? Feeling worthy means to vibrate in the knowing that you are perfect just the way you are.
Next time you catch yourself trying to do something to prove your worth (make X money, get Y followers, wear Z pair of shoes), just remember the babies in the nursery. There is nothing to do, nothing to have, to feel worthy.
Worthiness isn’t something we have to prove; it comes from within.
Part of what caused me stress on my journey was that my new dream life wasn’t manifesting fast enough. I was doing all the practices—raising my vibes, setting clear intentions, smudging my condo of all negative energy—yet where was my new lover? Where was my book deal?
I had yet to learn about trust and surrender. I was trying to force the timing of things that were out of my control. This neediness for validation and acceptance was repulsing the very things I wanted to attract.
We can’t control timing. We can control our state, effort, choices, focus, energy. We can do the work, take all the right steps, then we need to surrender the timing to the Universe. Worrying and forcing repels. We don’t worry about the sun not rising. We don’t worry about gravity turning off. We don’t worry when we sleep. So why worry while awake? Sit with that for a moment.
If you think back, every challenge has helped shape the person you are today. Every setback fueled your evolution. The mindset switch is to trust that your current challenges will ultimately lead you to a better place. This surrender is a beautiful way live. Focus on what you can control, release the connection to the timing and form of the outcome.
Self-love, worthiness, surrender are all things you can’t buy—rather free practices that can bring you ultimate peace.
Because you deserve it.