As we approach Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about a love that is often overlooked and misunderstood yet at the center of lasting personal growth.
Self-love is at the heart of conscious leadership and personal growth. It is inner personal work of acceptance, appreciation, and full integration of your whole self.
At the most basic level, self-love is simply asking the questions, “Can I allow myself?” and, “Can I allow myself to be fully here now?”
The essence of self-love is 100% allowance of all that is here now.
Let’s discuss what self-love actually is and what it could look like for you.
What is Self Love?
Self-love might be a term that feels disgusting to you at this point because we’re all so sick of hearing about it.
When I hear that term, I think about bubble baths and bath salts, and there have been times when that’s exactly what I wanted. But products and experiences aren’t actually self-love.
Because self-love is inner work. It’s an inner experience of acceptance, of appreciation. At the most basic level it’s allowing yourself, all parts of you, to be present. The essence of self-love is 100% allowance of all that is here now.
If you feel fully present and with what’s here, all of you, even what you claim you don’t like, that’s the feeling of self-love. Pretty different than buying a bath bomb at Whole Foods and dropping it in the tub, huh?
Now, you can do this wherever you like, and maybe the tub is the best place to do it for you. Maybe it’s on a walk. Maybe it’s sitting on your front steps or laying in bed with a pillow over your head, and your blanket’s over you, and laying in a fetal position and crying.
Whatever it is, that is what you’re being drawn to do, allowing that moment to be exactly as it is in you, allowing all of the parts of you, the ugly parts, the bad parts, the parts you blame and shame, the parts that feel guilty, allowing all of those to be there with you just as they are.
When you allow yourself to be present, you are accessing your Restorative Zone of Genius, that way that you and only you uniquely add value to yourself and the world by restoring, and it’s a private experience, and it’s a private experience we can have with other people around, or we can have it in a place that we call “Private.” The point is, it’s in you.
Why does self-love matter?
Self-love is the heart and core of all genuine, lasting personal growth. Self-love is the essential ingredient in integrating all of the parts of yourself so that you can work with your shadow and overcome some of the ways that you hold yourself back, and create suffering for yourself and others.
By loving all parts of yourself, you are able to access all of your talents, strengths, power, creativity, and wholeness. Most of us are walking around with a pretty significant list of the parts of ourselves we wish we could change, ignore, or make go away. That is the opposite of self-love.
Self-love is inner work. It’s an inner experience of acceptance, of appreciation.
From a place of allowance and acceptance, you have so much more stability and openness to a different level of learning and love than was possible before. With that power, you can start to integrate your shadowy parts of yourself, and turn them into gifts. You can turn the parts of yourself you want to deny into gifts that serve you.
It takes acceptance. It takes allowing yourself to be exactly as you are.
When you open yourself up to self-love from there you can give endless amounts of love and bring your Zone of Genius out into the world.
This article is related to my podcast episode on self-love – Listen here.