Regardless of the time of year, most people today who live in modern societies, live with an underlying current of anxiety and feel overwhelmed by hectic routines, lack of time, and too much to do. However, there is perhaps no time more reflective of this than the fall season, with the coming of major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. These times have most people scrambling through chaotic work and home schedules, trying to get everything done that we think should be done.
It is these times, as well, that tend to bring out the worst in our food and lifestyle habits, and it shows. Many people experience increased fatigue, headaches, physical burnout, depression, gastrointestinal issues, weight gain, and bouts of various infections like the cold or flu around this time. The good news is that you can choose to stop this vicious cycle and turn things around for yourself. In this article, we will explore how and why we get to these destructive states, and how the right amount of self-love can provide the healing remedy and solution to better health and wellbeing at this and any time of year.
You Have As Much Choice As You Believe You Do
The first thing that chips away at our health is the increased and unnatural level of stress that we put ourselves through. (Notice that I said “put ourselves through”.) Too many of us shackle ourselves to the destructive, mass-mentality of the numerous illusive “should’s” and “supposed to’s” that are associated with the holidays. Most of these, however, are based on cleverly crafted cultural memes, materialistic habits, and marketing tactics to get us to do more and, thus, buy more. To say we have no choice, but to comply, and follow along strips us completely of our own free will and freedom to express yourself as a sovereign being.
In running around trying to get everything done and make everything “perfect”, we also subject ourselves to some of the greatest relationship strains and stresses. With so many to-do’s, obligations, and expectations on everyone’s minds, increased relationship conflicts surface and this time sees many of us dreading the social get-togethers that we do all this work for.
Aside from the externally and internally-generated stress, we tend to pollute and abuse our bodies with more destructive foods and drinks around this time than at any other. It is as if this time of year gives us a free pass to eat and drink whatever we want and as much as we want, without consideration of the consequences that will follow.
But it does not have to be this way. You have a choice to change what you do, how much you do, and how you do things. However, to recognize this, you first have to allow yourself to consider that an alternate way of being, behaving, and doing things is possible. Then, you have to act on it, and be true to yourself and your personal wellbeing, rather than anxious about pleasing others.
Find the Missing Piece to Turn Things Around
It is truly unfortunate that this is how life has become for so many of us. The times in our life that should be the most pleasant and holistically nourishing and rejuvenating are all too often the most stressful times. Consider what the holidays should be about: a time to relax, enjoy pleasant time with friends and families, engaged in experiences that promote wellbeing, rather than destroy it. The way holidays are celebrated by the majority today, and really the way life is lived by the majority today, is a belittled expression of our potential. We can do better, and many of us are taking a stance to change the status quo that has begun to engulf our health and happiness.
To put an end to this destructive cycle that happens year after year, and for many day after day, we need some kind of an effective approach that gets to the root of the issue that underlays what I outlined above. There is a missing piece that is sabotaging our lives today and we need to get this back. This missing piece, however, is not found outside of you, but rather within.
Many of us know by now what constitutes healthy foods that create good health and what foods can deteriorate our health. Many of us are also aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol because it impairs our whole being on a physical, mental, and emotional level, no matter the amount of alcohol. And we are most likely well aware of the benefits of regular exercise and sufficient sleep. However, the best thing any of us can do for ourselves at any given time is not dependent on any of these. They will happen naturally and optimally if you find and grow that missing piece.
How we live each day, and celebrate at specific times of the year, is most affected by the amount of heart-centered self-love that we have for ourselves.
Self-love: I know that this is not the obvious answer that most people are expecting. However, the reason why most of us abuse ourselves and our bodies with harmful routines, lack of self-care, toxic foods, drinks, lifestyle habits and people is due to one main, foundational reason: We don’t love, respect or value ourselves enough to do otherwise.
Very few of us have established our own personal standards and priorities, and even fewer of us actually follow through to live based on them. This means that when we are placed in externally-suggested situations, such as how to celebrate holidays, or public settings with others, saying “no” or expressing what is actually right for us doesn’t come easy, if at all. Our entire society is based on the “follower”, rather than “leader” mentality. So many of us are so addicted to “fitting in” that we will do anything it takes, even if it hurts us or is irrational or illogical just to fit in. I know we may expect this from our teens perhaps, and even lecture them about the dangers of this, and yet as adults, most of us are very guilty of the very same thing: doing things based on the expectations of others, rather than based on our own needs and priorities.
Self-Love: How Did We Lose It?
From the time we can remember in our childhood, conditional love is modeled for us, and we quickly learn all about expectations, obligations, and guilt. We are not taught how to nurture or foster self-love. Instead, we are taught that life is hard, to get real and forget our childish dreams. To be a good girl or a good boy, we are taught that it is our job to do what others want, not what we want. We are taught that to get a job, a spouse, or anything else for that matter, we need to put our inner-most desires aside and focus on pleasing the other. To do otherwise would be selfish, yet ironically we cannot see that by doing what another wants, while forsaking our own wellbeing is based on the selfishness of the other party. The model of self-sacrifice has in fact infiltrated our society as the noble, kind, caring, and considerate thing to do. You don’t want to be seen as a bad person after all.
And so we learn to conform, neglecting the true essence of who we are, and our holistic needs. One by one, layer by layer, we peel away everything that is us, is important to us, or represents us and trade it in for socially-accepted norms. We do this even when those norms make no sense to us or are in fact harmful to us.
So let me ask you this question? How is that working out for you? For your relationships? For our communities, countries, and planet Earth?
If we start to look at this overall situation from a more conscious, broader and mindful perspective we begin to see that self-sacrifice to make others so called “happy” or “satisfied” has only generated a collective world energy of resentment, unfulfillment and disease. We continue to be misled into thinking that we are doing the right thing by putting our needs on hold, in order to make others happy. But the truth is that in the end and as we look around, no one is truly happy when living from such a foundation. We cling to fleeting moments of externally generated happiness and then fall into despair when they do not get replicated. We have to recognize that when it comes to the process of generating happiness and health, we have it slightly backwards.
Until we foster a healthy sense of self-love, we will continue to over-eat, over-drink, and neglect our health and weight. Until we learn to love ourselves again, we will continue to put our personal happiness on hold thinking that we are doing the right thing by trying to make another happy. At the same time, we will continue to look for our personal happiness in others and the external. The unshakable fact though is staring more and more of us in the face—the realization that true happiness only and always truly comes from within. It is one of the greatest illusions we have bought into that we are responsible for making another happy (or for that matter unhappy). While this could use a longer explanation, at the essence it is all within us. But until we choose to take accountability for this power, we will continue to look towards others to make us happy, and put our personal truths on hold in hopes of making others happy, where in the end, no one is truly happy.
The State of Your Health Depends on the Level of Your Self-Love
When we begin to look within, and foster and prioritize self-love, self-compassion and self-respect, it is as if overnight by some miraculous or magical wand our whole perspective changes. How we relate to ourselves, others, nature and the world is all shifted into a new dimension. What we consider health, or optimal health changes. What we consider food, fun, entertainment, etcetera changes. What we consider happiness and where it comes from changes. In broadening our perspective through self-love, we begin to benefit in the quality of our life in every single area.
Here are a few thought-provoking affirmations on self-love to help you gauge your current level of self-love. I invite you to read each statement and see if it holds true for you. If not, what can you do, and what are you willing to do to foster more self-love for yourself. The benefits of working towards more self-love will not only impact in a positive way your physical health, but your emotional, mental and spiritual health as well.
If I truly love myself, I will not be able to put toxic products like cigarettes or alcohol into myself.
If I truly love myself, I will not be able to overeat, or eat substances which I know are harming my body.
If I truly love myself, I will not go along with pleasing others for any reason, if it hurts me in the process.
If I truly love myself, I will not neglect my body’s needs for physical movement, fresh air and sunlight.
If I truly love myself, I will prioritize taking care of myself on a deep holistic level of the mind, body and spirit.
If I truly love myself, I will set personal standards as to what I am and am not willing to experience, participate in or ingest, regardless of who I am with, or where I am at.
If I truly love myself, I will make time for myself to nurture the different parts of my being like my creativity, hobbies and interests.
If I truly love myself, I will not engage in negative self-talk, berate myself or feel that I am in some way inadequate as a human being…friend, parent, child, spouse, coworker, etc.
If I truly love myself, I will lead my life from a state of higher consciousness and be more mindful of my thoughts, words and actions.
If I truly love myself, I will realize that in loving myself more, I give more love, care and compassion to all those around me. And that generates more happiness worldwide for all.
So How Do I Learn To Foster Self-Love?
This is the most common question people ask when they realize the lack of self-love in their life and its importance. I will be the first to admit, it is not an easy answer. As I mentioned before, we are primed to put ourselves down, put ourselves last, to try to please others and get enveloped in various people’s pain, issues, and expectations since we are children. Our whole society is based on telling us that we are just not perfect, but this or that product will make things better. And unfortunately women are affected by a lack of self-love much more than men it seems.
The steps you choose to take to foster more self-love will be very personal. You can choose to go on a deep personal healing journey through various books, course material, lectures or retreats. Others may reach out to a counsellor, coach, guru or like-minded community to offer a support system during their transition into a life based on personal compassion. It can be as easy as starting your day with positive, self-loving affirmations, or as intense as signing up for a lengthy retreat program at one of the thousands of different centers around the world.
In any case, we literally need to re-wire our brain if we want to live our life from a space of self-love, care and compassion. Our childhood, education and cultural conditioning of making us feel less than worthy of love runs deep within our subconscious. However, everything is possible to be turned around if we only have the will, desire or motivation to do so. Some of you reading this may think that it sounds too complicated, or like too much work, or that it will be too painful to uncover and heal old wounds to bring you back to a space of loving yourself. While all of that may be valid, I cannot imagine living any other way as the quality of your life and your choices is completely shifted to a level of joy, purpose, meaning, satisfaction and appreciation for life that is beyond the imagination of many.
Ultimately, we have to know too that being more loving to the self has nothing to do with being selfish. Anyone who grasps the purity and potential of self-love knows that it is impossible for selfishness and love to exist together. When we are selfish, this characteristic actually comes from a lack of self-love, from a space of fear, for we try to revolve the world around ourselves, not realizing that we have all the perfection, peace, joy and happiness we need within.
So no matter how we go about it, fostering self-love is an ongoing life journey, and very personal for each person. Going on this journey won’t always be easy, but it will always be rewarding. There is no sweeter gift than the realization that we are whole, perfect and all the joy we seek is within us.
After that, there is no more emotional eating, no more needing to have a drink to relax or have a good time, no more battling weight, no more filling our life with material pleasures, no more empty or toxic relationships, etc. It brings one great inner peace, and spills over to the entire world as we then approach each person, living species, situation or event from a foundation of love.