If someone were to ask me, “What is self-love?” I would reply, “A growing ability to be true and compassionate to yourself. For it is only when you are filled with the love of who you are that you can share this gift with the world.”

To be true to ourselves is a lifetime journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. It is building on our unique gifts and interests, while accepting without shame our weaker aspects.

When two people enter into marriage, they often share the familiar vow, “I take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to live and cherish: from this day forward.” This vow takes into account that life is… well, life. It is a journey of varied experience. Self-love is the ability to provide this same promise to not abandon ourselves when times are difficult.

Self-love involves a daily cultivation of a truly satisfying, fulfilling, and rewarding relationship with yourself. The result of self-love is not a perfect life, unending happiness, or the creation of the perfect human persona that everyone accepts, admires, and validates. Instead, self-love is the ability to summon a compassionate feeling into yourself no matter what you experience in life.

Connection with Self
How do we do tap into inner compassion and love during those times that are worse, poorer, and sicker? In part, loving yourself includes tending to fundamental needs such as physical movement, eating, sleep, and self-care. It is self-loving to get a massage, light some candles, or take a bubble bath. However, self-love is something much grander.

When our actions are motivated by fear, by what we “should” be doing, or our intent is to control, our wounded self is in charge. This type of behavior is not so much self-love as it is survival. Self-love is the ability to stop, take a deep conscious breath, and move beyond a habitual reaction. Breathing brings us back into center where we can connect with who we are beyond our wounds and automatic responses.

Self-love is the ability to pay attention to intuition, follow the voice of our heart, and honestly give expression to our true feelings. Self-love is a minute-by-minute awareness of our inner wisdom combined with self-permission to respond accordingly. It is about saying “no” to those actions, behaviors, and routines that feel unsatisfying on the inside, and saying “yes” to what is gratifying and fulfilling.

In essence, self-love includes intentionally focusing energy on actions and behaviors that warm the heart, please the senses, and allow life to flow through your physical self. Self-love brings you back into your body, and back into feeling and breathing and sensing. It is offering yourself compassion for the experience you are having while also being aware of the actions that would best offer nurture and support your mind, body, emotions, and spirit.

What is the Most Self-Loving Action in this Moment?
Self-love increases when we stop, take a moment to consciously breathe, and feel our way through these questions:

Am I treating myself fairly?
Am I treating myself with respect?
Am I treating myself with kindness?
Am I paying attention to what I need and want?
What are my needs during this situation or circumstance?
Can I allow myself to feel into a positive outcome to this experience?
Do I speak to myself with compassion?

The journey of self-love is ever unfolding and ever expanding. As you listen to your spirit, also known as your heart, intuition, knowingness, true feelings, or gut sense, you offer yourself respect. As you take action to express your inner self… that’s self-love in motion. And further down the road, as you evolve into the person that does not need to be understood by everyone…that is the embodiment of self-love.

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