Q: Hi, I am new to the idea of self-love & self-care. My self-confidence is at rock bottom, and my anxiety is overwhelming. How do I start on the self-love and self-care journey?
A: How to start the self-love and self-care journey is a question I hear very often. I asked it too when I started! It seems to me that most of us can’t just switch from disliking ourselves to loving ourselves. Therefore I suggest you begin by noticing when you are not loving and caring towards yourself. Pay attention and notice when you are tight, harsh, judgemental, strict, pushy, bossy, controlling and unforgiving towards yourself.
We all have a critical and judgemental voice inside of us. It is essential that we become fully aware of it. Get to know and understand what it is you are dealing with, so you can start the process of gently detaching yourself from this voice.
What is your inner critic saying to you? What are the specific judgements? How does it talk to you? What tone of voice does it use? What kind of vocabulary does it operate on? In which situations does it pipe up? Is it louder in some cases than in others? Is it constant? And how do you react to this inner critic? Are you fighting and resisting it? Or are you subservient to it – believing what it says? Or are you ignoring and denying its existence?
Self-Love Starts with Embracing Your Inner Critic
I started by observing and getting to know this part of me really well. Noticing, listening and observing, doesn’t mean believing what it says!
Becoming aware of your inner critic can feel uncomfortable and at first, even scary. Sometimes it can feel as if paying more attention to it makes it more powerful. But in fact, you are just in the process of becoming aware of its full extent.
Once you know your inner critic well, you can start to question its validity. Are those judgements really true? Is the inner critic really in charge of your feelings and actions?
Self-inquiry can be an effective method to overcome our dependency on this ‘authority’. Questioning the inner critic will support you to connect to a more profound truth, your truth!
Moving towards Self-Love
It may sound contradictory, but my encouragement is to love your inner critic. It is a part of you, living inside of you. If we fight it, if we go against it, we are perpetuating our internal conflict. Acknowledge your inner critic, thank it for its opinion and then make your own choice. Live the way you want, moment to moment.
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