Image by Ivana Cunja.
Love yourself more,” we’re told. But what does that mean? What, exactly, does that look like? Does it mean spending the day in bed, or going out & getting some exercise? Does it mean eating a bowl of chocolate ice-cream, or eating a salad instead?
Well, it can be all of these things. The root of radical self love is in listening to your intuition, & learning to hear what your body is telling you it needs. Sometimes, though, that can be tricky… So I’ve compiled 10 easy (REALLY easy!) things that you can do right now!
Pick a couple of them to do today, & do another two or three over the coming week. I think — actually, I know! — that you will be staggered by how effective they are!
1. Spend some time alone this coming week. I implore you to do this, even if you have to cancel a social outing in order to make it happen. Learning to get comfortable with who we are is one of the must crucial parts of radical self love!
Close your laptop, take off your headphones, & turn off your phone. Just hang out with yourself. Go for a walk. Meditate. Go out & get more familiar with your city! Go & do something you really want to do: maybe go to an art show, or see a movie no one else wants to see! Eat lunch at the raw vegan place all your friends think is weird. Go to a festival & smile at strangers.
At first, spending this time by yourself can feel uncomfortable & awkward. You might think that people are looking at you, judging you, & saying to one another, “Look at that loser all by herself!” The opposite is true. Most people who see you are actually wishing they had the guts — & the personal freedom! — to do exactly what you’re doing!
The feeling of discomfort will go away. Even better, as you do this more often, you will realise how essential this time is for building up your own sense of self, & you will grow to love & relish it!
2. Pay yourself an amazing compliment, & make it meaningful. It’s okay if it takes you a little time to come up with the perfect thing. Maybe you could choose to compliment yourself about something you’re having trouble with recently…
When you come up with your compliment, take a deep breath. Say it out loud, while you look at yourself in the mirror. Write it down in your radical self love bible, too!
Doesn’t that feel amazing? You can say it to yourself over & over, all day if you want to. Say it until it feels real & true. Keep saying it. Keep writing it down. Read it & re-read it. Then, once you’re high off your own love (!!!), call your crush & compliment them, too. Write your best friend a postcard with a list of her top 10 best attributes. Send out 5 loving notes on Facebook, leave a sweet comment on someone’s website, & call a distant family member to let them know you appreciate them.
Doing this is like a jolt to the heart. It jumpstarts a cycle of love which only stops when you say so!
3. Read some poetry. I went to the secondhand bookshop yesterday on my way home, & picked up a stack of wonderful old books for about $3 each. Such a bargain!
I stocked up on some of my old favourites like Hunter S. Thompson, ee cummings & Charles Bukowski, as well as a book of poetry by Kenneth Rexroth. Books in tow, I went to see my fiance in the garage where he was fiddling with his motorcycle, & I stood there, just reading, utterly unaware of anything else. There could have been a circus passing through & I wouldn’t have even noticed!
Poetry can transform your world. It encourages you to see life differently. It makes things more sweet & beautiful, real & crisp all at the same time. Spending some time with a poetry book is so good for you, & poetry doesn’t have to be complicated.
I love this Japanese love tanka… (Try writing your own!)
No different, really —
a summer firefly’s
and this body,
transformed by love.
— Izumi Shikibu
Imagine how much more divine life would be if you read something like that every day. Hint: There’s no reason why you can’t!
4. Shift your focus. What is more important? Being beautiful on the outside, or the kind of person you are becoming on the inside? As fun as it is to play with cosmetics, it’s a fact that even the most gorgeous people age, & looks fade.
Isn’t it funny how you meet older people & someone will say, “Such-&-such was so good-looking back in the day!” I hate to break it to you, but one day, someone will say this about you! At that point, what really matters is the kind of person you are. Are you good & loving & kind? Do you try to help people whenever you can? Are you generous with your time? Do you strive to make other people happy? It’s never too late to begin doing all of these things, & it will bring you true happiness.
5. Write a love letter to yourself on your mirror… In lipstick, if you dare! It can be as simple (“I love you!”) or as complex (“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach…”) as you please.
Maybe you could add a little something to it every day. Maybe you could read it aloud to yourself every morning. Whatever it is, write something true — something that resonates. Make it truly yours.
Write yourself the love letter you always wanted to receive.
6. Evaluate what you’re feeding yourself… & I’m not talking about food! I regard all the media we consume as like food for the soul. What you really have to ask yourself is whether the television shows, movies, music & art you indulge in are enhancing your life or detracting from it.
I love trashy reality television as much as the next person — hell, I could name every America’s Next Top Model contestant in history! — but I know that watching it is detrimental to my life & to my existence. It’s all just drama & nonsense & it perpetuates so much negativity about body image. Maybe this sounds a bit far-fetched, but if we’re the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with, surely the TV we watch & the music we listen can be just as influential!
By the way, my definition of what you’re feeding yourself includes the people you associate with online! Are there a few people on Facebook who simply update so they have an outlet for whinging & complaining? What about that dude on Twitter who hates his job (& wants everyone to know about it)? Do you read blogs by women who talk incessant shit about other people? It’s time to cut these people out of your life. You won’t miss them, I promise!
7. Move your body! Get out of the house today & stretch your limbs! Go to a yoga or pilates class, or if you’re low on disposable cash, take your yoga mat to a local park & have a big, lovely stretch underneath the trees! Call a couple of friends & invite them to join you.
Even getting the teeniest little bit of exercise will make you feel so good… & then you can collapse onto your mat & relax!
P.S. If you’re new to yoga, check out this flowchart to see what type of yoga is best for you! I love it!
8. Stand up for what you believe in, & don’t apologise for your passions or interests! Even as adults, we’re subjected to a certain amount of peer pressure. It may not be of the “Smoking is cool!” ilk, but when you look around you, it can seem like everyone shops at IKEA, everyone wants to get married, everyone loves U2, & so on.
A fairly sizeable portion of radical self love is in having your own interests & not feeling the need to apologise for or defend them when questioned. So what if I’m fascinated by serial killers? So what if I still love Marilyn Manson? So what if I don’t want to learn to cook… EVER?! It genuinely doesn’t matter! So next time someone wants to rag on you for this or that, take a deep breath & realise that it don’t mean a thing… Just tell them to hit the road, Jack!
9. Go to bed early! I know, I know. As soon as I even wrote that down, childlike Gala came out. ‘But I don’t wanna!’, I immediately thought. Thankfully, I am an adult & I can tell childlike me to pipe down!
When we’re children, we’re always told to go to bed early, & when we do, we feel like we’re missing out. Our parents get to stay up late, watch television, swing from the chandeliers, & the multitude of other fun things our 6 year old minds can imagine! I think this reluctance to go to bed early carries over to adulthood, too — nobody wants to feel like they’re “missing out” on having a good time!
But having said aaaaaaaall this… We need our sleep in order to function. If you’ve been going to bed late & waking up early, it’s time to treat yourself.
There is something delicious & restorative about going to bed early, & making an event out of it. Change your sheets. Light a candle in your bedroom, or spritz some lavender essential oil about the place. Turn off your phone & close your laptop, & take a bubble bath at 8pm. Then crawl into bed, slip on an eye-mask, & have amazing dreams. You will feel SO GOOD in the morning!
Here are some really good tips for getting a great night’s rest.
10. Do something good for somebody else. The more I learn about radical self love, the more I realise that radical self love which is only focussed on the self is not the whole picture. No, not at all.
Radical self love is about getting yourself to a loving, beautiful baseline, & then taking what you’ve learned & transferring it to the external world. It’s about helping other people, leading by example, & contributing your time or skills to anyone who needs them.
So think about how you could help someone else today. Then, go & do it!
Have an absolutely incredible week… You are gorgeous, inside & out!