Make no mistake: radical self love is vitally important. It has a very real effect on your life, and the lives of everyone around you. In today’s world, for example, being unable to see your worth can result in voting for a hateful misogynist. You do not exist in a bubble. If you don’t believe that you deserve basic human rights, you will pass that poisonous ideology onto the rest of us.
I have been saying for the longest time that LOVING YOURSELF IS A REVOLUTIONARY ACT. Now that’s even more obvious, and even more pressing.
Radical self love is not — and has never been — about taking a bubble bath.
So, where do we begin? Yes, learning to loving yourself and starting to treat yourself with respect are big jobs. Here are ten principles that can guide you when you feel lost.
TREAT YOURSELF LIKE YOUR OWN LOVER
Cast your mind back to those heady days when you’re first falling in love. You’re fascinated by the other person, endlessly curious about what makes them tick, and making the effort to present as your best self. You get dressed up, you go on adventures together, and in doing so, you see the world through fresh eyes.
It’s a beautiful thing: assuming the best about someone else, appreciating them for their little quirks, and being so happy to spend time in their company.
So what if we could treat ourselves this way too? What if we could be excited about our idiosyncrasies, instead of berating ourselves? What if we could be curious about what makes us tick, rather than being disappointed that we don’t have all the answers yet? What if we made the effort to dress up and take ourselves out on radical self love dates? What if we really showed up for life?
Imagine how different things would be.
RISKS CREATE MAGIC
I believe that we get out of life what we put into it. When we make the effort to create magic in our own lives, to love other people the way they want to be loved, and to do what is difficult, we will always be rewarded.
I’ve discovered that when I take risks and go outside of my comfort zone the most AMAZING things happen. But that doesn’t occur when I stay safe and small. The juiciness is always on the other side of something scary.
Avoid people who are professionally negative, professionally nervous, professionally insecure. It’s hard not to pick up their attitudes.
In order to create the world we want to live in, WE HAVE TO TAKE ACTION. We don’t have the luxury of staying in our beds and pretending things are going in another direction. We have all been complacent for too long. Now it is time for us to get off our asses, and experience the terrifying thrill of REALLY DOING SOMETHING.
You are SO magical. You are so bold. You have so much power inside you. Don’t waste your time with anyone who can’t see that.
NOT EVERY DAY CAN BE THE BEST DAY
Our energy is always oscillating. Some days we feel like a fountain of rainbow sprinkles shooting into a cotton-candy sky, and other days, even peeping our head out above the blankets can feel like a struggle.
Let’s stop expecting that we will be able to “crush it!” every single day. It’s not realistic and it sets us up for failure and disappointment. When you’re riding shotgun with the muse, by all means, get your life, honey! But it’s okay to have days that feel a little underwhelming, too.
Our best recourse in these moments is to have massive amounts of patience and self-compassion. When you feel low ebb, take it as a sign that you need to fill up your emotional tank. Devote more time to doing something that makes you happy.
Even though every day cannot be the best day, we do have the power to dictate what we do with the circumstances life throws at us. So make choices that strengthen you, and take care of yourself no matter what.
STOP SEARCHING FOR YOUR “PURPOSE”
There is no such thing. Our purpose is whatever we say it is. The meaning of life is whatever we bring to it. It’s that simple.
So many people are waiting to find out their purpose. That is just fear, dressed as perfectionism, manifesting as procrastination. None of us have one true reason for being on the planet.
Whatever brings you joy, whatever perpetuates that spark inside you, whatever gets you out of bed in the morning? That’s the meaning of your life. It’s up to you to find that, and then pursue it with all your energy!
And if you don’t know what to do with your life, or which direction to go in, the answer is actually very simple. Pick one thing, and give it everything you’ve got. Reassess three months later. You’ll know whether to keep on the same track, or whether to try something new.
ALLOW YOUR JUDGEMENT MUSCLE TO ATROPHY
We use judgement of other people as a way of deflecting how bad we feel about ourselves. In that moment where we’re talking about how someone else is dressed or how they did this or that, we find temporary relief from our own inner torment.
It works for a short time, but it’s a temporary buzz. And the problem with exercising that judgment muscle is that it only gets stronger. Which means that it’s even more vicious and accurate when it — inevitably — turns and works its nasty magic on you.
We are all in this together, really and truly. The idea that it is “us” versus “them” is toxic, dangerous, and perpetuates so much hatred.
Stop talking shit about other people. Refuse to buy tabloids or look at gossip websites. And watch your life expand.
REFRAME YOUR VIEW OF FITNESS
A lot of us see fitness as some form of ancient torture, or — more accurately — punishment for not looking the way we want to. But really, working out is one of the best ways you can show your body how much you love it.
Exercise is also one of the most fast-acting examples of the immense power of our thoughts.
When you’re halfway through a set of ten push-ups, you might get to number seven and feel exhausted. In this moment you have two choices. You can think to yourself, ‘Oh God, this hurts too much. I can’t do this.’ And if you think that, you’ll probably quit. But if you instead tell yourself, ‘This hurts but I can do three more! This is easy. I am so much stronger than I think’, you will be able to finish the set.
Getting to our fullest potential depends entirely on the thoughts we think. We can select thoughts that weaken us and make us doubt our capabilities, or we can pick thoughts that literally strengthen us.
Once you experience this phenomenon, the power of the mind cannot be doubted. And you have yet another tool in your arsenal that can deploy at will.
CELEBRATE EVERY SINGLE DAY
You never know how long you have. This could be your last hour on the planet. So stop delaying pleasure and waiting for “special occasions” to live the life that you could be living every single day.
Wear your favourite dress. Use that fabulous bedding (and stop worrying about whether it might get a stain on it). Spray yourself with incredible perfume. Pull a tarot card every morning if it pleases you. Make time to see your friends.
We have the luxury of designing our lives in a way that suits us, so why not live a life that brings you joy? Don’t squander this one, delicious opportunity to be potently, vivaciously alive.
ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL
“How do I want to feel?” is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. Because when you know how you want to feel — say, for example, you want to feel FREE — that provides clues as to what you should be doing with your time, energy, attention, and money.
It also shows you where your life isn’t in alignment.
For example, if you want to feel free, but you also want to take on a huge debt, or tether yourself to a physical location, that’s going to create conflict in your life.
If you want to feel joyful, but you’re married to a cynic, that’s not going to go well either!
The plan? Structure your life so that your goals are in sync with the way you want to feel. The result? Pure bliss.
RECOGNISE THAT CHANGE IS PAINFUL AND UGLY
When I look around, I see a lot of people who are trying to transcend their pain. They’re desperately trying to meditate/yoga/green juice/gratitude it all away.
Now, all of those tools are great, but their purpose is not to eradicate pain completely. Pain is here no matter what we do. And in fact, pain helps us. Pain is a teacher. it’s here to show us what we need to know and how we need to change.
Spiritual bypasses never work.
We also have to recognise that change is seldom a pretty process. We all want to be living as the highest expression of ourselves, but getting there is never easy. It usually contains painful realisations, confusion, flailing, and tears. It is a continual striving towards a new and unfamiliar way of being.
If you’re signed on as a radical self love revolutionary, and if you’re committed to living your life like it’s golden (as Jill Scott would say), then you have to be prepared for the messiness.
The pain you’re feeling is an essential part of growth. If you try to avoid it, you won’t grow. You don’t get to dance around it. You have to go through it. It is the only way to transform.
Learning to practice gratitude on a regular basis has been one of the most revolutionary practices of my life. When I make an effort to focus on what is going well, my whole perspective on the world flips.
Gratitude is not about Pollyanna-ing your life away. It is not about burying your head in the sand or ignoring the very real problems that exist in our world. It is about recognising that there is always sweet with the sour.
2016 was an incredibly hard year for so many of us, capped off with an election that seemed to validate hatred, prejudice, and ignorance. Racism, police brutality, and blatant disrespect for women is rampant, and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. It’s heartbreaking, it’s disappointing, and it makes us want to take a big nap. But if that’s all we focus on, we’re going to get dragged down with it.
Gratitude is essential because it helps us realise that, no matter what it may look like on the outside, the world is FULL of incredible things, amazing people, beautiful ideas. And when we’re reminded of that, it gives us the power to keep going. It gives us the strength to keep fighting for what we believe is right. It gives us the courage to continue creating the world we want to live in.
Every morning, make a list of things you’re thankful for in your head, or in your phone, or with your lover, or in text messages with your friends. Be specific. Force yourself to dig deep and think about things that really light up your heart and elevate your spirit. Close your eyes and visualise each one as you contemplate it. It will completely transform your mood, and the way you interact with your environment.
I promise you, this universe is a beautiful place.
There is so much to be grateful for.
And your place amongst it is just as beautiful.