I was recently teaching a workshop on the interaction of mindfulness, compassion and self-nurturing. This is a topic I love exploring, and what I have found to be true is what we feed our minds is directly linked to how we take care of ourselves. We can feed our minds with sweet and loving phrases or sour and critical thoughts. How we relate to our minds is directly linked to how we comfort ourselves—sometimes with food.
This is an exercise I invite my students and clients to practice. Identify five non-self-nurturing thoughts and five self-nurturing or loving thoughts. Here are some examples:
- I have no one in my life who truly loves me.
- I will never lose the weight, so why try.
- I am not smart.
- My belly is too big and it will never change.
- Nothing in my life ever goes right.
In a previous post, I spoke about how we have an average of 82,000 thoughts a day. That is a lot of thoughts, so how can those all be true? They can’t be. Are any of the thoughts above really true? NO. We are not our thoughts, and we can start talking back to the negative thoughts. Simply start by pulling out the negative weeds, and plant seeds of love and nurturance. It is spring after all.
- I am loved.
- I love and accept myself as I am right now.
- I am smart and have multiple intelligences.
- My belly holds my power and intuitive center and I am grateful for it.
- My life has ups and downs just like everyone, and I have enough right now.
When you read through the non-self-nurturing thoughts, how do you feel? Sad, angry, hopeless? Does that make you want to reach out for some comfort, like a big bowl of chocolate ice cream? That is a pretty normal reaction. We all want comfort when we are blasted with critical words.
How do you feel when you read through the self-nurturing thoughts? Empowered, happy, confident? YES!
The more we feed ourselves with loving and nurturing thoughts, the more we will believe them. Our thoughts affect our feelings, and thus impact our behaviors, so be mindful of inserting loving thoughts and you will, in turn, have loving behaviors.
For the next month, I am going to invite you to take a self-love challenge. Here are some tips below to get your started. Just pick one of these practices to try on once a day for the next four weeks. If you like what you are feeling, then keep going and make it a habit.
Be Your Own Best Friend
What does this look like? Love hanging out with yourself. I like to call these my loving-kindness days. I pick a day or even a night (if you can’t give yourself a whole day) and I just slow down. I don’t schedule anything and I just let myself see what I want to do. Sometimes I read a book, do home yoga practice, and maybe for dinner all I eat is yogurt and fruit. After a day like this, I always feel like my love bucket is full.
See Your Magnificence and Beauty
Embrace the amazing and unique person you are every day. Shine your light and show who you are. You can only be who you are; everyone else is already taken.
Love All of Yourself
This means saying phrases such as, “I love and accept myself as I am.” You are loving and accepting of your strengths and weaknesses, your pretty parts and not-so-attractive parts. Accept yourself as you are. Forgive yourself for actions that you took when you didn’t know any better. Compassion is the greatest motivator for real change.
Make Decisions Guided By Self-Love
Mantra: “I am taking really good care of myself.” If this is the thought that you feed throughout the day, then how do your actions support this? If I were taking really good care of myself, then I might still choose to eat French fries after a harder day at work, but I’d only eat a small portion and I’d also take a walk.
Surround Yourself with Loving People
When you start to show yourself more love, you may decide that you want and deserve more love from those around you, too.
A few years ago, I had this experience where I needed to shift out some friends from my inner circle to make room for new ones. I had some friends who were only capable of being there for the “good times,” but as we know, life is always changing and has many ups and downs. I wanted friends who could be loving, supportive and dependable, and wanted that from me, too. You may need to weed out some people in your life or put them in the outer circle so you can surround yourself with the most loving people.
I practice many of these principles already, but I am going to boost my self-love practices even more and join you all in this month.
As a way to be my own best friend, I did this small practice and it felt great. I came home the other night and picked a red rose from my garden. Normally, I would put this rose in a small dish of water near my desk to look at, but instead I took each petal off the rose bud and threw them on my bed, like a lover might do. I slept in my bed covered in rose petals and it was totally delicious!
Love yourself and your relationship with your body, and let that guide how you care for yourself. If you do this, the relationships you attract will change. I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes!
Want to learn more mindful practices? Sign up for Carley’s FREE Mindful Training workbook.