This is a complicated one. But how can we have the conversation of self-care if we don’t explore the idea of what self-love is? How can we be motivated from a true inner place to take care of ourselves, give ourselves the time and tenderness that we need, make our health and wellness a priority if we aren’t experiencing self-love?
Let’s start with exploring our inner thoughts. How many times a day do you have a positive thought about yourself? If you do have the positive thought, what is your reaction? Same goes with negative, judgmental and critical thoughts. How many times a day do you have those? What is your physical and emotional reaction to those? Start taking notice of the thoughts that you have and see what place they are coming from – encouraging or disparaging – and then feel the reaction that you have. Are you in agreement with the thought? Does it make your body change, your mood? Take inventory for an entire day or week by just noticing as an objective observer, without judgment or assessment. Just notice and increase your awareness of what is going on.
There is a common belief that our thoughts create our words, which create our actions. I have witnessed this in my own life. A funny example is when I used to be a ski instructor in Lake Tahoe. I was a pretty good skier but nothing compared to the people I skied with and it was intimidating. What I realized is that if I had thoughts of fear or insecurity while I was skiing it produced poor results. The moment I started thinking of myself as a capable and good skier (actually I would tell myself that I was like a rock star! Haha!), my abilities were increased exponentially. The skill was always there but the encouragement of positive thoughts instantly manifested in my not holding back, which is imperative in skiing challenging runs. You have to lean forward, into the hill, down the hill. This can be scary when you are on an incredible steep slope with cliffs and rocks around you. But it is the only way to successfully stay on your ski’s edge. You have to be confident and move forward.
This personal story can be extrapolated to any life event. You need the courage and faith to stay in the challenges. When you are supporting yourself with encouraging thoughts everything becomes easier. This is the experiential exercise I am putting forth this week. Notice your thoughts and see where they bring you. Start the process of self-love by being gentle with yourself in the thoughts you have throughout the day. You are not responsible for your first thought – this can be a reflexive human reaction to many circumstances, but you are responsible for your second thought, which is a conscious choice.
Let me know how it goes! The conversation of self-love will continue with our series on self care. Stay tuned!
Dr. Dorine Karlin