You might think loving yourself sounds a bit self-indulgent, but when you practise it fully it puts more responsibility for your life on you and so relieves the pressure on the people you love. Self-love is not narcissism or self-centredness; it is a kindness to yourself and also to those around you. It means you won’t go around looking for love in other people or things, or hoping that others will fill the emptiness you think you have inside. 

We can make the mistake of thinking that love only means romantic love, and that if we don’t have that great romance in our life right now, it must mean we’re unloved and unlovable. This is why self-love and self-care in love, are a big deal; they’re the type of love you can always be sure will be there for you, no matter what.

Putting care and love into yourself will allow you to be more open to receiving love from others, and you will find you have more to give. It’s like a circle, and it starts with you. 

Some lucky people learnt to love themselves in childhood, but the rest of us have to learn it along the way, at different stages of our life. 

How to make friends with your thoughts

You may have tried all kinds of ways to escape this feeling of not being good enough. People look for a magic wand to make the pain or empty feeling go away. Maybe you go shopping to feel better, or drink a lot, or have sex with people you don’t like much (because you want them to like you). Or perhaps you go to a tarot card reader in the hope of hearing that things will change because of fate or destiny, rather than your own actions.

Some people keep going to different therapists, buying self-help books, going on retreats, visiting gurus and healers, going on diets or fasts, or searching for a new way to feel okay about themselves. We understand this – we did this too! And none of this is wrong in itself, but it’s hard to hear the voice inside if you’re always looking for answers outside. 

You will never be rid of the stuff you don’t like, but what if you learn that your flaws are beautiful and you can be friends with them?

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with wanting to change some behavioural patterns that don’t work for you. Nor that you shouldn’t learn new ways to be and to grow. What we’re saying is, there’s a difference between practising self-care because you think you’re a shitty person who needs fixing, and practising self-care because you are treating yourself in the same way you would treat someone you love.

Think about why you’re doing yoga or meditating or exercising, or changing your diet. Be honest.  Are you trying to fix something? Or you can learn to see that you’re perfect as you are, with all your flaws and your beauty? Don’t practise self-care to fix yourself, do it out of great love and respect for the person you are and the body you live in. 

  • Self-Care for the Real World

  • _________________

    'Unusually practical, non-patronising and authentic. Think Marie Kondo for the mind' Sunday Times

    Wellness pioneers Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips have spent decades helping others to feel their best. But it took them a bit longer to learn to care for themselves. Here they share the small, achievable steps they picked up on a lifetime’s journey towards self-care, and how you can apply them to your life, wherever you are.

    Right now, you may be deep in the waves of life, being tossed around. Learning self-care is like building your own life boat, plank by plank. Once you’ve got your boat, you’ll still be rocked by the same waves, but you’ll have a feeling of safety, and a stability that means you can pick other people up on your way.

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