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  • Self Love | The Secret to a Happier, Healthy, Balanced Life

February 21, 2022


 As you know, we are passionate about self-care here at Miller and Keane and it is impossible to talk about self-care, without talking about the importance of self-love.  

  

Not just the bubble bath, candles and inspiring quote type of self-love that is so widely promoted, but the elements of self-love that are often less talked about.    

From healthier boundaries and saying 'no' to managing your time in the way that serves you and your needs.  So many of us have been brought up to believe that we need to take care of everyone else first and foremost.  It is the right thing to do and our own needs can come once everything (and everyone) else is sorted.  In fact, this is often seen as a virtue and admired as being the ''kind', 'right' and 'self-less' thing to do.

However, the issue is that there is so much to do, there is never enough time or energy left over ... for our own needs.   Running on low / empty,  ignoring our needs and putting ourselves last on our list inevitably leads to burnout, ill health and often a lot of resentment. 

"The best kind of love, is self love. Only when we love ourselves, can we truly love another."

 

 

Self-love is Not:

Let us start by removing the harmful beliefs around self-love and clarify what it is not!

Selfish or Narcissistic This is such a harmful message and one that many of us grew up with.  After all, how you expect to love anyone else, if you don't first of all love yourself?

Easy.  It requires commitment to do uncomfortable things in order to make positive changes that will serve our best self in the long run. 

Another task on your 'to do' list.  Rather than being 'something else you need to do', it is really something that you realise will benefit you.  It doesn't happen over night, but is a process of gradual changes and awareness of  new ways of being, that benefit your overall wellbeing and lead to a happier way of living. 

What self-love is. 

Self-love is a journey we take to honour ourselves by becoming aware of our needs and then prioritising them so that we are nurtured and feel loved and valued.

From our body, our mind, our spirit, and our emotions, we become aware of the different needs we have in each area to live a happy, balanced and joyful, healthy life.  

Make no mistake - t's not always easy, in fact, it can be bloody hard to practice in reality.  It can involve the following aspects;

  • Setting firmer boundaries,
  • Releasing toxic relationships,
  • Saying 'no' when needed
  • Reducing alchohol/caffeine/ tv binges
  • Coming off social media
  • Reconnecting with loved ones
  • Releasing relationships you have outgrown
  • Reducing time with toxic people
  • Tuning in to your energy & listening to your body
  • Taking up a hobby you've wanted to do
  • Enjoying creative / fun time in your week
  • Exercising your body and your mind
  • Cancelling plans when we feel too tired/ overwhelmed
  • Being kind to yourself
  • Challenging your inner critic
  • Saying 'yes' to healthier (less appealing) choices
  • Ending the 'people-pleasing' habit 
  • Practicing mindfulness, meditation or another form of slowing down to tune in and connect with yourself. 

Many of our daily habits such as saying 'yes', people-pleasing, binge watching Netflix, ignoring when our boundaries have been crossed ...  often take us in the opposite direction of self-love.  They can lead us to being over-stretched, exhausted, resentful, stressed and certainly not treating ourselves in a loving way. 

Before we can begin to fill someone else’s cup,

it makes perfect sense that we first need to ensure our own is full. 

    How do you know if you need to practice better self-love?

    The truth is, most of us do!  

    As women in particular, we have been programmed to please, to comply and to say 'yes' to everything and everyone.  Putting everyone else first, all the time, is the opposite of self-love.

    Below is a useful list to help you determine if you need to practice better self-love.  These are signs that you need to focus more on self-love and less on pleasing others. 

    Do you ever find that; 

    • You often struggle to say ‘No’
    • Your 'to do' list seems to never end
    • You feel often feel overwhelmed or exhausted
    • You lack confidence & want to please others
    • Your boundaries are poor & people can take advantage
    • You often feel you are not good enough
    • You doubt yourself and your choices
    • You generally put yourself last
    • You feel there must be 'more' or a 'better way'
    • Your inner self-talk can be quite critical and harsh 
    • You haven't made time for hobbies or fun in ages
    • You feel guilty if you spend money on yourself
    • You find it easier to look after/ buy things for others

    If you answer 'yes' to a lot of these, then you are unlikely to be prioritising yourself or your needs and you could benefit from practicing better self-love.

    Should V's Could

    One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself on your self-love journey is the remove the word 'should' from your vocabulary!  It implies the need to do something differently or to do 'more' and really does not serve our wellbeing in any way.  It is one of the main reasons we over-commit to begin with. 

    Using 'could' instead reminds you that you have a choice and you control the outcome.  Your diary does not fill itself up, you do! The choice of what you agree to is always yours. 

    Start your self-love journey today.

    The first step is becoming aware of your needs, only then can you take the steps needed to honour and meet them.

    Our needs vary from one person to another and are dependent upon a number of factors from your personality to your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes. 

    Next Steps

    Learning to love yourself takes patience and effort initially, but the benefits you will feel and experience will be worth any time and effort.

    1.  Journal & discover your inner desires

    Write out how you are feeling right now and what you would love to remove from your life. What would you like to add into you life?

    2. Become aware of your inner voice

    How is your inner dialogue? Is it harsh and critical or are you loving, kind and compassionate to yourself? If you need any help here, check out Louise Hay and her affirmations tutorials on YouTube

    3. Do less

    We all over-commit and it leads to huge levels of unnecessary stress in our lives as we try to reschedule or cancel.  Allow more space in your diary for unexpected tasks or just to pause and regroup.  Start to commit to less and enjoy this new sense of breathing space it allows you.

    4. Rediscover what brings you joy

    As children we spent hours playing, daydreaming, doodling, crafting.  As adults we often forget the sheer joy these simple pleasures brought.  Rediscover this joy by allowing yourself permission to tap into that creative spirit inside of you once again.  What would you love to do if you had the time?  Now, schedule time in your diary and book/ order whatever is needed to enjoy this pleasure. 

    5. Release the need to 'people-please'

    We all do it! Even Oprah admitted she was 45 or 46 before she finally let go of the 'disease to please'.  As a recovering 'people-pleaser' I can be honest and tell you it won't be easy.  A lot of the discomfort comes from ourselves as we have operated in this way for so long that changing this habit involves pushing through discomfort. 

    But it does get easier and it is certainly worth it! 

    6. Say 'no' more.  

    You'll be amazed but the world won't stop spinning and you will enjoy huge benefits from this simple phrase.  You can start with 'I can't do that, but maybe next time' or however you wish to phrase it, but ultimately the aim is to say 'no' to things that you just really don't want to do.  Whether favours, chores, errands or extra work .... just be honest.  

    Take it little by little and each day, set aside that half-hour to look at your needs and start to plan ahead and put things in your diary that bring you joy or benefit your health and wellbeing. 

     

     

    Cover image by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

     





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