Divine Feminine: 9 Ways to Awaken the Holy Fire of Shakti

Contrary to popular belief, the Divine Feminine isn’t limited only to females.

The Divine Feminine is an energy that we all possess, no matter where we are on the gender spectrum (or lack thereof).

Therefore, this article is for everyone who is interested in creating more inner balance – and shining that out into the world.

As our planet is cast into the horrors of environmental destruction and demise, it is clear that there is an excess of masculine energy. 

As a force that is responsible for organizing, ruling, fighting, building, and dominating, masculine energy is certainly useful – but only up until a certain point.

It is now time for the rise of the Divine Feminine. But not just in females (although women certainly have an easier time accessing it), but in all beings.

For our society, for this very planet, to survive, we desperately need to cultivate feminine energies within us, before it’s too late. This inner invocation is a crucial part of our spiritual awakening journey.

What is Divine Feminine Energy?

The Divine Feminine is a form of energy that all beings possess. It is known by many names such as shakti, yin, and lunar energy, and is often connected symbolically with the moon, Gaia (Mother Earth), and water. Just like the Divine Masculine, it is ‘one half’ of the Spirit of Life.

Both the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine arise mutually, and in their most natural state, work together effortlessly and harmoniously. This original state of being can be observed as being represented in ancient symbols like the yin yang.

Why Masculine Energy is Destroying the Planet

When the Masculine and Feminine are out of balance, the natural result is chaos. So why is masculine energy destroying the planet? To answer this question, let’s briefly wind back time.

As an active force, the Divine Masculine is responsible for progress and evolution. Unlike feminine energy, it gets sh*t done in an efficient and orderly manner. As the nature of life is growth and change, we need that force, and we have needed it since the dawn of time.

But the shadow side of the Divine Masculine is its preoccupation with power. When masculine energy becomes corrupt, it results in the toxic patriarchal society we see today that is based on a foundational philosophy of “get, reject, use, and dominate.”

The consequence is a world full of racial, sexual, and religious intolerance; gender inequality; unrestrained materialism resulting in large-scale environmental decimation; raping and pillaging of the earth resulting in climate change that leads to huge natural disasters and social collapse … you name it. 

Why has Divine Masculine energy “entered the dark side”? There are numerous theories, but mine is that Divine Masculine energy is, in essence, immature. It hasn’t ripened and is therefore like a wayward, nihilistic teenager still trying to figure out the ropes. 

If all of life is a process of growth, of maturation, Divine Masculine energy still hasn’t evolved to its fullest potential. It’s still an awkward, self-conscious, and insecure force that has come to believe (like a naive child) that power comes from overshadowing others. But it doesn’t. What it has failed to learn up until now is that true power comes from within. True power is shown through the mature Divine Masculine acts of mercy, integrity, honesty, and accountability

Similar to what the metaphysical Soul Age theory proposes (in short, that there are young, mature, and old souls), we could say that there is also young, mature, and old energy. And Divine Masculine energy is still in its teenage years – and perhaps not even that.

So where does that leave Divine Feminine energy?

Divine Feminine: Out of the Shadows, Into the Light

Like Divine Masculine energy, Divine Feminine energy, has, up until now, been immature. 

By hiding in the shadows and forgetting her own power, the domineering shadow side of the Divine Masculine has been permitted to get out of control. Who has been there to consistently put him in his place? It takes two to tango. Neither one is “more” responsible for the annihilation of the planet than the other. Both have an equal hand in their own way.

We can picture this scenario by observing two children squabbling in the backyard. One of them – the little boy – is throwing a tantrum. “THAT’S MINE,” the little boy thunders aggressively, trying to intimidate the little girl into giving back his favorite toy. “But you said I could play with it,” the little girl sobs, running back to mommy or daddy in tears. 

She plays the victim. He plays the persecutor. It’s an age-old dance. And it needs to end.

We are getting to a pivotal turning point in history where something needs to change. Our world – the very survival of our species and the spiritual evolution of our souls – depends on it. What is the solution?

The rise of the Divine Feminine.

We are seeing it more and more, with feminism, compassion for animals (resulting in more ethical eating choices), yoga, meditation, and even social media initiatives like the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter movements entering the mainstream.

But all things in life have a dark side – that is an intrinsic realization we must come to terms with on our spiritual journeys. We need to be aware of our shadow selves in order to move into the light.

The Shadow Side

With that being said, let’s break down the shadow side of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine:

Divine Feminine Shadow Side:Divine Masculine Shadow Side:
VictimPersecutor
Co-dependentCold detachment
InsecureControlling
ManipulativeEgotistical
PassiveAggressive
Overly emotionalEmotionally numb
AcquiesceDominate
InauthenticAbusive
CruelRuthless

Of course, no person has purely Divine Feminine OR Divine Masculine shadow qualities – we tend to have a mixture of both. It’s up to us to develop the self-awareness and humility needed to recognize what we unconsciously harbor within ourselves.

The Light Side

Now, let’s look at the light side of the Feminine and Masculine energies. We could also call this the mature, fully-actualized Divine Feminine and Masculine:

Divine Feminine Light Side:Divine Masculine Light Side:
IntuitiveMindful
VulnerableAccountable
AuthenticIntegrity
CreativeOrganized
CompassionateMerciful
Inter-dependentIndependent
Open-mindedNon-judgmental
TenaciousCourageous
SensualSexual
InstinctualIntellectual
ConsiderateImpartial
SpontaneousStrategic
AdaptableGrounded
Will to loveWill to power

You might notice that many of these traits are actually quite neutral, and here’s where words have a limit.

All traits innate to the Divine Feminine and Masculine are neutral, it’s only when they come out of balance that they become an issue.

Being compassionate, for example, is a Divine Feminine trait that can either be positive or negative depending on how it’s used. When there’s too much compassion, there is self-martyrdom and co-dependency, and when there’s too little, there’s cruelty.

So, in essence, the “light” side of the Divine Feminine and Masculine is really only another way of saying the balanced side.

Benefits of Awakening the Divine Feminine

She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans … But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.

Hildegard von Bingen

No matter what gender (or lack thereof) you are, here’s what you can expect to experience once you commit to awakening the Divine Feminine within you:

  • Enhanced intuition (higher perception)
  • Sharpened gut instincts (animal perception)
  • More flexibility and spontaneity
  • Greater self-compassion
  • Increased love and acceptance of others
  • Connection with the Divine Creator within
  • More ability to enjoy the small things in life
  • Greater receptivity to yourself, others, and life
  • Increased ability to let go
  • Deeper comfort with the unknown and reduced anxiety
  • Heightened connection with your body and sensuality
  • Enhanced ability to relax, receive, and be

*Both women and men possess Divine Feminine energy – it is a neutral force*

9 Ways to Awaken the Divine Feminine Energy Within You

The deep Feminine, the mystery of consciousness, She who is life, is longing for our transformation as much as we are. She holds back, allowing us free reign to choose, nudging us occasionally with synchronicities, illness, births and deaths … But when we make space for Her, she rushes into all the gaps, engulfing us with her desire for life and expression. This is what She longs for, this is what we are for: experiencing the Feminine through ourselves. We simply need to slow down, and find where to put our conscious attention.

Lucy H. Pearce

To be whole and balanced beings, we need to honor both sides of our nature: the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine – also known in Jungian terms as the anima and animus.

But now, more than ever, we are all being called to awaken the Shakti within.

Males need to get over their immaturity surrounding femininity, and females need to step more into their power.

No matter whether you’re male, female, or non-binary… it’s your responsibility to create change within yourself. Only when we change ourselves can true change in the world happen.

Pointing fingers at one gender or group as being “responsible” for all world’s ills, being “less than” the other type of energy, and so forth, is infantile. We need to grow up and stop feeding our lower nature.

Don’t give fuel to your shadow self. Don’t perpetuate more division within this world. Learn how to awaken both types of energy within yourself in a healthy way.

So with that being said, here’s how to start this sacred inner work:

1. Connect with your inner Divine Mother

This might sound strange, but the reality is that we are composed of many subpersonalities. Psychiatrist Carl Jung called them “archetypes,” and more recently, psychotherapist Richard C. Schwartz (founder of Internal Family Systems) refers to them as “parts.”

The Mother is a universal part/archetype that can be found within all people of all genders. We see the Great Mother portrayed through the ages in numerous forms; as the Virgin Mary, Lakshmi, Isis, Sophia, Mother Nature, Kali – you name it.

So the question is, what does your inner Divine Mother look like?

I recommend connecting with this part of you through practices such as journaling, drawing/painting, automatic writing, dream work, and mirror work.

You might like to create or print out a picture that resembles your inner Divine Mother and put her somewhere important in your house. Let her inspire and remind you of the importance of honoring and connecting with the Divine Feminine.

2. Examine your wounds surrounding femininity

Examine the following questions:

  • What has society taught you about femininity as a male, female, or non-binary…?
  • How did your mother model her femininity and what did she teach you (whether directly or indirectly)?
  • What negative core beliefs might you have developed surrounding femininity?
  • What habits and behaviors do you bring into the world that indirectly or directly oppress the Divine Feminine?

Journal about these questions and do some self-reflection. Understanding how you truly feel about feminine energy – from all angles – is vital.

Often we carry old programming that impedes our growth and maturation. The only way to move through these blocks is to see right through them.

For example, common negative conditioned beliefs include the notion that women should always be pretty, good at everything, never age, have a perfect body, be submissive to men, be meek and emotionally-restrained, and please everyone. (There are many other negative ideas out there – these are just a few common examples.)

However, your personal wounds might be totally different.

For example, if you were raised with an engulfing helicopter mother, you might fear women and see them as fundamentally dangerous. If your mother was manic-depressive, you might unconsciously perceive all women to be chaotic, unsafe, and unreliable. Try to examine both your personal and wider societal context. 

3. Tune into your emotions

How are you feeling? If you were brought up in the West, you’ll have more masculine-dominated values. You tend to ask people, “How are you doing?” rather than “How are you feeling?” We need to shift away from that mindset.

A person’s worth is not based on how much they do. In fact, a person’s worth isn’t externally based at all.

We need to start feeling things from the inside – this enables us to authentically learn more about ourselves and tune into our emotions. Getting to know our emotional landscape will empower us to develop self-love and self-compassion which are doorways into the Divine Feminine.

So stop right now and ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” (If you struggle to label your emotions, search for “emotions chart” on Google images and print one out.)

Are you feeling tired, moody, excited, intrigued, sad, nostalgic, disillusioned, surprised? Get into the habit of assigning a word to how you feel.

4. Cultivate your intuition

Intuition is a core Divine Feminine quality. Yet because so many of us live in our heads, we become disconnected from our hearts and souls (the source of our intuition!).

Sadly, the result is that most of us struggle to differentiate the voice of fear from intuition. Some of us even outright reject the value of intuition altogether!

To begin cultivating your intuition, try any of the following practices:

  • Begin meditating (this helps to silence your mind and allow intuitive flashes to emerge)
  • Experiment with oracle and tarot cards
  • Tune into your body through mindfulness exercises
  • Learn to understand the meaning of your dreams

5. Find a feminine teacher/guide/figure you admire

We all need role models, and finding a mature and embodied woman is a powerful way of tuning into the Divine Feminine. Fortunately, there are many beautiful expressions of the Divine Feminine out there.

You can begin your search in a friend or family circle, and extend it to authors, artists, therapists/counselors, historical and religious icons, and modern feminine figures. Once you’ve found someone (or a few teachers) you admire, put a picture of them somewhere special to honor the Divine Feminine.

Remember, the whole point of finding a feminine teacher/guide/figure that you admire is to learn from them. Please don’t idolize them or give away your power. Simply respect and appreciate them and make sure you integrate the lessons offered to you.

6. Slow down and be present

Masculine energy is all about do-do-do. But feminine energy is about being receptive, passive, and living in the moment.

We don’t always need to achieve something. So make some time during the day to slow down and be present. Try to enjoy the little things and practice being grateful. You may even like to keep a gratitude journal – or if you’re into poetry, a place where you write poetry in appreciation of life’s small pleasures.

Slowing down, for instance, could be as simple as turning off your phone and going outside to enjoy the sunset. Or it could mean saying “no” to that extra task your colleague wants you to finish by Friday.

While slowing down is difficult at first, keep at it. Your brain has likely been wired to be on the “doing” frequency all the time rather than in the being state of mind. So be forgiving and patient (two more Divine Feminine qualities!) and don’t give up. Even if slowing down needs to be scheduled into your day, make sure it’s a priority. 

7. Practice self-love and inner child work

A crucial part of the spiritual path involves learning how to love yourself and healing your inner child. By learning how to love yourself, you are better equipped to show true compassion to others. What better ways to awaken the Divine Feminine within you!?

Self-love and inner child work go hand-in-hand, but before going too deep into inner child work, I recommend starting with self-love. Self-love is truly the foundation of all inner work because, without it, it’s possible to re-traumatize our already-wounded inner child.

To begin self-love, one of the most powerful practices is something called mirror work. Essentially, this practice involves standing in front of your household mirror every day and repeating loving words to yourself. These affirmations might include, “I see you,” “I value you,” “I forgive you,” “I’m here for you,” or whatever loving statement comes from your heart.

8. Connect more deeply with your body

The Divine Feminine is a sensual, visceral force that is at the heart of all life. She is the one who gives birth to all existence, tends it, and nurtures it: all very raw and instinctual processes.

To honor the yin energy within you, connect with your body. Learn its language. Discover more about what it means to be embodied in this life as a spiritual being. This might take many forms, for example:

  • Learning bodywork and breathwork
  • Uncovering the meaning behind your muscle tension
  • Practicing body-centered mindfulness
  • Exploring your sensual nature (honoring the pleasures of the body such as eating, sleeping, relaxing…)
  • Taking care of your basic bodily needs (e.g., getting good quality nutrition, water, sleep, digestion, etc.) by learning self-care

9. Honor, protect, and celebrate Mother Earth

As the physical embodiment of the Divine Feminine, the earth is our ultimate provider. She sustains us, protects us, and allows us to flourish.

We are birthed within her, and we will die within her. And each and every day, she has endless reminders to share with us that reflect the Divinity, joy, beauty, and love inherent in life.

Connecting with Mother Earth is simple: go outside! Enjoy the trees, the wind, the clouds, the rain, the flowers, the sunshine, the soil – all of it. Be in a state of appreciation for her. But don’t let it stop there. 

To truly honor Mother Earth is to respect her through our actions. By committing to a sustainable, low-waste, and ethical way of living, we are putting our head where our heart is. We don’t need to be perfect. We can’t be. But we can do our best, understanding that no matter how many mistakes we make, we are loved. 

Takeaway

Our spiritual paths, our choices, our very lives are not separate from the greater Whole.

Learning how to reconnect with the Divine Feminine is a vital and desperately needed part of embracing both our humanity and divinity. No authentic growth or progression can be made without cultivating the yin, the Shakti within us. Our minds, our bodies, our children, our communities, our world are all crying for the rise of the Divine Feminine.

What is your relationship like with the Divine Feminine? Do you have any advice to share? Let yourself be heard below.

How to Trust Your Intuition & Find Total Clarity (9 Tips)

Instincts, gut feelings, hunches, premonitions … all of these words point to a deep capacity that we all carry inside known as intuition.

The word intuition originally came from the Latin word intueri, which meant “to contemplate” or “to look within.”

Without learning how to look and listen to our intuition, we tend to rely solely on the limited rational mind or external input from others, which can quickly lead us astray.

Many scientists and researchers are now referring to intuition as the highest form of intelligence we possess.

In other words, intuition is no longer limited to the new age world of magical thought; it is increasingly being seen as a legitimate way to make judgments and decisions.

Unsurprisingly, spiritual traditions for thousands of years have all known and revered the powers of intuition.

Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, and Western philosophy have all connected intuition with planes of higher consciousness or the Soul. The Advaita Vedānta for example (a school of Hindu thought) values intuition as an experience through which a person can contact and experience Brahman (Spirit/God).

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung also believed that intuition is a powerful force, once writing,

Intuition gives outlook and insight; it revels in the garden of magical possibilities.

Personally, I see intuition as the “Soul’s GPS” which can help us to discover our life purpose, make wise decisions, and lead fulfilling lives.

What is Intuition?

Intuition is a sudden and inexplicable feeling that arises within us. Also referred to as the instinct, sixth sense, inkling, hunch, and gut feeling, intuition is the mysterious force that guides, protects, and informs us.

The information we receive from our intuition is not usually available from our conscious mind and thus stems from the unconscious.

What common ways do we experience intuition?

Usually, intuition emerges as a quiet inner voice or feeling that tells us to take this chance, go down that path, accept that opportunity, open this door, and so on.

Intuition can also manifest as various synchronicities or messages from one’s spirit guides to signal that we’re on the right road.

Furthermore, intuition also tells us what not to do, what to be careful of, when to be vigilant, and when to stop what we’re doing. 

How Does Intuition Arise?

Intuition is associated with the right side of the brain which is responsible for creativity, imagination, musical and artistic aptitude, and emotions.

The left side of the brain, on the other hand, is connected with logic, reasoning, and critical thinking (we tend to favor the left brain over the right brain in the West).

Intuition stems from that nonlinear dimension of our minds, that part where unconscious connections and associations are made and arise within our conscious minds seemingly out of nowhere.

As Joseph Murphy, author of The Power of Your Unconscious Mind notes:

Within your subconscious depths lie infinite wisdom, infinite power, and infinite supply of all that is necessary, which is waiting for development and expression.

Intuition is an amazingly powerful tool – a natural gift of our biology that is ready and available to us at any time.

However, sadly, the gift of intuition is often ignored and forgotten by us humans. Thankfully, there are so many exhilarating ways of learning how to tap into this inner wellspring of wisdom again!

Intuition and Spiritual Awakening

Intuition is an innate quality we all possess. Yet many of us don’t recognize how vital it is until we’ve gone through some kind of life crisis or spark of spiritual awakening.

Without our intuition, we feel adrift in life. We lack a sense of inner centeredness – of spiritual direction and Soul-centered insight.

In some ways, we feel empty and bereft without this sacred heart voice.

Indeed, our intuition is a direct line to our Higher Self that offers us all the spiritual guidance we need in this life.

Why Learning to Trust Your Intuition is Powerful (and a Little Intimidating!)

Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition. 

M. L’Engle

All throughout history people have listened closely to the whispers of their intuition.

From Dr. Loewi’s intuitive discovery of the chemical transmission of nerve impulses, and Elias Howe’s invention of the sewing machine, to Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity, many great strides in existence have been attributed to spontaneous sparks of intuition.

But why should we pay attention to our intuition? 

I mean … it’s not like we’re planning on becoming world-famous physicists or inventors, right? Wrong. You don’t need to strive to do or be anything extraordinary. Intuition is very down-to-earth and can help us in any area of life!

Here’s why learning to trust our intuition is so powerful:

1.  Intuition reveals deep truths in our lives

Intuition helps us develop a deeper level of understanding and insight about ourselves, other people, and life at large. The result is that we feel more intelligently and intentionally guided in our thoughts, feelings, and decisions.

2.  Intuition helps us identify negative omens in our lives

Failure, financial collapse, death, emotional threat – intuition puts us in touch with our instinctive defense systems, helping us to avoid harm. (By the way, how eerie but cool is that!)

3.  Intuition opens new paths to us

By helping us to tune into fresh opportunities and positive signs in our lives, intuition opens new doors when we least expect it – it’s quite magical.

4.  Intuition guides us and helps us to make wise decisions

By allowing us to know what decisions to make and when, intuition helps us to achieve a measure of confidence and peace of mind, assisting us in following paths that are true to ourselves: paths with heart.

5.  Intuition helps us to live fulfilling lives

Truth hurts, but truth also helps us to wake up to the false, corrupted, and delusional lives that we sometimes lead and the wayward choices we occasionally make. Ultimately, intuition is a bringer of truth and thus a bringer of change and transformation. When we listen to it, we make decisions that ultimately help our lives to be genuine and fulfilling.

How to Distinguish Fearful Thoughts From Intuition

I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.

Albert Einstein

Unfortunately, it’s very common for us to confuse the voice of intuition with the voice of fear.

For us to make the most intelligent, successful, wise, loving, and meaningful decisions in our lives, we need to learn how to make a clear distinction between the two.

As a person who has a very strong “inner skeptic,” it has been difficult for me to loosen my rational brain in favor of my intuition. As one given to overthinking, my mental voice has always been quite strong and persistent. I’m sure you have struggled with this to some extent too.

What helped me to distinguish fearful thoughts from intuitive guidance was to pay attention to how each inner voice felt in my body.

Here are some main differences between fear and intuition.

Fear:

  • Feels heavy and dark
  • Emotionally-charged (e.g., “I need to do this or else ____ will happen!!”)
  • Vague
  • Makes you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, confused or anxious
  • Causes you to ruminate and get lost in cycles of thought

Intuition:

  • Feels light
  • Unemotional
  • Crystal clear
  • Makes you feel calm, inspired, and a sense of resolution
  • Spontaneously arises and immediately feels “right” without further rational thought

By paying attention to these signs, you will slowly be able to distinguish paranoid thinking from neutral and intuitive knowing.

How to Trust Your Intuition (9 Ways)

Intuition means exactly what it sounds like, in-tuition! An inner tutor or teaching and learning mechanism that takes us forward daily. It is a resource that, where recognized, has infinite potential.

Sylvia Clare

Intuition is an essential life skill that we must all learn to refine and develop, preferably sooner rather than later.

Without intuition, we get stranded in labyrinths of rigid, agitated, or obsessive thoughts that limit our capacity to see clearly. The less clearly we can see, the more likely we will make bad decisions.

When we listen to our intuition, we experience a kind of clarity that helps us to make the most beneficial choices for our lives.

We can learn how to trust our intuition in nine main ways:

  1. Silence your mind
  2. Ask yourself, “How do I feel about this decision?”
  3. Focus on the sensations in your body
  4. Explore whether fear is fuelling you
  5. Formulate your conclusion, and live both scenarios
  6. Don’t allow pressure to bias you
  7. Ask for guidance
  8. Develop more self-awareness
  9. Clear your third eye chakra

Below I’ll explore each of these points more in-depth to help you learn how to trust your intuition more easily:

1. Silence your mind

Often the mind tends to hijack our decision-making processes.

While it is important that you use rational thought, your usual thinking is often subject to prejudice, past beliefs, external influences (“peer pressure”), and fear.

To access your intuition, you need to clear your mind of thought. In order to clear your mind, I recommend that you meditate, listen to some relaxing music, or focus on mindful breathwork techniques.

It is amazingly difficult to listen to your intuition when you’re in a stressed-out state of mind!

For example, you might like to try breathing deeply for a few minutes. Breathe in through your nose and allow your belly and chest to gently expand. Then, slow your breath to the count of four and breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and breathe out for four seconds.

Try doing any practice that relaxes and stills your mind. Only once you are calm and centered can you accurately access your intuitive power.

2. Ask yourself, “How do I feel about this decision?”

Once you’ve relaxed your mind and body, inwardly ask yourself, “How do I feel about this decision/situation/person?

Notice the first feeling, sensation, word, or image that arises within you. Don’t overthink it! Your first impression is generally the most accurate, so stick with whatever that was.

You might like to write down whatever appears and reflect on it some more.

3. Focus on the sensations in your body

Our bodies are like exquisitely accurate truth radars that alert us to the full scope of pleasure, pain, and everything in between. It’s for this reason that connecting with your body is a powerful way to learn how to trust your intuition.

No matter how elaborate the stories or theories our minds create are, our bodies will always reveal the truth of the matter!

In order to connect with your intuition, try thinking about something weighing on you like an important decision, and focus on your body’s response.

For example, if you want to quit your job, you might notice a sensation of relief flood your entire body (which is a sign that you should quit your job!).

Alternatively, if you’re thinking of moving to a certain town, you might feel your shoulders and neck tense up (which is likely a clear sign that you shouldn’t move there!).

By practicing body-centered mindfulness, you’ll be able to connect more freely with your intuition.

4. Explore whether fear is fuelling you

Fear has a sneaky way of disguising itself as intuition.

When we’re fearful, we tend to make rash decisions or believe that we’re “following our intuition” because of how strong the mental voice inside us can become.

When you’re faced with an important decision, try writing down all of your fears surrounding the situation on a piece of paper. This simple activity will help you to create more inner space and clarity – and learn to trust your intuition more.

By making your fears visible, you’ll be able to determine whether the voice within you is driven by fear or clear intuitive knowing.

5. Formulate your conclusion and live both scenarios

Another way you can learn how to trust your intuition more is to come up with a range of solutions to the problem at hand and mentally live out each scenario.

Visualize each choice as vividly as you can, then pay attention to how each option feels in your heart and body. Whichever option feels the most “right” is the choice you need to go for.

For instance, if you’re trying to decide whether to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone, your solutions may be the following:

  • Have the conversation over dinner
  • Delay the conversation to next week
  • Bring up the conversation casually
  • Avoid the conversation until it’s necessary

You’d then visualize each scenario and notice how you feel. Whichever one you feel intuitively drawn toward (even if your mind doesn’t like it) is the right path to take.

6. Don’t allow pressure to bias you

Are you putting a lot of pressure on yourself? The pressure to make a “quick decision” tends to inhibit the flow of intuition.

While intuition can work under strenuous circumstances, if you have the option to slow down, please do.

Just because you aren’t obsessing over something consciously doesn’t mean that the thought isn’t bubbling in your subconscious mind.

Sometimes putting decision-making on the “back burner” helps you to relax, adopt new perspectives, and open more easily to the presence of your intuitive knowing.

As such, sometimes, in order to trust your intuition and know that you’re walking the correct path, you just need to take a step back for a while.

7. Ask for guidance

Intuition is seeing with the soul.

Dean Koontz

When I struggle to access my intuition, I say a prayer of guidance asking my Soul for support.

If you’re struggling with accessing your intuition, say a small prayer to whomever or whatever you believe in (e.g., your Higher Self, Soul, Spirit, God, Allah).

You don’t need to be religious to pray. Prayer is essentially condensed energy or directed intention which helps you to focus your willpower. Saying a prayer is a powerful way to enhance your intuitive prowess.

8. Develop more self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to be aware of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and the way in which they impact you and the people around you.

The more aware we are of what goes on inside of ourselves, the easier it will be to identify the quiet voice of our intuition in the first place. 

Mindfulness, meditation, and introspection all assist in developing self-awareness. However, for an easy way to begin to trust your intuition, start journaling. Learning how to journal is a relaxing and grounding way of getting to know yourself more.

9. Clear your third eye chakra

If you resonate with chakra healing, focus on balancing your third eye chakra, which is the center of your intuitive abilities.

If you struggle with problems such as negative thinking patterns, over-thinking, paranoia or anxiety, you most likely have a third eye chakra problem.

Intuition FAQ

There are so many facets involved in learning how to trust your intuition. If you’re still in need of guidance, the following Q&A’s might help:

Can your intuition be wrong?

This is a tricky question to answer, but in short, pure intuition is never wrong. But intuition that is tainted by thoughts can be wrong. As intuition stems from the unconscious and universal mind (also known as the ‘Collective Unconscious’) that has access to a tremendous amount of information, the insights it relays are far more accurate than pure rational thinking. When intuition is clouded and foggy, it’s more likely for it to be wrong or misguided. This is why learning how to distinguish the voice of fear from the voice of intuition is crucial.

What does intuition feel like?

The feeling of intuition varies for everyone. For some people, it will be very physical. It’s common, for example, to experience tingles down the spine, a rush of energy, goosebumps, a pit in the stomach, and so on. Others experience intuition as something more mental. For instance, some people get visual flashes (such as premonitions or visions) and others get a quiet (and in some instances loud!) inner voice arising within them.

What is an example of intuition?

There are endless examples of intuition out there. Intuition, for example, can arise in moments before a crisis directing a person to do/not do something that can have dire life or death consequences. Many individuals have intuitive feelings of dread or joy before making big life decisions. Intuition can also emerge in everyday situations such as what present to buy someone, what’s really wrong with your partner or best friend (“something doesn’t feel right”), and what route to take to work.

Is everyone intuitive?

Yes, everyone has the capacity to be intuitive. It’s just a matter of learning how to tap into your unconscious mind. While intuition might come more easily to some, it’s ultimately a skill that needs to be honed and developed.

Intuition is a small glimpse into the enormous magnitude of wisdom and intelligence possessed by your largely secret and untapped unconscious mind.

By learning how to silence your mind, connect with your body, identify fearful thoughts, and clear energy blockages, you’ll find it easier to access your intuition in any life circumstance.

I hope this article has helped to give you more insight and guidance on how to trust your intuition. Please share any tips you have for trusting intuition below!

5 Types of Self-Care for Your Mental Health

So often, we find ourselves burning out from stress in our daily lives, and it’s not until the moment we’ve absolutely had enough that we allow ourselves a break. But what might happen if we all took a “break” before we reached that final breaking point?

There are five different types of self-care: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and professional care.

1. Physical self-care

While physical self-care can be anything from a Netflix binge to a day at the spa, there are many other activities you can do to enhance your overall physical well-being to contribute to better overall mental health. Examples of this include: eating healthier, getting regular exercise, wearing clothes you like, or taking time out of your day to get your hair or makeup done. While many of these activities might be considered more “superficial,” I think they are essential to maintaining lower levels of stress. So go ahead and go to your favorite beauty store and splurge on one of those bath bombs for a night in the tub — you deserve it!

2. Emotional self-care

Digging a bit deeper now; emotional self-care is often simply the act of allowing yourself to feel your emotions for what they are — with little to no judgement. This can be especially hard at first, but the more you do it the better you can become. Some activities in this area include finding things that make you laugh, complimenting yourself when you look in the mirror, allowing yourself to cry when you feel sad, spending time with loved ones and re-reading/re-watching your favorite book or movie until you can recite every line word for word.

3. Psychological self-care

In my opinion, this is one of the most neglected areas of self-care that most people (including my past self) are lacking engagement in. For instance, it’s OK to say “no” to extra responsibilities in your life. This is a very small but effective way you might be able to reduce stress. Some other activities in this area include engaging your intelligence in other topics (like going to an art exhibit or history museum), be curious for a day, practice receiving compliments well from others, make time for self-reflection and last but not least, pay attention to your inner experience (thoughts, feelings, attitudes and so on). You might be surprised at how even doing one of these activities a couple times a week can have a positive effect on your mood.

4. Spiritual self-care

Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, are agnostic or atheist, it’s important to embed spiritual self-care into your daily routine. In this case, spiritual doesn’t refer to religion or believing in a sort of higher being (although, it absolutely can if that is what helps you). Instead, in this sense, spiritual self-care is the act of getting in touch with your inner human spirit and soul. Some examples of this include contributing to causes you care about (donating money or volunteering), meditating, spending time in nature, engaging in inspirational videos or literature and highlighting the non material aspects of life. I realize that some of these suggestions may be vague, but they can be done simply by thought or writing them down in a journal. Essentially, everyone is different and it’s up to you to engage in whatever form it makes you feel best!

5. Professional self-care

Engaging in professional self-care is essential for those in the workforce, however, these examples can be easily applicable to those still in school. Some of these examples are very basic, yet often missed throughout a busy work or school day. They include: taking time to chat with coworkers/peers, decorating your workspace to your liking, balancing your workload (literally meaning taking breaks as needed), developing an outside hobby or area of interest and creating a quiet and reserved area to get your work done. Ultimately, when you are able to give your professional life balance, lessened stress may allow you to succeed in other areas of life.

All in all, the best things in life come with balance. While certain stress in life can be necessary and even beneficial in some situations (hey, we’ve all put off our work until the last minute and felt the surge of adrenaline to help us turn it in on time), it’s easy for everyday events to become overly stressful and unmanageable. Yet, change isn’t easy. It’s said that it takes about 25 days for something to become a habit. In the process of incorporating some, if not all of the topics listed, I highly recommend doing one thing at a time at your own pace. This way you can see how each aspect of self-care benefits your mental health, and you won’t become overly critical of yourself if you miss the gym one day, forget to take a break, or fail to spend more time with yourself. After all, life is just a journey in which we should do our best to enjoy it and not be too critical of ourselves when we don’t need to.

Come Home To Yourself

Imagine you are sitting by a beach shore. There is a perfectly beautiful sunset in front of you. A beautiful painting of the sun and the clouds dancing together as the day ends. You’re there witnessing it all, and you feel at peace. You feel complete. You feel calm. You are aligned with yourself and that scene right in front of your eyes. You are home within yourself and the universe.

Isn’t that something we all crave a glimpse of? The feeling of being truly satisfied, truly peaceful with our humanness. The feeling of being at peace with our choices and how we lead our everyday lives and not just fooling ourselves that we do.

Every day is a day that culminates in us walking towards our truest selves or away from it. Every day is either choosing peace or having some dust accumulate on your chest. Every day, we feel a certain way. Every day we can sleep knowing that we stood by our beliefs, by the deepest desires of our hearts despite any obstacles and disappointments but still feel at peace knowing we were real and we tried. Or we can sleep knowing we’ve fooled ourselves, we’re walking in the wrong direction, we’re fighting the world and ourselves, and we sleep with this lingering pain.

You either make yourself a comfortable home to think and live in or you become an unbearable company for yourself. You make homes away from your soul, but no home fits you, and you keep hopping from one to the other, inner peace destroyed.

The shape of your heart starts changing. What was a potential home becomes a pile of blocks, and this becomes a pattern. You need to come home to yourself. You need to find your true home, and that answer is only within you no matter how far you travel or who you meet. Your shelter was always there all along, and it’s you. You need to look into it.

It might feel like a deserted island in the beginning with no clear features, but as you ask, a voice will whisper back to you, surely but slowly. After all, you need to build trust with that soul you’ve been neglecting. When the day comes, ask yourself the simple questions, the hard questions, the funny questions, and look, wait, and be patient. You need to be able to handle honesty. You need to accept what will be thrown at you. That’s the first step to building that beautiful home within yourself. Whatever the answers will be, please try to understand them. Try to nourish the desires that this voice will whisper to you. If you love dancing, dance. If you love drawing, draw. If you love books, read. If you love solving mathematical problems, solve them. Make that home warm, make it enjoyable, build it brick by brick.

When that voice whispers to you its pain and sorrows, its traumas and secrets, be kind. Don’t neglect them. Work on treating and healing them. Work on understanding them. If you continue to do so, soon this home will have a garden full of blooming sunflowers. If you continue to work on being close to yourself, accepting yourself, being a comfortable body and mind to live in, the sunflowers will multiply. Please don’t ever forget to listen to that voice and work with it gently so that most of your days can be as beautiful as watching the sun set with nothing but peace in your heart.

Why We Need To Advocate For Self-Acceptance, Not Just Body Positivity

Initially, the body positivity movement aimed to end the discrimination of larger bodied people. The movement preached that we should all love our bodies at any size, and that body diversity is beautiful. As the movement grew, supporters advocated for health at any size and dismissed diet culture and weight loss at all costs. Ultimately, the body positivity movement aimed to empower people of all different body types, and the body positivity movement encouraged society as a whole to become more accepting and inclusive of body diversity. These were the initial goals of the body positivity movement.

But when examining the logistics of the body-positivity movement, I can definitely say that body positivity, as a cultural theme, has become a double-edged sword. It can be extremely influential in both a positive and negative way.

Body positivity has its plus sides. It empowers women to feel comfortable in their bodies and it advocates for more inclusion and equality. Body positivity fights back against weight loss protocols and diet culture in general. The body positivity movement also fights against the media, who still portray impossible standards of what a beautiful body “should” look like. Why are we only seeing women who are between size 0 and size 4 everywhere? With 67% of women being over a size 14, the media really needs a reality check. We really need to start putting an end to thin privilege and develop an awareness and acceptance of bodies of all sizes.

So please, don’t get me wrong, I am definitely an advocate of people of all sizes feeling beautiful and confident in their own skin. Beauty clearly comes in every shape and size, and the body positive movement celebrates this. But I also worry that the movement kind of misses the whole point of the direction in which society could (and should) be headed.

Rather than focusing on self-empowerment, self-confidence, and self-love, we are still putting the lens on bodies. We are still hyper-focusing on what we look like on the outside. Our minds are still consumed with thoughts of how our appearance compares to others, and we still believe that our looks reflect our value as human beings. In some ways, this focus on body positivity leads to an overemphasis on our appearance, and still unintentionally stresses the importance of how “pretty we are. In other words, the body positive movement may accidentally lead us into believing that our worth comes from our looks.

When are we going to start to focus instead on women empowering women? On being good human beings. On striving for more than just “pretty.” For one thing, we have no responsibility to be pretty. And for another, we have so much more substance than just a number or a size. We have so much more value, so much more to give back to the world. Yet we keep trying to focus on our bodies.

And this body obsession can be particularly troubling for people who struggle with body image or eating disorders. Emphasizing that we have to love our bodies can be overwhelming, confusing, and can ultimately steal the opportunity for these people to live happy, thriving, recovered lives. Furthermore, moving from body-hate to body-love can be an especially daunting task for someone who has suffered from body image issues and who has not had a good relationship with his/her body in the past.

And there’s another catch 22 with body positivity. None of us will love our bodies 24/7…that’s just a fact. We aren’t always going to feel 100% perfect in every piece of clothing we put on. Some days we are going to feel sluggish and tired, some days we are going to feel bloated and uncomfortable. Some days we are going to feel self-conscious, and we might feel uneasy just showing up. And if we put our worth into how we feel about our bodies, on these days when we don’t feel body positive, we are going to be let down. We are going to feel down. We are going to feel like we aren’t good enough, or pretty enough because once again, it’s all going to come back to our appearance.

But because body positivity has become such a cultural movement, and because #bodypositive will probably continue to be a trending hashtag, it’s best that we make the most of this movement by taking some action and starting a conversation.

I think we should advocate for the acceptance of all bodies, rather than advocating for “body positivity.” Accepting that your body is just as valuable as everyone else’s body is difficult, and it may not necessarily come naturally to you. In some respects, we essentially need to retrain our brains to believe that all bodies are worthy of acceptance and that all bodies are worthy of praise. We have to unlearn the idea that some bodies are more valuable than others. And putting extra value on some bodies means discriminating against other body types. I think if we can put the emphasis on acceptance of diversity, rather than positivity, we will eventually realize that bodies are just bodies, nothing more, nothing less.

If we share the message that all bodies are equal and that we are all much more than just our bodies, I think the tides will begin to change. And most importantly, I think we can all speak out and advocate for kindness and authenticity. Our minds, our thoughts, what we do and who we are are all much more important than just how our bodies look. We need to speak up and share that our true worth is not reflected in our weight, our size, our curves, or our skin color. How we show up to the world physically isn’t nearly as important as who we are as human beings. We aren’t required by anyone to be pretty. But we should be required by ourselves to be good, kind, compassionate human beings.

The body positive movement isn’t inherently wrong. It definitely has its strengths and it has definitely had a powerful impact on the lives of many people. The message of inclusivity is extremely valuable. The confidence that some people have developed as a result of the movement is powerful. However, I think we can take it a step further. I think we can encourage one another to first accept all bodies. We can teach ourselves and others to embrace body diversity. And once we’ve done this, we can move onto what is even more important: who we are. We can lift each other higher for who we are, rather than what we look like. We can compliment people on their thoughts and actions, on their writing and on their creativity. We can let others know how much we value them as friends and as sisters, as coworkers and as mentors.

The important thing is that we start somewhere. And maybe that “somewhere” is a conversation with a friend. Maybe it’s about telling someone when we are feeling insecure in our bodies, and talking about how we can place value on other aspects of our lives, rather than focusing just on our bodies. Maybe it’s about reassuring our loved ones that we think they are beautiful people all around, not just on the outside. And maybe it’s about realizing that while we advocate for body diversity, we can also advocate for self-love – genuine self-love. Because who we are is much more important than what we look like. And once we realize that we are so much more than just bodies, I think we will know we have done the work. 

7 Ways To Practice Self-Care And Fall Crazy In Love With Yourself

“Falling in love” usually involves another person. Someone to snuggle with, shower with affection, and treat with serious respect. The idea of falling in love with ourselves–that’s usually hard to wrap our heads around. We think, “why the heck would I want to fall in love with me?”

The truth is, your relationship with yourself is the most important. Not in a selfish way, but in a healthy way. Too often, we look at who we are and pick ourselves apart.

“My waist isn’t thin enough.”
“I’m a failure for not making 6 figures.”
“Being single means I’m 100% undesirable.”

Holy inner mean girl!

It’s time to change all of this and start recognizing why you are awesome and worthy of your own approval and love. Developing a practice around this will not only make you feel amazing, but empower you to recover from low points in life with clarity and ease.

I’ve found that when I feel like crap, when my body has been the most sick and when I am bombarded with the most self-deprecating thoughts, the only thing to pull me up and out is drenching myself in self-love.

If you still feel confused or lost on where to start with your own self-love conversation, don’t worry; I’ve put together a list to help you get started.

1. Create a self-love ritual.

Turn off the TV and unplug from social media for 15 minutes to get centered while self-pampering. My favorite way to do this is to moisturize my skin with intention. As I massage my feet I thank them for getting me to where I need to go; as I moisturize my hands I love them for all the transactions and introductions they’ve helped me with throughout my life.

2. Build a precious community.

As much as we would like to think we can, we can’t do everything ourselves. You need the support and love from people around you to stay motivated and on track–something I like to call a Love Entourage. Positive energy is contagious, so whether you’re building a network or planning to go to a fun event, it’s always important to have a community you value around you regularly.

3. Know that your body is a loving vessel.

Treating your body like a loving vessel will not only boost your self-love, but also your energy. Be intentional about what you put into your body, not only because you want to look good but because you want to feel good. Feeding your body nutrient-rich foods will have you oozing love out of every pore.

4. Explore your spirituality.

Faith is the foundation for self-love, no matter what you believe. Believing in something opens up your soul to the beauty of belief and trust. It will build your intuition and help you make decisions based on your gut. When you explore your spirituality it will also take you on a journey to learning things about yourself and those new thoughts, feelings, passions, and raw emotions will make you appreciate yourself for being authentically you.

5. Do something you’re good at.

If this isn’t the ultimate self-esteem booster, I don’t know what is! Self-esteem and self-love often go hand in hand, and participating in a hobby you’re good at will not only boost your endorphins, but will bring out the best version of you. If you love to cook, then cook! If you love to run, then grab those sneakers, head outside and run for your life.

6. Find your happy place.

Think of a place that makes it simple to just be. That means being able to sit quietly and embrace the here and now. Not thinking about what’s due at work or what bills need to be paid, you owe this happy place to yourself. Self-love is all about connecting with yourself, and one of the easiest places to do that is your happy place.

7. Build your letting go muscle.

We’re constantly holding on to things in our past, and it can tend to weigh heavy on our souls and even give us low self-esteem. The more blocks we clear, the more we can really live big in the area of self-love. Although we may do this as a way to protect ourselves from hurting, it’s really only holding us back from moving forward to reaching optimal self-acceptance and loving who we are.

These 7 practices have literally saved me from countless downward spirals and I know they will do the same for you.

A Journey To True Self-Love

I’ve been on quite the journey lately. A journey deep inside myself with the goal of learning to truly love the person that I am. It has not been easy. While being kind and loving to others has always been second nature to me, the idea of treating myself with that same compassion and care has proven to be one of the most difficult things in my life. But I’ve been working hard on it, and lately I am better prepared for this battle, one of self-acceptance and love that I didn’t know before.

I found myself wondering why this has always been so hard for me. Why is it often so easy for us to love others but we find this concept of self-love so difficult? Is it because we see the idea of self-love as sort of self-centered and think that loving ourselves is just plain selfish? Or is it easier to love others because we see, for the most part, the best sides of them, whereas we have to see and live with what we may view as the worst parts of ourselves? I get it, self-love is hard and I used to think the same things, that self-love was just some trendy idea thrown around in therapists’ offices. But I now believe it’s so important and that life can be so much more fulfilling when you’re happy with the person that you are.

I know it can also be hard to love yourself if you are, like I am, a perfectionist. For a perfectionist, very few things that we do ever feel like they are good enough. We are constantly striving to be better and to do more in our lives. I’ve struggled with this since I was young. And I’ve come a long way with my perfectionism. I like to say that I’m a “recovering perfectionist”. I’ve learned that imperfections can be beautiful and to let things go more easily. I think having a chronic illness as well as struggling with mental health challenges has forced me to learn to be okay with things being less than ideal, because my body often just won’t let me be that perfect version of myself that I pictured myself becoming and strived so hard to be when I was younger. I’ve accepted that life has had other plans for me. Maybe this has been a blessing in disguise.

I wonder, looking back, how much joy and happiness I missed out on because of my perfectionism and lack of self-love. It makes me sad for the girl I was back then, but it also makes me more determined than ever to learn how to truly love the skin that I’m in today. I want to give that girl a big hug and be the person today that I needed back then. But this has proven to be hard. I’ve asked myself many times how I can really do this; how can I really love myself when I live in a body that is constantly letting me down?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in pain which predominantly leads to me saying, “I hate my body”. It’s not easy to love your body when you feel like it is just a constant source of pain and discomfort. But recently I began to wonder how detrimental that viewpoint was on both my body and soul. Constantly feeling like I hated my body and being a tense, frustrated ball of nerves because of my pain just uses up so much valuable energy that I could be using for so much good. So I decided it was time to flip the narrative. Time to change the words I say to myself on a daily basis. The words we speak to ourselves become what we believe and shape who we are. I decided that I was going to learn to love this body that I’ve been given.

While I used to view self-love as kind of cliché and selfish, I now believe it is a beautiful thing that is so incredibly important, especially as a woman and a person that has a debilitating chronic illness. And if you’re a person who loves to help and serve others, learning to first love yourself is paramount. Alan Cohen said, “You can be helping many people, but if you are not helping yourself, you have missed the one person you were born to heal”. You cannot pour from an empty cup. When we first love and take care of ourselves, we can then love others more fully, with our whole hearts.

So how do we cultivate self-love in our lives when it often seems so elusive? For me, I’ve started by looking back at my journey and the challenges I’ve faced, and I’m learning to love my story and the woman who has overcome so much. I’ve started to think about my pain differently. Rather than viewing it as an enemy that I hate, I’ve started to realize the good that has come from my pain. Because I know what true pain is, I am able to feel and appreciate joy and happiness so much more. I have a different perspective on life because of it. It’s given me a wisdom that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s allowed me to help so many other people who are hurting, because I’ve been there and I know how to make it to the other side. My pain has given me purpose, and that’s something I’ve learned to love.

I’ve recently started doing a meditation to help me change how I think about and view my body and pain. During this meditation, I put my hands on different areas of my body while I breathe in, saying to that part of myself, “I love you”. I then breathe out, while telling myself, “we’re healing”. I’ve been doing this every day, with each part of my body, especially the ones that hurt. When I first started this meditation, I thought it was a little silly and I didn’t believe what I was telling myself, but I did it anyway. And I kept doing it. After a few days, the meditation made me start to cry. I was crying because I was thinking about the woman and girl who used to hate her body so much, this beautiful body that I was now starting to love and appreciate. I felt so much sadness for this girl and how I treated her. I wanted more than anything to change that. Since then, I’ve started to believe the words that I’m telling myself. And its a wonderful, freeing feeling.

You may not need to go this far to begin on a journey of self-love, but I encourage you to make self-love a priority and begin by changing some of the things that you tell yourself and how you see yourself. You can start by learning to forgive yourself for your past mistakes. Beating yourself up for ways that you have failed in the past does nobody any good. If you need to, think about how you would treat a little child or your best friend and how you would forgive them for making a mistake, for being human. Think of yourself this way and try to be kinder to yourself. You are human and in this life you will make mistakes. Use them to learn and grow, and then move on.

How many times have you looked in the mirror and seen things that you don’t like about yourself? I’ve started to look at myself and purposefully change the way I view my body. I now see my scars as battle scars that I am proud of; they show how strong I’ve been and all that I’ve overcome. I encourage you to see your scars in the same way.

Our bodies and lives each tell a story that is so special, a story that no one else has. A story that deserves to be celebrated. My hope for you is that you can start to see your body in a new light. See the wrinkles and lines on your face as reminders of a life well-lived; a life filled with all the beautiful and heartbreaking emotions that come with a life lived fully.

See your hands as hands that have loved, provided for, and served others. Hands that have nurtured your children and created beautiful things. See your arms that have held and supported friends when they were hurting and needed a soft place to land.

See your legs that have carried you through life, navigating each obstacle thrown in your way, carrying you through to the other side each time. It may or may not have been graceful, but they’ve always gotten you where you needed to go. See your feet that have met the floor each morning, even when all you wanted to do was stay hidden under the covers. No matter what life throws at you, somehow you have just kept putting one foot in front of the other and facing each day with strength and grace.

Mamas, see your stretch marks as a beautiful reminder of the life you grew inside of you for nine months and brought into this world. See your grey hairs as proof that you’ve shown up, for your family and friends, even when life gets hard. And you will keep showing up, because you are so strong.

I encourage you, if you struggle with self-love, to try to change the way that you view your body and the words that you say to yourself. Even if you don’t believe it at first, keep telling yourself “I love you”, keep viewing your body as beautiful and strong; I promise it will start to sink in. And when you learn to truly love yourself, not only can you love others more fully, but life becomes a little more beautiful and happiness a little less hard to find. Start to put self-love and self-care a little higher on your list, I don’t think you’ll ever regret it. You are so beautiful, and you deserve nothing less.

Why You Have To Learn How To Accept Yourself No Matter What

The older I get, the more I find myself thinking about the idea of self-acceptance, and what a crucial role it plays in how we all conduct and present ourselves on a daily basis as individuals. As someone who has struggled with social anxiety and depression, you could say I have a lot of personal experience with this concept.

From as early as the age of eight, I’ve compared myself with others, choosing to focus on my supposed physical, emotional, and intellectual deficits in comparison as opposed to my God-given strengths and abilities. When I’m feeling extremely anxious, I’ve noticed that I effectively stifle my personality in fear of appearing too vulnerable or embarrassing myself.

Time and time again, I’ve chosen to believe the lies that I’m not attractive enough (which usually translates to ‘thin’ enough), smart enough, strong enough, enough; period.

Despite having a good number of close friends and family members who have continually affirmed me and recognized the beauty in my individuality, I still continue to believe these horrible lies about myself; about who I’ve been created to be.

Despite identifying as a feminist and strongly if not overwhelmingly agreeing with the feminist ideas of body positivity regardless of shape or size and finding one’s self worth in individual capabilities rather than physical appearance and allure, I still believe I am not physically attractive enough and therefore somehow worth less than others.

For the majority of my 25 years, I’ve begun to realize that I’ve both consciously and unconsciously rejected, rather than embraced, countless unique, God-given attributes of myself–from my fuller figure to my being a verbal processor. I’ve asked myself questions of the like countless times: Why don’t I look more like her? Why can’t I just be an internal processor who isn’t so obnoxious and emotional? Why am I always so sensitive? Why do I sound like such an airhead when I try to make a point compared to that smart girl in class?

Today, in reflecting upon these thoughts and many more, I realized something else: the majority of these self-deprecating thoughts have their root in comparison not just to another individual, but mostly to other women. And while I’ve tended to pride myself as one confident enough to be genuinely happy for others in their own personal achievements and happiness, I’m beginning to see that I’m in reality sometimes jealous of them, whether in regards to physical appearance, relationship status or otherwise, and have effectively fallen into the trap our culture sets for women: that we should believe ourselves to be inherently inferior to and therefore be envious of the strengths and abilities of other women, constantly and aggressively competing with them. All too often, what actress Tina Fey in Mean Girls so eloquently described as “girl-on-girl crime” seems to take the form of comparison, whether of the physical, emotional, intellectual or otherwise personal variety.

If another woman appears to be more attractive, intelligent, is in a relationship while you aren’t; fill in the blank, our culture tells us we need to do whatever we can do to beat or outmaneuver them in order to validate our own personal sense of self-worth. Even in demonstrating self-acceptance, we often do it at the expense of other women as though we have something to prove. Consider, for example, the messages of the “empowering” musical anthems of our day written by female artists, such as the bridge and chorus of Meghan Trainor’s hit, “Me Too”:

I thank God every day

That I woke up feeling this way,

And I can’t help loving myself, and I don’t need nobody else (nu-uh)

If I was you, I’d wanna be me too (x3)

While I will clarify that I greatly appreciate Trainor’s musical style, I believe she is very talented and would consider myself a fan, I will also say that I respectfully disagree with the way she goes about getting her message across here. While I certainly admire her self-love and am not denying her right to do so, I do not believe self-acceptance needs to or should be expressed in a way that implies individual strengths can only be recognized in light of others’ inferiority in comparison.

I honestly believe that women like Meghan Trainor in many cases don’t even realize that they’ve fallen into the trap of comparison when attempting to communicate self-love. In this way, the true idea of true, unabashed self-acceptance in the absence of comparison as a woman in today’s society remains radical in comparison to the self-hatred and body dissatisfaction that is culturally encouraged.

Even more radical, then, is the idea that Christ died for each and every one of us despite our being completely undeserving so that we could be given the privilege of a relationship with God, our creator.

While we haven’t all been born prophets, the fact that He has created us each as unique individuals with a purpose speaks volumes about His love for us and our inherent worth; far more than our comparison or perceived superiority to other women ever could. While Christianity and feminism are often assumed and treated as though they are at odds with one another, I don’t believe this to be true. If God accepts and loves us unconditionally in our belief, how much more should we accept ourselves as He has created us to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually? This is, of course, much easier said than done, and is something I can admit I haven’t yet achieved. I’ve started by choosing to remind myself daily of some of my strengths–such as that I am easily able to personally connect and empathize with people, that i am loving, caring and that I’m deeply passionate about mental health and hope to work in the field in the future. As a Christian and a woman, I believe it is necessary and possible to recognize and praise God for these abilities and more that He has gifted me with. Radical, but possible. 

You Have To Remind Yourself That You’re An Individual

You are an individual.

Do they spit lies?

You are told that you’re an individual when in reality everything around you and inside you screams of other people’s expectations and desires.

The minute we are born, parents subconsciously attach their happiness to us. They pick up outfits for us since we’re too young to even know what to wear or how to socialize. They raise us and teach us to adapt to the society, norms and culture that surrounds us. We give in. That’s how it is.

We are born with genes that determine a lot about our physical and sometimes even behavioural characteristics. What’s so original about being born out of centuries of handed-down genes? It’s not like I’m one of a kind, mutated human like the X-men. Even being a mutant comes with a lot of pressure for societal conformity. So I’m rather comfortable being a human, but sometimes I start to wonder: Does that spark of individuality truly exist within all of us, or is everything just a manifestation and effect of things around us.

After all that conditioning, what is actually left of us? Are we truly as individualistic as we like to think we are?

Go to college. Get a degree. Look for a job. Find your soul mate. Get married.

These are all meaningful steps in our lives, but it’s frightening how much of other’s aspirations are invested in us. Our lives are already engineered in advance by society; we are already working our way to that degree or that entry-level job. That’s how life works. It isn’t necessarily a dreary and wearisome journey; in fact it could be rather enjoyable depending on circumstances and personal preferences.

Many of us are studying for degrees not because it’s what we truly want, but merely because there might be a slight chance that our resume will stand out more in the near future when we are hunting jobs. A good handful of us are pursuing a job or degree we don’t want, primarily because it puts food on the table or because our parents might experience that joyous moment when we graduate with a post-graduate degree. We are not as separate as we think we are, our goals and professions are at times attached to other people and their well-being, joy or expectations.

But you know what?

There are rare occasions where we have the ability to tune into our individual being and soul. Some find it through meditation, music or joy in pursuing a hobby no one else knows about.

Others find it in that tiny moment where you’re standing in a crowd of friends and a single thought in your mind knocks down every argument they have to present in the ongoing debate about politics, culture or the economy.

Children who are too young to be aware of morals and consequences stand stubborn as stone against their well-informed parents about something they believe in. That is individuality.

Being put in social conditions and realizing what you feel or think stands apart from any expectation, conditioning or external factor. Experiencing a short moment of self-realization where what you think or feel holds more value than any economic, social or moral standard is being an individual. These tiny moments build up inside us every single day and help morph us into the person we are today or will be tomorrow.

It’s these glimpses within ourselves that allow us to realize we are alone and have the ability to retain our own mind and soul despite everything that is around us.

Self-Love: 23 Ways to Become a Doctor of the Soul

Throughout our early lives, we were taught how to read, write, manipulate, calculate, build, destroy, theorize, study, and analyze life. 

We were taught how to say “please” and “thank you,” as well as what was acceptable and unacceptable to others and society at large.

But most of us had one crucial part of our education neglected: self-love.

Something that continues to shock me about my own upbringing was the distinct lack of emphasis on respect for oneself and acceptance of one’s flaws and virtues alike.

As a child, I can never recall being taught the value of loving oneself; of setting healthy boundaries, knowing how to say “no” and “yes” when you mean it, and learning how to take care of yourself – even at the expense of others.

What about you?

If you were raised in a culture and society similar to my own, you were probably taught to “put others before yourself” and not give much consideration to your own needs.

Self-denial and self-sacrifice were two of the main values taught in our childhoods, and continue to be emphasized as the markers of a “kind, caring, and worthy human being” to this very day.

Unfortunately, what I learned later in life is that these two values taught me nothing more than being a self-imposed martyr with no real understanding of ‘love.’

When we don’t learn how to love ourselves depression, bitterness, anxiety, resentment, isolation, and great unhappiness are the result.

To live a life of joy, to walk a path with heart, we need to learn self-love. We need to heal our own wounds and become doctors of the Soul.

What is Self-Love?

Put simply, self-love is the practice of understanding, embracing, and showing compassion for yourself. Self-love involves nurturing your entire being – that means taking care of yourself on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. When engaging in self-love, we also work to forgive ourselves, accept our flaws, and embrace our inner demons. Contrary to popular belief, self-love isn’t just a blind adoration of our strengths, it’s also an embrace of our weaknesses and shadows.

Why Loving Others Requires Self-Seeking

It sounds like a paradox, but you cannot be altruistic, caring, or compassionate unless you’re selfish.

Unless you’re capable of truly loving yourself first (even the darkest side of your being) you can never fully love somebody else.

Self-seeking is preached in all societies as sinful behavior. We’re encouraged to be self-sacrificers and martyrs for ” the greater good.” History is plagued with stories of the individual hero’s willingness to sacrifice his/her life for the survival of a group or collective of people.

But the truth is that the purpose of our society’s social conditioning is to preserve and develop society as a whole, not to allow individuals to reach their full potential.

This is why taking care of yourself first is met with so much resistance from others: it’s against our collective brainwashing.

But here’s the thing: to be a positive presence in this world, to care for others in an authentically loving way, we must first focus on ourselves. We must first dedicate a large amount of time to our own healing, happiness, and self-fulfillment. In other words, we must be self-seeking.

If you can’t love yourself at a deep level – the place where your love originates from in the first place – how will you ever be capable of true altruism or of truly loving anybody else?

You can’t give away that which you don’t actually have.

Think about it for a few moments.

What Self-Love ISN’T

On the surface, it’s understandable how the word ‘self-love’ could be confused with the words ‘egotism,’ ‘self-indulgence’ or ‘narcissism.‘ But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Self-love isn’t about self-indulgence; it’s about taking care of yourself.

A person who loves themselves wants to become the best they can be, they want to explore themselves, practice inner work, do some soul-searching, work on their flaws, heal their traumas, and find inner peace. 

How is this a bad thing?

We are taught to believe that being self-seeking will jeopardize society as a whole – regardless of what you actually do – so it is condemned indiscriminately.

This attitude is evident when we describe the behavior of a person who succeeds at the expense of other’s well-being with words like ‘selfish.’ But this isn’t selfish, it’s foolish and idiotic!

A person with mindful self-love is aware that they’re actually harming themselves when they harm others. Why? Because they understand that if they hurt others, they will suffer the negative consequences in the long term, which will make life much more difficult for them. They realize that causing suffering to others is actually self-destructive, which is the complete opposite of self-love.

(On a side note, is there any such thing as Altruism, really? The actual act of helping other people does benefit us: it makes us feel good. Therefore, Altruism itself can also be thought of as a “selfish” act.)

If you truly love yourself, you want to take care of yourself. It’s only self-hating egotistical people that harm themselves physically or mentally.

Self-love has nothing to do with egotism or narcissistic self-indulgence. On the contrary, the desire for honest self-exploration requires immense respect and love for yourself. Egotism revolves around the ego, and the ego depends upon the respect of others, not yourself.

Self-Love and Spiritual Awakening

Self-love and spiritual awakening go hand-in-hand. In other words, if you commit to self-love, you also commit to deeper spiritual transformation. Love is a quality of the Heart and Soul – and when you actively seek to expand that sense of self-compassion, you are also awakening new parts of your being.

Perhaps this is the most enchanting thing about self-love: it’s not just a surface practice, it is actually a spiritual path. Hindu mystics call this path that of Bhakti Yoga, and indeed, when we are devoted to loving the Divine essence within us, our practice takes on a more meaningful and alchemical quality.

23 Ways to Practice Authentic Self-Love

Coming to terms with the fact that almost everything which defines a “good and respectable person” is actually false can be hard to accept at first. But as thinker Jiddu Krishnamurti noted:

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

The good news, I discovered, is that with time and persistence, we can learn how to heal ourselves. In essence, we can teach ourselves to become doctors of the Soul, healing our wounds, curing our own sicknesses, and maintaining optimum health through the development of gentle self-love.

If you have just started the path of healing and recovery, or need some inspiration, you might benefit from the following guidance. Here are 23 ways to begin practicing self-love:

1.  Change your diet

Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Swap processed, fatty, and sugary foods, with whole and unprocessed foods. So much research has shown the link between food and the mind. Eating the wrong food can contribute to physical, emotional, and even mental illnesses. Try slowly cutting out junk food, and experience the immense benefits! This is a basic form of self-care.

2.  Identify your subpersonalities

Within all of us, there are subtle and incessant voices that sabotage and paralyze us – these are the voices of our subpersonalities. Awareness is the key to overcoming the negative self-talk of The Worrier, The Critic, The Victim, and The Perfectionist. Practicing self-compassionate mindfulness as an exercise is a good place to start.

3.  Start reading

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.

Charles W. Eliot

No, I don’t mean the news, or the latest gossip on Facebook or Instagram, I mean reading books! Focus on mostly non-fiction books in the spiritual/self-help category. Reading this type of material helps to expand your mind and equips you with inspiring and life-applicable knowledge.

4.  Practice inner work

When we practice inner work, we are shining the light of consciousness into our hidden, unconscious realms. It is within the deeper layers of our minds where unresolved fears, blockages, wounds, and traumas lurk. Working through these issues is paramount to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Learning how to love yourself, healing your inner child, and delving into shadow work are all the cornerstones of inner work.

5. Experiment with self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis is a practice anyone can easily incorporate into daily life – it’s simple and straightforward. By re-wiring your brain on a subconscious level, you can dissolve deep-seated inner obstacles such as self-doubt and addictive patterns of behavior. You can apply self-hypnosis to yourself (which is usually the best approach) or find a plethora of hypnosis recordings already available online.

6.  Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night

Also, ensure you set a stable bedtime! Getting less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night, as numerous scientific studies have found, lowers your immunity, contributes to chronic fatigue, moodiness, depression, anxiety issues, and chronic pain (or fibromyalgia). Aim to go to bed around 10 pm and rise at 6 am.  You’ll feel the difference immediately!

7.  Learn quiet assertiveness

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.

Brené Brown

Permitting others to overstep our boundaries, use, and walk all over us isn’t aligned with self-love. Self-love means self-respect, and therefore, learning how to stand up for yourself and setting strong boundaries is imperative.

8.  Explore your mental traps

Low self-esteem is often the result of false and unrealistic thought patterns that are deeply ingrained within us. These are composed of mental traps such as assumptions, beliefs, comparisons, desires, expectations, and ideals about ourselves and others.

9.  Treat yourself like you would your best friend

Often, we are our own mortal enemies. To heal ourselves, it’s vital for us to consciously change our relationships with ourselves, and treat ourselves with compassion and consideration just as we would with a best friend. You are with yourself 24/7, 365 days a year. Doesn’t it make sense to enjoy your own company? A good place to start with befriending yourself is by practicing morning affirmations.

10.  Welcome solitude into your life

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

May Sarton

When we don’t make space in our lives to be alone, it’s easy for us to burn out, become disorientated, and even ill. Each day, make time for yourself to rewind, relax and reflect, alone. Solitude gives you insight, perspective and reinstates harmony in your life.

11.  Meditate for self-awareness

Becoming self-aware is a key skill in life, a gift that allows you to identify your self-destructive patterns of thought and behavior, and find more peace and balance in life. Meditation, although frustrating and seemingly meaningless at first, is a silently powerful practice with endless benefits. One simple meditative practice you might like to try is breathwork. Aim for 10-15 minutes each morning first thing (or whenever you have time!). It’s worth it!

12.  Identify toxic people in your life

Toxic people cause us to feel wretched and significantly lower the quality of our daily lives. What defines a toxic person? A toxic person (who’s an individual that’s usually just acting out their pain), is often judgmental, manipulative, clingy, backstabbing, ruthless, aggressive, controlling, deceptive, self-pitying, and/or self-destructive. Learning to distance yourself (or flat out remove from your life) those who hinder your self-growth is a difficult, but absolutely necessary step on your journey of healing.

Note: there’s a difference between a toxic and a wounded person. Toxic people consistently create and spread misery whereas wounded people will only act out from time-to-time. Most people are wounded and learning to love them despite their shortcomings is a transformative path of healing itself. However, toxic people often carry an unconscious mission to undermine and demoralize others. These people are best left to their own devices.

13.  Seek supportive companions

Supportive people encourage, uplift, and inspire us. These people have often obtained a certain level of self-love. Because of their ability to respect themselves, they can easily respect and love others. Often it’s not necessary to seek these people out as we naturally gravitate towards them on our paths anyway! If you come across someone, perhaps a soul friend, on your path, stay in touch with them if you can! We all need the help of others.

14.  Learn to trust your intuition

Our unconscious minds are oceans of wisdom, understanding, and insight. Intuition, that mysterious inner guide we all have, is a manifestation of this vast untapped world within us. Learning to trust your intuition will help you to live a life true to yourself and your deepest needs.

15.  Support the well-being of nature

All of life on earth and the universe is profoundly interconnected – the harm we do to others always comes back to harm us in one form or another. By supporting the well-being of nature, we are promoting the well-being of us as individuals.

A few ways of honoring our connection with the earth include choosing local organic produce, eating a plant-based diet, reducing our carbon footprint, buying “non-animal tested” items, and adopting a low waste lifestyle.

By honoring nature, we honor ourselves, and by honoring ourselves, we honor nature. Everything is connected.

16.  Take a walk or jog each day

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

Henry David Thoreau

Writers, creators, thinkers, and health enthusiasts alike have all commented on the simple power and beauty of exercise. Not only does walking (or jogging if you’re up to it) clear the mind, but it also refreshes the Soul – and that’s not mentioning the numerous health benefits! Commit to going for a walk outside for even just 10 minutes a day. You’ll soon notice the difference on nearly every level of your being! Walking is a wonderfully straight-forward self-love practice.

17.  Do a digital detox (aka. stop spending so much time on social media!)

Did you know that on average the American adult spends 2+hours per day on social networks (and that number is increasing)? Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any of the numerous other social networks out there, we waste so much of our time on social media … and what for?

Often times we are motivated by the ability to obtain “likes,” “shares,” “followers,” and “friends” constructing a fragile cyber alter-ego that craves acceptance and validation from others.

It’s common knowledge that spending too much time on social media is associated with a decrease in mental wellness. Toxic comparison, insecurity, low self-worth, jealousy, anxiety, harassment, and other issues have a profoundly detrimental impact on our emotional and mental health.

To practice self-love, we need to regularly practice digital detoxes. A digital detox involves voluntarily refusing to use any form of social media for a period of a few days to a month or more. Uninstall the apps on your phone. Go outside. Plan to do something more nourishing with your time. Journal about your progress. The benefits can often be felt within a day!

18.  Use color psychology

Colors greatly impact our internal well-being (hence the field of “color psychology”). For instance, I have recently replaced a lot of my black, grey, and dull-colored clothing with bright shades of various colors. The experience has been surprising: the colors of the clothes I wear directly impact how much energy I have and how happy I am.

Wearing light blue, for instance, stimulates feelings of openness and yellow stimulates optimism. Dull colors like khaki, granite, and charcoal, on the other hand, are all associated with feelings of apathy, aloofness, pessimism, and despondency.

So think about the kind of colors you surround yourself with. How do they impact your thoughts, feelings, and health overall? This is a simple way of practicing self-love and care.

19.  Make time to explore your passions

It’s your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

Rumi

What drives you? Fires you up? Fills you with joy and a sense of accomplishment? In society, we are conditioned to forget our needs and smother them with other’s desires. As a result, we often lose sight of what truly makes us happy in life.

Many of us abandon our dreams at an early age, and so we live meaningless lives of drudgery and socially approved pursuits (such as having a “good” career, big house, nice car, perfect family, etc.). It’s important, therefore, to ask yourself “What is my passion?” You need to really sit down with this question and ponder it deeply.

Remember, passions are not static – they evolve with us. Whether painting, writing, dancing, designing, building or whatever excites you – pursue it – even if on the sidelines!

20.  Focus on reducing sources of stress in your life

Prolonged stress contributes to endless illnesses in our lives, so it’s crucial to learn how to reduce and deal with it when it comes. Often, stress can be reduced by simply dropping our desires and expectations for ourselves, other people, and situations in life.

Stress can also be reduced by practicing many of the things I have mentioned in this article, e.g., having a good diet, getting 7-8 hours sleep per night, deprogramming negative thought-patterns, and so forth.

21.  Accept your flaws, celebrate your strengths

It’s vital to come to terms with the fact that you are imperfect – there’s no denying it! As part of my journey, I have dedicated a lot of time to exploring my Shadow Self and accepting the embarrassing and even shameful aspects of my nature.

By accepting your flaws, the doorway to self-growth is opened. Accept them, don’t run away from them. Likewise, learn how to celebrate your strengths! Keep a journal of gratitude and honestly list every little thing you appreciate about yourself each day. Balance is essential.

22. Nourish your inner child

Every single person on the face of this planet possesses an inner child, or original self. Your inner child is the most innocent and vulnerable part of you, it is quite literally the child that still lives within you. While this sensitive part is the source of a lot of joy, creativity, and wonder, it also contains tremendous unresolved pain from childhood.

We were all wounded, to some extent, in childhood. We all experienced traumas that we struggled to process. Beginning to work with your inner child is the start of deep emotional healing and freedom. Inner child work is one of the most self-loving paths that you can ever commit to and I highly recommend it.

23. Begin a spiritual practice that feels authentic to you

Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.

Marcus Aurelius

Self-love is a path that caters to every part of our being, including the spiritual. When we live a life that is in service to the ego, something feels lacking. Sadly, when there is nothing greater than the material self, we struggle with feelings of chronic emptiness, loneliness, and depression.

Since the dawn of humanity, we have been a species drawn to the sacred and numinous. You don’t need to be religious to be spiritual (and there’s nothing wrong with being religious either). However, if you’ve been harmed or disenchanted by religion, be assured that you can still have a spiritual practice that is aligned with your authentic needs, perspectives, and desires without religious dogma.

Why Practicing Self-Love Can Sometimes Feel Stressful

Like me, you might have read a lot of material all over the place on self-love.

You might have watched videos of gurus explaining the importance of self-respect, you might have read books on people’s journeys of self-love and you might have a spiritual circle of friends that are always emphasizing the importance of taking care of yourself.

You might be bombarded with the overwhelming desire to love yourself – just like all these other awakened people do – but something isn’t quite right. You find that the more you try to love yourself, the more unhappy you are with your efforts.

You might find yourself berating yourself about an old misfortune or a new resentment, and then later repent, telling yourself “I should let this go and move on, I should be more forgiving.” Or you might try to be more confident in yourself, fall into insecurity and anxiety, and later think “If I am to love myself I have to be more confident in the person I am – I’m not doing well enough!

You might even compare some of your habits with others on the same path and feel miserable as a result, realizing that you are not as “self-loving” as they are.

When it comes to the word “should,” there is a very fine line between motivating oneself and sabotaging one’s happiness. On one hand, we motivate ourselves by setting goals and fulfilling them, (e.g., “I should keep up this exercise routine for the next week to see how I feel”), and on the other hand, we can undermine our happiness by imposing unnecessary ideals, expectations, and comparisons onto what we do.

Have you ever thought something along the lines of, “I SHOULD have more self-love! I SHOULDN’T feel so guilty!”? This is a perfect example of falling into the trap of making self-love a duty, a burden, and a jail cell that restricts our ability to truly grow.

That is the threat of making self-love into a “should”: it actually turns us against ourselves. Ironic don’t you think?

So what do we do if self-love is becoming a burden to us? The answer is to take a step back and be gentle even with our inability to practice self-love.

Self-Love = Gentleness and Forgiveness

At the start of our spiritual journey of self-love, it’s all too easy to be ensnared by the external comparisons we make between ourselves and others who have perhaps advanced more on the spiritual path.

I used to do this a lot until I realized one day that the very essence of self-love is about being gentle and forgiving with yourself.

Thanks to some much-needed guidance, I learned that it was (and still is) completely fine to take my time, to go slowly, and to learn little by little.

I learned that it was OK to be flawed and to continue making mistakes … just as long as I tried, persisted, and pushed through little by little.

So if you haven’t yet reached the pinnacle of what you consider to be self-love yet, don’t worry. It’s not necessary that you push yourself, and it’s not necessary to be hard on yourself – the precise opposite of what self-love is.

Rather, know that self-love, at its core, is the ability to embrace your wrongdoings and imperfections, knowing that you are innately worthy of all the love life has to offer.

Toxic Forms of Self-Love

We’ll now move onto the ‘dark side’ of self-love.

This is a strange topic that not many people shine the light on when discussing self-love. But YES it is possible to use so-called self-loving practices as a way to band-aid our deeper wounds. YES it is possible to unintentionally deceive ourselves as a self-protection mechanism.

Here’s what you need to be mindful of:

1. Cultivating extreme “positive thinking” habits

Replacing the negative cycles of inner talk within us is very helpful. However, not only is optimism often a polarized reaction to pessimism, but it can also be used as a form of avoidance by dismissing the reality of our own pain and other’s pain.

It’s common to use positive thinking as a way to spiritually bypass our own deeper issues.

Bottom line: be careful when approaching positive thinking communities and teachings. Positive thinking becomes toxic when it is used to hide the pain, shame, and fear we carry inside. Often, what we most need isn’t to mask our problems with positivity, but to hold space for our most vulnerable and tender selves.

It’s okay to feel your feelings. It’s okay to be messy and hurt. These are profound opportunities to practice self-love – to love even your most flawed, unsightly self.

2. Thinking that you are perfect the way you are

Yes, it’s beneficial for us to fully embrace the people we are and to love our strengths and weaknesses. However the affirmation “I am perfect the way I am” can lead to problems.

The truth is that there’s no such thing as perfection. Thinking that “I’m perfect the way I am,” can be used as an excuse to avoid growing and changing.

Self-love isn’t about bypassing uncomfortable experiences that catalyze growth under the guise that “we’re already perfect as we are.” Life is about change. And there can never be a state of perfection because perfection is stagnant, unchanging, and dead.

3. Excessive indulgence

Rewarding ourselves every now and then simply for the sake of it is a healthy, self-nurturing habit. It’s nice to relax with that mini-series, spend an hour in a bubble bath and lavish ourselves with nice food, clothing, and other gifts whenever we feel the need.

However, this habit can be taken to the extreme and used to justify unnecessary greed and indulgence that covers up and overcompensates for deeper issues such as the fear of aloneness, worthlessness, and social insignificance. There is a time to reward ourselves and a time not to.

Conclusion

Cultivating self-love is essential if you desire to live a life of joy, love, peace, and fulfillment.

Although it’s usually missed in our early life education, self-love is as vital to daily life as any other fundamental human need.

Without learning how to love ourselves, our lives are filled with self-sabotage, self-loathing, toxic and heartbreaking relationships, emptiness, and a profound lack of connection with life.

I hope that this article has inspired you to re-educate yourself. And please, if you feel that someone else in your life could benefit from self-love, please share this resource with them!