A Year of Self-Love
November; Moving through pain
Self-love is the practice of loving yourself just as you are. Loving all sides of yourself: the light as well as the darkness. Acknowledging that there is nothing you need to hide or push down, all parts of you are welcome.
This month, we’re exploring the role that self-love plays in our healing. When life brings us unexpected pain and challenges, while we cannot control our external circumstances, we do have control over our response. We have control over how we take care of ourselves. We have control over how we heal our wounds. We can choose to respond from a place of self-love each time. While this may not always be the easiest way it is the way that will bring us more peace and happiness in the long term.
Ups and downs are a natural part of life. It is easy to love yourself during the ups; when life is going well. The real test comes during the downs. Can you love yourself when you’re not feeling great? When it feels like things are falling apart? This is more challenging, but these are the moments when you need your love the most.
Allowing yourself to feel and express (rather than suppress) your pain and challenges is crucial to self-love.
If you don’t allow yourself to truly feel, the difficult emotions don’t just leave - they stay, and they fester. They impact your future decisions and behaviours and inhibit your ability to connect deeply with who you really are, and how you want to be in the world.
While we’re generally taught to celebrate the positive emotions, most of us are taught to feel ashamed and push down the more difficult ones. But the most self-loving thing to do is to invite them in, to feel them, to explore what they are trying to teach you, and then to release them when you are ready.
Start by asking yourself: “What am I feeling right now?” Label the emotion you’re feeling; maybe it’s sadness, anger, grief, frustration, anxiety or guilt?
Then allow yourself to feel it for a little while. Set aside some time to cry it out, or maybe write out all your thoughts in a journal. Maybe talking to a trusted friend works better for you, or it may feel good to go and punch a pillow. Move the body or scream if you need to and know that by honouring your feelings in the moment, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of feeling good again soon.
While it is unrealistic to be happy all of the time, you can choose to respond to your current emotions and circumstances with self-love, and honour moving through the pain with that in mind.
Sabi Kerr is a yoga teacher and life coach. It’s her passion to support people in developing deep levels of self-love, so that they can move forwards and create their fullest lives (sabikerr.com)
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.