What is self-love? And how can you practise it?

Are you practising (and feeling the benefit of) self-love? And if not, are you even aware of what it really means, and how it can help enrich and give true meaning to your life?

We recently shared the adventures of one mum on a self-love programme. But it got us thinking about what ‘self-love’ really means, and how we can all learn to be true to it and live a more personally fulfilled life.

Our Sunday blogger, Katie Phillips explains what self-love means to her, and how she has practised it in different ways throughout her life.

Looking back on my childhood

I’ve been doing some thinking of late, and I began to realise just how blessed I was as a child.

My dad inspired me to suck the marrow out of life – to take it by the balls and really go for it. I will never forget the day his great big hand grabbed my tiny fingers and he looked at me and said, “You are ’I Can Do Anything, Katie’,” and I believed him. In that moment, at the age of 10, I decided I COULD do anything. And I did.

My mum inspired me to ‘do unto others’. To speak well, to appreciate my intellect, to take care of myself and really honour and respect my precious body. And I do.

Learning the hard lessons

You see, so much of what I have shared over the years since I founded Daring and Mighty in 2010 has focussed on the tough stuff – the hard lessons I have had to learn, the emotional wounds that needed healing and the growing up that I needed to do.

Over the years I have shared my stories, warts and all, because I’ve wanted to demonstrate that transformation is available to anyone if they choose it.

Some of my ‘stuff’ was pretty significant, and there was a time that I didn’t believe it could be turned around. The fact that I discovered a way free of all that was holding me back is what I tend to shout about, because it’s so unbelievably awesome!

I’ve always been Daring & Mighty

What I haven’t shared is the truth that my Daring & Mighty life began before I embarked on a personal development journey. It started before I had my spiritual awakening, and well before I began to heal my emotional wounds and transform my limiting beliefs and unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

In fact, I have been Daring & Mighty as far back as I can remember and I am so grateful that I was born with such an adventurous spirit, and gifted with parents who encouraged and supported my innate desire to be different and to shine.

Not least because I now get to mentor women who might not find it as innately natural to express their spirit and yet who know without doubt that they are meant for more.

What self-love means to me

All this recollection made me think about the meaning of self-love again. Self-love is giving yourself permission to take action on your desires. It means listening to the yearnings of your spirit and making the decision to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

As a young girl, I wanted to be different and to stand out – so I auditioned for plays and dance troupes, I competed in Japanese speech competitions, I excelled academically, I worked part-time to afford a school trip to Japan, and I deliberately went to a different high-school to my peers. Despite being a very shy, rather worried and anxious child, my spirit desired to shine and I did. In my own unique way.

In my 20′s, following my spirit led me to adventures around the world. I was driven by travel, creativity, discovery, mischief, glamour, modelling, men, career and good times. I put myself out there. I got amongst it and really lived.

In my 30′s, my adventures moved inward. As I entered true adulthood I encountered the reality of what was required of me to be able to relate healthily to other people. Having a child was my biggest wake-up call and my spirit urged me to heal emotional, mental and childhood wounds that were preventing me from creating the family I so deeply desired.

I moved into a new phase of life where it was no longer all about me. It was about service to a greater purpose and I wanted to understand what I was meant for. So I dug deep to get to the root of why I was here, and how I was to contribute to this world.

Our desires change as we move through life

Being Daring & Mighty is all about loving yourself. It’s about giving yourself permission to take action on your desires because that is the most loving thing you can do for yourself.

Self-love has taken on very different forms over the span of my life – from cruising the Mediterranean on a super yacht to signing up for intensive group therapy! I turn 40 next week and it’s poignant to look back and see how each decade has had me show up for myself in such different ways.

Our desires change as we evolve through life, and I’m excited to see what my forties will bring. I’m committed to listening to my spirit and taking action on her nudges.

It feels good to know that I am consciously available to fully show up for myself now that I really understand what self-love means.

Are you practising self-love?

But what about you? Are you truly loving yourself and listening to your spirit? What is that you really want or need to achieve in this phase of your life, and what decisions can you take to make it happen?

As mums, it’s all too easy to focus our energies on the needs of others – our employers, our customers, our partners, families, friends and children. But if we don’t take care of our own desires, we won’t have as much to give everyone else.

Start listening to your own needs

So try to find some quiet to to think about what your needs are – take a walk on your own, meditate, practise yoga, lose yourself in a pleasurable activity… whatever helps to still your mind and gives you distance from the noise of your life.

When you have that mental space, think about what thoughts or ideas fill your spirit with joy. What you’d love to do. Your dreams. And then make a pact with yourself that you are going to start taking actions and making decisions that will make these thoughts and ideas real.

Promise to love yourself enough to give value to your needs, and be Daring & Mighty as you move into the next phase of your life.

Katie Phillips is the founder of Daring & Mighty, an organisation committed to sharing the importance of having a healthy, loving and conscious relationship with yourself.