Self love - how I have learned to be more kind to myself

One of the core principles of yoga is ahimsa, a Sanskrit word meaning “non-violence”. The principle rests on the idea that when we do no harm to ourselves, we do no harm to others. This is self-love.

There’s so much on social media–quotes, pretty pictures, videos–that can make us compare ourselves to others and feel like we’re not good enough. It goes into our subconscious minds and we can end up feeling inadequate.

It can become overwhelming and we can get distracted by what others do. Becoming immersed, going around in circles, and beginning negative self-talk is very easy. I have gone down this path and it’s not healthy.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re having very negative thoughts towards yourself and it affects the other people you’re with? It can change the whole situation.

For example, if I’m feeling low or having a day where I’m not feeling particularly positive or I’m being very negative towards myself, it affects my whole family–their moods, how much my kids talk to me, how they might react to certain situations and vice versa.

I know that it’s not always possible to be happy and positive. This wouldn’t be normal because our moods fluctuate depending on our circumstances. But when we work on being more compassionate to ourselves, it can change our outlook.

I’ve realised over the years, as I’ve deepened my knowledge of the practice of yoga, that ultimately we just need to be our authentic selves–and this starts with self-love. 

In the past, I was very rigid about my self-care practices, having a strict list of what I should do and holding myself to impossible standards. Over the years, I’ve softened and started to listen to what my body and mind need through self-love. 

I’m not saying that everything should be rosy all the time. But we can use compassionate practices daily that help us feel better about ourselves and positively affect our loved ones or anyone that we might come into contact with.

Here are a few ways you can start to bring self-love into your life:

1. Write yourself a love note as if you were your best friend and tell yourself all the beautiful things about you, all your good qualities, and what makes you special.

2. Catch yourself when you are saying something negative and use the opposite. Rephrase ‘I’m not good enough’ to ‘I am good enough’. Playing with the opposites can be one way to help change the narrative and how you feel about yourself or your situations.

3. In Ayurveda, Sneha, the word for “oil” also means “love”. Putting oil on your body before you shower can allow you to connect with and nurture yourself.

4. Eat a nourishing healthy meal. Here  is a simple healthy recipe that I love.

5. Practice yoga nidra meditation. I have a few on my YouTube channel you can listen to.

6.Saying no more often.

Practising these acts of love helps you slow down and change your thinking and how you view yourself and the world around you.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with a new to do list, but by practising one of the suggestions on the list above you can open the doors to self-love and non-violence towards yourself and others. Making changes can feel liberating and deepen your relationship with yourself and others. Only when you can show yourself love, then you can do the same for others.

If you feel that your emotions or negative thoughts are more than you can cope with, seek out a counsellor or someone that can support you.

“The more we practice nonviolence in our words, thoughts and actions the more peaceful will be our inner state.”

Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power

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