By Samantha Hannah, Image Coach & Motivational Speaker
As I sat opposite my client listening to her story and watching the tears fall down her face, I had a moment of clarity; this beautiful soul needed love, but not from clothing or knowing her body shape, she needed to learn to love herself.
8 years ago, after that session, I decided to start learning ways to teach others the art of self-compassion and self-love as well as self-expression. I truly believe that when we love ourselves completely, flaws and all, we become more abundant, kind and compassionate to ourselves and others.
My client was a Doctor, an intelligent, successful woman and loving mother. She apologised for her tears continuously for an hour, calling herself stupid, even though I kindly reassured her that many women felt the same and she was far from stupid. They too felt body shame and pressure to look a certain way. We all have a self-critical voice that, if we’re not careful, can take over our every thought, making us believe we are as worthless as we tell ourselves.
We wouldn’t dream of speaking to anyone the way we speak to ourselves – useless cow, you’ve forgotten your keys again; Yuck, look at your fat bum, gross! Yet, we continue to speak to ourselves everyday in an unkind way and most of the time we are unaware of it.
Think about this for a minute… we become what we think. If we’re thinking negative thoughts about ourselves all day long – research suggests 80% of our daily thoughts are self-critical – then we begin to believe it. We manifest our thoughts.
Self-love is all about treating ourselves as a friend. Dr Kristen Neff, is pioneering the way in research on self-compassion and self-love, and she defines it as, “being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness rather than over-identifying with them.”
Practicing self-love daily can be one of the biggest game-changers of your life. Once you stop comparing yourself with others and start noticing your similarities – like the fact that everyone has a unique body & story – we begin to realise we are more than our body. We are beautiful, valuable, loving women with so much to contribute to this world.
Speaking unkindly to ourselves alleviates the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight) and increases cortisol, the stress hormone, into our bloodstream. Basically being self-critical means we are stressing ourselves out by spending most of our day fighting with… ourselves. Exhausting, right?!
Being loving and compassionate toward yourself will lower your cortisol and increase the love hormone, oxytocin, which is associated with feelings of wellbeing, trust and loyalty.
There’s a myriad of positive benefits to loving yourself, I can go on for hours about it. But the one message I hope to teach all women is this; give yourself permission to be you. Discover your values, beliefs and desires and live by those. We all have a story, tell yours.
I recently did a 10 day SAMIE self-love challenge on youtube. Come on over to my blog, and give it a go. I’d love to see you there and read your comments below each video. Once you get to know your story, and own it, you’ll be able to be tell that to the world confidently through self-expression. And you deserve that!