The four levels of self-love:
- Level 1: the day-to-day
- Level 2: embrace your dark side
- Level 3: the deep work
- Level 4: he highest form of love
Level 1 – do you treat yourself like someone you love?
- Prioritize sleep: aim to get enough sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed. The easiest way to do this is to get up at the same time each day, and go to bed when you’re tired.
- Exercise: spend at least 30 minutes a day 3 days a week getting decent exercise. This can be jogging, lifting, frisbee, yoga, team sports, whatever.
- Meditation or silent reflection: personally, I practice Vipassana (Pali for “Insight”) meditation. My suggestion to you is that you experiment with a few different forms until you find one that resonates.
- Express gratitude: share your sincere appreciation for the people around you. Or write down a few things that you’re grateful for each day. I use the Five Minute Journal for this and love it.
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet: if you need guidance on understanding health and nutrition, I suggest starting with Michael Pollan’s excellent (and quick) book, “Food Rules.”
- Set boundaries: are you allowing toxic people, activities, or habits into your life? If so, slowly start removing them.
- Play: are you having fun, and enjoying your day-to-day? If not, play more! Shoot your coworker with a Nerf gun, play mini-golf with your friends, or take an improv class.
- Give yourself small treats throughout the day. Treat yourself to a soy latte. Watch a few cat videos guilt free. Go for a walk. Call in “sick.” Wear your favorite shirt. Giving yourself small gifts throughout the day signals to yourself that you’re an awesome person worthy of a nice life.
The more you act like someone who loves yourself, the more you’ll feel like someone who loves yourself.
Level 2 – embrace your dark side
Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. You’re not a computer. Your perfections are found through your imperfections. If you didn’t fuck up from time to time, you wouldn’t be a human. If you’ve been beating yourself up for things that happened in your past, release yourself. Accept that you’re human and flawed, and that it’s ok. Stop expecting yourself to be perfect. Instead, revel in the imperfections that make you beautiful.If you’re having trouble forgiving yourself, begin by being more forgiving of others.
Realize that it’s human to be disgusting, lazy, jealous, and aggressive from time to time. It’s normal to have dark thoughts and feelings. You can even act on these feelings as long as you find a safe outlet to do so without harming yourself or others. I like to release rage from my system by throwing temper tantrums alone in my apartment. Bottling strong feelings is never a productive idea. An even worse idea is pretending that you don’t have strong feelings or rough edges. Instead, see the truth of who you are. Accept it. When you do, you’ll notice that you can more fully surrender into love.You’d never fault a cat for being a cat. Don’t’ fault yourself for being a human.
Spend time alone in silence. Most people fill their lives with white noise. They use podcasts and music and TV and gossip and busyness and the internet and a million other things to avoid being completely alone in their own company. If you ask someone why they fill their lives with so much noise, they’ll say it’s because they hate boredom. In reality, they are afraid of what they may find if they spent time alone and undistracted.In order to fully see yourself, you need to spend time in silence. Turn your phone and computer off and be by yourself. Alone, in silence, undistracted. Don’t be afraid of what comes up. If it’s darkness, trust me, it will pass.
You might be surprised to find a neglected sense of enchantment, joy, and compassion resting deep inside, waiting for you to create the space for it to come out.
Level 3 – the deep work of removing the walls that protect your heart
The deep work of learning to love is done by shining a bright light on yourself and accepting the truth about things that happened in your past.
Level 4 - accepting yourself and sharing your gift
The practice of love involves working with yourself wherever you’re at. Having a shitty day? Accept that. It’s ok. In one of those stretches where everything you touch turns to gold? Beautiful. Use it for good.
Your ultimate work in self-love is simply this: step fully and boldly into your life. When times are tough, be gentle on yourself. When times are good, relish them.
As you grow closer to yourself (and you’ll notice that in doing so, you become more powerful) your final task is simple: use everything you have in service of yourself and in service of others. Share your gift.