What a concept? Radical. Self. Love.
I first heard this phrase – Radical Self-Love (RSL) – back in 2011 after stumbling on a blog by Vancouver-based RSL ninja, Kelsey Grant. She blogged for 365 days about reinventing her life based on giving herself radical amounts of self-love.
What a concept!? Radical. Self. Love. Radical Self-Love. I would say it over and over, breaking down the words into their individual meaning and then putting them back together.
So often when we’re trapped in the dumps of life we think that we can ‘think’ or ‘earn’ or ‘acquire’ our way out of it. “All I need to be happy is get a new job and earn more money” or “I need to earn my right to be happy…if I become more strict with my scheduling/eating/will-power I’ll be happy”, “If I could just stop doing XYZ I’ll be happy”, “If so-and-so stops doing this/would only start doing this for me, I’ll be happy.”
Nope. Nada. Not even close. Doesn’t work. Punishing ourselves or looking outside ourselves for love for does not breed growth. It shuts us down. It puts us in a teeny-tiny box.
But boxes are safe, right?
And I’m not preaching. I was the absolute WORST at this! My obsession in life was making sure everything looked perfect on the outside by beating my soul and spirit on the inside into oblivion.
We get so accustomed to hiding our inner mush from the world, while at the same time comparing that same mush to other people’s armour. And we trick ourselves into thinking this is fair. This makes me sad for the world. And it’s not just women that do this. It’s men too.
This is where the running comes in for me. About a year ago when I decided to run consistently for pretty much the first time in my adult life, I also decided that I had had enough of beating myself up over my most vulnerable parts, and I was going to let my inner mush have a say in what it wanted. I listened and it told me that it wanted love. Radical self-fucking-love.
Well, alright then. Message received.
Last April I decided that for 30 days I would do a few key things that made me feel like I loved myself instead of hating myself:
1) I did a YouTube ‘30 days of yoga‘ program, and no; it wouldn’t be the most hardcore program I could find. It would be gentle. I love yoga.
2) I would run every day that I could. You all must know by now how much I love running.
3) I would make as many meals for myself as I could and give myself proper nutrition, and stop treating my body like a dumpster.
4) I would journal every morning and just let my brain word-vomit for as long as it needed. I would write down my biggest fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations, anxieties without a filter and without judgement. I needed to get that shit out of my head.
5) I would meditate every day for just 10 minutes using the Headspace app. I was reading the science about what just 10 minutes of meditation a day does for your mind and body, and I felt like I desperately needed to find some space for my mind to learn to stop incessantly chatting to me. It was torture. I know that a lot of you know what this feels like. Absolute, bloody torture.
What happened? Radical self-love happened and my perception of the world expanded. I was no longer a slave to self-hatred. I was no longer a victim of my own abuse.
As I continued on the path I felt like I was a well that had been dry for 100 years and was finally getting filled with water. I was so desperate for my own kindness that I couldn’t stop, and still can’t because I am the most powerful ally that I have.
I don’t believe we were put on this earth to suffer, especially at the will of ourselves. We can’t control how others treat us, but we have absolute control over how we treat ourselves. Why is it then that we are continually throwing ourselves under the bus and putting everyone and everything else first and the expense of ourselves.
Well that all sounds fine and dandy, but how the heck can this help society be better if all we’re focused on is ourselves?
Well – I’m glad you asked!
- Self-Love encourages human connection: Historically, I’m not a person to ever ask for help when I need it. But ever since I’ve loved the mushy/vulnerable parts of my soul I feel so much more comfortable asking for help from others when I need it. A hug, a movie date, a phone call to chat or cry. This is totally new to me.
- Self-Love encourages self-connection: when my mind gets overwhelmed or anxious my newly-trained awareness is to ask myself “what would make me feel good right now?” as opposed to “what can I do to distract myself from this?” Through this new awareness I let my heart answer the question, and the answers usually range from meditation, a run, yoga, a funny video on YouTube, a hug, journaling, a call to my parents. Now, at least I give my heart the opportunity to have a say as opposed to letting my over-active, anxious, problem-solving mind be the one to give the ruling.
- Self-Love encourages physical and mental health: whenever I don’t feel like going for a run or exercising, along with telling myself that all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other, I tell myself that exercise is an act of self-love and immediately my perception of it changes. Then I’m out sweating before I know it.
- Self-Love encourages confidence: I was always so so so so so so afraid of making a mistake at work. Oh my goodness, what kind of painful trauma would I feel if someone knew I wasn’t perfect!? Well, I’ve learned that authentically saying “I don’t know, but I can find out” is much more appreciated by people than trying to inauthentically cover up the fact that you don’t know and then flounder your way through a task. Ugh. I get tired just thinking about it.
So there you have it: my manifesto on Radical Self-Love.
Peace Out, friends 🙂
Days until the marathon: 21
(Featured image by Mayur Gala licensed under CC0)