Love Yourself

My Instagram followers know I am a pro-self-lover, for all women but especially women over 40. The whole “self-love” thing is being talked about all over the place right now. #SELFLOVE

So I start this new year with a piece on self-love and why it’s so important to love yourself, especially for women over 40 that are coping with self-conscious aging in a time where every wrinkle is seen as failure. Many women experience a feeling of becoming “invisible when they get older”.

Why women are increasingly treated as if they’re invisible as they age (apparently it applies more to women than to men) is not very surprising. We live in a youth-fixated culture where people are afraid to age and to be vulnerable to growing older; where ideals about attractiveness are oriented around those with young, flawless and healthy bodies.

Self-love on social media meaning “You have to love yourself more”. In daily conversation with our friends we ask them “Why don’t you love yourself?” And “If you only loved yourself, this wouldn’t have happened to you” is a common answer to many problems.

“You can’t love another person until you love yourself first.”

These are just a few of the self-love directives that we give or get to suggest a way to more living fulfillment. Easier said than done because what really is self-love? It took me years to understand the concept of self-love. I didn’t really love myself in the first place but I also really didn’t like to get older. But ultimately I found out that self-love is one of these concepts you “just get”. You don’t logically understand it. You feel it.

In my case I read about it, I practiced what was suggested in books and articles, I gave birth to my son (what has put my life in a different perspective) and then one day I just got it (or rather on most days..). My mindset shifted and I started loving myself more and more. Just like that? Yes, just like that… What I found out is that self-love is a practice. That’s great news right? You can practice your self-love to build the foundation of your happy life.

Not sure how to practice your self love? Here is what I’ve learned:
  • In the first place accept yourself as a whole person, the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly. Accept your aging body. Remember aging is a privilege and the media is fucking with your mind and telling you aging is a bad thing while getting older is a natural process. Lucky you.
  • Always choose yourself first, even if it means upsetting others and not being loved anymore (or a bit less).
  • Stop blaming your parents for your current issues and start to look for ways to heal your wounds by seaking support (therapists, coaches, and healers).
  • Speak what’s on your heart, stop swallowing words that express what you feel or want.
  •  Nurture your body with healty food & drinks, sleep well, exercise and comfort it.
  • Wear clothes that make you feel happy and stop wearing “what you’re supposed or not suppose to wear when you are over 40“”. Choose clothes that fit your personality.
  • Build a life that you love for yourself, not (only) for your partner.
  • Make time to do what you love, dance, sing, play, write, bake, whatever.
  • Stop feeling guilty (or think you’re arrogant) about loving your inner and outer beauty. You are beautiful inside and out.
  • Accept the past and let it go.
  • Forgive and move on.
  • Decide on what kind of life you actually want. Then say ‘NO’ to everything that isn’t that.
  • Spend quality time with yourself, meditate, write, read a helpfull book, go for long walks in nature.
  • Only share your heart, self and dreams with people that truly care about you.
  • Trust the path your soul is on and make a genuine effort to become a conscious co-creator of your own destiny.
  • Follow what your gut/intuition says.
  • Dream big without contaminating these dreams with judgments, our perceived limitations, or a lack of sense of deserving.
  • Take responsibility for all of your experiences.
  • Learn to set boundaries that protect and nurture your relationships, with yourself and others.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes and not berating yourself for making them. Instead, chose to appreciate your desire to learn and grow.
  • Still love yourself even when you fail miserably at practicing these self-love goals.
Your inner voice

That voice you hear in your head has been there your whole life. Maybe you have not paid attention to it before? But now that you do, you might be shocked to hear some of things you say to yourself.

You’ve been feeding yourself these messages for years, unconsciously. And the more you hear something, the more you believe in it. Which means that all those negative things you say to yourself have become your daily truth.

Once you are aware of your inner voice and you catch yourself saying something bad to yourself, try to cancel that thought and replace it with a supportive, loving and caring message. And just keep doing that. Over time you’ll change the negative thought into positive once and finally – you will start to believe it.

Love yourself emotionally and physically

How does one love themselves? Let’s see… If you love someone, what do you do? Think of your partner, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, your family, children, your lover or your best friend. Do you spend quality time together? Do you like to spoil them with attention, love and gifts?

 Love is a feeling, and love is a verb. Love is just as much about feeling as it is about doing.

So when you love yourself it’s a feeling and there are things you can do to love yourself even more. You can enjoy the things you like in life, things that bring you pleasure, just for you, by yourself. Things that make you happy.

(If you’ve never tried it before, the idea of doing something alone might scare you a bit – it might be a bit of a challenge to start doing thing by and for yourself.)

Do you feel weird about doing stuff by yourself? Do you feel like the biggest loser when you’re going to the movies by yourself?  Well, that’s a clear sign you don’t yet love yourself (enough). Because once you do feel comfortable about it, you’ll start enjoying spending time by yourself.

Self-love is about becoming your own best friend and feel completely happy and whole even when there is nobody else next to you.

Here what I do to keep my self-love up to date, I:

  • Do nothing (I just sit, or lie down but I just do absolutely nothing)
  • Write (I write down my thoughts, poems, a book, or my daily journal)
  • Take photographs
  • Read a book
  • Visit a museum
  • Paint (or something else that allows me to express myself creatively)
  • Buy a new dress
  • Get a massage
  • Go for a yoga class or meditate
  • Dance and sing (like crazy around my house)
  • Listen to music
  • Go for a walk in nature
  • Look for more depth in my life. A beautiful appearance is important, but a beautiful and healthy inner self is much more important and ultimately resuls in a longer and happier life.

The more you practice acts of self-love, the stronger message you send to yourself: “You deserve this”.

Last but not least self-love isn’t being…selfish, self-centered, indulgent or narcissistic. Loving yourself is filled with self-compassion, self-care, and self-forgiveness. Did you know that people with self-love are happier and healthier people? Self-love is only about accepting who you are and respecting yourself.

Happy New Year!

This community originated from my love for photography, fashion, lifestyle, and consciousness. After I turned 40 I started to miss inspiring websites with coolness and authenticity towards aging.