Why is it so important to practice self-love when suffering with chronic pain?
Over the past decade the concept of self-love has become widely popularised through self-help literature and become part of our everyday vernacular, but what does it really mean and how can we use this concept to help us heal?
Back in the 50’s the first advocates for self-love followed suit from John Lennon when he said…
‘We need to learn to love ourselves first in all our glory and imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others’.
Self-love, however, back in the 50’s was misinterpreted as a freedom from sexual repression, rather than a personal journey of self-discovery.
Like many awakening souls suffering with chronic pain we often fall short on the self-love practice as many of us have experinces traumatic childhoods that have taught us this habit is not soically acceptale but did we really understand the meaning of self-love back then? And…how it can be used to heal us.
Initially, with such strong polarised views on self-love, the concept was rejected by many due to its connotations with selfishness and alternative, hippy thinking. More recently however, we have learnt that without this primal act of self-nurturing, we cannot fully self-actualise and grow into our potential.
What we’ve also learnt more recently, after covid restrictions and isolation, is that if we can’t live with ourselves, there is no escape. It’s best to love ourselves now, rather than wait until it’s too late.
A fundamental lesson that has been coming up time and time again recently is that if we don’t take this time for ourselves to recharge, we really can’t be there for anyone else.
Why do you think they always tell mothers with small babies on aeroplanes to put their oxygen masks on first? Because if we are not healthy, whole, and happy we can’t show up for our loved ones authentically.
Taking time to practice daily routines that inspire self-love can help break the unhealthy internal dialougue. The unhealhty dialougue can perpetuate the cycles of abuse that tiggers a pain response in our minds and bodies and can keep it stuck on fight or flight mode. When we can break free from the cycle of negative thinking we can ease some of the suffering.
What does self-love mean to you?
To me it means…
· Listening to my intuition when I feel something isn’t balanced.
· Being able to speak my truth and have it respected and heard.
· Owning my thoughts and taking responsibility for the hurtful reactions I project outwards when feeling unsafe.
· Healing my core wounds so that I can interact from a place of compassion.
· Speaking to myself with compassion and respect.
· Holding a balance between opening my heart to support others and setting clear boundaries to protect it from further pain.
· It’s refusing to let others manipulate me into change just because it suits their needs.
· Valuing my time, space and energy, so that I can show up as the best version of me in each situation.
· Daring to believe that I’m valuable enough to succeed at anything in life.
· It’s not putting incredible amounts of pressure on myself just because society says I should have reached certain goal posts by now.
How do I sustain these practices?
Each morning I wake up and remind myself of what it means to practice self-love. I use affirmations to sustain the belief that all is well.
I respond rather than react to triggers.
I know that I am safe and loved because I provide this for myself.
When emotions arise that are uncomfortable, I process and transform them through this simple technique from Tara Brach called RAIN.
The acronym stands for:
Recognise — means that you start to become aware of the emotions stemming from triggers as they arise.
Allow — suggests that you do not try and label or change the emotion and tell it to not be there or force it away but simply be with it.
Investigate — requires a questioning and exploration of the emotions that have arisen. Looking for root causes that initiated the trigger.
Nurture — asks us to bring compassion to the experience by using affirmations such as…
“You are ok sweetheart”
“You have every right to feel this way”
“Nothing is wrong with you for feeling like this”
Once these emotions are processed using this acronym RAIN they are more easily released from the body. The final step can be attained through movement and imagination work together. Combining dance, tai chi, yoga meditation or running with affirmations can help release painful emotions and store greater feelings of self-love.
How do you think these top athletes create new states of empowerment?
They transform energy into a powerful asset that they can use to harness their success!
When we live in a state of self-love the body naturally starts producing more happiness and positivity hormones which trigger a healing response in the body.
When we make self-love a daily practice, we start to notice the remarkable impact it has on our lives and those around us.