What if self-love is tough love?
In our Wellbeing Coach training we cover self-love and ask the question how would you describe love if you had never been in love or received love?
What would your answer be? How would you describe love?
I often think back to the comic strip characters, Love Is… of the 1970s (showing my age!! ) and how they put different words after Love Is… For example: Love Is… A song in Your Heart; Love Is…Taking One Day at a Time. They are, in many ways, beautiful affirmations.
My point though, is love can be defined in many ways. From the way it makes us feel, to the acts we do, to the way we care, to the way we bond with others, to the way we look after our environment, to the way we interact with our community and more. For love is often underneath what motivates and shapes our better qualities.
We also need self-love, where we care and cherish ourselves, we nurture and nourish our health and take loving action to ensure we manage the daily demands of our everyday lives.
Self-love can also be a self-soothing act, where we find things to calm down our stressed out, overwhelmed, over anxious nervous system. This is important, as the ability to self-soothe takes us out of fight and flight (the sympathetic nervous system) and into rest and digest (the parasympathetic nervous system). This allows our bodies, minds and soul to re-set, which in turn gives us our energy to continue with the day to day demands of life without being constantly stressed out.
Yet… this self-soothing mechanism can morph into over-indulgence, ‘bad’ habits and start to wreak havoc on our bodies. Change, as we learn on our Wellbeing Coach training, is difficult especially when we feel we are getting a reward for that existing habit.
Why then have I asked – is self-love tough love?
Surely, we need kindness, compassion and care to change?
Of course we do but sometimes we find our kindness in the bottom of an ice-cream tub or a bottle of wine! This can lead to our inner critic leaping in to tell us how weak willed we are, how disgusting we are and words which are not filled with love at all.
Which is where tough love comes in!
Think of it as your discipline, your commitment to yourself, your boundaries as to what is acceptable and not acceptable to you. We look after our children in kind and compassionate ways by setting boundaries. We tell them what time to go to bed, to brush their teeth and wash their faces, by making them eat their veggies, do their homework and so on. Of course, children can push back and don’t always make life easy for parents and tough love can be hard to enforce.
But I want you to think about how we set boundaries and act with tough love to protect and cherish. I want you to think of your self-love as tough love as you protect and cherish yourself and you do the things you may not in the moment want to do… go to the gym, eat the healthy food, get an early night, speak up when you are being put down, set time limits for social media etc.
So on this coming Valentines Day, the day of love… I ask you again what is love and can you learn to love yourself harder, more compassionately, more beautifully by creating some tough love boundaries for yourself and show up for you with discipline, commitment and exquisite self-care?
You’re also welcome to read more of our insight into self-love here.