Now, as we start to emerge from lockdown, shielding or self isolation, and we begin another new state of normal. I'm wondering how you're feeling about You?

How well have you looked after yourself since restrictions were imposed?  And how do you intend to look after yourself now?  Because in this period of massive almost continuous change, its more important than ever to be feeling steady and ok in ourselves, even whilst riding our roller coaster of emotions. 

What do I mean by this? 

I mean now more than ever we need to love ourselves.

This means more than looking after your physical body...self-care. 

More than looking after your emotional and mental wellbeing…self-compassion.  

It means cherishing and nourishing your spiritual essence.

You might have considered self-love narcissistic?  Yet the way I define it above is anything but.  It's not excessive.  It's not self admiration or arrogance.  And it's certainly not selfish.

Because until we can feel love for and start to heal ourselves, I’m not sure how it’s possible for humankind to truly heal.  Healing comes from love, not from fear or hate.  And as you know, I always advocate starting with yourself. 

Having spoken to and worked with lots of you  during the first phase of this coronavirus pandemic, I understand that loving yourself is at the bottom of your list. In fact rarely even on your radar let alone list.

Getting through the day. Looking after others.  Focusing on your children or elderly family members.  Trying to home school.  Trying to work.  Worrying about selling or the availability food and household essentials.  Dealing with your own emotions and the emotions of your family, friends, staff and colleagues.  Getting on with things.  Coping with the strangeness of living and working in a completely different way.  They’re on your list.

Whereas loving yourself feels self-indulgent. Because it means paying as much attention to what’s going on inside you as you do to what’s going on in the outside world….perhaps more so . It means getting curious about where you’re refusing to look.  When you’re suppressing your emotions.  What you’re saying to yourself to get through each day.

It means exploring the good too - what nourishes you. Thinking about how you care for your whole self: not only for your physical health and well being, but also for your spiritual, emotional and mental health and well being. Considering what You need and whether that’s changed as a result of the changing circumstances we find ourselves in. 

As a first step I invite you to consider what the thought of loving yourself brings up for you? 

How does it make you feel to be thinking about You right now? 

Because your feelings arise from your thoughts in every moment.  If you want to know what you're thinking, just pause and sense how you're feeling.  If you're not feeling good then that's an indication that your thinking needs attention.  Because our natural state is one of peace, harmony and ease.

That's not to say you should be feeling great all of the time.  Or that you have to put yourself first all of the time. But rather that you at least need to be on your own list.  You need to give yourself some thought and attention! 

Because in my experience, when you start to prioritise you...when you start to really nurture yourself, look after yourself, look after your own needs, and not look elsewhere to get those needs met...you stop feeling so frustrated or resentful of other people when they don't fulfill your needs - you know, those needs they’re not even aware of (and you may not be aware of yourself)!

And when you start being kinder to yourself, catching yourself when you’re feeling ‘less than’, or guilty, ashamed or embarrassed.  When you shine a light on the unseen shadows and wounds you’ve been travelling with.  You can start to heal and love all of you….the bits you’ve disliked or hidden, as well as the bits you already like or are proud of.

So if it's important to love yourself up, what can you do today to help yourself do just that? What can you do this week?  This month? 

What will move you forward?  

And as important as what you can and will do, is what you can and will stop doing, thinking or saying?

Personally I've got so much better at moving from self-care through self-compassion to self-love.  And it has been a gradual process for me....recognising and prioritising meeting my own physical needs, then my emotional and mental needs....being so much kinder to myself, less judgemental and harsh, especially when things don't go according to plan (which let's face it is most of the time!!)  

The reason I say "much better" is because there is no perfect human being in this respect; perfect or always loving in our thoughts, words and actions.  

Being human comes with a propensity for negative bias.  However, once you recognise this....that it's impossible to be compassionate with yourself, or love yourself all of the time.  That thoughts simply appear and you’ll sometimes feel sh***y, but that if you understand this will pass and more thoughts and feelings will replace them when you stop thinking “I don’t like them” or “I shouldn’t have these” or “they’re not right”, then it becomes easier to think, speak and act in ways that honour and cherish yourself.  

And coming from that place of love for yourself always acts as a beacon for others - illuminating a way forward for them.

If you’d like to explore how to be easier and more self-compassionate and loving with yourself, I invite you to check out my online 30 Day Dance of Leadership journey.