You could also call this blog post “Growing Your Own: How to generate self love and manifest self care.” In Part 1, I suggested a few reasons for why many of us don’t seem to treat ourselves with loving kindness… or even know what it means to truly feel loved. So often, we wait with an empty vase for someone to bring us the bouquet we yearn for instead of planting and tending a garden of joy for ourselves. Part 2 (and Part 3) are all about the garden.
And, going with the garden motif… we will need to 1) visualize and plan, 2) prepare space for positive change, 3) plant the seeds of self love, 4) get into the habit of nurturing growth, and 5) commit to tending the garden if we want the fragrant flowers and nutritious fruits and vegetables to grow and flourish.
First, the VISION! We must develop a vision and a plan for this self love thing. What do we want life to look like, feel like, sound like? Look around at other people’s gardens. Who do you know that embodies self love? How do they speak about themselves? How do they carry themselves in the world? What do they do to take care of themselves? How do they behave in relationship with you and others? Just like good writers read the writing of others and just like artists study the creations of other artists, we benefit from taking in the best we perceive around us to inspire our own vision. If it helps, write down or draw key concepts and ideas that resonate with you so you have a sense of your self love plan and goal/s. In other words how big does your garden need to be? What are you going to plant and what do you need to nurture and tend the garden?
Next, PREPARATION! We must take a good long look at where we are and what we have in terms of benefit and liability. Is our proverbial yard landscaped for others to enjoy or full of overgrown weeds and rocks? Is the space covered in concrete, stones, litter, miscellaneous junk? In other words, how do we treat ourselves now? Do we deprive ourselves of basics like enough sleep, water, nutrition, connection, and play? Can we gracefully receive compliments? Forgive ourselves for mistakes? Or do we put ourselves down, berate ourselves, compare ourselves negatively to others? Do we dive into isolation and addiction? Are we used to playing the chameleon and becoming what others want to manipulate others into meeting our unspoken needs? Do we have any good seeds to plant? Anything we can keep and work with? Not sure? Overwhelmed with trying to figure out what is beneficial and supportive and what no longer serves and needs to go? Difficulty making decisions? Therapy can help with this, providing a supportive place for you to sort through your (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) stuff and not be alone with it all. Once you clear out what does not belong and make room for change, it’s time to prepare the soil.
Therapy can sometimes feel like an emotional rototiller, assisting you in digging and turning things over, changing the weedy, dry surface by cutting through it, by stirring up what lies underneath. Down below, it’s often dark and messy, damp and wormy and frankly, many of us would prefer to just ignore it, pave over it all, and completely forget about it. But think about all the times you have seen things sprouting up through the cracks in the sidewalk. What is down there in the dark is powerful and will reach up where we least expect it, despite all our efforts to control and avoid it. We can either plant, grow, and tend our self love garden or continue to avoid it altogether and let the weeds grow tall and wild, even through cracks in our pavement of denial. Better to face this place, bring what is hidden up into the light where we can stop imagining the worst, see what’s really there, and acknowledge that there is indeed value in the muck. That muck is actually the magical place that is perfect for planting the seeds of our garden.
More about the planting, nurturing and tending in Part 3! Stay tuned…