PART A: Self Love. A Personal Account and How-To
Self-Love – BIG topic. And also kinda daunting. Loving ourselves fully, no need for approval from others, simply choosing to live on our terms and to love, value and appreciate ourselves – no matter what.
Sounds simple, yet it’s one of the most challenging (and rewarding) processes that we face. Self-love is not a one-time event that we master and move on from. It’s a moment by moment ongoing process. It requires dedication and the realisation that it’s WORTH the journey. It’s no wonder that the majority of us struggle with it! Even Instagram has gotten word of it. The marketing masterminds have now numerous story GIF’s dedicated to the term. I don’t now for sure, but I think they figured we need more of it too, especially for the standard Instagram user. Like I mean, if you’re spending a few hours of your day on instagram – you’re probably gonna need a whole double dose of this self-loving stuff to help you navigate that whole world.. and your life 😬… Sad, yet true. More about that in the Part C of this post!
If I told you that achieving more self love will help you live a more content and fulfilled life – a life with less comparisons and more appreciation, where you value your unique qualities, celebrate the person that you are, and feel totally secure in your own skin. Would you be interested to learn more?
In the early days when I launched Hippie Lane back in 2010, it was pretty much all about food and recipes. I didn’t use my platform to really talk openly about me, my personal life or my health journey. Over the last 8+ years (yep HL is almost a decade old – shit that went fast 😳), I’ve developed a much broader view of health and have come to trust that health is not just what you eat, but more about how you think, what you believe, and how this translates in your life.
In order to fully connect with you, and offer real and valuable guidance, I think it’s about time I disclose a little more. Do I feel insecure to share? Vulnerable perhaps? Yes, most definitely. But being willing to be vulnerable is a large piece of the self-love puzzle. To help inspire you all, I have to walk the talk… and in doing so, I am opening up here, for the first time.
“Feel the fear, and do it anyway”….
Just a little note here: this ( PART A ) blog post took a whole lot of hours to write, and, to my surprise, I really enjoyed it (I’m not really big on writing). I found it cathartic, and also totally aligned to how I want to proceed for the future of Hippie Lane. I realised that there is a lot to share, and that I need probably 3 parts to this post to really give you a holistic understanding of my process. It includes a some of my personal history, where I hone in on my past to move toward offering you a comprehensive guide to self-love, and to also give you background that would have otherwise made this post a little stock-standard. I just felt that if I was going to give you an authentic guide to self-love, it had to come from my personal experience – otherwise, you could head online and find a guide to self-love in 6 easy steps written by at least a million and one bloggers.
PART B of this post will cover my relevant medical / health history, my current food choices for recovering my health, and my suggestions. PART C will address my relationship with social media and my decision to take a step back.
Both parts B and C will be coming soon.
From as far back as I remember, I was always interested in human behaviour. People in general and how they tick, including our relationships with ourselves and with others. It wasn’t unusual to find me casually counselling friends at school or having deep and meaningful’s with new friends at parties. It’s just how I’m wired – always keen to learn more about people and to get to know myself and others on a deeper level.
What gave me the privilege to delve deep into these situations? Was as I a perfect kid with no problems? Far from it. Was I gifted with wisdom? Definitely not. Was I free of the everyday human conditions that 99.9% of us experience? Hell no.
So what was is that lured me to connect with others? What made me seek to find the common thread between us. Why was I so curious to learn more…. to understand more about people and how to live a connected life?
You see, prior to establishing Hippie Lane, I studied Counselling and Education at university. I taught at school, and worked as a student coordinator ( aka student life coach 😅 ) before completing a 2 year post-grad masters in psychotherapy and teaching. In addition to the years of tertiary studies, I lived through and experienced infancy, childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. I worked a heap of jobs, including cafe work and stints in retail and sales. I travelled extensively, lived life, did therapy, got married, had kids, got through the early years of motherhood, suffered and managed anxiety + adrenal issues, tried and tested 101 eating plans, trained hard, loved deeply, felt loss and experienced life’s ups and down. Damn, that shit is hard!
I’m not the only one right? I bet most of you reading have similar experiences… You’ve probably passed infancy, childhood and early adulthood at the very least 🤓 You’re most likely skilled / educated, worked a handful of jobs, travelled interstate or overseas, lived life, had a lover or two, felt stress at some level, tried a heap of diets…. etc etc.
A bit of necessary background: I went to an academic-focussed private school for most of my schooling years. A child of immigrant parents, I never really fit in. There was something different about me. My skin colour for one, was 4 or 5 shades darker than the average student in my class. My parents wern’t tertiary educated and had foreign accents. The food in my lunchbox was different, and most significantly, I wasn’t an A-grade student, like the majority of the other girls in my grade. I lacked confidence in that environment, which was compounded by the comments and judgements from my teachers throughout my school years. Not surprisingly, I acted out. I was that rebel student who was suspended from school in grade 8, and was in the principal’s office every few weeks.
For what I lacked in academics, I made up for in other areas of my life. I was a strong athlete, quite the comedian – attracting a large crew of friends from different grades. I was fairly artistic, definitely creative and was known to be cheeky and a heap of fun. I spent a lot of school time drawing designs in my school planner while daydreaming about boys, music, the next party, and food (duh). I had long and fulfilling friendships, a deep respect for my family, was fiercely protective of the people I loved, and had a zest for life.
I value these qualities now more than ever, but at the time, as a young teen, these unique attributes that make me uniquely me, were’nt enough to make my heart beat. My feelings of inadequacy, compounded by the comparisons I was making daily with my peers (which were validated by comments from my teachers), kept me locked in the heavy grips of self doubt and low self esteem. I often wondered how the other kids were so focussed on study. I just didn’t get in. [In hindsight, I know exactly why I wasn’t academically mature – that revelation is coming in part B of this post].
I fluffed through school, somehow, and made it to uni. It was in those first few years of uni that I matured. In a nutshell – I learnt more about health, I became independent, I made better food choices (I basically realised that I had to let go of the junk food ie Nutella sandwiches 🙄), I dealt and lived through heartbreak, I focussed on my studies (finally) and got a solid job. Away from the bubble of private schooling, I realised I was much more capable than I believed I was. I managed a Distinction average at Uni, went on to complete my masters, and had success in the real world. I got a great job where I mentored adult students, travelled the world twice, and married the love of my life. All by the age of 24. Fairytale ending? No, there’s still a lot to go. This new flow, albeit positive, was not enough to repair my deep wounds.
Now that all was flowing, and I had finally realised my potential, I wanted to see how far I could go. Busy with achievements, gains, and successes – all to appease those old feelings of inadequacy – I was, well, busy… Coupled with modern societal pressures on women to be more more more, I spent the next 10 years of my life in ‘push’ mode. Favouring productivity over all else, I became a pro at pushing to be my best self: pushing to achieve more in my business, pushing to be physically strong, pushing to raise well rounded kids, pushing to be an understanding wife, friend, daughter and mother… and even pushing to meditate more… how’s that for counter productive! Pressure upon pressure, without realising, I was running low on energy stores [more on that in part B].
On the flip side, it wasn’t all bad – all this pushing meant that I was achieving BIG. Grateful that I had this natural tendency toward self development and a steely determination, I found a sense of comfort in my perfectionism. I felt proud of my achievements and started to value my strengths (something that was very new to me). I built a business from scratch, inspired people around the world to eat well, developed an app, wrote a book, met new lifelong friends, better understood work pressures (which resulted in a deeper appreciation for my husband), helped guide my children through infancy with good food and natural health, achieved a strong physical body, and grew personally in ways I could only dream of .
Through education, my many mentors, friends and family, self help books, research, my life experiences and the many years of self sabotage, internal struggles and feelings of inadequacy, I have learnt a lot. I now know a lot about wellness, health, disease, behavioural and mental issues, food, and so on. Although very useful, all this knowledge was still not enough to help me find my peace.
What I found most rewarding, and what really helped to me to make the switch, was on a spiritual level. Throughout the course of my life, I noticed that I had this unwavering commitment, deep down within me, to find my purpose and to uncover an inner peacefulness. God given? Perhaps. Self developed? Potentially. I don’t have the magic answer, but what I do know is that I had this inner light, this deep connection with my inner self, that I instinctively knew had been there all along. During my years of ‘busyness’, I ignored it. I knew it was there, I had noticed it during struggles in my life, but my ‘head’ – my rationality, my active and often anxious mind would drown out it’s soft voice.
It’s in the last 3 years, and particularly in the last 18 months, I have committed to reducing the noise around me to really tune in to this inner voice. This didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen without intervention. Since treating my adrenal issues aka burnout and undermethylation cycle [more in part B of this post], I was able to consciously disassociate from my overactive mind and become more in tune with this inner wisdom.
The point of this confession is to highlight that with experience and struggle comes immense growth. I have learnt through many lessons in life, and in particular my personal health journey [coming up in part B of this post], that the answer to finding peace with the chronic and often silent internal struggle, comes down to getting in touch with your true self (soul) and embracing it. This often takes a deep commitment and the realisation that nothing, not even your ego (ha!) is more important. It is also understanding that the answers for happiness and deep self-love lie within, and that you already have all that you need to embrace it.
I count my lucky stars that I can do what I do. All this struggle, yet I’ve been able to merge my strengths, my experiences and skill sets to offer inspiration and to help guide you to achieving whole health by way of Hippie Lane. My forever goal is to inspire people to live their best life, by offering information, recipes and resources, with a no-bs attitude. Why? Because it serves me… It fills me with happiness knowing I can in some way help you find peace and health, and to assist you (and myself) in navigating the ever-increasing societal bs on social platforms, within social communities and in media in general (more on that in Part C).
You probably are drawn to reading this because you too either value yourself and your life enough to learn more about living it well, or are simply curious.
Where do you start?
1. Find a connection with your inner self
Before you can truly love yourself, you need to find yourself! I used to find the idea of this very daunting until I realised the simplicity of it, and how deeply it serves me. Finding a connection with yourself is as basic as choosing to tune in to your heart, and resist the never-ending chatter of your busy mind.
There are many ways to connect to your heart and start awakening your soul-connection, and once you start on that journey it becomes addictive.
To get accustomed to this heart-led way of living, meditation is definitely your go-to. An essential part of connecting with your inner self is to practice being quiet. Our modern lives are busy and often chaotic, with our minds literally in over drive. If we don’t schedule in time to slow the mind down with meditation, we will have no option but to be led by our dominant and often hectic minds.
Try taking just five minutes each morning or night to sit in silence and just be present. You don’t need to worry about emptying all thoughts from your head (too much pressure!). Instead simply notice the thoughts passing, letting them go and returning to your centre. Deep breathing is my way of slowing down, and when I focus on my breath during meditation, I feel my most calm. The more you practice, the better your mind becomes at being quiet.
If you find this hard to do, and feel overwhelmed, guided meditations can help you to get through that initial struggle and cement a regular meditation practice. There are many guides online and at the App Store. Start with 5-10-minute mediations and see how you go.
FYI, I had been running away from regular meditation practice for years, until I sorted my adrenal stuff, and realised how much freedom it brought me. The key is in taking the pressure off and just surrendering to whatever is going on for you in the moment. When the thoughts come, let them come and let them go. There is no right and wrong. Just sit and notice.
Yoga is another form of achieving self reflection and connection. For many practicing yogis, the mat is a sacred space for self-discovery from which you can unite the body, mind, and spirit. Stepping onto the yoga mat is an opportunity to disconnect from all external influences and redirect your attention inward.
A large part of yoga practice is learning how to become present to your thoughts, your emotions, and the sensations of your physical body as you use your breath to flow from one asana (body pose) to the next. In time, and with practice, you cultivate inner focus and self-acceptance.
I love a good yoga session. I’ve tried a lot of different methods and wasn’t an easy convert until I found my favourite style, which is Japanese-style yoga called Ryoho which I’ve been practicing since before I had my children. I’ve recently had to take some time out of regular practice due to some pelvic imbalances that kept getting triggered in classes. I can’t wait to find myself back into my routine.
2. Get Educated
Nothing keeps me more centered and in tune than when I am learning. I have a small collection of books that I go-to for my spiritual growth, which is a far cry from where I was back in the ‘busy’ days. I often thought I didn’t have time, always prioritising productivity over all else. Key word being prioritising. When I began to prioritise reading, as I did working and exercising, I eventually gave value to it. Nowadays, I schedule in 30 minutes of reading in bed, snuggled up with essential oils and a dim light – and I couldn’t be happier. No more scrolling through my feed – that’s now the last thing I do.
Read spiritual books that motivate you to connect with your inner-self. Soak it up and share with others. The more you do, the more your heart will open.
Releasing old habits and embracing new ones doesn’t happen without regular reminders. When I am tense, uncertain or a little lost, I re-read favourite chapters of the books that help me realign with my goals. New books based on recommendations can help deepen your commitment, and allow you to reframe some of your thoughts and ideas. Through this process, you will be clearer about your OWN personal values, identify your boundaries and understand yourself at a whole deeper level. This is another chance to get to know yourself and make decisions about yourself and your life based on your own standards and expectations, not dictated by what’s trending and popular (that’s how you lose yourself – just saying).
*Due to Popular Demand, here is a shortlist of books that you may find helpful. There will be more to come, including shares from you guys!
Suggested Book List
- The Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck
- The Art Of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV
- Love Yourself, Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Count Your Blessings by John Demartini
- Mind Body Code by Mario Martinez
- You are Enough by Cassie Mendoza-Jones
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Rushing Women’s Syndrome by Libby Weaver
- Anatomy of The Spirit by Caroline Myss
- Declutter Your Mind by S.J Scott Barrie Davenport
- Choosing Happiness. Life and Soul Essentials by Stephanie Dowrick
- Letting Go. The Pathway to Surrender by David Hawkins.
With knowledge, comes power and progress. Listen to Podcasts, scroll health blogs and / or join self development groups. Start therapy. As long as you’re learning and working toward development, you”ll find benefits.
3. Feel your feelings
I took me years to understand how to do this. In fact I thought I was already feeling my feelings (obvious right?!) until I realised that I was running away from uncomfortable emotions, rather than really feeling them as they appeared. My idea of feeling a feeling at the time was to acknowledge it being there and then try to fix it with a strategy to overcome the uncomfortable feelings.
For example if I was feeling anxious about a Doctor appointment, I would analyse why I was feeling anxious, examine my situation with rationality and then come up with a strategy to stop me from feeling anxious.
Now, if I begin to feel anxious, I sit with it. As uncomfortable as it is, in order to honour yourself you need to acknowledge your feelings. Be compassionate and breath deep through it, to help ground you.
For me, journalling is one of my favourite way of acknowledging emotions as they appear.
I was a chronic journal writer during my primary and high school years. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I obviously realised that it gave me some kind of emotional relief from issues I was dealing with, ’cause I was often writing, particularly when I was feeling low.
I was a child of the 80’s, in the days when technology wasn’t a temptation. School nights in my house was either TV with the family or time alone in your room, so I’d often choose to hang out in my room, with my music playing, while writing personal recounts in my diary. Not much has changed, I still do both those things, and find so much peace and clarity when it’s all documented.
You’ve probably noticed that I often share life quotes on my instagram. I get a whole lot of inspiration from short words of wisdom, and feel automatically uplifted when I share. I go between fun and light memes, to more heavy and deep quotes – simply based on my feelings at the time. I now have an equal amount of quotes and food on my Instagram, because it’s a form of therapy for me, and also a way that I can connect with you and help you connect with you.
If journalling or quotes aren’t your thing, go ahead and write affirmations – this can be a powerful way of acknowledging your feelings. Here’s a few affirmation templates for the acknowledgement of your feelings:
Even though I feel anxious / sad / angry / hurt / lonely about ……. I deeply and profoundly love myself and trust that all will be well.
I acknowledge that I feel shame / guilt / sadness / hurt over …….. and realise that this is part of the human experience and my personal journey.
And also a list of affirmations to help you move forward when you’re heart-deep in emotion:
I acknowledge all my emotions, but only hold on to those which elevate my being.
I acknowledge all of my emotions, but only preserve those which are positive.
I acknowledge and accept all of my emotions for the insights they provide.
I acknowledge my feelings and welcome the lessons they bring.
I allow five minutes per day for worrying; then I forget about it and enjoy life.
I am gaining emotional balance more and more each day.
I am honest about my feelings.
4. Take Care of Your Body and Nurture Yourself
The most obvious way to take care of your body is by what you put into it. A healthy organic diet, unprocessed and whole with plenty of greens is a great place to start.
What is often overlooked when thinking about how to care for our bodies is the importance of listening to our bodies. We are so often driven by achievements and external rewards that we lose touch of our individual needs. Not honouring our body’s needs by pushing ourselves too hard or being critical of our bodies usually derives out of the unconscious belief that we don’t deserve it (ie. a lack of self-love)
Good food, sufficient sleep, rest, enough physical activity and time for self care practices such as ocean swims. nature walks and meditating are all part of the package when it comes to taking care of ourselves.
Self love is about honouring ourselves as we are, and moving beyond punishment by resisting the negative cycle of dieting, alcohol / drug abuse, and over or under activity.
I have some self care and self acceptance tips here from a recent blog post I wrote on falling in love with your life that covers this point in detail.
Taking care of our bodies starts with loving it, exactly as it is, without the need to alter it. When we truly love and value it, and thank it for essentially keeping us alive and active on Earth, we are more likely to nurture ourselves and rid ourselves of bad habits.
Often we are led to believe that nurturing ourselves is a selfish activity, but on the contrary – nurturing yourself creates the beliefs that you are worthy and loved. When you care for your body and seek to nurture it, you are valuing you… and that’s the point of this post.
Send yourself loving messages, take a bath and practice self-massage. Watch a movie under the blankets. Drink warm water with lemon to help clear toxins, and drink matcha for those antioxidants (YAS please). Learn to incorporate dance and music into your life (if you haven’t already) and let yourself off the hook occasionally. Pushing too hard and neglecting your needs turns you away from self love.
Giving yourself permission to rest and pamper yourself is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to yourself. It took me many years to work this out, but whatever right? Better late than never. The balance is now by far in favour of self nurture over self torture. Sounds dramatic but when I look back on it, even though there were many moments of happiness throughout my years of big gains and success, pushing hard came at a cost to my body. I didn’t notice ’cause I wasn’t in tune with my bodily signals, but I was in fact punishing my physical body (and repressing that inner voice that was dying to be heard). I now know how to relax without feeling restless (big progress for me) and am all about it.
5. Be honest with yourself and others
If you know me, or have been following me via Hippie Lane a little while, you’ll have probably noticed that I’m all about speaking your truth. This is something that I strongly advocate, and practice all the time. Why is it so important? Because every time you authentically and courageously speak up, you love yourself a little bit more. You grow in confidence and reclaim your right to be heard, valued, and respected.
Honesty is not just about telling the truth. It’s about being real with yourself and others about who you are, what you want and helps you to live your most authentic life.
To some, your honesty and openness may come across as over confident or make you less popular. But hey, there’s no better time than now to let go of what others think! As long as you are respectful with your delivery, and you value other people and their opinion, speaking up by being totally and unashamingly honest about who you are and what you believe is one of the most freeing and joyful feelings out there.
As you grow in confidence and give yourself all that love that you ordinarily seek from others, you will naturally begin to care less what others think. This is a huge perk of loving yourself and will help those struggling with approval-seeking behaviour: with friends and family, bloggers struggling with determining their worth through views, likes and follows on social posts and for anyone who is looking outside for validation. The more you value you, the less bs you tolerate. And when this becomes true for you, this is precisely around the time when you will notice that you are more confident to speak up for yourself and your beliefs. Best feeling ever.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Ghandi
Being honest about your feelings is a challenge for many, as it means you have to be vulnerable. But in vulnerability lies great power, so go ahead and speak your truth as often as possible – whether you think it will be accepted to not. It is a powerful step forward in embracing all of you, without seeking approval from others.
In light of the idea of speaking up and honouring your feelings, I will reveal to you some examples of how I did the unthinkable, and spoke up directly (to brands and influencers) in order to protect my brand, my values and beliefs, and the freeing effect it had on me (more in PART C of this post).
Ok so if you got through all that, hopefully you found it helpful! I could honestly write for days and days on this topic, and do realise that this in no way covers the whole self-love picture. However, I know that with a deeper connection to your inner self, some positive action toward education + self development and with a commitment to self care and nurture, you will be on your way to living a whole life. Add to that your decision to be your honest self in all areas of your life, with the courage to speak your truth and live your purpose, while honouring and accepting all your feelings, you will not only be gliding through life led by your heart …but you will be totally in love (with yourself 💁🏽♀️) and absolutely unstoppable.