To celebrate Valentines Day today, I wrote a piece for Alternatively Healthy 'Why motherhood is easier when we love ourselves'.
Our relationship with ourselves is the longest, most intimate and important one we will have in our lives.
People will come and go, even our children will one day grow up and follow their own dreams - but we will always have ourselves. The well known quote ‘wherever I go, there I am’ is a cliche because it’s so true - no amount of money, travel, success or even children can change how we feel about ourselves - we have to do the work (and like any good relationship, it is work) to get to a place where we feel love for who we really are. As another cliche goes, ‘happiness is an inside job’.
For me self-love started with self-respect, treating my mind and my body with the respect they deserved. Letting go of people, jobs and things that no longer served me and making choices for myself by asking ‘what’s the most loving thing for me?’. I found I naturally stopped drinking, unhealthy eating, self-defeating behaviours and negative thinking the more I started to love myself.
Having children can be one of the best mirrors there is to reflect back to us our relationship with ourselves. I’m on a journey with this too, and I definitely don’t love myself fully all the time, but when I am in a place of self-respect, love and compassion I’ve noticed how much easier parenting is.
1. You experience less guilt
Mums who love themselves know how to treat themselves kindly and compassionately - just like they would their children. When those horrible guilt ridden thoughts arise, they can counter them with perspective, understanding and maybe even an affirmation such as ‘I’m doing the best I can’.
2. You make time for yourself
We all know becoming a mum means significantly less time for ourselves. But that doesn’t mean no time. Mums who love themselves know that they are worthy of a time-out to simply reconnect to themselves - even if it’s a 10-minute bath or listening to guided meditation in another room.
3. You eat better
What we choose to put in our bodies can be a powerful reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Mums who love themselves tend to eat nourishing, whole foods that give their bodies the nutrients and energy it needs to keep up with the kids! I’ve also noticed when I’m feeling good about myself, I’m less likely to polish off that pasta pesto my daughter has rejected. As my therapist pointed out to me when I was struggling with this - it doesn’t feel very loving to yourself to be hovering over the bin gobbling down someone else’s leftovers!
4. You can say ‘no’ easily
I have found a direct correlation between my level of self love and my ability to say no. When I love and respect myself, I don’t need to get validation from others - it comes from within. So mums who love themselves care far less about what others think of them and more about what they think of themselves. That means less of doing things out of obligation and more time to focus on what makes them feel great.
5. You embrace imperfection
Mums who love themselves know that they are perfectly imperfect - we all are. I’ve found the more I love myself, the more honest I can be with what is really going on or how I really feel. Wearing a mask to greet the outside world or painting on a smile (when you really feel exhausted and depleted) isn’t loving to yourself, as often it stops you getting the support, hugs and kind words that might just turn your day around.