Throughout life we experience highs, lows, and in some cases very traumatic experiences that can put us through a turmoil of emotional, physical, and mental stress. Many of us fall into a trap of over consuming those experiences as definitive to our future, making it hard to trust and to move forward with something or someone new. We strive to protect ourselves and in some cases question who we are and why we have had to deal with the struggles and challenges thrown our way. I have had first-hand experience of this, questioning my strength, worth, spirituality and the unjustness of certain situations which I am sure many of you resonate with.
In this article, I want to share with you some of the practices and processes I use in my life and share with my clients, to support healing and growth of self-love to steer away from self-sabotaging behaviours.
Boundaries – shifting the internal and external walls
To protect our peace, it is vital to have boundaries in place. These boundaries may change overtime and may vary in different contexts but having them in place provides an element of protection for our ultimate wellbeing. Some people use the analogy of having an internal and external wall, which applies in all aspects of life and varies from person to person.
Take for example the context of dating, relationships, and marriage. The term, ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’, implies someone who has a low external and internal wall. This offers opportunity to love freely but also the increased risk of hurt in the wrong hands. With every experience of hurt, another layer to the wall builds up until we lose sight of what could be a good thing in front of us. It becomes a challenge to let anyone into our heart and space again, fearing the consequences of being vulnerable in the wrong context. The internal and external walls shift from being boundaries to barriers. Barriers prevent access, opportunity and progress which can to some extent limit us from being our authentic self. It is a hard concept to shift.
Let’s take for example fear of rejection. A barrier to this may sound like, ‘I have been rejected so many times before it is going to happen again. I will not let that happen’. This mindset may lead to hastily ending a relationship when the fear kicks in, when doubts arise or after an argument without taking time to communicate concerns appropriately. This is dangerous territory for questioning self-worth, the I am not good enough mindset has potential to strike. In contrast, the boundary to this fear of rejection may sound a little something like, ‘many of my relationships have ended before, it hurt like hell, and I don’t want that to happen again. If I see signs of my partner’s behaviour changing or if I have any doubts about the relationship, I will communicate this and act accordingly’. That slight difference can greatly impact how we view ourselves but also allows new experiences to blossom.
The fact is all experiences come with the potential of pain and hurt but there are lessons to be learned in all experiences. Those encounters do not reflect our worth. Sometimes we need those experiences to recognise what and who is good for us and equally who and what we should avoid. If you find yourself to be in situations where that guard is either too high or too low, take time to find the right balance and adjust according to what feels right for you and what the other person feeds into you.
Aim to approach every new encounter with a balanced fresh mindset until you have a valid reason to either lower or increase those external and internal walls. Enforce boundaries not barriers.
Reflective mirror mantras
Prioritising, loving, and appreciating yourself is an essential SELFULL practice. Repeating self-love mantras is a great way to build that appreciation but it takes time to get comfortable doing.
Some people may opt for writing it down, especially on those challenging days but on better days try to stand facing the mirror and say aloud all the things you have achieved, plan to achieve, the things you love about yourself and all the flaws that you can grow to love. Nobody is perfect, it is important to acknowledge that but even in our flaws lies beauty. Love is about the good and the bad so we must make take time to appreciate all aspects of ourselves.
To this day, I still have days when I stand in the mirror, stare into my eyes and cry because I feel the pain of past trauma and feel stuck, almost guilty to praise and love myself. But on those good days, the power of reflective mantras can bring such an uplift to the soul. Tears of joy reflect the admiration for the strength gained as opposed to the pain.
At first, I was unable to complete these mantras in the mirror. I would write my mantras down and read them in my head before reading it aloud slowly building up the courage to stand in front of the mirror. On one occasion, I asked my dear friend to join me and help me with facing the mirror. She stood with me and said what she valued about me and asked me to repeat it. I then worked my way to doing this on my own.
Remember, the road to self-love and appreciation is not a linear journey. I still cry, I still have moments when I turn away from the mirror but with practise it gets easier, and you learn to truly believe and value the truths about yourself. These truths also relate to embracing your timeline. Gain validation from what is meaningful to you as opposed to comparisons with what others have achieved. Your timeline may change overtime but ultimately it is part of the plan for YOUR story.
Reflective mirror mantras may not be for everyone. Mantras may resonate better in written form, or internal silence but whichever method works take time to give yourself those daily love notes. Self-affirmation and love are a journey so take it slowly and be kind to yourself along the way.
Keep filling up your cup of self-love with daily mantras; regular social media, and phone breaks; embracing those people and environments that uplift and brighten your energy; adjusting your internal and external wall to protect your peace; and be guilt free to say no to bad vibes.
Remember, you cannot give to others what you do not have so it is essential to fill your cup first and replenish that cup when you feel it pouring away. Take time in the day to sit, close your eyes, embrace the stillness, and breathe deeply. Feel the power in controlling your breath and calming your mind.
To end I leave you with this quote (author unknown), ‘when you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace’, and that should apply to all aspects of your life.
I truly hope this article brings some light and guidance to your love journey.
Peace and love always,
Ebonee Ozkan (BSY Yoga Teacher)
Main photo by Diva Plavalaguna