Day 11: Spiritual Love.

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“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, man cannot live without a spiritual life”.–Buddha

Buddha’s wisdom suggests that we cannot feel complete without spirituality and today’s challenge of meeting our spiritual needs is a culmination of everything that we have been practicing thus far. Spirituality draws on fulfilling our passion, overcoming reactivity, being intentional, compassionate and embracing the oneness of giving and receiving love. Over time, yesterday’s self love habits organically evolve into meaningful rituals that enable us to live purposefully with ourselves and others. For me spirituality is the ability to flow with the tides of life by being fully present and content in the current moment of life. This ability to detach one’s worth from circumstances is the ultimate display of self love. It requires us not to attach our value to external factors in the first place, but to know who we are at a soul level. The desire to love ourselves spiritually is essentially what begins one’s search to truly know themselves beyond conditioned expectations. It’s the journey that leads us to re-discover the wisdom within our souls. As such, meeting our spiritual needs begins with living in service to the desires of our souls.

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What does the word soul mean to you? Do you feel in tune with this part of yourself? Whatever makes us feel alive and find meaning in each moment is the act of spirituality. Therefore, spirituality is rooted in choosing to be conscious of oneself and grateful in each moment. Honoring our spiritual needs means that one cannot love themselves by dwelling in the past or striving to be ahead of time in the future. Because both prospects entail attaching greater value to the either the past or future and minimizing our worth in the present moment. Spirituality means living peacefully in the moment now such that one becomes deeply connected to our innate worth at all times. Endeavoring to find deeper meaning and purpose in each unfolding moment is the spiritual act that reveals the life lessons necessary to support our growth. If spirituality is a relatively new topic to you then simply approach it as learning to be at peace and content in each moment. Which means that you want to discover tools that will help you to remain grounded in yourself and avoid simply reacting to what is happening around you. Creating an internal reference of safety subsequently diminishes our fear of the unknown. Which encourages us to follow our heart and intuitions, trusting in the universal intelligence that sustains order and beauty everywhere in nature and keeps us alive without any conscious effort.

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1.) Incorporate what you are most passionate about from day 3’s challenge into your life.
–We discover greater purpose in life when we are fulfilling our passion. Being connected to a deeper purpose for living motivates us to transcend our everyday circumstances with grace and faith.

2.) Brainstorm a list of activities that enable you to feel grounded, relaxed and connected to yourself. Consider how you can incorporate the most valuable activity into a daily or weekly habit.
–I found this list that @enlightcounselling offered in her challenge to be a great resource for anyone who may have difficulties coming up with ideas:
Journaling
Being in nature
Doing something creative
Self Reflection 
Meditation 
Singing / Dancing
Praying 
Reiki
Crystal Healing 
Other complimentary/holistic therapies 
Paying attention to your dreams

3.) Meditation has become a great mindfulness tool for me lately, allowing me to stay present and grounded in my mind. I have attached a quick 5 minute gratitude meditation link “Meditate on your joy with Light Watkins” below that is great for anyone who is a beginner or has struggled with meditating. Try it out and see if this is a meditation that you can begin each day with.
Meditate on Your Joy with Light Watkins

Nurturing our whole selves, mind body and spirit is the key to finding balance and inner peace in life. Knowing that we are greater than whatever unfolds in our situations allows us to continually love ourselves amidst changing circumstances. It’s not coincidental that writing this entry became a spiritual practice as it proved to be the most difficult concept (within the context of the self love challenge) to convey. The self love difference was recognizing this as a opportunity to internalize the principles that I highlighted about detaching one’s value from circumstances. I would say that I embraced that spiritual lesson of going with the flow much more gracefully than I would have in the past, where I would have fretted and worried about not writing a perfect article. Rather, I meditated, took a little snooze and completed today’s challenge feeling blessed to be able to share my ideas with all of you. Spirituality brings us peace within, which offers us peace wherever we go.

Much love,

Ini

Day 10: Make Self Love a Habit.

It’s hard to believe that we are already half way through the self love challenge today. It is a great opportunity to look back and acknowledge changes you are noticing in yourself and how your understanding of self love may have changed thus far. I have been to using the daily challenges to hopefully shed light (for others) on a pivotal self love concept that eluded me until my recent spiritual journey. Which is that self love is essentially being high maintenance in caring “for” ourselves. It takes intentional effort to allot time for ourselves, enjoy our passion, fill our cup with joy, remain mindful in our situational responses to preserve our positive energy, nurture our bodies and so much more. Ironically, the notion of being high maintenance with how we treat ourselves implicitly has a superficial and socially derogatory connotation. I have come to believe that this fallacy may attribute to why our societies generally struggles with self worth and love. I cannot perceive an alternative in which a person can truly value themselves without purposefully investing their energy in choices that sustain their holistic wellbeing. So today, I invite you to affirm that being high maintenance with caring for yourself is the greatest gift you could give yourself because it’s the key to your happiness. Whereby, your happiness is the portal through which you can fulfill greater passion, purpose and abundance in life. However, I wish to dispel the misconception that such effort has to entail “hard work” by encouraging us to make self love second nature through consistent habits.
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Not many of us found it physically difficult to get dressed this morning because it is a habit that we can now perform with our eyes closed. However, those of you who have ever patiently waited on a young child insisting to dress themselves would attest that it appeared as the most painstaking skill to master. You and I have mastered every skill that we now take for granted such as writing, speaking, driving from simply repeatedly practicing these habits. Therefore, we will become graceful with self love if we begin practicing habits that compliment many of the concepts that I’ve been sharing in the challenge. If we incorporate self love principles into our daily routines, it too will become as seamless as tying a shoe lace. We will not learn to love ourselves by merely having a self pampering outing once every few months or simply “thinking about” how we hope to love ourselves more. And since most of you agreed that loving ourselves is the key being happy then there is strong incentive to begin aligning our habits with how we “wish” to feel. It’s a good time to consider how you can weave self love choices into your day to condition this ideal into your mindset.

1.) Create a new Self Love journal using an available notebook (or purchasing one if desired) and at the end of each day write down:
A.) a self love choice, act, response etc that you implemented that day.
B.) One thing that brought you joy that day
**Pick a day in your calendar to re-read your entries on a monthly basis (keeping track of where you left off each month)**
So your first scheduled self love reading should be roughly March 1st.
–Bringing our focus to our self love choices encourages us to remain intentional and keeps our attention on more possibilities for supporting our wellbeing.
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2.) Identify which daily challenges thus far you would like to implement into daily, weekly habits.
A.) From Day 3: Scheduling one hour of weekly ME time spread over 2-3 occasions
B.) From Day 3: Enjoying your passion activity.
C.) From Day 4: determine 2 daily actions that compliment the feeling that you want to experience more of.
D.) From Day 4: Eliminate 2 choices that oppose your above desired emotional state.
E.) From Day 5: create an alarm or an alternative cue to check in with yourself midday on a daily basis and affirm 2 things that you are proud of yourself for thus far during that day.
F.) From Day 7: based on feasibility incorporate items from your happiness list daily, weekly, etc
G. ) From Day 8: read your self compliment letter to yourself every morning as you wake up.
H.) From Day 9: New ways to care for your body.
G. ) From day 9: Set a timer for 3 minutes while standing in front of a mirror and say at least 3 things out loud you love about your body.

In my current personal development reading “The Four Agreements”, Don Ruiz reiterates that action makes all the difference because practice makes the master. Self love becomes difficult not because we aren’t good enough but because we have not consistently practicing self loving choices. Therefore, enhancing how we feel about ourselves requires practicing new self loving habits. Be intentional and create new habits that mirror how you want to feel about yourself because it will surely change your life.

Much love,

Ini

Day 9: Love Your Body.

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If yesterday’s challenge of freely giving and receiving love would be considered one of the last frontiers of self love, then loving our bodies should arguably be one of the first. For all the neglect, abuse and shame that it endures, the human body is the most tangible giver of unconditional love.
Unceasingly, each body part provides a priceless service without our conscious effort. Take for example, the synchrony of the human heart that pumps 2-3 gallons of blood over 20 billion times in one’s life time. Or the bones that give us form, to sit up, allowing us to walk, run and play. And the muscles that attach to bones and allow you to embrace another person. Our bodies are the vessels that enables us to experience the very essence of life and love. Therefore, I believe that loving our bodies is a gesture of gratitude to the constant magic that it produces without our guidance or attention. Yet, loving our bodies is potentially the hardest practice to adopt because we have generally become disconnected from sacredness of our human form. Our bodies have become objects to be used as a means for social approval, whereby even the culture of physical health is often rooted in a mindset of self rejection. More times than not, we do not approach improving our bodies from a framework of self love. Hence the difficulty in sustaining self negating body lifestyle changes proves we cannot “hate our bodies healthy”. Therefore I believe we must first or simultaneously love ourselves, that is being true to our essence in order to genuinely love our bodies.

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What do you think it means to love your body? Do you feel that we should care for it as much we would other cherished possessions? I believe that caring for our bodies is rooted in our intent
. I began to appreciate the value of caring for my body in a greater magnitude mid way into my self love journey, hence why the topic is emerging now on day 9. For me, it was necessary to first establish the foundation of positive emotional intent, wellbeing and energy to extend towards my body. In the past, I admittedly viewed doing anything for my body as a laborious task that took too much energy. Finally defining the investment in my body as an endeavor of gratitude for the gifts our bodies provides made it easy to identify endless ways that I can honor and support all the seamless processes in my body. Now I do eat my 5-6 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, drink 6 glasses of water, invest in prepping my lunches for the week. I feel good mostly listening to what my body is telling me at various periods, even if it to get a better night’s sleep. Therefore, sometimes I love my body with a mid day nap or cardio three times a week to increase my energy. Ultimately, the best way to love our bodies is to listen to the message that it’s trying to send us through how we feel.

1.) A.) If your body could talk, what message do you think it is sending you during this time of your life?
B.) What then would be your reply to this message?

2.) What are some ways and examples of how you could show more care and love to your body?

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3.) At least three times (working up to daily) a week stand in front of a mirror, set your timer for 3 minutes say out loud a minimum of three things that you love about your body that day. P.S: your body includes everything from head to toe 😊.
–If you find the word “love” a bit intimidating at this time then feel free to work up to it and for now state 3 or more things you “admire”, “like” or “appreciate” about yourself.

It’s an honor to be able to care for our bodies in any manner that supports it’s constant service to us. The care we give to our bodies yields the energy that we have to use in living the life we love. A little goes a long way, perhaps today loving your body means getting an extra hour of sleep, not eating lunch at your desk, going for a walk during your breaks.

Cheers till tomorrow,

Ini A

Day 8: Giving Is Receiving.

Welcome to second week of the self love challenge; I hope that you had a chance to sprinkle some self love througout the weekend. Last week, I introduced the ideal that fully “being” our true essence is the key to experiencing happiness with ourselves. I explored various factors that empower us in embodying our true essence amidst changing conditions. Today, I want to introduce a very non intuitive concept that impacts our ability to internalize our essence and love ourselves, which is how we treat others. As we fill our cup with love, what overflows onto others is a direct reflection of what us inside of us.

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I did not fully understand the phrase “what you give is what you get” until I prioritized self love as the overarching principle in my life. I had tried “treating myself” positively in the past with minimal success until I began to appreciate the impact of my interactions with others on how I felt about myself. For example, I’ve shared that I use to wrestle with being self critical and struggled with breaking the habit no matter how many mantras and affirmations I recited. Until, I recognized that I wasn’t just critical to myself but I was just critical, of my son and everyone else who didn’t do things as I deemed perfect. That’s when the light bulb went on that adopting a more compassionate outlook with others for their blunders was essential to not wronging myself when I did the same. The mistakes I chastised in others subconsciously created the perfectionist standards that I held myself to and would subsequently fear falling below the bar. If others weren’t allowed to have a moment of poor judgement then you better believe that neither was I. Of course that didn’t stop me from still being human so I’d just punish myself for my oversights. The kinder that I have become with myself during imperfect moments then the more I recognize that we are all imperfect and can freely extend greater understanding to others.

When it is hard to respond with kindness in certain situations, I see it as indicative that my cup is simply low on kindness and do not interpret it as whether the circumstance deserves my kindness. Essentially, I am inviting you to even just try implementing this concept of self love, giving more kindness and compassion because doing so expands the type of situations where you will feel deserving of your own love and understanding. If someone is rude to you, then challenge yourself not to reciprocate the same behavior because being human, you will surely offend someone you value (even unintentionally) one day and the ease in which you will forgive yourself for that error will depend on how “wrong” you made someone for the same behavior. Perhaps the most beautiful thing that will come from being more kind to others is the ability to receive kindness under a broader range of circumstances. Every imperfect instance in which I have chosen kindness has become a situation that I am willing to receive the kindness of others as well. It’s a long ways from previously wearing the “I am strong” crown, whereby as much as I sought admiration and approval, I was reluctant ‘receive love’ me in situations that heightened my insecurity. There you have it, the more you give yourself love, the more it will overflow onto others and the more you give love to others, the more love you are able to receive.
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1.) A.) What compliment do you find the most difficult for you to accept and why?

B.) Write a note to yourself giving yourself this compliment and include reasons and examples in yourself and life to explain why it true. Please read this letter every morning for the remainder of the self love challenge.

–Beginning your day by affirming the positive beliefs in this letter implicitly sets the intention to validate it with action. Your repeated action will reinforce these beliefs, making it easier to receive this compliment as a true reflection of your authentic essence. Also as you go about your day be self aware of allowing yourself to receive love when it feels uncomfortable. Say thank you for compliments without diminishing them. Accept others’ pardon or graciousness when you make mistakes without insisting on your unreasonableness. More impotently be mindful to also give love under these conditions to support your willingness to receive it.

2.) Recall a situation or a person that you are currently feeling challenged with choosing patience, compassion, kindness. Consider is there is an aspect of your life where you are treating yourself in the same manner as you treat them?

B.) list 3 things that you do appreciate in this person? Is there similarities in what you appreciate about yourself as well?
–I invite you to consider the role that this situation or person may be offering you to expand your self love. How we love others reflects the overflow from our cup, therefore how we are challenged in authentically loving others truly reflects what is diminished in our own cup.

I once thought that I was protecting myself by resisting kindness in situations that I felt were undeserving of it. I didn’t realize that kindness is free and the less I chose to show freely, the less kindness I felt within myself. Consequently, I would feel compelled to “do” something in other situations for others to validate my kindness, which typically cost my self love. Giving love freely through the energy that we choose to interact with others teaches us that we are not responsible for how others feel and this liberation is a cornerstone of self love.

Much love,

Ini Anana

Day 7: Check In With Yourself.

How are you feeling today? Do you typically take time to check in with yourself to assess the state of progress with your happiness? We check in with those we love, so why not with ourselves. I admit that when others ask how I am doing, I am guilty of sometimes spitting out an answer before they finish stating the question and also formed the same habit with myself. Frequently checking in with our wellbeing reveals the areas in our lives that could use more self love to enhance our happiness. I recently listened to a podcast where they cited research that seventy five percent of people were unable to ‘definitively’ state the single wish that would change their lives. I imagine that when the stakes are high most people realize that addressing their common woes of being debt free, bigger house, relationship may not actually alter their internal happiness as we assume. That statistic also intrigued me to ponder that perhaps we are not in a regular habit of truly asking ourselves what would truly make us happy and incorporating that answer into our lifestyle choices. Checking in with ourselves with self honesty is the only way to shift our focus to creating our desired reality in our circumstances. Now getting in the habit of checking in with my state of affairs recently helped me to better align my priorities with my values. Doing so revealed where I was resisting change, which ultimately entailed resisting self acceptance. Thus, shifting focus opened me up to new possibilities and creativity.

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Without checking in with ourselves, we may continually put one foot in front of the other even if we are not entirely happy about where we are headed. Use today to reflect on the last six days, considering what were your main take home insights this week. What do you feel grateful for? And what would you like to focus on next week to integrate more self love into your daily life? Do you need to focus of practicing kindness with yourself, setting boundaries or perhaps you can use today to schedule your “me” time for next week or catch up on the previous exercises.

1.) How will you know that you have reached your desired self love target number that you set on Day 2? What changes do you expect to see in yourself and choices that will confirm enhanced self love.

2.) List 10 things that bring you happiness and list 10 things that currently make you feel unhappy and reflect on which list/items typically describe your day to day life. Which of the happiness items could you implement daily, weekly and so forth.

–This exercise is a great way to appreciate that we are the ones creating our own reality through our choices. To feel happy in life, we must choose things that honor our joy. In other words, if a person’s life generally reflects the items that deplete their joy, then it’s impossible to experience more fulfillment without changing that picture around.

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The life we are living is the one we are creating and experiencing greater fulfillment with ourselves begins with taking an honest inventory of where we are at in our lives. It’s means pausing and contemplating if we are happy with our choices and deciding what would enhance our happiness and giving ourselves permission to be make the necessary changes. The results in our lives are a direct reflection of what we are choosing. If we are always tired, then we need to begin prioritizing our own wellbeing because continuing with the same trajectory is going to yield the same state of low energy. For a long time I thought that I could live a life of “obligation” and magically wake up happier from finally attaining the “right” thing or pleasing the right people
. The best kept secret to living beautifully with ourselves and others is that we must choose more of what honors and sustains our joy and say no to behaviors and choices that undermine our inner peace. And each of us is the only person that can decide what the good life looks like by checking in and asking ourselves the appropriate questions and giving honest answers. One day, it will be end of our time and if we didn’t take responsibility for our happiness then we may realize that the fulfillment we “hoped” for was never around the corner because we didn’t choose to create it in the moments before.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

Much love,

Ini

Day 6: Have Compassion.

It’s the weekend and perhaps you have some exciting plans to look forward to. It’s been snowing heavily in my neck of woods, which can bring on the winter blues for some of us. Does the weather affect your mood and do you believe that occasional sadness is a normal aspect of life? If so, how do you relate to yourself during these moments? The benefits of separating our identity from our emotions (as discussed in Day 5’s post) is the ability to also experience self compassion during periods of melancholy or disappointment. Becoming intentional with meeting my emotional needs gradually gave me grace to allow my emotional sadness to pass through me just as I’d chose not to react from anger or frustrations. This a far cry from when I found the concept of self compassion to be such an illusive ideal. I didn’t actually understand what I needed to do to experience the internal kindness towards myself when I otherwise felt inadequate. Sure, I was familiar with how to affirm some loving words to yourself during these occasions but my mind still didn’t believe it so I might as well have been speaking gibberish.

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I would eventually stumble upon the ‘practice’ of self compassion during one of my first incidents of feeling sad after embarking on my spiritual journey. The emotions took my naivete by surprise like taking a wrong turn off a high way because I didn’t expect to find melancholy in the land of self acceptance. Naturally, I tried holding my sadness up over my head to avoid feeling those emotions as I had always done in the past. Ironically having greater self awareness led to quickly becoming emotionally exhausted from carrying my emotions instead of feeling them. I did something that I didn’t think I knew how to do, which was practice compassion by relaxing and just allowing my emotions to fall on me wibout caring how heavy it would land. But instead of the soul obliteration that I feared, I felt at peace with myself. Turns out, expending excessive energy fighting, judging and justifying our emotions creates the sense of suffering that we dread. Not being mentally drained by rationalizing my sadness allowed me to focus my attention on life as it was unfolding. Thus, I eased out that episode of dismay much sooner that ever before. That experience left me contemplating how to convey that particular aspect of self compassion to others who also find it to be difficult as I once did. I concluded that we need to approach ourselves in parent child dynamic to practice self compassion by revisiting a pivotal life experience where one felt inadequate as a result of some sort of circumstantial failure in which they felt (or perceived) not being good enough before the opinions of others.. These represent the occasions that we often lacked compassion for ourselves. Thus, expressing what was necessary to feel loved to our former selves from ourselves now in a letter offers a tangible context for “how” to be kind and supportive of one’s emotions. It also provides a familiar vocabulary for doing so in subsequent episodes of emotional disappointment. The letter gives us permission to be both vulnerable and protective of our emotions, simultaneously embodying the hurt and wiser aspects of ourselves. Discovering that we always have both of these entities within us prevents us from solely identifying with our emotional sadness. But to tap into the broader perspective of our higher self and be compassionate towards our experience of discontent or frustrations.

1.) Recall an incident, phase, event in your life in which you may have felt inadequate or worried about not being good enough. Write a letter of compassion from yourself now to yourself back then. What did you need to know back then to feel safe? What would you say to yourself back then to help you feel worthy during that experience given the hindsight you’ve gained?

2.) Now consider how that experience is actually a universal human predicament that we all go through and extend this same feeling of compassion to everyone who is currently undergoing this experience.
–Its easy to feel inadequate if we believe that we are the only ones experiencing our struggles. Recognizing the humanity in our experiences helps us to focus on the lessons and growth that we can take from our challenges.

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3.) Identity what you are proud of about yourself during this experience? How did you rise to occasion?
–It’s always mush easier to focus on what we didn’t do right instead of celebrating our resiliency. Acknowledging how we overcome challenges leads to trusting our instincts and not resisting our emotions.

One of the ways that I shift into gratitude during disappointment is identifying the underlying reason for feeling inadequate and finding 3 examples in my life that confirm why the opposite belief is true.

Resisting our emotions forces them to persist longer than it needs to. We are not our emotions, therefore self love does not mean that we cannot encounter sadness nor does it entail wallowing in it. Self compassion enables us to express reassurance to our hurt feelings by allowing us to embody the wisdom of our higher self. Be gentle with yourself as you complete today’s exercises.

Much love,

Ini

Day 5: Stay In Love.

It’s day 5 and I am making more self love promises to myself and hope you are as well, remembering that more than anything you deserve to be happy by giving your best self to yourself. As you are rekindling passion, filling your cup, what if you could choose to stay in the essence of your truest self for yourself. What would it be like to always feel all the love that we have inside towards ourselves instead feeling derailed by external conditions. I think this is the deepest kind of self love, where we respond mindfully to look out for true selves when our ego is wounded. What relief would come from being able to rely on the wisdom of that wiser part of ourselves when circumstance make us feel unsafe in showing our true self.

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“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” –Buddha

Being this considerate and mindful with ourselves is an integral foundation of self love because it liberates us from thinking that we are not enough. I use to wish that I didn’t hang myself for not always keeping it together when I was at the end of my rope with my child. I had become resigned to hopelessly regretting the things that I cannot change. How many of us repeatedly hope that we hadn’t succumbed to pushing back harder when others push our buttons. For me these are the moments when I would feel the most alone within myself and desperately cling to someone else to put me back together. But I’ve come to feel more connected to that beautiful aspect of my essence when I began observing my emotions and thoughts during my discontent instead of reacting.  I am often laughing on the inside during some of my most tested moments because it feels as though I’m either getting a pep talk or tough love from my higher self as it restrains me from clouded judgement.  And not surprisingly, I learn the most about myself during the moments when I monitor my emotions instead of being guided by it.

1.) Today try and just observe the situations that upset you without reacting from that emotion. (You may also choose to write them down in this section at a later time)
–Notice how these emotions manifest up in your body; how does anger, anxiety, impatience, etc feel in your body. Where do you feel the tension? How does that sensation make you feel? What action would increase or decrease this sensation in your body? Which response feels like an act of self love?

Being cut off in traffic, unreciprocated kindness, accidentally saying the wrong thing to someone, you name it there are endless ways to be taken off course in a given day. Being emotionally reactive unknowingly leads to defining ourselves by our emotions, which diminishes our overall trust in our ability to bounce back from challenges. Rather pausing and observing the sensations from our emotions and mindfully deciding if we want to heighten or lessen them through our response brings clarity about who we truly are.

2.) Shift your focus from what is lacking or emotionally threatening in the circumstance and consider what lesson it has to offer you for greater self love. What is it teaching you about loving yourself?

–9/10 times if a situation requires me to be more patient, kind or understanding it’s because I was already withholding that very same quality from myself in the moments prior to that incident. Thus the universe was kindly offering me an opportunity to fuel up on more love for myself.

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Monitoring our emotions builds self awareness, which increases our sense of worth. Reacting to our every emotion without a mindful pause leads to identifying ourselves with the fleeting sensation of our feelings, diminishing our self esteem.

3.) One of my many gratitude practices entails checking in with myself mid day to mentally acknowledge 2 things that I’m proud of so far in that day . Create an alarm or event in your calendar that will prompt   you to check with yourself and recall 2 moments that you’re proud of.

–as simple as this practice seem, it has given me an implicit incentive to show up as my most true essence to collect the very moments that will make the list of gratitude.

By now, it’s becoming obvious that self love is a very intentional act and does not occur without effort. It alluded me for many years because I imagined that I would just wake up and magically love myself from “doing” something worthy.  I’ve shared it before that my journey to self acceptance actually began the moment I chose not rise and fall with every emotion because it’s through mindful action that I changed my subconcious opinion of myself. Self monitoring is an ongoing journey, it takes tremendous self love, so I acknowledge you embracing this part of the jouney.

Till tomorrow,

Ini Anana

 

Day 4: Fill Your Cup

What was your impression of the passion exercise? How do you feel about spending time with yourself? I won’t lie, there was a time when the idea of enjoying my own company would have felt like being on a blind date, where I wouldn’t have known exactly what to do with myself. I can picture how awkward and restless I would have felt in my feeble attempt to stay connected and present with myself. I imagine that the difficulty I experienced with enjoying myself related to a subconscious insecurity about what I truly had to offer myself. Ultimately, such uncertainty also underscored the magnitude of the general value that I perceived I had to offer in life. Nowadays, I believe that we derive our sense of value from how we treat ourselves, which forms the basis for the genuine value that we can bring to others without any expectations.

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1.) What comes to mind from reading the following quote: “The enemy of love is never outside, it’s not a man or a woman, it’s what we lack in ourselves”—Anais Nin

As I believe that we are naturally complete, I think it relates to what we perceive as lacking in ourselves from being disconnected from the aspect of our essence that is necessary to fulfill that need. Self love entail becoming clear about what we presumed as lacking within ourselves and a having vested curiosity in how to cultivate it. On Monday, I shared that one of my self love aims is to eliminate distractions, which led to subsequently pondering the emotion that I actually wanted to feel and the answer was “accomplished”. It forced me to acknowledge that “striving” to feel accomplished by running through a list of tasks leads to losing focus in each moment with my mind continuously contemplating something else to do. I realize that not being present in each moment reduces my efficacy in whatever I am doing. Thus the issue is less about  balancing my priorities because it’s straying my mind that propels the sense of distraction.  I became interested in how to create the feeling of “accomplishment” in each moment in order to stay in the joy of gratitude instead of mentally wondering and losing focus. Being of significance or value aka service was the ideal that I subsequently associated with my desired sense of accomplishment. Turns out that the key to remaining focused entails adopting an attitude of service in each moment, whereby this awareness alone is yielding profound results. Tonight while reading with our toddler just, I was able to interrupt myself from striving to run away into the next moment of anticipating her bed time. I paused and asked myself how can I be of service right now and decided to play crawling tag with her, hence embodying my  passionate essence in each moment will support my desire to remain more determined with my priorities. The contentment of hearing the sound of her full belly laughs overflowed my cup in that moment, training my mind to stay in the moment. I drew on that sense satisfaction to remain more focused while writing this post a couple hours later.

2.)Borrowing from the wisdom of Anais Nin’s, connect deeply to yourself and identify what it is that you wish to feel more of to experience greater fulfillment?

–it’s quite okay to ponder this question for while but it’s good to be intentional with your reflection. It would make an excellent exercise during your ME time date.

B.) What are 2 simple practical actions that you can take every day  to generate that feeling? Consider the usefulness of creating some type of a daily routine or ritual that incorporates these into your lifestyle.

c.) Identify 2 lifestyle choices that currently lead to feeling the opposite sentiment as your desired emotional state? Consider the usefulness of decreasing these habits in your day as a means to optimize the way that you want to feel.

Our willingness to to generate our desired emotional currency (of fulfillment) has the effect of alleviating our dependency on other non-self loving measures. I have been able to eliminate candy from diet for the last three weeks (longest period in my life so far ) because I was subconsciously using it to ground me during my flight of ideas moments.

3.) Reflect on what additional resources would support you in fulfilling your desired emotional state.

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–I have recently become very interested in meditation and mindfulness as a means of further cultivating mental concentration and focus. When we have some options in our tool belt then it’s becomes easier to readily utilize these resources when we feel drained or empty. Do you need to start journalling, get a book, take a course, positive daily affirmations, etc.

As we fill our own cup with joy, we connect to the most abundant aspects of ourselves and rediscover the immense value that is always awaiting inside of us. We love ourselves through how we recognize and meet our needs, much like we would expect from others.

I hope you seize many moments to fill your cup with love today.

Much Love,

Ini Anana

 

Day 3: Connect With Your Joy.

It was insightful to read how some of you believed that embracing greater self love would impact your life. For example, you said

Implementing more self love would lead to:

— be happier and at peace with myself

–have the energy to sustain myself for the day and be healthier to be around others.

–Would feel free and excited about life

–Build deeper connections with myself and others; love wholeheartedly without looking for judgement

Not implementing self love choices may cause:

–Not a healthy person to maintain a relationship with.

–overwhelmed and resentful, anger

–stagnant looking for an external escape, frustrated, ashamed, no purpose

Seeing your answers is a great reminder of the power we have in shaping our lives through greater self love, which motivated me to share a poll of my Facebook page yesterday asking “is it possible to love ourselves without being ourselves” and so far 100% of you have said no. I absolutely agree with that impression and it suggests that enhancing our self love entails becoming more connected to our true essence, whereby  for a long time, this seemed like a faint part of myself that I felt buried deep beneath my efforts to put one foot in front of another. Being on maternity leave last year helped to expand my self awareness because I was spending a greater amount of time alone by myself than ever before in my adult life. I subsequently discovered that being in our own company heightens our awareness of the relationship that we are having with ourselves and gives us the impetus to rediscover how to cultivate our own happiness, which awakens us to greater purpose in ourselves.

While, I historically preferred to be alone if given the choice, enjoying myself was an entirely different endeavor. I typically used my time alone to “catch up” on my to do list like, clean the house, do laundry, check emails, I was always getting something done so I wasn’t truly just trying to enjoy myself. On my birthday over a year ago during my maternity leave, I took myself out for coffee and just decided to sit and be “with” myself and I believe this is when I was forced to take inventory of self love status. I had to decide how to sustain my own excitement instead of feeling bored or distracted, I was more aware of my unpleasant thoughts and the need to rebuttal them in order to fulfill my mandate of fostering more happiness within myself to nurture the same in my children. When we find joy in our own company then we become more connected to our own essence and subsequently bring this contentment into our interactions and relationships with others.

 

Do you typically ENJOY YOURSELF?

1.) I invite you to spend an hour alone with yourself this week and every week over the next 18. Schedule it into your calendar (perhaps including what you plan to do) so that you make it a date with yourself. More so I encourage you to be intentional with making this time about ENJOYING yourself.

–P.S: I am rarely able to allot an hour to myself, so invite you to split this up over 2-3 occasions during the week to make it practical.

I completely understand if you cannot think of ways to enjoy yourself YET, because I recall when the thought of ‘personal enjoyment” was a foreign concept. Even as I would engage in leisurely activities, I would have had a hard time classifying them as true enjoyment. I still encourage to make this a priority because finding passion in our lives allows us to live more purposefully, bringing more meaning and fulfillment to how we relate to ourselves.  Choosing to embrace ME TIME played a major role in creating this page, which then opened up a greater sense of purpose and passion for personal development and coaching. What would you consider your passion?

passion

“Your curiosity just might lead you to your passion”–Elizabeth Gilbert

I personally know how difficult it was to answer this question in the past, I was good at many things but didn’t necessary find genuine joy in them. On the other hand the idea of certain pursuits excited me but I couldn’t feel passionate about them because I wasn’t good at them. Remember the goal is to enjoy yourself and the good news is that once upon a time we all did things just for the joy of it.

Here are traditional passion guiding question to assist you with completing exercise #2:

What were you doing when you lost track of time? If you had all the money in the world, what would you do? What does your perfect day look like?What did you enjoy doing as a child? What could you “enjoy” for hours without watching the clock? What excites you? What makes you feel creative? When do you feel the most joy for no reason? What makes you feel more like yourself? What makes you feel the most present in the moment?

I really like a ‘passion timeline’ activity that a lady who follow on Instagram @enlightcounselling used in her challenge, where you simply write out a timeline during certain phases of your life to help with answering the passion guiding questions (0-9 years;10-19 years;20-29 and so forth)

2.) A.) As you reflect on the various stages of your life timeline, list your answers to those passion guiding questions considering what you enjoyed during those stages of your life.

B.) What do you think is the common theme among the activities in your timeline?

N.B:We tend to approach curiosity as as contrived ideal, but I believe that it’s a seamless aspect of our emotional nature. I am going to suggest that you already curious about anything that frustrates or makes you unhappy about yourself or life. Your curiosity to enhance it is manifested in your discontent. However,  possessing a genuine desire to create ‘more’ happiness in this aspect of your life is the key to fostering the passion necessary to recognize how to use your own gifts to transform those challenges. Thus passion is the application of self love to our problems and challenges, we must deeply value our joy to shift our challenges into passion. Reflect on how you are actually abundant in any ideal that you may believe you are lacking in. As women we often struggle with the desire for perfection and had I only focused on the areas where I did indeed  feel quite perfect if I may say so myself, I would have found my passion much sooner. For example, a person may believe that they are not smart but without a doubt they are smarter in some aspect of life than most people, dig deep and have fun exploring your passion.

3.) Can you think of a current activity in your life that would fit this theme? Consider using some of your ME TIME this week to do it?

There have been many times in my life when I was felt excited about initiating a new activity, like joining competitive adult dancing or community theater but wouldn’t follow through because I it didn’t feel responsible spending money on something like that for no reason.  I really encourage not to talk yourself out of incorporating some passion into your life because being intentional with our joy is part of feeling more alive.

I look forward to hearing and sharing the ideas you guys come up with and truly ENJOY YOURSELF today.

Cheers,

Ini Anana

 

Day 2: What’s Challenging Your Self Love.

Day 2: Challenges to Self Love

Welcome back everyone, here is what some of you said about self love:

Accepting myself for who I am and learning new ways to be kind to myself.
–loving myself irrespective of the situations
–having a positive self-thought with myself.

I am hoping you all enjoyed acknowledging what makes us innately amazing. Which is that intangible essence that brings meaning to our lives and is ultimately our own currency for experiencing joy and inner peace. Our essence symbolizes the intrinsic value that we hold of ourselves and is essentially our authentic self that enables us to live purposefully in each moment. Thus “being” disconnected from those qualities diminishes our sense of  fulfillment and contributes to feeling a void that may undermine our self love. This suggests that we do not experience happiness simply from what we do or external factors but “being” the essence that we admire in ourselves is what enables us to navigate life and feel good about ourselves. In Sunday’s poll posted on my Facebook page, I asked ” Do you think it’s possible to be happy in our relationships if we do not love ourselves” and 100% of you responded that “No”. Do you think this should give us more inclination to focus our energy on the state of our “being” instead dwelling on the conditions unfolding around us. Would you agree that paying more attention to the orientation and intentions of our choices allows us to demonstrate the qualities we admire in our nature towards ourselves?

Shedding light on why I wasn’t showing up as my most authentic essence gradually made it possible to prioritize self love in my choices. Once I discovered that my expectations of perfectionism was cultivating shame and fear in certain aspects of my life, I began to appreciate that I would always depend on something external to make feel worthy and would subsequently become insecure when I wasn’t validated as I hoped.

Stocksy-Girl-Writing-Journal-Jojo-Jovanojvic

Yesterday, you began creating a vision of how you would like to experience greater self love by pondering examples of how you could demonstrate one or more of the qualities that you love(appreciate) about yourself TO yourself.

Essentially, you have begun creating an intention how you want to “BE” and it will be useful to recognize the barriers that  distract you from being this essence. With that in mind here are today’s exercises.

1.) On a scale of 1-10, how important is to you to begin demonstrating the self love choices to yourself that you listed in question 4 yesterday over the next month.

–For me I would say 9/10 because focusing solely on the things that align with my values is currently my main priority and intention in all facets of my life.

2.) What do you believe prevents you from implementing those examples of self love in your life?

Common challenges to self love changes over the course of our lives range from cultural or social expectations that make is hard to prioritize our own happiness, people pleasing, over commitment to our professional and personal roles, busy lifestyles or sometimes a person may not believe that they can be happier.”

–The most obvious reason is that I’m a dreamer and become distracted by always coming up with these big ideas. But realistically speaking, I probably haven’t been as determined in prioritizing my time because I haven’t been as intentional as I could be such as not having enough consistent routines and systems, doing  too much, trying to wing it or multi task.

3.) Describe how choosing to IMPLEMENT the self love choices (that you listed in question 4 yesterday) would impact your life (mental, emotional and physical well-being, relationships, etc)?

–would feel relieved, lighter, more energized, have more resources, connected and purposeful with myself and others.

4.) Now describe how choosing NOT TO IMPLEMENT your  enhanced self love choices would impact your life (mental, emotional and physical well being, relationships, etc)?

–I think I’ve finally put enough at stake to avoid this prospect but some of othe consequences of not implementing my choices from yesterday would be: feeling resentful, overwhelmed, demotivated, decreased quality time with my family and not progressing in my goals.

Finally, which version of your life do you think would make you happier? Which of those examples could you implement today?

The whole goal of self love is nurturing more understanding of ourselves, so it’s important not to be hard on ourselves for perhaps not already implementing what you already know because self love is a journey and I hope you can see by the answers that we truly hold the key to creating the joyful life that we all want. Acknowledge yourself for completing Day 2 of the challenge, that itself is a step in a beautiful direction.

Much love

Ini