“I don’t like myself, I am crazy about myself.” ~ Mae West
Now that’s a woman’s woman! Fully, completely, unabashedly in love with who she is – the sum total of her good, bad and ugly. Celebrating her individual uniqueness with  100% self – approval and being unapologetic about it too!
Self-love isn’t narcissism. It’s the coolest version of love there is. The romance of a lifetime. A  manifestation of love that has the power to make you feel like a million bucks. Without the MAC, the Louis Vuittons and the Jimmy Choos. An explosion of inner energy and power that has the capability of turning your life around. In a darn good way.
 
And it’s revealed when you feel beautifully balanced, positive,  confident and strong.
Yet, it’s the least talked , or rather, thought about .

For a moment, close your eyes and think of the people you love – a child, a parent, a sibling, a partner, a best-friend.Observe the feelings that wash over you – the surge of warmth and kindness..of love and tenderness..of respect and consideration..of compassion and forgiveness. Think about how you tend to those fortunate loved ones – taking care of their needs, encouraging them to keep going when they fall, praising their achievements and empathizing with their failures.
Now imagine cocooning yourself in the same softness..the same gentleness.Giving the same attention to your own needs and wants, nurturing and nourishing your body and soul, feeling the same tolerance and forgiveness for your own stumbles and imperfections.Life would be so much more joyful ,beautiful and peaceful.
But how am I qualified to talk about self-love? Part experience – part observation – part experimenting.
Like most educated, urban , working women today, I went through the  ‘ Who am I really?’ phase , a little after I had my second baby,Dia. To backtrack a bit, me and my husband started a BTL communications agency shortly after we met at management college and were having a reasonably successful run when Avi, our first bundle of joy, announced his arrival. And my life practically turned topsy turvy. Newborns have a tendency of doing that ! 🙂
Barely 2 months into being a parent first time round, I resumed work – baby in tow. Every morning I would wake up , exhausted from my sleepless night , finish morning routines,pack the baby bag and leave for office with my adorable package. Once in office I alternated between official work  and taking care of the baby – feeding, changing diapers ,soothing, playing and putting the baby to bed (I got a baby cot installed in my room ) –  denying myself some much needed rest. I thought I was pretty cool – managing work and baby with panache’. Some delusions! To ensure I did not pile up the pounds I also ate carefully (under-eating at times) and pushed in some exercising too. As a result, I was mostly exhausted and irritated. This carried on till my second one came along a couple of years later and I could no longer manage both a 2.5 year old and a new born ,while being completely involved with the business too.
So with a well thought out decision of taking a backseat professionally , I started operating part-time out of home – trying to keep up professionally while maintaining house, being a gracious hostess, a dutiful wife and looking after 2 young kids. I wasn’t really prepared for what followed. A couple of years into mostly staying home and raising a family, my sense of self – identity nose-dived. I wasn’t too sure of where I saw myself in the scheme of things – mostly professionally. Suddenly all I felt was that I wasn’t keeping up. I wasn’t directly dealing with clients. I wasn’t there for the employees. I wasn’t hand-on with work anymore. I thought the house wasn’t in perfect order. I didn’t feel all patient and motherly all the time.I looked tired. I felt weak and vulnerable. I was missing out. I was being left behind. I was going to be a has-been. My life did not live up to my expectation of well balanced perfection.
In hindsight , I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I made that biggest mistake of pegging my self-identity on the culture /media projected illusion of the mythical female species with a rock solid career, perfectly kept house, always happy babies, amazing relationships and immaculately turned out persona .And I put myself through hell for that version of the ‘modern successful woman’.
In my mind, I always needed to work just that ‘little bit more’ – at keeping home, at raising kids (boy, are mothers competitive these days or what? :)), at staying visible professionally , at being a loving wife, and of course, at looking great while doing all of that! In other words,it was never ‘perfect’. I was in the “Yeah, but…” mode constantly. In my head.
I’am sure I did not love myself enough.
Trying to live up to my definition of ‘success’ , I spent myself. Because I forgot that there’s nothing called a free lunch. You pay, you get. And you gotta pay a price for all those crowns to sit pretty on your head. Mostly the price is self-neglect. In pursuit of a mirage. Because, there is nothing called the ‘perfect woman’. It took me a few years, and a lot of introspection to see through that media and culture created illusion.
I had to set my self-identity map in order, in the correct priority.
 
My prime identity & relationship was not with or because of my work or children or husband or house or society, it was because of and with myself. And that did not make me selfish or self centered. If my relationship with myself wasn’t at its best, I wouldn’t be able to do justice elsewhere. That was my light bulb moment of realization- when suddenly everything seems to shine with clarity.
And that’s when Stella found her groove. I was back in business baby! And how 🙂
 
First and foremost I stopped seeking approval , from within and without. I was doing fine and if I stumbled that was OK too.If everything did not come together oh-so-perfectly, I wasn’t going to kill myself over it. Or over what others would think.
Secondly, I started taking ‘me-time’ seriously- as seriously as the time I gave to those around me. I did what I loved – I read. I learnt some martial arts. I fixed dates with myself. At home, at a coffee shop, on a solo drive. Doing nothing but enjoying my moment of solitude, calmness , music and sometimes a hot gourmet coffee 🙂
Thirdly, I started investing in my physical health – taking care I ate healthy and balanced meals, just as I ensured them for my family. No more breakfast-on-the-go , no more finishing off what the kid’s left on their plates, no more diets, no more worrying overtly over piling the pounds, no more imbalances. I got regular with exercising, without obsessing. If my body told me it wasn’t up to it, I listened with care and concern. And I rested.
Finally and most importantly , I didn’t peg my sense of self-identity on my professional success. Being a mother , wife and a home-maker was a tougher job and yes, a tremendous responsibility. I sought joy and satisfaction there. I valued the returns of motherhood and home-making. I prided myself more as a mother , a wife and a home-maker than as a professional.
Today I am the happiest I have ever been. I could have done better professionally ( going with the definition of success in my mind)  but I had chosen to be a hands-on mother, which meant I couldn’t be as hands-on with business. So I identified where I could contribute my best to my agency – subject to my meeting other priorities as well. A space that went with my skill sets, added value, did not require me to be on the frontline and which I could practically and easily manage with my other household & family responsibilities.
I am sure many women find resonance in my experiences above , so here’s a few of my  learnings along the way – Love for one self needs to be demonstrated and practiced just the same way it is shown for those you love.
 
1. Don’t expect perfection from yourself . Learn to relax,to let go , it’s ok to be just doing ok at times.
2. Embrace yourself wholeheartedly…your entire fabulous self…flaws and all. Physical or emotional. Nobody’s flawless. Not even the perfectly airbrushed models smiling off magazine covers…or the everything-under-control mothers delivering their lines in TV advertisements.
3. Forgive yourself . So you forgot to send that ‘labeled handkerchief’ along with your child the teacher has written a note for. Or you did not follow through your promise of not having that ice-cream lying in the freezer. Fine. It happens. Everyone’s human and so are you.
4. Invest in yourself . Take time off..give yourself a break now and then and don’t feel guilty about it. You deserve it. Step out of your comfort zone. Try something different Learn new skills. You never know what you may end up discovering about yourself! And do it now. I learnt to kick-box. I started blogging. I started living healthy consciously. There are more opportunities to learn something new today than  there have ever been.
5.Take care of your physical health. Don’t let your body go because you are a wife and a mother. Adopt a healthy lifestyle – Eat nutritious, balanced meals. Workout regularly – be it at home , out in the park or at a gym. Keep that positive thinking going.
6.Applaud yourself. For each step forward. For every achievement. No matter how small.
One can find many more ways to embrace and take care of oneself .So that you glow like a woman forever in love.  As Jennifer Hudson sang fabulously in the romantic comedy ‘ Sex and the City’- all you need is to be dressed up in love, from head to toe. 🙂
Because you’re worth it.

 

Written by van@naturallylush

Welcome to Naturally Lush! Here's where wellness , mindful-curated living & chic healthy lifestyles come together. Join us on a thoughtful journey of exploration, discovery and experiences guiding a naturally lush life.

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