Self Love

On my recent trip to Sedona, one of the many first in a lifetime experiences I had was to have a Card Reading with Rachel Farabaugh. I loved it! And like many aspects of the Retreat, the insights and learning and self awareness created just keep deepening.

I was invited to ask a question that I’d like to have answered in the reading. I’m not going to reveal that here! Neither am I going to share the whole reading. I am going to share the answer though, both because I think it will serve you and also because I had to do some work to unearth what it really meant, and I think the deeper meaning will serve you too!

So the instruction I got was “Self love – Cultivate love, compassion and kindness to yourself before giving to others.”

“Big deal!” you might be thinking! We all know we’re supposed to love and be kind to ourselves. Not least during the recent pandemic, we’ve all heard or been reminded of the reference to the Airline mantra to “put on your own oxygen mask before tending to others”.

For me, on the day of my reading, I was kind of surprised to draw this card. To be honest, and if you know me you’ll know this to be true, I’m pretty good to myself and would have thought that I had self love nailed!

A quick google search turns up the following kinds of suggestions relating to self love, which in practice perhaps relate more to self-care – eating well, staying hydrated, getting better sleep/enough sleep, taking supplements, seeing your doctor, spending time in nature, taking a bath, treating yourself, take a holiday…

If self love is alien to you, this is a great place to start! The full message of the card is to fill your own cup before you start to tend to others. The bottom line is you can’t give what you don’t have. If your tendency is to put everyone’s needs before your own, it’s time to stop that. Look after yourself, knowing that as you do you are so much better placed to care for others.

For me, and perhaps for many of you reading this today, while I could get better at any of these self-care practices, I’m also able to say I do them pretty regularly. So the question remained, why am I getting Self-love as the answer to my question?

Time to dig deeper!

I asked Rachel for her thoughts, expressing my surprise at this answer. She asked some great and ultimately revealing questions: “Are you hard on yourself? Are you self-critical and judgmental?”


It didn’t take long to acknowledge that the answer was yes! Perhaps like you I have perfectionism tendencies. I hold high standards for myself. And yes, I can give myself a hard time when I don’t meet them, which is relatively often given the impossibly high bar. This can be as a parent, a partner, a friend, a sibling and even as a coach.

It’s not absolute, I don’t do it all the time, but when made to reflect on it as with the card reading, I realize it is an issue. And I’m willing to embrace a deeper understanding of self-love to grow and resolve it.

For me, and perhaps for you, I think the magic word in the card’s message is compassion. Compassion for self. Typically we’re all good at giving compassion and understanding to others.

We’re social beings after all and it’s an instinct to be compassionate to others. It’s much less of an instinct to give compassion to ourselves, so we have to nurture that capacity.

Here are two of the ways I’m working with this. They both go quite deep, so if you’d like support with it be sure and reach out, you can always book a complimentary strategy session with me here.

Compassion for self during moments of contraction. If you work with me you’ll be familiar with the word contraction. It arises whenever we are thinking or feeling ‘I don’t like this’. Sometimes we catch it because of how it shows up physically – tension headaches, tight shoulders, butterflies in the stomach, tightness around the heart. Obviously there is a spectrum of feelings from what we consider typically as negative or positive. Contraction is anything that’s on what you’d consider to be the negative end of that spectrum.

What compassion looks like in these moments of contraction is to not make it wrong to be feeling what you’re feeling or thinking what you’re thinking. No beating yourself up. No telling yourself ‘I shouldn’t be feeling/thinking this’. A great phrase that my mentor shares with me for such moments is to say to yourself: ‘here I grow again’! I have another opportunity to take the lessons this experience has come to give me.

It is also a time to celebrate your awareness. You’ve noticed you’re in contraction. This is good news. Now you have a choice. Now you can do something about it, rather than getting stuck in the pain of the contraction for hours, days or weeks.

In terms of doing something, first you really do want be compassionate. You could say to yourself, ‘I see how hard you’re finding this situation’. ‘I hear how hurt you are feeling.’ ‘I’m sorry that’s how it is just now.’ If there are some tears or ranting, let them be expressed.

And then to move forward, the two best questions I know and practice are to ask: ‘What would love do now?’ ‘What would my best self do here?’

Then go do that.

Forgive past failures: This is a big one for me. On one level I know that we are all doing our best, in any given moment, based on our level of awareness at that time. I know this and believe it to be a true. Believing it helps me to be forgiving towards others. My work is to allow myself to hold its truth for me. I find it hard to forgive myself for past failures, in particular the times when I know I hurt others.

The book, The Course in Miracles, has a very interesting thing to say about our actions. It says that every act is either a call for love or an expression of love, no matter how unskillful it appears. If this is true, love is always present.

If this is a new concept for you, spend time with this. It can be a big ask to see love in every action. Ultimately, it’s a choice to perceive it this way. I believe it’s a choice worth making, because of the peace and liberation it brings. It’s not about letting ourselves or others off the hook for bad behavior. It is to understand that what was behind that behavior was a call for, or an expression of, love.

Similarly, if we think about God or Spirit, Love, Life – however you conceive it to be – typically we say that that Consciousness is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent (all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present). If you believe this to be true, as I do, then God/Spirit/Love/Life was there in all those moments too.

I know I’m asking you to consider a lot here. This takes time. I notice myself using the word believe above. But this is more than just believing something on an intellectual level. Intellectually, I’ve believed all of this for a long time, perhaps all my life.

But I haven’t always had a knowing of it, a felt experience of it. That’s what we’re aiming for here. When we know it to be True that God/Spirit/Life/Love is always present and when we know it in the very fiber of our being, then we can release our judgment of ourselves and our past failures and we can be at peace.

On a practical level, ii there are amends I can make, I can do that now too. Go to your Intuition to see if there is something that needs to be done if that seems appropriate at this point in time. Either way, know this.

God is in me and you. Always. S/He was with us in those moments of past failures. No matter how much I now regret them, I was doing my best at the time. I can release the regret and let go.

So my work with self-love is to build not just my believing in the above but my knowing of it. To actually release those past failures. To know that love was in all of it and God was present there too.

My hope is that sharing what is essentially quite a personal journey here with you, it will support you in developing your own knowing that you are love and you are loved.

Know that and love yourself.

Photo by Vanessa Kintaudi on Unsplash