Self love isn't for hippies, its for happies.
Updated: Feb 13, 2021
Ten years ago, if someone had told me that I'd be waking up twenty minutes early every day to meditate, I would have told them go and have a nice lie down. But here I am now, on a sunny Wednesday morning feeling optimistic, well-slept, calm and happy. So far from the pessimistic, self-berating, sleep-deprived, anxious little shrew that I once was.
You see the thing was, my life wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all. I had tons of friends, an amazing family, a well-paid and respected career, a boyfriend, nice holidays, a lovely flat, a fabulous shoe collection... the list goes on. But I just wasn't 'happy'. Life was just a bit meh. And I felt guilty. WHY did I not feel content? WHY couldn’t I just be optimistic about the future? WHY was I so bloody ungrateful for this life that other people would kill for? Blah blah blah. Truth is, I'd actually felt like this for years. I think it started around 2007. Had a mid-career crisis and took a sabbatical to travel around Australia, New Zealand and SE Asia and 'find myself'. In hindsight I was just running away from my problems, as the high of freedom quickly turned into the familiar low of discontent and entrapment when I came back to the UK. I got diagnosed with depression. Went on anti-depressants. Came off said anti-depressants. Went through a couple of counselors and therapists. Read various self-help books. Googled endless articles on 'happiness'. But nothing seemed to work. Sure, I was 'fine' (a wise friend actually once told me that 'FINE actually stands for 'Fucked Up, Insecure, Needy and Emotional') but I wasn't 'happy'.
Fast forward to October 2015 and something inside me clicked. That lightbulb moment if you will. I realised I’d been too busy focusing on the past and WHY I felt like I did and instead needed to look towards the future and focus on making change. The catalyst for this lightbulb moment was an event I went to run by the amazing Vicki Burt and Selina Barker who founded 'Project Love' to help women have happy careers and love lives, on the premise that it all starts with a lovely dollop of self love. In the space of that 1 hour, not only did I learn what self-love actually is, but more importantly, why it’s the single most important ingredient in being happy and content. I have to admit, the old self-berating anxious shrew thought the concept sounded a bit wanky at first, but as the event went on, Vicky & Selina's mantra that 'love starts from within' somehow actually started resonating with me.
Right then and there, I had a massive realisation that I'd been giving myself absolutely no self-love. I gave it in abundance to family, friends, pets, boyfriends, hell even shoes. Just not to little old me. So, after furiously and excitedly scribbling down pages of notes on their amazingly simple and practical self-love advice, I slowly, but surely began to embark on this little journey of self-love.
Project Love's tips are: 1. Treat yourself every day (simple pleasures that are guilt-free and meant only for you) 2. Go on dates with yourself (spend quality time alone with yourself to foster that all-important relationship) 3. Be a love boomerang (take responsibility for the vibes you're giving out and become a magnet for what you want) 4. Practice gratitude (write a gratitude diary every day to feel it as opposed to just thinking it) 5. Open up to receive love (be vulnerable, open up your posture, accept compliments & ask for help) 6. Be empathetic (see things from other peoples' perspectives) 7. Be present (take time out of each day to get out of your head and into your body, pause and really listen to your heart - they recommend meditation for this.) Number 7 seemed like the easiest thing to try first, so I eagerly downloaded the Headspace app and cracked on with my first ten-minute session, totally ready to come over all Eat Pray Love and zen-like. Ha, fat chace. Turns out my brain is (well, was) probably the shoutiest, most over-cluttered and over-thinking brain ever and it certainly didn’t take too kindly to someone trying to quieten it down. I tried it. I fought it. I gave up. I tried again. I got bored. I tried again.
And now 4 years later I’m doing it every damn day (having now moved onto Vedic mediation) and I feel bloody fantastic. When I tell people about it, some look at me weirdly and ask things like 'How does it work?', 'What’s it like?' and 'Will I need a floating flower and a candle?' And the answers are I don’t know. All I do know is that 20 minutes a day has completely changed the way I think and sleep. I’m calmer, more rested and although deep down, the anxious little shrew may raise her head every now and again, I know how to deal with her. And in a way that I'd talk to a best friend, not someone I think is a dick.
So, in essence, that was the start of my relationship with arguably the most important person in my world right now.....ME. A process of getting to know ME. Of spending time with ME. And if that sounds arrogant, it really isn’t. It’s just a long-overdue realisation that being kinder to myself really is the only way to make me truly happy. Well that. And shoes....
Career Change & Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen
Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out, hit rock bottom and used the experience to manifest my dream life. I now help passionate and ambitious women change career, start side hustles and grow businesses. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.
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