Mental Wellness

The Secret Sauce to Relationship Growth is Self-Love!

Ever hear things like “you should be so deep in self-love that no one else matters”? To me, that doesn’t sound very compelling because of course other people matter! Angel, my daughter is my favorite person in the world, and she deserves my unconditional love. My dad, partner, friends all matter so when I hear coaches/mentors/teachers use messages like that I wanna stop them and remind them that message needs to be a bit longer. It should say “you should be so deep in self-love that no one else gets to tell you if you matter and those you love get the most authentic version of you to love”.

Self-love isn’t about not needing other people, it doesn’t make you selfish, self-absorbed, egotistical or any of the other bullshit things people tell us. It also doesn’t mean that once we get into a place of radical self-love we stop caring about others, the world and the greater good. In fact, we actually do more of that. Radical self-love is about feeling so safe, so secure in who you are underneath all the past hurts, traumas, all the messed-up messages we learn as children that we love all parts of ourselves and say a big yes to being that deeply authentic version of us in all ways. We can love others deeper from that place because we love ourselves deeper.

For example, a client of mine was struggling in her marriage and feeling like she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be in it anymore. She found herself judging everything about him, everything he did or didn’t do, said, or didn’t say. If he wanted sex or tried to touch her, she was at the point of snapping at him. She was snapping at her kids too for simple things, things that kids do and shouldn’t ever be grounds for anger. So, in one of our first sessions, I had her go into a meditation and asked her did she love herself, truly and fully. She just started sobbing. I already knew the answer, but she needed to admit it because the truth was, she didn’t love herself at all and was raised to see herself as selfish if she wanted anything, felt pretty or smart or proud of herself. Her mother drilled into her that she shouldn’t want for too much, she should achieve good grades quietly and without boasting because she was expected to get good grades, go to college, secure a husband, make him happy, have children, devote her life to them and never, ever want for herself which led her to a place of not even liking the woman she saw in the mirror. She felt like a machine that just did for everyone else and tried to make everyone else happy and never concerned herself with making her happy because that was selfish, that was being lazy and not taking care of others. If she expressed her hurt or need to be seen and loved as a kid, she was reprimanded and told she was too emotional and being a bother.

So, she sobbed when asked the question of if she loved herself because of course, she didn’t, it was never ok to love herself before, so she didn’t know how now. She had gotten to a point where she felt so depleted within that she was resentful of any want her husband had for her or of her. She felt constantly overwhelmed, stressed, depleted and it had gotten to the point her husband was practically begging her to do something to make herself happy. We started working together and as I started explaining how important it was for her to find self-love, she became concerned. She asked the question most of my clients do “if I love myself so much, I won’t need my husband anymore, right?”

It’s a common fear and I followed it up the way I typically do in asking “if you felt so much love for yourself right now that you felt filled up, alive, confident and secure in asking for the help you want, the needs you want, the boundaries and desires you have how would you feel about and treat your husband”. She closed her eyes and held the question and then just started spewing all the words like “I’d want to be cuddled by him on the coach, I’d want him to touch me, to have sex with him, I’d tell him what I need help with, what I’m overwhelmed by, I’d want to spend more time with him doing things we used to do, I’d be so much calmer with the kids and let them know when I need a moment, I’d want to play with them more”. She went on from there, but you get the point…when you feel filled up with self-love you can’t help but want to overflow that love into others.

So how do you start getting to that point? To start feeling deeper self-love and allowing it to improve and enhance your relationships? I go over this in this week’s Sensual Power Podcast episode but I’m going to give you some exercises here:

First, ask yourself these questions, close your eyes and meditate on them then jot down whatever comes up:

If I loved myself more, what would I do, ask for?
How would I treat myself if I felt deeper self-love?
How would I show up in my partnership/friendships/with kids if I felt deeper self-love?
How would I care for myself?

Once you have those answered start tapping into your heart to find the you that loves yourself so deeply already and has expansive self-love. I have a full recording of this meditation available on my podcast but here’s the breakdown:

· Close your eyes, start slowly breathing in through your nose and release slower through your mouth focusing on your heart (maybe place hands on your heart too).
· Breathe a white glittery light into your body imaging this is a light from universe/source/creator/whatever resonates for you.
· If you notice tension in the heart space offer it lots of compassion and see if you can understand what the tension/tightening is. If it feels safe keep going and let this be without making it mean anything.
· Now visualize or connect to the most loving part of you, it’ll show up however it wants so no need to force or try to find it, just ask it to show up and wrap itself around the tension melting lots of love into your heart space.
· Once the tension is eased see yourself walking on the beach next to this most loving part of you, feeling sun streaming down, feeling warmth, hearing waves gently coming up to the shore.
· Take time to talk to this part of you “what are it’s passions, what are it’s dreams?” (Take note to jot these down later and ask anything else you’d like.
· Turn to face this part of you and let it melt into you so instead of being face to face you become one with it to BE your most loving self. Continue walking down the beach till you come into the very center of your heart where a castle exists, this castle is the castle of your heart and see it as beautiful and radiant as you can.
· Walk inside and see the beauty of a grand expansive room and see a beautiful golden thrown there. It’s the thrown of your most loving self so when you sit on it you are in the full power of your love. What do you notice about yourself when you sit on this thrown? What do you do for yourself, for others when you sit on this throne of your heart? How do you speak, act, show up, love from this place?
· When you feel like you have the answers, you’re meant to receive at this moment let the visualization fade away and come back into yourself and take notes in a journal. Anytime you need a reminder of self-love or guidance from a place of self-love come back to this space.

by Valerie Schrader

I’ve spent the last 20 years coaching and teaching embodiment work out of a deep desire to see vulva owning human beings thriving in their sensual power, feeling ownership of it and learning to see themselves as the beautifully whole beings they already are. Why? Because like many women I spent years feeling not enough, afraid to be myself and in so much pain from the traumas of growing up with a toxic mother and sexual traumas. I knew all that I’d been through had to be for a reason. There had to be a purpose for it and that purpose was to guide others through their own trauma and the harmful conditioning of toxic mothers and narcissistic abuse. Through my own experiences of healing plus years of training in somatic experiencing, embodiment work, psychology, women’s health and sexuality, anti-racism and decolonization work and being a third-generation healer, I strive to mix elements of traditional healing with spiritual practice to create magical results.


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