The Ritual of Self-love by Lina Skukauske
Lina is Lithuanian lifestyle photographer currently starting a new career as a life coach and energy psychology practitioner. Through mindset shifts, increased self-awareness & gorgeous self-care practices she leads heart-centered women to fully trust their intuition & Divine guidance, own their gifts and change the world through unique expression of their souls. She currently lives in Munich, Germany but is a wanderer at heart.
Instagram | Photography Portfolio | Blog
When was the last time you did something caring for yourself? Because you felt like listening to what your mind, body and soul need is important and valuable. Yes, even more important and valuable than your never-ending to-do list and “urgent” requests from others that you keep saying “yes” to.
I think it’s a pity that in this hectic, far from natural and over-connected to technology world we don’t stop & listen anymore to our hushed voice of intuition and constant pleas from our body. We’re constantly “busy” and most of us literally don’t stop anymore to take a break (and I don’t have in mind a break where you check Instagram stories or smoke a cigarette). Voices in which our body sends her requests or our soul whispers her dreams are soft, silent, they don’t shout requesting our attention (until the point where we don’t listen for so long that they manifest themselves in physical ailments or "unexplainable" depressed mood). So even if we notice those tiny voices we tend to postpone their requests- to tomorrow, to when we’ll have “more time”. But we will never have more time if we won’t make it and we make it by re-prioritizing things in life.
So how important is your self-love is to you? Do you know what really makes you happy & nourished? And even more important- do you actually take the time to do those things? It took me years of bad habits, “strange” unhappiness when I’ve been surrounded by people who didn’t support my true self (I guess most of them even didn’t know the true me) and not valuing my wishes to finally start questioning it all. Little did I know that I actually thrive on soulful chats with my girlfriends instead of mainly being surrounded by men, long hikes in the wilderness instead of living in the city center and complete soberness instead of trendy underground parties with lots of alcohol. Now I know that organic herbal tea, running & yoga, fresh flowers, crystal jewelry and scented soy candles (or even making them myself) are some of the things that nourish me on various levels. Since starting to listen to my true needs I changed careers, changed countries, completely changed people who surround me and what habits I have. It took some soul searching, constant listening to my needs and courage to re-invent myself. And first of all, I needed to believe that I’m worthy to be happy and I deserve to do things that bring me that happiness.
When I talk about self-love I don’t mean only external things. Maybe what you really need is not a new pretty dress or a set of beautiful jewelry but something much more deeply nourishing. Maybe your soul whispers to you that you should do some gratitude or forgiveness practice or it invites you to sit down and meditate. Perhaps it whispers that you need some inner healing. Maybe you feel the need to let go of past hurts & blaming that are still weighing you down, whether you blame others or yourself. Or maybe you feel this profound need to express yourself through singing, dancing or visual arts. Please, don’t listen to the voice of your inner critic telling you you’re not a poet, that nobody cares about your art or that you know that you’re awful at dancing since that school dance when you were in 6th grade. Believe me, you’re worth another chance. Go do what your soul aches for, you can’t imagine how healing and deeply satisfying it can be to give yourself what you crave and have denied yourself for years or even decades.
I know the feeling of being lost & confused and kind of happy but never really fulfilled way too well and I know it can seem really hard to find ways to change it.
The first step to changing anything is always awareness, so let’s start here. When I feel disconnected from myself I start re-connect by making some sort of space to slow down, tune in & listen. Some of my favorite ways to do that are:
- Meditation. Though there are all sorts of meditations but for this purpose, we simply need silence & focus. Start by sitting down in a comfortable position with your back straight & eyes closed. You can also lay down on your back in shavasana with your eyes closed. Now stay there. Even if there are other, more “urgent” things your racing mind tells you need to do. Even if it seems silly. Listen, notice. What do you feel? Are there any physical aches & pains that you otherwise choose to not notice? Are there any emotions that come to the surface? Any ideas? Ask yourself what do you really need right now? What would make a positive difference? See what comes up. If you feel lost & overwhelmed and believe in some kind of Higher Power- ask for guidance and trust that the right answer will show up at the right time. The magic solutions I get in this way never stop to astound me.
- Long walk outdoors. I think that not many things can be more soothing for our overstimulated minds than a long walk in nature. Not only we get some fresh air, a good change of surroundings and some stress relief through movement but if we’re finally disconnected from technology and our usual hustle we have nowhere to hide but notice our true feelings and thoughts. Again, try to concentrate on what is missing in your life and what would make it better instead of running with old stories or daily worries.
- Journalling. I guess if I would have to select one tool to improve my life I would choose the ability to write down my thoughts in a journal. I don’t necessarily mean traditional diary-style journalling- it can be any lists of ideas, snippets of thoughts, manifesting exercises, copy for blog posts…I just find the writing to be so essential for clarity on any subject. For our agitated minds to calm down it's a good idea to first just let yourself write down anything, even if that’s a list of things you need to remember to do later today (remember, we’re trying to be more self-loving here, so no judgment please). When you feel calmer ask yourself a question: “If I would love myself more what would I do?” and write down your answers. The more you will allow yourself to write, the more you will surprise yourself.
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of things that you know deep inside would make you happy. It can feel like you have no time for that, that it's not worth it or even scary to try them but commit to trying at least one if it’s a big one (like starting a new hobby or even career) or doing one a day if they’re small (like buying yourself a fresh flower bouquet or taking 10 minutes a day to read on your sunny balcony) for a month and see what will change. If during your awareness exercise you understood that you need to commit to a better care of your physical body, please start doing that. Just take the first small step and commit to that vision of healthier, stronger, happier you. Maybe what you understood is that you have a very negative and judgmental inner dialogue and the most self-loving thing for you would be to release that. First of all, accept that this was your current reality and acknowledge that you do deserve better. A good rule is that if you wouldn’t speak like that to your kid or your best friend, you probably shouldn’t be speaking like this to yourself, too. Aim to become your best friend.
One of the best ways to cultivate a better relationship with yourself is by constantly learning to be self-aware about our thoughts & emotions. So often we run our thoughts (and from there the emotions follow) totally mindlessly without ever stopping and noticing that these are just our memorized old programs, we run them over and over again without conscious questioning. The more we learn to be consciously aware of our thoughts the more we can stop and ask some powerful questions. It definitely takes time and practice and being kind to yourself for the “mistakes" but the more often you can stop and ask yourself “Is this really true?” and “Is this thought serving me?” the more conscious and loving your inner dialogue becomes.
If you feel like you’re willing to take it to a next level I invite you to start noticing what you say in your mind when you see yourself in a mirror. Is it positive? Neutral? Or would it make your best friend cry if you would tell her that? It can be one of the most difficult exercises for people, especially in the beginning, but whenever you see yourself in a mirror try to find at least one good thing about yourself and tell yourself that. Even if you don’t fully believe that yet and you normally focus only on your flaws. There’s something deeply healing when we finally choose to really love & accept ourselves, with our light and shadow.
And if you read all this and still have this voice in yourself shaming you that self-love is egoistic, that you don’t deserve it I can tell you this- to truly give you must fill yourself up first (by the way, try to notice whose voice is it that tells you that you don’t deserve love? As most of our beliefs, it’s usually not really ours, it’s something we picked up while growing up. And it’s never a bad idea to double check if this belief is really serving you now). It’s when we’re overflowing that we start to really give. We suddenly sprinkle our inspiration, smile and random act of kindness because we feel so damn good about ourselves and life that we suddenly get this feeling that "hey, I feel like sharing, I want others to feel the same". Taking proper care of yourself and honoring your authentic needs enables you to really show up for others, whether it’s your family, clients, community or even your social media followers. You can’t do anything with yourself BUT to share, help and use your gifts for others. And that’s not selfish. That’s deeply beautiful and we need more that in the world.
So start to love yourself & shine, my dearest.