A fable about the magical kitchen
Let’s play a game! Imagine this hypothetical situation where someone rings your doorbell, on the other side you find a person standing with a takeaway pizza. The person has a stranger offer: “I’ll give you a piece of this pizza but you have to do everything I ask you to”.
Let’s explore the two possible scenarios:
- You had been starving for days. You would do anything to fill your tummy, so your excitement goes through the roof, you shout out “yes” as a response to the strange offer without much thinking.
- You have a “magical kitchen” at home, which just upon your wishing prepares any Michelin restaurant type of meal or just about anything of your heart’s desire. Hence you laugh at the offer to eat anything from the carton box and be controlled as an exchange. You are fulfilled and independent.
Now replace “pizza” with “love”.
If you have self-love (a.k.a Magical kitchen), you know your worth and you feel content and fulfilled. You could enjoy another person’s company and romantic relationship but you’re not starving for it, you don’t need it. On the other hand, if self-love as a base is lacking, you’re looking for THE ONE to show you that you’re lovable, to solve all your needs, however on such occasions so often we slip into the arms of not the right person but the one who gives us what we’re lacking – praise, admiration. Yet, it comes with the price. Usually, we cling to that person as the remedy aiming to “squeeze the love out of him”. If two people lacking self-love meet, they rely on the partner’s praise and attention, “milking” the love out of them. It all becomes a game: you gave me attention – one point for you, you made me mad/sad – minus one point. Our mood and quality of life become dependent on another person, like in the example of the carton box pizza.
This scenario is so very common to all of us, humans. When we lack attention to self, self-awareness and don’t invest enough energy in meeting our own needs, we tend to look for a lover who would solve it all, complete us. As a famous hypnotherapist Marisa Peer says, “Not enough is the biggest disease affecting humanity”.
So in whichever scenario you find yourself today, first of all, acknowledge your starting point and don’t judge yourself.
“People are starving for love, not knowing their heart is a magical kitchen. Open your heart. Open your magical kitchen and refuse to walk around the world begging for love. In your heart is all the love you need. Your heart can create any amount of love, not just for yourself, but for the whole world. “ Don Miguel Ruiz
Two years ago, after an ended a long-term relationship, which crashed due to the lack of self-love, I set on a quest to study love as a subject and learn everything that seemed to be missing in order to create the more meaningful relationship(s) in the future. Ever since I got familiar with Don Miguel Ruiz book “The Mastery of Love”, self-love became my priority, focus, practice and a lifestyle that radically changed my relationships.
9 tips to the self-love mastery
February is the “love month”, so it’s a perfect time to focus on self-love first. Below I am going to share 5 of my favourite practices and challenge you to install one or two habits that intrigue you.
1. Dance in front of the mirror (for one song)
Every day I spend 5-10 minutes looking at myself in a mirror while applying make-up and dressing up. I made it a conscious habit to tell myself appreciative words while I get ready. So it’s not only a “routine thing” I need to do, it’s the very special 5 minutes of gazing myself to the eyes, telling myself how beautiful I am and what a good day it will be. For an extra good start of the day, I also put an uplifting track and shake my hips – that’s how I consciously prepare myself to have a good day. It’s also applicable to men, just skip the make-up part.
2. Practice a micro-habit of self-care
We all know healthy eating or exercising is good for us. However, some things come harder than easier. How about breaking it down and setting a minimum baseline? You don’t have time for 30 push-ups a day or a gym session? How about doing 5 push-ups? I struggle with exercising every day but I make sure to incorporate a few burpees and situps a day and I instantly feel so much better.
3. Reflect & Acknowledge
If you’re like me, the monkey-mind is a real challenge. Keeping the journal to process your thoughts, put down the worries or write down a few lines of gratitude feels like a mental clean-up. This is by far my favourite and one of the most consistent practices. I have 3 journals, one for noting down my first emotion of the day and the last one before I sleep – helps me become aware of what emotions I am feeling throughout my days and to make a change if needed; another for the gratitude of the day – a grounding practice making shift the perspective. Don’t forget to include yourself on a list; the third one is for a dialogue with myself on a paper – it helps process the feelings and leave the worries and resentments in a “safe place”. It really helps to note down your feelings on a paper before “fighting” with a partner. I call it a “shitty first draft” which helps to cool down and bring up your emotional needs in a more constructive way.
4. Treat/pamper yourself periodically
Each morning during my morning meditation, I ask myself “what is one thing I can do to nurture myself today?” It can be as small as a 5 minutes meditative walk with my phone not around or standing in the sunlight for two minutes doing nothing. Periodically pamper yourself with a fancy dinner, a massage or any other practice of your liking.
5. Power down
You deserve to have your last hour in a day for yourself. Do your best to turn off the computer and your mobile phone (put it on aeroplane mode so no notifications distract you) and get ready for sleep with some mindless day chores, such as ironing your clothes for tomorrow or reading a book.
6. Write a list of what you appreciate about yourself
Seriously, you’ve got this and there definitely are things that are great about you. Have you noticed your eyes or your laughter? Maybe you’re always punctual and responsible? You give a hand and help a blind pedestrian cross the street? It also counts. Add on to the list when you’re in a good mood and hang a list in a visible place so it’s always available to you. For a perfect combination, combine it with your picture when you absolutely felt on top of the world. The mind thinks in pictures and if you make sure to see that picture daily, you will attract more positive emotions about yourself on a regular basis.
Once I set a challenge for myself and wrote a “100 positive things about my life” list, which took me half a year to complete. Now on the “it’s not my day” kind of days, I have a list to revive my belief in myself and have some hope that there are at least some small details in my life that are going well. You don’t need to go to such extremes, but a list of even 10 points would do miracles.
6. Ok, this is not the easiest one. Go on a no – complaint challenge
Periodically, i.e. for three days a month embrace the no-complaint challenge. Set an intention to be mindful and not to complain, neither out loud, nor in your head. Each time you complain, catch yourself and make a note on your mobile phone. Even if it’s hardly possible to get to zero, it will make you aware whom are you giving your emotional power away.
7. Connect more
Loneliness causes addiction, even if that’s binging on chips or candy or being glued to your social media app. Find a friend with whom you can constantly check in and be vulnerable about what you’re g(r)owing through. Real openness is key here. And if you feel stuck on a vicious negative spiral, there is nothing shameful in seeing a therapist once in a while. If you’re shy to see a human, try an app called Wysa. The app is powered by a very friendly bot, that really genuinely cares about your feelings.
Sleep is an underrated but one of the three key pillars in your emotional and physical wellbeing together with nutrition and exercise. Set an alarm clock not for your waking up an hour but for the time to go to bed. Consistent waking and sleep schedule will rejuvenate you and fill you up with better emotions about yourself and the world.
9. Stretch your mental models
You might have already noticed that there is no absolute reality, but individual realities. Practice changing the lens that makes you see the world specific way. Getting exposed to personal development practices was my answer. Going out of my friends’ circle and talking to people who are different than me is the other key. If you can read just one book, I recommend “The Code Of Extraordinary Mind” – it will definitely make you question everything.
I hope that you find these tips useful and can incorporate one or several practices in your day-to-day life. If you’d like more tips or a 30-day challenge, I found this great comprehensive self-care list. Don’t forget to be gentle with yourself on your journey to self-love. It absolutely doesn’t happen overnight. And if you’d like an honest conversation or a listening ear, drop me a line.