The ancient Greeks called it ‘philautia’, which literally means ‘self-love’. Sometimes when I hear the term self-love, it lands funny. Maybe it’s my own discomfort with myself…the pressure to love things that I am not too thrilled exist in me. Love all of me, even the flaws? In many ways I do, but the concept of self-intimacy has an ever so slightly different connotation that is easier for me to digest. My interpretation of this would be knowing myself and caring deeply for all the things within me. Which, after all, is self-love.
This approach to handling myself and the things inside as if they are sacred has opened up a whole new world of joy and meaning for me. When embraced it also opens up a delightful way of being in connection. I am no longer required to adapt to expectations that I unconsciously adopted from my family of origin or social networks. I no longer need to worry about fitting in. No need to compromise my values. Note, it in no way steers me away from self-improvement. With it comes a yearning to align my actions with my innate values and qualities. Since I am also human with impulses, subconscious thoughts, and reactions, this is a constant growth process.
In reality, social and family connections are of primal importance. We need our tribe, which is why we adapt. However, when those systems are unhealthy, we naturally take it personally, especially when we are young. This is a survival instinct since we need to stay connected to our caregivers. Yet we can lose trust in ourselves. When we reclaim and empower ourselves and develop, through our healing journey, a deep trust in the love that exists in the world – life becomes magical. The people you need will be there because the world has an abundance of love. It’s like entering into a dance hall with the freedom of expression and those who are ready to groove in the way you like to groove come out to dance. Of course, some will not, but they can find others who groove in the way they want to groove. There is enough to go around. Those who are willing to show up will find their match(es) and step into flow.
I’d like to share 3 things you can do today to enhance self-intimacy. Don’t overwhelm yourself with this seemingly abstract task of developing “self-intimacy.” It isn’t a destination or a task you can check off. It’s something that is nurtured over time. It can ebb and flow. It can, at times, get lost, but never completely. It’s always there, whether or not you are aware.
3 Simple Ways to Nurture Self-intimacy
Learn your values. Take this list and select those that speak to you. Identify 10-15 that stand out. Then identify 5-8 that light a fire inside of you (for better or worse), the ones that guide your decision-making, even trigger your emotions. When violated they may enrage you and when embraced they bring you to life. Once you have your final list, prioritize them in order of importance. As you encounter choices over the next week, notice if you are taking actions that align with your core values. Remember that your values may change over time as you gain new experiences and insights. It’s important to revisit your values periodically to ensure that they still reflect who you are and what you stand for.
Take time with your physical body. This can be different for different people. You may not quite have a sense of how your physical body impacts things. Nonetheless, gaining awareness of the subtle changes within your body will greatly expand your relationship with your emotions, spirituality, motivation, energy, and relationships with others. Choose one way to connect with your physical body daily such as 10 minutes of yoga, walking more, drinking water, or even giving yourself a foot rub. Make this time distraction free and put your devices in another room. Notice what you notice.
Meditate. I hear you, you are so tired of hearing about meditation and you “aren’t good at it.” It’s okay. We all feel we aren’t good at it. But that isn’t the point. If exercising isn’t easy does that mean it won’t work for us? Meditation exercises muscles that are weakened by a steady flow of information, distractions, and immediate gratification. It lets us get quiet and listen inwardly, tuning out the world momentarily. This helps you know yourself.
As you take on one of these challenges, I hope you will find more meaning and purpose in your day-to-day. Remember we are here to support you! One lovely opportunity is our upcoming Restore & Explore Retreat on May 5-7, 2023. Additionally, our next 8-week series of Gentle Yoga & IFS Inquiry begins on April 15. As always, we have individual and couples therapy with a team of compassionate therapists. You can send us a message or book a consultation on our contact page.