Self-Love and Softening
Self-love and softening are very closely related. Self-love allows us to be softer with ourselves and others. Softness allows us to observe ourselves with a more gentle, spacious and open heart. Both inform each other. When we look out at the world, we see examples all the time of people who lack self-love. Softness is not the order of the day, but rather something we have to consciously search for or make a point to notice.
Just the other day a close friend confided in me that she is cultivating softness in herself. I confided that I too had been doing the same for quite some time. She invited me to share anything I come across that might contribute to softening. I contemplated the things I do to nurture softness within myself.
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Having recently moved from the more harsh, yang landscape of the Southwest to the more soft, yin landscape of the Oregon coast, I am reminded how being in nature and connecting to the land, the plants and the trees immediately softens me. It not only softens me, but it also helps revive my sense of awe and wonder. It lights me up, it brings me joy. It helps me to see directly the interconnected web of life in the ecology around me. All of these things are like a symphony that sings to my heart and opens it up.
Softening Your Environment
In my recent move from New Mexico to Oregon, I was given a room to call my own and decorate however I like, I chose to keep it very simple and to use soft colors and textures. I made a lovely altar that I refer to daily. Nature is depicted in every image on my walls. I have bureaus on opposite sides of the room. One always has an orchid on it and the other a bouquet of flowers. When I showed it to my friend she said it had a very “soft” energy to it. That is a perfect example of how my intention translated to my physical reality.
Soft music, soft lighting, animals, flowers, candles, and water ( taking a bath or being in a river or lake ) all contribute to softening. Speaking more slowly in a softer tone of voice with fewer words is very nurturing and can also lend to softening. Getting comfortable with silence and dedicating some time to it on a daily basis can work wonders. Lots of people fear silence because in silence they have to face their inner chatter. Silence is a great teacher and very nurturing.
Would you like to soften?
In what way or what area of your life or being would you like to soften?
Do you see yourself engaging in some of the suggestions given here - which ones?
What are some of your own ideas about ways you can soften within yourself, or soften in certain situations?
What can you do to soften your environment?
Where have the softer sides of the feminine been misconstrued ( in yourself, your family, in society )?
Why do you suppose softness is not encouraged in men on a societal level?
Do you believe that the feminine has had to harden to protect itself?
If so, can you give an example?
How do you see this play out in your own life and in society?
Can you think of examples where softness is mistaken for weakness (like vulnerability for example)?
Perhaps one of the most important things we can do in the way of softening and self-love is to begin bringing our attention and awareness to our inner dialogue. I remember many years ago when I was less well versed in the ways of self-love and softness, my inner critic was very harsh. My friend said to me one day, “ Julie, if your friends spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, they wouldn’t be your friends “. That really hit home for me, so much so that I still remember it today.
Self-love begins with you and it can be very helpful to begin to track your inner dialogue. Next time you have an inclination, spend the whole day with a focused awareness on your inner dialogue. What kinds of thoughts are you having? Are they more positive or more negative? Are you judging yourself and others? Are you making self-effacing comments about yourself? What’s going on in there? Begin to make it a practice to really listen to your internal dialogue. Notice in what situations it is more harsh, negative, and judgemental and when the dialogue is more positive, upbeat and gentle.
As you begin to practice this you may be shocked. As time goes on you will notice patterns that will give you clues to which environments, situations, events and people foster which types of dialogue. Once you see the patterns you have an opportunity to participate less and less either in the realms that produce negative self-talk, or you may learn how to enjoy yourself in almost any situation because you become the master of your internal dialogue and the triggers begin to vanish.
The idea is not one of avoidance, but of removing yourself from toxic environments, and people. You don’t want to create a bubble of control around you, you want to make it safe inside yourself. It is not always our environment and the surrounding people who are triggering us, but our own reactions to and attitudes about our environment that make it unpleasant.
Do you feel it would be beneficial to write about your inner dialogue?
Do you think if you tracked your inner dialogue over time you would be able to see patterns and also progress?
Would you like to have a softer inner dialogue?
Are you aware of your triggers and their roots?
Do you feel you are responsible for your healing and evolution or do you blame others and leave it at that?
Should the whole world just act accordingly so you can be happy, or would you rather transform your inner world so you can be joyful and content in the world?
If you really want to get a handle on inner dialogue and a deep understanding of consciousness vs. mind I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Michael A. Singer’s book called THE UNTETHERED SOUL. You can find it online. I even saw one copy for as low as $2.99 and there is also a version available on Audible.com.
If you like books and you like tangible action steps that help you reach your goals, you will appreciate an e-book called 30 Days to Unconditional Self-Love. This e-book was written by a dear friend with a powerful story. She is in fact the woman who helped me get this website and blog off the ground. Candace knows how to make dreams become reality. Her very affordable e-book can be found on Etsy by clicking on this link.
The Discipline of Self-Love
Often people equate discipline with self-love and they may be right. What I have noticed is that as my self-love has grown, there is not as much need for self-imposed discipline, because my heart will make time for its passions, my body will invite me to take care of it, and my mind will request various forms of stillness ( like meditation for example). Everyone has different ways of nurturing themselves, the point is to do it. If we have difficulty with self-love, nurturing ourselves or being soft, it is helpful to do some self-inquiry. The first question might be:
Have I abandoned myself, or a part of myself ( which part) and if so, why?
There may not be a human on Earth who at one point or another ( and sometimes for their whole life) does not have an abandonment issue to grapple with. Our abandonment issues can come in many forms and stem from a myriad of experiences from a break-up with a loved one to abuse, adoption, a traumatic experience, an unhealthy relationship with our parent(s), and so on. These experiences leave us with deep emotional fissures that reside in our body, our mind, our emotional body, and our cellular memory.
Some people spend a lifetime trying to heal these wounds and others spend a lifetime trying to avoid them. In truth, it doesn’t have to take a lifetime and it starts whenever you decide it does. It is a lifelong journey that takes place moment by moment. I believe that there is no arrival. The more you love, the deeper you find you can go. You may think you have arrived and then out of nowhere a shadow appears asking you to bring it into the light. The trick is not to run, not to avoid, not to fight it.
Difficult experiences appear, not to disturb you, but to show you where you can soften, where you can love yourself more, where you can lean in more to your vulnerability, where you are contracted, and where you can open. With trust, faith, and courage the world is your oyster. You are the creator of your life. You can take yourself into your own arms and hold yourself accountable to yourself. No one is coming to make it all better. No one can heal you but you.
How much do you want to open, and how much do you want to love yourself?
What are you willing to let go of: fear, blame, lackmentality, self-sabotage, unworthiness, anger, grief, procrastination, or distraction?
What can be done to heal/transform our abandonment?
The first step is to honestly and lovingly take a look at yourself and your life and ask yourself if it is possible that you have abandoned yourself? All these may be clues that somewhere along the way you have abandoned yourself.
Do you overgive in order to be loved?
Do you acquiesce to avoid being excluded?
Do you give away your power to avoid conflict?
In what ways do you abandon yourself?
Is there a dream you have that you do not pursue?
Do you make time for self-care?
Do you frequently have drama in your life?
Do you have negative self-talk, low self-esteem, or poor body image?
Are you in an unhealthy relationship?
Are you working a job that you hate?
If you do a Google search on self-love you will find pages and pages of books, workshops, worksheets, and more. People are searching for ways to love themselves because somewhere along the way their love for self was abandoned if they ever had it at all. The first step is to reclaim yourself. No one can tell you how to do it, but if you are committed, you will find your way back to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and make a claim that you will not abandon yourself. Tell yourself “ I love you” in the mirror and on a regular basis. Hug yourself. You do all these things for other people all the time, so why not do it for yourself? If you like, you can begin to work with the questions in this blog to garner insight into your internal workings.
Spending time in nature is an extremely beneficial way to begin to reconnect with yourself. I especially like to do this alone without distraction. It allows me to presence my surroundings and observe the interconnections in the ecology around me. The plants and the flowers, the trees, the birds, and the sounds, all serve as agents of softening and relaxation. Time spent in nature is a great way to reset the nervous system. Spending time in nature is a great way to get grounded and come back to center. Take your shoes off and let your feet touch the Earth, the soil, the grass, the sand, the water - whatever it may be. You and the Earth are not separate and when you reconnect with her, you reconnect with yourself.
How many times have you or someone you know come back from the park, a hike or a camping trip, or after spending time in the garden or at the beach and you ( or they ) are totally lit up, happy, excited about life, cheery or in a great mood? Remember the Earthing movement when all the studies were coming out about the health benefits of taking your shoes off and putting your feet on the ground on a regular basis? People’s moods improved, their outlook on life changed, their depression went away, their pains and ailments improved or went away altogether?
Admittedly, no one has all the answers, but each of us has experience. As a human family, we can share our experiences and the wisdom we have gleaned. I have spent much of my adult life seeking and searching. For decades I struggled with bouts of depression which no longer haunt me. I spent a lot of my life not even aware that I had abandoned myself. Some of the things I’ve endured I wouldn’t wish on anyone. My life has not been an easy path, maybe yours hasn’t either. My goals before I leave this earthly plane are: to love myself unconditionally, to see my dreams come to fruition, to share what I have learned in a way that is of benefit to others and to access and utilize my full potential. Many people and their: love, care, inspiration, knowledge, wisdom, skills and abilities have contributed greatly to my healing, awareness and growth. By writing these blogs, I aspire to pay some of that forward.
Here I would like to offer three things that are helpful on your journey to wholeness.
Fennel essential oil is very helpful in transforming issues of abandonment. You can use two or three drops and rub it on your abdomen on a daily basis. There is no time limit, you can do it every day for the rest of your life if you like. You will know when you do not need it anymore. You may do it for a long time, stop and then find there is a time in your life where it is beneficial to reintroduce it. I prefer Snow Lotus ( super high quality) or Eden’s Garden essential oils. You can also use it in a diffuser.
Another great remedy for abandonment ( or feeling forsaken) is the Pulsatilla Homeopathic Remedy. This one is not something you take every day, but you can take it every two weeks or so over a longer period of time. I am very intuitive when it comes to remedies, but if you want something more exact, you can contact a homeopathic doctor . If you are a more intuitive type you can work with a pendulum, muscle testing or listening to your inner voice for guidance on how much to take and how often to take it.
Another remedy that is useful, especially if you are someone who is hard on yourself is Sphagnum Moss Flower Essence.
Indications: overly critical and judgmental of our healing journey; obsessing about the day-to-day details of life; unable to see the positive side of transformational experiences.
Healing Qualities: helps us release the need for harsh judgment or criticism of our healing processes; enables us to create a space of unconditional acceptance in our hearts so that core issues can be brought there for healing. Here is the link.
Thank you for reading. It is my heart’s desire that you have found something of use here today and that you will try it on for size. Remember to be gentle with and kind to yourself. If you have enjoyed this blog, I invite you to like, share, and subscribe. Until next week, I leave you with this poem.
Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then will you know how to give yourself to this world so worthy of rescue. by Martha Postlewaite
Creators of New Earth is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I finally finished this article and I am in tears of joy. Thank you for writing so meaningful. I love you.