Values and what they've got to do with self-love.
Falling in love is one of the most wonderful sensations in the world.
It’s as if everything shrinks down to a tiny dot through which you can only see your beloved, while simultaneously, the world explodes outwards, revealing the depths of the universe. Food never tasted so good, flowers never looked as succulent, and colours never had so much promise. It is ecstatic. Ambrosial. Addictive. And as you’re floating along on all this euphoria, it is easy to lose yourself.
There are a million different ways it can happen: from abandoning your friendships to giving up your interests, from spending hours waiting for them to text to only doing what your partner wants to do. Swept away on this tidal wave of love, you might not even notice that your own life -- the one you have worked so hard to construct! -- has been slowly eroding. It can be immensely depressing to wake up a few months into your relationship and realise that your friends have stopped texting you, you haven’t been to hot yoga in months, and the only movies you ever watch these days feature superheroes in spandex!
If this is sounding distressingly familiar, take a deep breath and don’t beat yourself up. This kind of thing happens to the best of us!
Sometimes our loss of self can be even more insidious, and we start to lose track of our own moral compass. If you and your partner have different beliefs about what is right and wrong, you could quickly find yourself in a situation that doesn’t just feel bad, but could be endangering you, your safety or your health.
One of the best ways to ensure this doesn’t happen is to make self-love an essential part of your life.
Radical self-love is a daily practice, and it really begins with getting comfortable spending time by ourselves. This doesn’t mean we have to sever all our friendships and become a shut-in, but it does mean that we begin to cultivate a relationship with ourselves!
What does a relationship with yourself look like? It starts with learning how to sit with your own thoughts -- no phone or television to distract you -- and being okay with them. The more time we spend with our own thoughts, the clearer we get on what we want, who we are, and how we feel. It is almost impossible to discern your true self when you are being bombarded by images on Instagram!
Spending time with our thoughts helps us get clear on what we value, too. “Value” can be a tricky word, but it really just indicates something that we think is important, something that we prioritise in our lives. For example, I value honesty and integrity, authenticity and creativity. I also value laughter, expressing gratitude, and feeling pleasure! This means that I go out of my way to live in a way that is in alignment with these values. I make an effort to practice these things in my everyday life. When my beliefs and my actions line up, I am living in integrity, and nothing feels better than that.
To get clear on what your values are, try finishing these sentences.
I believe in…
The most important things to me are…
As an individual, I have the right to…
In a relationship, I have the right to…
Then ask yourself, how many of these beliefs, values or ideals are you acting on daily? Where could you bring your behaviour and your beliefs into better alignment? Remember that you can always ask your friends for help with this too! They’ll be happy to pull you up and keep you on track.
When you are living your beliefs, not just alone but within your relationships, you will have a steadier, more resolute sense of self. You will feel more at home in your own skin. This doesn't just make for a happier relationship, it also makes for a happier you.
Gala Darling is a speaker and the bestselling author of Radical Self-Love: A Guide To Loving Yourself And Living Your Dreams.
She has been teaching radical self love — a selection of powerful techniques and tools which help women transform their lives — for over a decade. Her work helps women find their voice, live without fear, and fall in love with life.