Knowing how to practice self-love is an important skill in relieving pain.
A few days ago I received an email with a question that I want to take some time to answer because I hear similar questions from many of the women I work with who have vulvodynia or other chronic pain. Here it is…
“Can you share techniques to practice self-love and not always blame ourselves for this pain and make ourselves feel incomplete and broken?”
There are so many techniques on how to practice self-love that you can find on my blog and in my programs. Everything from taking time to be present with your body to feeling emotions, to my favorite…making time for pleasure.
But none of those things can feel like self-love when the reason you’re doing them is because you feel broken and you’re trying to “fix” your body or yourself.
Unfortunately, most women who have vulvodynia or other pelvic pain come to think of themselves as broken.
That was my experience.
Of course, thinking of ourselves as broken, or blaming ourselves for our symptoms or anything else about our bodies or our lives, is the opposite of self-love.
We learn this pattern early though…through media, religion, our families, schools, and our medical system. Everywhere we look we see messages that we are not enough, that we need fixing, and that someone or something outside of us has the power to fix us.
As women, we are literally bombarded with the idea that we are broken and that our bodies are broken – well before we are in pain.
So, by the time we end up with pain that all our best efforts and experts haven’t been able to help us relieve, it’s understandable that we would think we are broken or incomplete somehow.
But it’s just not true. It’s never been true.
The #1 technique for how to practice self-love is learning how to change how we are thinking about ourselves.
There are several articles on my blog that can help you train your brain and shift your thinking.
But a simple way to begin working towards how to practice self-love is to be willing to try on a different perspective.
“In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete.” ~ Louise Hay
This week one of my clients was struggling with the thought “I am defective” based on a recent diagnosis she received.
She was experiencing her body as broken.
As we explored her thinking and its effects, she came to see that the thought “I am defective” was setting up a struggle with her body that was creating tension and fear.
She made the choice to shift her perspective, to get curious and make room for the possibility that her body wasn’t broken and that it was safe to connect with.
She put a hand over her heart, took a slow gentle breath, and instead of avoiding and fixing, she imagined welcoming this part of herself. She visualized sending love and light to her symptoms.
As she did, her body relaxed and tears began to flow.
She heard the message, “You’re ok just the way you are.”
In a few minutes, she could feel that there was nothing in her body to be afraid of, it was all just her own energy.
Your body is always on your side. I know it doesn’t always seem that way, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that it’s just true.
There is nothing scary, bad, or broken inside of you, including your symptoms.
It’s all you. It’s all love.
What if just for today, without anything else changing, you experiment with the idea that your body might be whole and complete, exactly the way it is?
What might you do things differently? How might you treat yourself?
Self-love and healing begin with the radical act of choosing to change how you are thinking about yourself.
And the good news is you have the ability to do that, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.