Taking Action is the Highest Form of Self Love (and how to get there)


Photo by Vasko/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Vasko/iStock / Getty Images

Let’s let that sink in a bit.  “Taking action is the highest form of self love”.  What comes to mind? Perhaps all the times you didn’t say yes to something you needed or didn’t say no to something that didn’t serve you?  Or you may not even realize a concept such as self love is even involved in taking actions that result in positive change.

What keeps us from taking the actions in our lives that move us forward in our goals, hopes and dreams?  That will enable us to step into joy, confidence and balance?

First of all, let’s discuss the concept of self love.  Many people confuse self love with selfishness, but it’s the complete opposite of that.  Selfishness is a pretty simple concept that we all recognize when we see it. It is caring only about what you want or need without any consideration of others.  If you had a bag of apples, and the guy next you is starving, you’d be selfish if you didn’t offer him at least one apple. Self love is a more complex concept that may sound foreign at first but that we understand better as we practice it.  It looks like:

  • Getting up a bit earlier in the morning to fit in a walk or workout

  • Taking a few minutes out of our busy day to stretch, walk or meditate

  • Eating foods that build health instead of foods that challenge health

  • Owning who we are, inside and out, without judgement

  • Allowing ourselves to dream big

  • Acting on what we need, rather than on what we want

  • Learning to set boundaries that protect and nurture our relationships

Self love is the foundation on which we build a happy life.  It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physiological, physical and spiritual growth.  If we neglect ourselves over and over, what is the end result? We become tired, unhealthy, discouraged, unappreciated and STUCK. We experience stagnation instead of the vibrant life we are meant to have.

Practicing self love by taking action is one of the most necessary steps in promoting life changes.  However, there is usually something holding us back from doing that. We all know we would feel and look better if we exercised and ate healthy.  We all know we would be more rested if we got to bed early. We all know we’d enjoy life more if we took time out to play and have fun regularly. Unfortunately, KNOWING these things doesn’t translate to actually DOING these things.  What keeps us from taking action?

Here are the two things holding us back:

  1. Lack of self discipline

  2. Lack of belief in yourself

Now, lack of self discipline is not what you’re thinking.  It’s not some failure on your part. You are not to blame for this.  It’s just something you haven’t LEARNED yet. It involves two skills:  1) time management and 2) persistence. When you learn how to structure your time to make it possible to fit in the things in your life that REQUIRE  doing (paying bills, working, taking care of kids, etc.) and the things that you NEED (exercise, rest, setting boundaries, pursuing a dream or goal) and the persistence to stick with the time management, you are halfway there to taking action.  There are tons of apps, journals, etc. to help manage and prioritize all the things in your day.

Number two, lack of belief in yourself, is more of a factor in delaying action than you may think.  Beliefs that you have about your abilities shape your entire life. You have to believe you are worth it and capable or you will never take that first step.  And here is the secret to building belief in yourself: take the training wheels off. When you learned how to ride a bike, at first you had those little outrigger wheels on that kept you from falling over.  Yes, you’d careen from side to side which was a bit scary but you knew you wouldn’t be peeling yourself off the blacktop. But the day arrived when they came off and yes, you knew it would happen, you fell and came up bleeding.  But I bet you all got back on and conquered bike riding! It’s the same way with making positive changes. Taking action leads to getting better and better at taking care of yourself and reaching your goals.

It’s also important to identify any self-limiting beliefs (I’m too out of shape, I’m lazy, I’m not smart enough, I don’t have enough time, I never catch a break) that keep you from taking action and replace them with new, empowering beliefs,  Creating a mantra or positive affirmation such as “I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I never give up” or “Today, I abandon my old habits and take up new, more positive ones” can change the way you think and feel about things. It’s been proven that repeating these every morning can help you focus on goals and get rid of self defeating thoughts.

So, today, show yourself some self love and take action.  Decide to at least replace sodas with tea or water. Take that brisk walk in the morning.  Write your mantra and repeat it to yourself each morning until you believe it. Remember, it’s not selfishness.  If you want to show more love to others, you have to spread some out to yourself too or you’ll become resentful and exhausted.  You can only be present for others to the extent that you are present to yourself.

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit stuff you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” - Jordan Belfort