Self-Love is Living a Fulfilled Life

woman in swimming pool

Good day my beloveds, I hope you are all healthy and joy-filled. 

This post is about a lesson I have learned about what self-love means and how we are all worthy of love. On my own self-love journey, I spent a significant amount of alone time reflecting on past mistakes. I soon realized I lived from a place of a lack of self-love. I suffered from low self-esteem and engaged in negative self-talk and negative thoughts. I had a mean inner critic and wanted a better life.

I was a people pleaser and had high regard for others’ needs instead of my own needs. My entire life loving others first often landed me in a toxic relationship with a friend, a colleague, a marriage for 25 years, and even a new lover after my divorce.

I desired higher self-esteem and higher levels of self-worth. I was exhausted from carrying around negative emotions about myself.

In 2002, I stepped way outside of my comfort zone and made my first appointment with a clinical psychologist. I am a believer in having an impartial third party to help you unpack your narrative to make sense of any potential negative events in your life and your subconscious mind.

During this important step in my personal growth, I discovered that developing a solid relationship with my psychologist was much better for my mental health in the long run than talking to family members and my closest friends about the hard time I was having with my self-esteem issue and self-love in my own life.

Twenty years later, I feel connected to my true self and feel like I have an intimate understanding of the concept of self-love. I am responsible for my own happiness and I feel like I have unpacked the meaning of unconditional love. I am grateful beyond words for discovering how to be my own best friend, the loving relationships, the healthy relationships, and the good people in my life.

In this blog post, we will explore self-love strategies. In particular, I will share how to set boundaries around the most important thing in our lives, our personal values that guide all of our decisions. Self-love strategies include how to rediscover yourself to reemerge into living again.

How Do You Actually Learn To Love Yourself? (A 6-Step Process)

  1. align with your values
  2. live your values
  3. choose your tribe
  4. keep good people in your life
  5. have fun
  6. reignite your passions

Context

What a journey these past few years have been. Four full years since I ended life as I knew it and ventured on a new journey for me. There have been many ups and downs and I feel like I am in a space of transition and rebalancing again. I also think it’s time I stop using that change in my life as a reference point for where I am and who I have become.  

Someone once told me a parable that resonated with me, and up until now it has been in the back of my mind but makes sense today as I share it with you.  

Parable

There once was a man who decided he wanted to change his life. He sat in his beautiful home and counted his degrees and awards and collection of books and personal possessions with a mix of pride and sorrow. He had achieved many successes at work and in life, yet he didn’t feel successful. He knew he wanted to become someone different, but he didn’t know how or where to start his journey to becoming.

Each night he tossed and turned and mulled over potential ideas in his head. One night he decided he would leave it all and embark on a journey of self-discovery.

He dispersed all his worldly possessions, only keeping one loincloth. He booked a ticket to the most remote of places where he planned to immerse in meditation and self-discovery. 

It was a long journey. He spent the first year learning how to meditate in such a way as to turn his mind off and feel his body. In the second year, he felt like he was well on his way to mastering meditation and peaceful life. He was healthier, stronger, calmer, and happier.

One day, in the third year, he was washing his loincloth at the well and a rat jumped out from behind the bucket, grabbed the man’s only possession, his loincloth, and ran in the opposite direction. The man, distraught, chased the rat and managed to retrieve his loincloth. When he inspected his loincloth, he noticed the rat had ripped it. Devastated with the damage, the man sat down and sobbed. 

“Why did this happen to me?’ he pleaded.

“How could that rat destroy my one and only possession?” he cried.

“Give me a sign! I need to know if I am on the right path to fulfilment!” He begged.

When he finished crying and felt calmer, he decided to meditate so he could feel grounded and centred in his body once again. Walking back to his house, he had an idea.

“I know! I will get a cat to kill the rat. This will ensure my loincloth will be protected from further harm.”

So, the man set off into town and found a kitten. He brought the kitten home and after a few days he thought, “I need to have milk for the kitten.” This is when he decided he would get a cow for milk for the cat to eat so the cat can kill the rat. 

Looking around, the man saw the vast area he had available for his cow, and he thought, “One cow? I can get a herd of cows then I will have milk to feed the cat who will kill the rat and milk and meat for me.”

The man, now having a whole herd of cows decided he needed to hire help to manage the cows. He had little time to meditate and was feeling more and more agitated each day with his workload. So, the man found local people who wanted to work for him, but because they would have to travel a long distance to his remote location, they would need to ensure he would provide lunch to them. The man hired more help to make lunches for the workers who tended the cows for the milk and the meat to feed the cat who would kill the rat. 

Author Unknown

This parable left me with so many questions about how to live a fulfilled life. Intellectually I get that living a fulfilled life is dependent on our own individual values and needs. Our ideas about whom we want to become. Bottom line, this parable sent me into a minor, yet impactful, existential crisis. 

History

I left Lethbridge, Alberta Canada with two suitcases and a carry-on three years ago. I have a small storage container with four Rubbermaid totes filled with documents, family heirlooms, and a few mementos I couldn’t part with at the time. 

Three years later, I have a cat. Why does it always start with a cat? I have a life partner, we have a dog, an apartment, two e-bikes, electronics, a rice cooker, a slow cooker, a toaster oven, a blender, Tupperware, and now a deep freeze. Yes, we now have a deep freeze.

I thought about the man and thought about his dilemma when his loincloth was damaged and contemplated how, no matter how far we travel in body and spirit, we cycle back to a similar state of being.

The following outlines my discoveries through personal reflection.

Values Matter

When we live from a state of being aligned with our values, we are clear on who we are and what we want. In my case, it took me four years to uncover my own core values that are my platform for why I do what I do and who I want to become. 

My Core Values

When I feel a ‘rub.’ Do you know what I mean? When we are asked to do something or are in a situation and feel sensations that tell us we are not where we are supposed to be. Exactly, a ‘rub.’ When I feel a ‘rub’ I simply say to myself, “gratitude, authenticity, compassion, and courage”. Honestly, it is usually authenticity where the rub gets more intense. This is a trigger point for me.

When I am in a situation where the rub calls to my attention that I am not being authentic at that moment, I hear the rub, honour the rub, realign, and rely on compassion and courage to get me out of the situation. Later is when I lean on gratitude for thanks.

This is an example of how we live our values. You need a process, something tangible you can do to bring your values to the forefront of your mind and life. I look at my values like four separate entities, all unique, all significant, and all necessary for me to feel I am aligned with where I am going. 

Living My Values

I’ve created a mantra I use when I am smudging and praying. This is what I call “My Soul Fire.” Starting at the bottom and working my way to the top, this is who I strive to become each day.

My Mantra hanging above my desk.

Uncovering your core values is a load of work, but well worth the effort. I turned to a few sources to unwrap my layers to get to the reason why my feet hit the ground each day. I believe I have been put on this earth to raise women. Beginning with the sacred source, mother earth, and returning to mother earth, I will work to do my part to make a difference in this life. 

Here is a resource to help you get context around living from your values:

Living into our Values by Brene Brown

Brene Brown did a podcast episode on this topic and also has a worksheet you can do while listening to the podcast. I found it immensely helpful for uncovering my values.

Tribe Matters

Who is your tribe? Who are your people? Yes, we all have people who are there when we are in a bind, but who are the people who will ask you the tough questions about how you got in the bind? Or ask you why you find yourself in a similar bind? Ouch. These are your tribespeople who will help you to realign when you need it.

We all have relationships in the peripheral we go to for whatever need we need to be met, but it’s our tribe who will guide us through this life.

The people we trust, wholeheartedly, and whom we love unconditionally. We are free to be whoever we want to be, and they respond with, “this is Suzanne, she is a flower today”. To which I respond, “tomorrow I want to be a _____.”

Friend Up

I used to tell my children and students to always ‘friend up’. Friending up is finding the people who are doing what you strive to do or become and then aligning with them. I used to tell my students every semester, “find the smartest person in this class and be their group mate.” They would laugh and halfway through the semester they would figure it out and align themselves accordingly. Look for the people who are doing what you want to do, what you want to learn, and striving at what you hope to become. These are the people who will influence your choices, your mindset, and your fulfillment.

The mentors, the teachers, the coaches, the people who don’t work for these titles at a job but live these titles each day.

Look around you, take inventory, have the conversations, and lean into who you are and whom you want to become tomorrow. I once read somewhere that if you tally up the 10 closest people to you, their characteristics, their habits, and their attitudes, you don’t need a magic ball to predict what your life will be like in 10 years. This will land however it lands, based on wherever you are, and with whoever is around you.

Personal Reflection

Circling back to the man, I had a moment in the Master of Education program I just completed where I realized there were several members of my cohort who were nailing our assignments out of the park! I lost my desire to thrive, to read journal articles, to research, and was counting the hours until we were done. It was these people who went the extra mile for me by taking my calls, responding to my questions, sending me resources, and one time, adding me as a group member knowing I would contribute very little due to circumstances outside of my control.

I friended up and the learning was incredible.

They took the time to explain concepts to me in a way that made sense and I am forever grateful. Ironically, but not surprising, I friended up in my first Master of Arts program in 2007 and had the same result. We crushed through our thesis work and came out of it stronger individually and collectively. I now have a lifetime friend who continues to demonstrate her excellence through her NGO work around the world. Please, friend up. 

Fun Matters

To live a fulfilled life, I believe we need to embrace our inner child. Remember when we used to dream and think about what we would do with our lives? I remember a time when I wanted to be a journalist. I grew up watching CBC documentaries and CBC National News and thought about the exciting lives the journalists and reporters lived. Writing, working, and traveling around the world to places I had only seen in an encyclopedia or on a world globe. They seriously looked so cool!

I also enjoyed bubbles, Lego, painting, singing, swimming, and the outdoors. I lost track of these things over the years.

Sometimes I didn’t feel like I had the time, passion, interest, or talent anymore. I believed doing grown-up things was all that mattered.

Work, parent, cook, clean, shop, find Tupperware lids, pair socks, rinse, and repeat. I have learned. Now, we only have the sandwich set of 4 Tupperware, so it is much easier to pair lids. And truthfully, most of the time we are packing lunches or leftovers with mixed lids. Who am I?

Re-Ignite Your Passion

Since my time of rediscovery, I have dabbled and then immersed in some forgotten passions and discovered some new passions. I think all adults lose the things we used to enjoy over time. It is up to each of us to take the needed time to uncover our individual interests.

Always living our values and honoring our role as tribespeople, it is important for us to reconnect with our inner child and pick up where we may have left off and adjust accordingly. 

Blogging is my way of feeding the passions I still have from my youth in journalism. My new venture of writing children’s books is another way to fuel my passions. It is also a way for me to reconnect with my own inner child by diving into my characters, feeling their experiences, and creating the context of reality in the stories. Aligned with my belief to do my part to make a difference for women in this life, I enjoy asking myself, “what would Ada do?’ or “what would Kokum say?” 

Fun is Freedom

There is freedom when fun matters. Freedom to do what you want, with whomever you want, or by yourself, wherever you choose. On my birthday this year, I went to the flower market and picked stems of my favourite flowers. Meeting my friend for lunch, a tribemate, I packed wire and ribbon, scissors, and picks. When we were done lunch, I pulled out the craft items and told her I wanted to make myself a flower crown. We both immediately got to work and put together a beautiful crown and shared a memorable experience. That night, we all went out to dance the night away and yes, there were bubbles. LOTS of bubbles! I took bubbles when we were out, and we had a blast!

February 12th, 2022 in Hainan, China.

Weekend Movie Making

Last weekend Murphy and I joined our friend and my colleague with his family at a hotel out of town. We spent two days by the pool with a complete loss of time and responsibilities. We played ball, then frisbee then decided we would make a movie. Keran is talented at movie making, he is making movies with his children and family for their own entertainment and memories. So, we scripted our roles and let ourselves go to have fun, be silly, and create lasting memories. I will say it is cheesier than the cheesiest cheese and I guarantee you will cringe when you watch it, but damn! It was fun! Fun matters people. Now please, go have fun.

But first, watch a few clips from our movie:

Murphy and I acting in our movie about a shark in the swimming pool.
A scene from the movie where I am attached by a shark in the swimming pool
A scene of the shark in the swimming pool.
Keran, the director and actor as a lifeguard.

Take Away

The parable taught me a valuable lesson. It’s not what we have or how much that influences our desire to feel we are living a fulfilled life, but what we do with what we have to live a fulfilled life. Living. It comes down to living. 

I believe for me to feel like I am living a fulfilled life, I need three key ingredients: values, tribe, and fun. 

I look forward to your comments about what you think about the parable and what you think are the key ingredients to living a fulfilled life. 

Sending you all light and love.


Until next time,

s.

READERS’ TOP PICKS

‘Ada and Her Magic Feather’ (Marie, 2022) is available on Amazon and other booksellers.

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Published by suzannemarie

Educator and published author of conflict management and children's books. Living life to its fullest. I believe in courageously honouring my truth and living my legacy. Lover of meaningful conversations, coffee, food, art, and building connections. I love writing about my fascination with culture, food, adventure, self-love, and living a healthy and fulfilled life!

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