When a candle is lit, the fire comes from another source- whether it be from a lighter, match, or another candle. Our wellness is similar to this. In order to help others or give our energy away, we need to have a strong internal flame. This means it is necessary to show the same respect, care, and love that we give to others to ourselves as well. This is known as self-love.
Self-love means showing respect and kindness to yourself. It grows from self-care which are the actions we take that support our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual growth and wellness. Practicing self-love then, in part, means taking the time to do the self-care activities that you find fulfilling, such as meditating, creating art (beadwork, sewing, etc.), working with your hands, and journaling. It is about dedicating time and practice to yourself to replenish your internal flame.
However, self-love is more than just doing what you want. It is about doing what you need to be content, balanced, and well. Much of practicing self-love is learning to forgive yourself, letting go of shame, trying to heal from trauma, showing self-compassion, prioritizing your wellness needs, and doing the activities listed above as a part of your daily routine.
It can take years to embrace the concept of fully loving yourself and be able to take care of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual self in the ways you deserve. While self-love can have moments of difficulty, especially if you tend to prioritize others’ needs over your own, much of it is about doing what brings you joy. When it is a part of your regular routine, it feels second nature to do these daily practices.
Thinking of the big picture, many of our ancestors after colonization did not have the luxury of taking care of themselves in all of the ways they had been. From this perspective, self-care and showing love for ourselves and our communities is a revolutionary act. It is a way to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors. We are the ones who will continue to carry the ways of life, practices, and gifts of our ancestors as many generations have done before us. In order to do this and help our communities thrive, we must be well ourselves.
- A Seven Step Prescription for Self-Love
- Self Care, Self Love
- Meditation on Self-Love
- Native Wellness Institute: Self Care
Originally from Oklahoma, Summer Lewis is a Muscogee and Seminole woman who works in Tribal public health. Summer is an MPH student at the University of California-Berkeley who will graduate in 2023. She enjoys baking, beading, and being outdoors.