Shelley J Whitehead

The Yin and Yang of Self Love

12 February, 2022

In the month of February – when our Western media is awash with stories around the theme of passionate romantic love – I often work with my clients on tuning back in to the essential practice of self love.

Self love is a foundational building block of a healthy existence and the gateway to fabulous connections with other people. It’s impossible to show up fully in a relationship with anyone else when your relationship with your own self is lacklustre.

And in the same way that romantic relationships benefit from a balance of both tenderness and fiery passion, so does a loving relationship with oneself. True self-nurturing shouldn’t just take the form of gentle bubble baths or forest bathing ‘time outs’ (or other traditionally advised wellbeing escape mechanisms). Sometimes what we really need is the focused energy of fully-embodied action in the pursuit of the inner stirrings of the soul.

In her book Fierce Self Compassion, the brilliant Kristin Neff talks about the Yin and the Yang of our relationship with our own selves and the importance of balancing and integrating both tender and fierce energies to create a caring force that brings us into wholeness. Fierceness means tapping into what we believe in, standing up for what makes us really ‘us’, protecting our boundaries and taking bold steps forward in the pursuit of our desires.

Tenderness without fierceness becomes complacency, fierceness without tenderness becomes hostility and aggression. If we want to experience unconditional love for ourselves, we need to hold a compassionate space for all of these different energies as well as all of our foibles, our pain, our imperfections, our dreams and our fantasies… exactly as we would want to be held by our partner when we are in a romantic relationship.

In today’s culture (often as a result of gender-role socialisation in childhood), women tend to find it harder to take such a fierce stand for their inner passions. It can indeed be a challenge for all of us but one that is overcome by practice. As with anything new that you are learning, the more you make conscious space and time for it and the more that you repeat it, the easier it becomes.

So why not make February your month of inner passion? If you listen carefully, you can hear the visceral siren-song of the callings of your soul. And by tuning in to your own vital energies, you can start to let that gentle whispering voice start to become a stronger, prouder, more radiant and fierce call to action. Your rich and magical future is calling to you.

Wishing you a passionate month of self love,

Shelley J Whitehead
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