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“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.” –Buddha
No matter who you are or what you have done, you are deserving of love. Is that a surprise? It shouldn’t be, but why is it so, so hard for many of us to accept?
It can be a genuine challenge to look at yourself and feel total, unconditional love. Sometimes, we seek that love from others—from friends, parents, partners. While these people can love us mightily (and our parents come as close to unconditionally loving as as one can) that will never be enough.
The reason for this is that love starts from within.
It might seem like an odd concept, but the truth is, we manifest love from within ourselves. We ARE love. Even if that notion seems a bit too “new age-y” for you to swallow, consider how much sense it makes. If anyone should be responsible for meeting our needs and filling our own personal well, it should be us, ourselves. No one else will ever know you like you do or completely understand what your hopes, dreams,and wounds are. A committed long-term partner can come close, but still, there’s no one as intimate with YOU as YOU.
So, instead of looking externally for the love you want (even if you think you don’t deserve it), turn inward and discover the abundance of love right inside of you. As you grow in your own sense of love, you’ll become better at loving others and giving that love away to the world. That’s what it’s all about.
“Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Rumi
There are countless ways you can shower yourself with love. If you’re a frequent traveler, however, a drifter like us, you’ll find that your methods and needs have to be somewhat different to account for your unpredictable lifestyle. We all need to be practicing self-love, and with these 7 simple ideas, you can do it at any step of your journey, near or far.
1. Don’t get so caught up in the desire to explore that you lose the sense of what you need.
As a traveler, it can be tempting to rush around seeing as much as possible in each destination. While this can help to check items off your bucket list, it quite often results in you being drained, cranky, and not getting the most out of your experience. Instead of pushing yourself so hard, stop to consider each day what your body, mind, and spirit are asking of you. Be still for a few minutes and look inward to see what you really need. Perhaps instead of waiting an hour to ride the elevator inside the Eiffel Tower, what you really could use is a long, ambling walk on your own around Paris. Stay in touch with what you truly need and try to give yourself a bit of that each day.
2. Have a daily ritual of self love.
No matter where you are in your travels, you can take 5 minutes each day and practice a self-love ritual. What does this mean? It is whatever you want it to be! But it should be something that centers you, makes you feel good, and lifts you up. A great place to start is to keep a daily gratitude/self-love journal. You can jot down general blessings that you are thankful for, but also include several things that you love or appreciate about yourself. This simple practice only takes a few minutes and can set the tone for a great day full of love.
3. Connect with your spirit.
Like the ritual above, you should spend time frequently doing something that nurtures your spiritual side. Even if you’re not religious, you can access this aspect of yourself, and it will give you a deeper appreciation for the world around you. As a traveler, being in touch with a spiritual sense seems so naturally aligned with travel. What better way is there to understand and process the incredible, life-changing experiences you have as you come face to face with new places, people, and cultures. Connecting with your spirit may mean meditation, prayer, listening to music you connect with, or taking a solitary walk in nature.
4. Treat your body with care.
It is so easy to let wellness slide while on the road. You’re in foreign lands—of course you want to try all the delicious dishes they have to offer. And sightseeing means there may be little time for traditional exercise. If you’re staying active, that’s great, but be sure you’re taking care of your body. Sometimes self love also means self-discipline. Self-love could mean passing on that bowl of pasta tonight or staying in and resting instead of going out for the 3rd night in a row. But it’s not just about restriction. Self-love also means allowing yourself to indulge in comfort foods when that is what you really need. It’s all about being in tune with your body, and a healthy practice of self love helps you get there
“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” — Margo Anand
5. Take time to do what you love.
For me, travel is one of my greatest passions. But I also enjoy things like singing, dancing, reading, playing guitar, or going for walks. Whether I am traveling or at home, spending time in these hobbies and activities is so vital for keeping me happy and balanced. Lately I haven’t been doing as much of them as I know I should. A few weeks ago, I was dancing around the house every day, and the effect was revolutionary. I felt so energized, motivated, and peaceful. I know I need to commit to doing the things I love on a regular basis. Make time to engage in these pursuits, even during your travels. It will keep you rejuvenated.
6. Spend time with yourself.
A great way to cultivate self love is one of the most obvious: spend time with yourself. When you’re getting to know someone you spend time with them, as friends or on dates. Why not have a date with yourself? Take a few hours and let your heart lead you. Go where you want, eat what you crave, do what you please. During this party of one, pay close attention to your inner self. Be mindful and notice how you feel. What are you desiring? Where does your mind wander? Just taking this time to give yourself the respect and attention you deserve is an incredible act of self love. You’ll find that doing this frequently helps you get to know yourself better and better. Each date, you’ll discover there’s more to love!
7. Change your negative self talk.
Most of us are guilty of this to some degree. Start noticing the messages you feed yourself. Our wounded ego can talk down to us in the most insidious of ways. When you have an unproductive day, do you berate yourself for your laziness, your ineptitude? Do you constantly chastise yourself for eating that extra piece of chocolate cake?
Stop right now.
These negative inner messages will do you no good, and they will undermine all your noble attempts at self love. When traveling, it can be especially easy to get down on ourselves when something goes wrong. (It’s all my fault I missed the train; I am SO STUPID!!!) When you start to hear these familiar inner insults, take a moment and recognize the thought. Say to yourself, “yes, I hear what you’re saying, but I disagree.” Then tell yourself the truth: an opposite or positive, more helpful thought. Changing these deeply ingrained messages takes time, but with a little effort, you can start feeding yourself only encouragement and self love.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” –Oscar Wilde
What do you do to practice self-love, whether on the road or at home?
Amy Hartle is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships, a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.