What is self-love?

Self-love is a concept that isn’t fully understood. It took me a long time to understand it, or to accept that it is possible.

Self-love isn’t about ego, grandiosity, boastfulness. It’s not about thinking you’re perfect or the most beautiful or the cleverest person in the world.

Self love is about accepting yourself as you are, strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, mistakes and all. It’s about accepting that all these, and more, make you who you are and that it is OK to be perfectly imperfect.

It’s about learning to treat yourself kindly, not to be so hard on yourself. It’s about being compassionate towards yourself.

Self love is about nurturing yourself, taking care of the needs of your body, mind, emotion and spirituality.

It’s about having a high regard for your own happiness and well being. It’s about not sacrificing these to please others. It’s about not settling for less than you deserve, about setting healthy boundaries.

It’s a practice, some days it will be easier to do this, others a bit harder. But it’s an importance practice for mental and emotional health.

Over the past few days, I’ve had to practice a lot of self love and self care. I don’t profess to be an expert; I’m constantly learning more about it, as well as constantly having to refer back to what it means and what I need to do.

So, I thought I’d do a blog post about it, as well as some arty stuff. I’ve not done much digital art of late. I became lost in the world of watercolour and journal making and paper crafting. This morning I felt the need to do some digital art. I dug out a sheet of small designs I’d created back in January 2020 and picked one to colour. The rest just fell into place.

Mandala

© Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
© Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I love the combination of teals and coppery tones so I chose to use them as part of the colour scheme in this mandala. A simple black outline mandala with no crazily intricate detailed patterns included. I’m not so sure about the purple-ish I used for the ‘crystals’ in the other most rings of the mandala though.

Drawn and coloured in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio very, very late last night and into the wee small hours of this morning.

Today is likely to be another self-care day. I thought I was in a place where I could do loving kindness meditations again this morning. I’m not. So much emotional distress and even physical pain during the part of the meditation that involves bringing loving kindness to myself. I have no problem sending loving kindness to another being I feel love for. I have no problem sending it out to all of the Earth. Still, the nasty messages of the inner critic are fodder for EMDR. And it’s such a lovely sunny, late winter day here in the Welsh Valleys.

Valentine’s Day 2019 – a mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

I created a really simple mandala for Valentine’s day. A day that is about love. A mandala that doesn’t have a single black line in it! That’s rather unusual for me!

Soft greens and pinks really speak to me about self-care – which is about taking care of oneself, treating yourself and speaking to yourself kindly and with compassion.

Compassion to oneself, that’s what ‘loving oneself’ is all about. Being your own best friend, speaking to yourself as you would a best friend in need.

This is one of the hardest things I have to learn as part of my cPTSD recovery.

I say learn, as it’s something I’ve never done or knew how to do, ever. Being kind to myself in words and deeds.

The inner critic is never kind, caring or patient and never ever has good advice. I think I’m a good friend to others, I try to be kind, caring and patient and if I’m asked I try to give good advice, even if that is ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that but lets see if we can find it together’.

I’m very, very rarely, if ever, kind to myself in that way. If anything, the emotional neglect and abuse I experienced from the earliest time I can remember taught me to hate myself, that I wasn’t worth anything. It’s hard to overturn beliefs from the past, beliefs about myself fostered by the attitudes and behaviours of others towards me when I have no point of reference to when I didn’t think about myself in this way. The inertia of the past, the power of the inner critic constantly wants to drag me back to how things always have been in terms of how I think and feel about myself.

However, every single time I manage to show myself some caring, some kindness, some patience, some compassion it’s a victory over the inner critic. And each little victory is vital as it is teaching me that I can learn to be that friend to myself that I so desperately need.

So, Valentine’s day is about love, we tell others we love them, but let’s make today also a day where we show ourselves some kindness, compassion, patience and caring, for the sake of our mental and emotional wellbeing. And lets not just do that on this one day, lets make it a part of every day of our lives. Lets learn how to befriend ourselves.

Yet another mandala…number 6 of the month!

August Mandala 6 © Angela Porter 2013

This is approx. 17.5 x 17.5cm and was created by me using UniPin pens, Zig Art and Graphic Twin pens with water as a wash, coloured fineliner pens and coloured pencils on acid-free bristol board.

Art is my solace, even though at times I’m doing the work through tears.  Today was one of those days.  I’m really struggling with the inner critics who are beating me up so badly at the moment, and despite me trying my best to quell them, to soothe them, they are currently stronger than I am and are winning.  Art has soothed them a tad…just a tad.

Some days it’s hard to find anything to be proud of about myself, to feel I am as important and matter as much as every other person on this planet, that I’m a good person, a kind person, a caring person and so on.

On days like these, days like today, creating something pretty through my art reminds me that there is something in me, about me, that appreciates pretty things and can create pretty things and so there must be something pretty or even beautiful within me.

This one is ‘pretty’.

Astrologically pinks and greens belong to Venus, the planet of love, beauty and harmony, romance, relationships the urge to empathise and unite with others, pleasure, joy and sensuality.

The lilacs and sea-greens belong to Neptune, the planet of dreams and fantasies and helps to dissolve boundaries and change existing rules.  Neptune can also result in confusion, and confusion is often experienced during profound and/or subtle changes in thinking, rules, beliefs.  Change is never easy.

Interestingly, both planets are related to artistic pursuits and aesthetics and our own personal tastes.

Now, I’m a scientist as well as an artist and all round oddbod, so why the astrological meanings of the colours?  I find it helps me to understand the art that I create intuitively, especially the colours.  Perhaps the colours are telling me to allow the old rules of the inner critics to go and to change them, to let the boundaries they have created dissolve and in so doing let love into myself, first for myself …

Maybe … or maybe it’s just pretty!

Soggy Sunday Afternoon…

Self-love, journal writing and letter writing to heal.

It’s been a while since I last blogged something.

Life has been both interesting and uninteresting.  I’ve had a lot of thinking to do, a lot of ‘down time’ has been needed to recover from the emotional stresses and strains of my working life.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading, the latest books are about using a journal as a method of self-love and healing oneself from the events of the past.  Something I need to do.

I have kept a journal for many years now, and I do vent and rant in it and find my way to some kind of clarity.  I have become a little disheartened at times as I seem to end up ranting about the same things over and over.  The books I have read ( Writing to Heal by Jacqui Malpass and Journalution: Journal writing to heal your life and manifest your dreams by Sandy Grason) have shown me that this isn’t a problem, that it may take many times through the same thing to come to clarity, forgiveness (of self and others) and to let go and move on.  In other words, I need to be kinder to myself and not be such an overachieving perfectionist!  And I mean that kindly

My plans for my journal today are to make a list of people who I need to write letters to for the hurts done to me in the past (even if such hurt and pain was not their intent) and to people I’ve not had ‘completion’ with. These letters that will never be sent but will allow me to let out of myself the anger, fear, hate, upset, disappointment and so on, and work my way towards forgiving them and myself.

I’ve swallowed down hurt and upset and anger and fear and so many more emotions with copious quantities of food.  The emotional reactions have been locked away, though they burst out at times, quite explosively at times, and it scares me that this ‘ice maiden’ has such energetic emotions.  I’ve spent a lifetime of nearly fifty years suppressing my feelings, not sharing how I feel with others for fear of rejection, embarrassment  conflict, hatred.  I’m not good at putting into words what I think and feel if I’m upset in anyway.  I am, however, much better at writing things down, as shown in my journaling of the past decade or so.

I won’t keep the letters either.  I’m going to burn each one as it’s finished.  If I need to return to the same person or group of people over and over again to clear things up for me, then I will do so.  I will keep doing this until I can write a letter that forgives them, and one that forgives me too.

Some of the letters may be apologies for the way I behaved.  I do have a tendency to cut people off, dead, if they upset me or betray me in any way.  To keep myself safe, I walk away, ignore them when they are around.  If I’m expected to work with them I can be cold and short with my words, protecting myself with such a thick wall of icy feelings and icy words.

This is kind of a scary thing to do.  It’s not the first time I’ve tried this, but this time has the feeling of ‘the time is now’ about it.  Pennies have dropped about the purpose of the letter writing, of letting out all the things I’ve kept bottled up for years inside me in a controlled manner, the writing being the control.

Art

Art has been pretty much on hold as I struggle with the idea that I deserve to love myself, finding out what self-love and self-esteem are all about, and just letting ideas filter through the conscious to the unconscious mind.  Inspiration for art has been, maybe not lacking, but put on the back burner for a while.  However, there are some creations, some that are works in progress, others that are finished pieces.Rising above the pale©AngelaPorter2013

Tangled Border © Angela Porter 2013

Across the divide WIP © Angela Porter 2013

Abstract May#1 © Angela Porter 2013

Abstract May#2 © Angela Porter 2013