By Cyndi Brannen
Self love is so much more than taking a magical bath or buying a new crystal. It’s the ongoing process of practicing putting ourselves first in our lives. That’s truly magical. This challenge consists of 13 steps using the magic of colors and other correspondences, designed to be done on your own schedule, because part of self love is knowing when to take a break and when to do the work. Use the tips recommended to inspire you to create your own self love challenge.
This is a slow read. Get a self lovin’ snack and beverage to sip on as you digest my guide to self love and the 13 steps of the challenge.
Defining Self Love
Self love is the intentional practice of putting ourselves first. Simple definition, but difficult to put into practice. We have responsibilities to others, from jobs to partners. Add in our homes, children, pets, families, friends, organizations, covens, groups, etc., and it’s far too easy to forget that we serve all these best when we put ourselves first.
I had my oldest son when I was quite young, so I never had the experience of being an adult without being accountable to another human being. I know far too well the damage done by neglecting to take good care of myself in mundane ways, but also the fallout from leaky boundaries where I defined my own happiness in terms of the others I cared about and for.
Not surprising at all is that my early motherhood influenced my passion for exploring the nature of the self, especially for ways to help others like me practice effective self love in spite of massive responsibilities. The alchemical formula for achieving this has long held my attention.
The Alchemy of Self Love
I’ve been studying the self from an academic perspective for twenty years trying to understand the alchemy for achieving personal contentment, what I now call living our truth. It all began with a massive project in graduate school on theories of the self. I was, and remain, fascinated with the uniquely human way that we experience the world. Our consciousness includes both us as actors, doing the business of living, and the evaluators of our actions, feelings and thoughts. Particularly, I have dedicated a big chunk of my career as a research psychologist to understanding the self in relation to others, and ways that we can practice self love that leads to improved psychospiritual functioning. The way our views of who we are interact with others, from the imagined voices to our closest relationships, greatly influences us. How then do we go about practicing self love when we are inherently interdependent? The answer is by energetically keeping our own keys of self love: acceptance, accountability, affection, care, compassion, confidence, efficacy, empowerment, esteem, honesty, nourishment, openness, protection, and sovereignty.
The alchemical process is ongoing, self love is achieved over time and practice for many of us. It is the acceptance of who we are and trust in our ability to be true to ourselves. Knowing ourselves is truly the great work of our lives.
The Corporeal and Spiritual Selves
The self is an amalgam of our earliest relationships, our personality characteristics and our experiences. We are so much more than the sum of these things. We are spiritual beings, reincarnated souls travelling a sacred crooked path with the ultimate goal of shedding our skin suits when we no longer need the lessons of the corporeal world.
All corporeal, or embodied, aspects of the self are reflected in our spiritual beings, from self protection to self efficacy.
Based on my research, I started referring to the self as comprised of actions, thoughts and feelings for my academic work and as the Middle, Higher and Lower Selves for spiritual teaching. These Selves have correspondent Souls and are reflected in the Etheric Worlds. All is interconnected. The unified self is the wholeness of our selves and souls. This is the embodied Sacred Seven reflected in the energetic forces.