Self-awareness is a prerequisite to self-love, self-trust, and self-expression. The growth and healing we’re talking about requires an awareness of underlying beliefs, thoughts, feelings, narratives, patterns, tendencies, our bodies, and the list goes on. For example, we need an awareness of our feelings and beliefs if we want to express ourselves authentically; but often layers of conditioning and self-protection bury these feelings and beliefs. This is, at its core, a journey of self-discovery. Mindfulness, pausing, self-check-ins, vulnerable conversations, journaling, asking ourselves powerful questions, turning towards parts of ourselves we’re avoiding–these are some ways we expand our awareness and create a container within which our self-love, self-trust, and self-expression can grow.
Self-love is much more than saying “I love myself,” and it’s more than self-care. Self-love is a living, breathing thing that strengthens when we fuel it regularly and well. Self-love means choosing all of ourselves more and more, even the parts we’re not comfortable with. It means growing in our recognition of our uniqueness, our innate goodness, our inherent worth, and our wholeness. And it’s a practice that we engage with every day in the choices we make, the thoughts we think, the words we speak. For me now, self-love looks like radical acceptance of my feelings and my duality (I’m both this and that), making conscious choices to honor my body’s needs, noticing and halting negative self-talk, and being the kind of friend to myself that I am to others.
Equally important for revolutionary healing is trust in ourselves. Self-trust can be especially challenging to learn for those of us healing through chronic illness or trauma. Whether you weren’t taught to trust your feelings or your body, or you lost trust through traumatic life experiences, trust can be fostered through practice. It’s been one of my greatest areas of struggle and growth, because for so long I’d been disconnected from my intuition, my body’s signals, my heart’s messages, and my healing capacity. So many of my challenges and symptoms shifted when I strengthened these connections and began trusting myself. We can practice by honing and honoring our intuition, keeping promises to ourselves, listening to our body’s signals for food, water, and sleep, allowing ourselves to feel our feelings, and ultimately, healing our dysregulated nervous systems, which expands our capacity to distinguish between intuition and fear, real and perceived threats.
Self-expression asks us to share and express our authentic selves out in the world. This means allowing ourselves to be seen in all our wholeness. It means sharing our unique gifts and embracing your inherent creativity. And, it means communicating our needs, wants, and desires, which also includes setting boundaries. This aspect of healing, in particular, cultivates authentic connections with others as it demands a willingness to be vulnerable. For me, self-expression is a continuous journey of learning how to speak my truths and tolerate conflict, being seen in all my wholeness in my work, and exploring my creative side.