Do you ever wonder what self-love actually is, not just in theory or in a meme, but in real-life practice? Self-love isn’t a destination or just a feeling. It’s daily action steps and more of a way of life. 

In this episode, I’ll cover how we can organize and break down our behaviors and practices in a way that is moving us into more real self-love. I’ll also break down five paths to curate more self-love into your daily routines.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

I’ve been on a personal self-love journey for most of my life. I went from being a people-pleasing, high-functioning codependent into caring about how I feel, pleasing myself, and telling my truth. Of course, it took a long time and lots of therapy, and I have been committed to figuring out the best, most direct way for others to do this. 

What is the most direct path to actual self-love? Boundaries. 

Drawing boundaries is one of the highest expressions of self-love, and that’s why it matters every damn day! Self-love is a process that requires effort, but it is so worth it. 

Teaching others how to create and maintain healthy boundaries is some of my most important life’s work (I wrote a whole book about it!), and from a therapeutic standpoint, there are 5 boundary categories. 

What if we took each category and broke it down into what we can do to be more self-loving than what we are currently doing?  Understanding and using the boundary categories as a lens for where to put your focus when it comes to self-love can be extremely helpful. Let’s do it!

  • Physical Boundaries

These boundaries are about your actual physical person. 

  • Do you know what your preferences and limits are when it comes to your body and personal space? 
  • When someone touches you or grabs you in a way you don’t like, do you say something or not? 
  • How do you treat yourself when it comes to your physical health and well-being?

Think through how you relate to your physical boundaries. Is there room for loving on yourself more in this area?

  • Sexual Boundaries

These boundaries are about physical intimacy and sex. 

  • How do you treat yourself sexually? Do you prioritize pleasuring yourself?
  • If you are sexually active, do you talk with your partner/partners about what you like?
  • If something is uncomfortable do you speak up or do you just go along to get along?

Think through how you relate to your sexual boundaries. How can you be more self-loving when it comes to your sensuality and sexuality?

  • Material Boundaries

These boundaries are about your physical stuff and material possessions. 

  • How do you relate to your things? Do you treat your things in a way that honors you?
  • Do you lend your things? Do you lend money? Do you not? Under what conditions?
  • Will you speak up if someone takes something without your permission?
  • How do you treat yourself materially?

I find women in particular will forgo things that they want. Everyone else’s needs are met first. Where is there space in this area of your life for more self-love in action?

  • Mental Boundaries

Your mental boundaries are about your values, opinions, and beliefs.

  • What matters to you? 
  • Do you value your own opinions and beliefs?
  • Do you allow other people to say things you find offensive without speaking up?
  • When you’re with other people, do their beliefs sway yours?
  • Are you more of a chameleon and just let others think you think the same things as they do because you don’t want conflict?

If you discover what you think doesn’t matter as much to you as avoiding conflict, there is a place you can focus your energy on to grow your self-love. 

What you think, believe, and value will only matter to others if it matters to you. 

Getting clear on those things and sticking to them are acts of self-love. 

  • Emotional Boundaries

Think through how you relate to your feelings and emotions.

  • How do you treat yourself emotionally? 
  • Do you think you have a right to your feelings?
  • Do you assert your feelings?
  • Do you value your feelings?
  • Do you tell other people the truth about how you feel?

Part of the process of being self-loving is knowing and honoring how you feel. So many of us struggle with people-pleasing and it gets in the way of knowing ourselves intimately. The disease to please makes it difficult to set healthy emotional boundaries.

Self-love is taking the time to be conscious and honest about the way you feel. 

So much of the time, these processes can live in our unconscious, for example, something happens and we feel upset, but our mind can quickly make up excuses to talk ourselves out of our true feelings. “Maybe you’re just tired. I don’t think they meant it that way.” Especially if we tend to be conflict-avoidant, self-abandonment can be a behavioral pattern.

But the thing is, it doesn’t change how you actually feel. What I want for you is to actually know yourself. The only way that happens is if you are willing to look at how you really feel about things because you have a right to the way you feel as long as you are not blaming others for the way you feel. 

I have so many clients who say things like, “I don’t want to seem extra. I don’t want to seem high maintenance.” Your preferences, your limits, your desires, and your deal-breakers MATTER. Asserting them doesn’t make you extra. It makes you…YOU.

It is incredibly self-loving to honor your feelings and your needs and to tell your truth when it comes to your preferences, limits, and dealbreakers. So how did you do? Can you see where there is room to grow your self-love in each boundary category?

Inside this week’s guide, I’m giving you more questions to get clarity around how you are currently relating to your personal boundaries. You’ll also get an exercise to help you make a list of actions you can begin to take to create more real self-love in your life, so be sure to download it right here

I hope this sheds some light on the different areas in your life where there are opportunities for more radical self-love! I can’t wait to hear what you discover about yourself and what you decide to do, so please, drop me a comment here or connect with me on Instagram @terricole and let me know! 

I hope you have an amazing week rocking self-love and as always, take care of you.

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  1. Thank you so much Terry for diving right into the practical everydayness of the signals rather than focusing on the why. I wondered for a long time "the why" of things and even though awareness of causes and conditions is helpful, for me it is much more of a blessing/relief to practice "the what" and practice self-love by enforcing personal boundaries.

    1. Hi Maggie – so glad this resonated with you. ❤ Right on- here’s to practicing self-love by enforcing personal boundaries!

  2. It's hard to stop patterns. I've spent almost my whole life avoiding conflict and going with the flow. I know I learned this from being raised in a chaotic household that included an alcoholic parent. I never took the time to figure out what I want and need. I especially avoided conflict with my husband. We have 3 kids and I didn't want to end up divorced trying to balance working and raising 3 kids. I'm learning now to express my views even when they differ from others. This has helped with my self-esteem too. Your book has helped me to know its OK to speak up and be direct while being respectful. People may not like it, but that's not my job to make sure they're not upset.

  3. I am so happy to be able to identify these boundary obstacles. I am unearthing so much about me and who I am. I am taking the time to learn and what a journey. Amazing discoveries especially mental boundaries, wow !!!

  4. Thank you, Terri! It is so helpful to have these categories broken down! I am able to see places that could use some attention and make it my intent to notice what is happening.

  5. Hi,

    This topic s important for me. How I feel about myself – – Since taking your Boundary Bootcamp class and reading your book, I am making key changes to m y life. I evaluate and process my feelings before I react and think more about how to react that is best for me – – I try to use compassion and self love. I try to stay calm – all new behaviors for me so thanks!

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