On Monday, I talked all about “Madly In Love with ME,” an empowering movement that inspires and helps women and girls to start loving themselves. Christine Arylo is the trailblazer behind this movement. In addition to founding Madly In Love with ME, she’s also author of Choosing ME Before WE, The Everywoman’s Guide to Life and Love.
I’m thrilled that she took the time to answer a couple of my questions about how to develop “unwavering, unconditional love” and how to find the real, authentic you.
Also, please check out my interview on the beautiful and empowering blog Radical Hateloss. Thanks so much, Stephanie, for a thought-provoking Q&A and a great opportunity! I hope readers find it helpful.
And without further ado, the interview…
1. Q: How do you know if you love yourself? What are the first steps?
A: This is a great question because many of us have no idea what self-love really is, and oftentimes we confuse it with self-esteem. So just to clarify, self-esteem is the knowing that you can do and be anything. It is having a deep confidence in yourself. It is outward focused. We want self-esteem, but alone it’s not enough.
Self-love is the unwavering, unconditional love and respect that you have for yourself that is so deep and solid that you only put yourself into situations and relationships (including the one you have with yourself) that reflect that same unconditional love and respect.
Loving yourself is a life-long practice and while there is no magic land of self-love where you can claim complete victory, there are milestones that you can use to gauge where you could use more self-love at. I call them the Madly in Love with ME factors, and the first two are:
Self-Love Factor #1: I know who I am and what I want from this life.
This is the first factor to loving yourself because if you don’t know who you are, how can you love that person? Most of us go through life doing what we think we are supposed to do and be, influenced by the society in which we grew up. These experiences and people form our beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions, until the day we realize that how we really feel and think is different than everyone around us.
While you will continue to learn about yourself forever, self-love requires that a. You make a choice to continue to learn about you every day, b. You know and can articulate at least these four things about yourself: your dreams, gifts, values and beliefs. c. You know who you are NOT, as well as who you are.
Self-Love Factor #2: All of my relationships support me to be my best me and to live the life I want, or I don’t have them.
This can be one of the hardest milestones, because it means putting a big stake in the ground for yourself. It requires honoring yourself SO much that you only have relationships in your life – friendships, romantic partners, even relatives – that give respect, trust, unconditional love and truth. You love and honor yourself so deeply that all relationships in your life make your life better, help you reach your dreams and be a better you.
This doesn’t mean that the relationships are perfect, void of difficulty, or that you are absolved of giving the same respect you desire. What it does require is that you choose me before we in every relationship… let go of ones that don’t serve you, change ones that have the potential to grow, and open up to let new ones come in.
2. Q: What can a woman do to love herself more?
A: Identify an area of your life, one of the Madly in Love with ME factors that you are lacking in. And then do a 40-day self-love practice around it. The yogis, metaphysicians and brain scientists all agree that if you can do anything for 40 days, you can change your behaviors and patterns and ultimately your life.
On February 13, the international day of self-love, I will have just finished a 40-day self-love practice called “Make Yourself Sustainable. The 40-day Take Care of ME Practice.” One of the Madly in love with ME factors is: You take care of yourself, as well as everyone else, without exhausting yourself to do it… and women especially find this really hard to do. Partly because we don’t really understand what it takes, and partly because we are programmed to feel guilty about giving to ourselves.
Taking care of yourself isn’t just taking a day at the spa, it’s literally a mindset that you either have or you don’t. It’s not that we don’t want to take care of ourselves, it’s that our minds don’t see any way of creating the ‘time’ to do it. So we have to change our minds.
I recommend waking up every morning and asking yourself, “What do I need to do to take care of myself today?” Listening. And then scheduling that answer in as a life critical to do. I’ve been doing this practice all of January and it’s pushed all my buttons and beliefs. I want to argue and say I don’t have time. But when I listen, and take care of me everything else falls into place. I am literally retraining my brain to trust that I don’t have to do it all myself.
3. Q: So many of us don’t really know ourselves and find it hard to be authentic. How did you work toward finding the real, authentic you, especially after so many years of not knowing?
A: I reached out for help and I made it my mission to seek out new experiences, knowledge, and perspectives. While it’s totally your own personal journey to find the authentic you, you cannot do it alone. You need other people to help you break out of patterns, ideas, and perspectives and open up your mind and heart to new ways of thinking.
I have traveled the world to study with wise teachers from shamans to leadership gurus. I have reached down deep into the depths of my soul to heal my wounds and to free my spirit through retreats, therapy, body healers, astrologists, spiritual communities. I have studied psychology, religion, brain science, not professionally but as a woman seeking to know herself and this world more fully … and eight years after my journey started, I know a lot more, and a lot less.
Thank you, Christine, for taking the time to speak with me, and sharing your empowering message!
How will you work toward loving yourself? How have you tried to find the real you? How will you celebrate Madly In Love with ME Day on February 13th?