Last month, in this must-listen podcast, Mara Glatzel, a brilliant life coach and writer, chatted with the amazing Vivienne McMaster, a photographer who helps women use self-portraiture to build a deeper and more loving relationship with ourselves.
If you remember, Mara and I started our monthly interview series to demystify self-love and show readers what self-love really looks like on a day-to-day basis. We hope these interviews inspire you to create your own practice and treat yourself with more kindness and compassion.
This month we’re excited to share our interview with Michelle Marie McGrath, who creates a variety of products to help people appreciate, nourish and love ourselves. I love her empowering message. (And she’s super sweet and generous, too!) I think her wise words will no doubt resonate with you, too!
Below, Michelle talks about the many ways she practices self-love along with the hardships that inspired her to change how she views and treats herself.
1. How do you practice self-love?
I have learnt to be compassionate with myself and treat myself like a dear friend. In 2003 I set a huge intention to open up to 100% self-love and let go of all that was preventing this from being my reality. Careful what you wish for!
I have since been on a journey into all of the parts of me, and areas in my life where I was totally out of alignment with that intention! Let’s just say it was more like self-loathing.
Each morning and night I mediate for at least 10 minutes, sometimes in the bath (one of my favourite self-love practices), close my eyes and put my hand on my heart and ask “what do I most need from me right now?”
Asking myself this question repeatedly has been life changing. I also regularly use my Self-love Alchemical oil when I meditate. I’m very conscious of using only organic and good quality body products and makeup.
Self-love is also good for the planet! If you are treating yourself lovingly, then you naturally start to make more conscious decisions about what you put on and in your body.
I’ve become more diligent about the quality of food I eat, which is mainly organic and from local growers markets. Having been a vegetarian for more than 25 years, I now eat a mainly vegan diet. This was not something I thought about, but it evolved over the past year as I’ve increasingly learnt to really listen to my body. It was a surprise when I kept having repetitive dreams about my body not wanting me to consume dairy. I’ve also eliminated products with refined sugar in them and that has been life changing in terms of the mental clarity that ensued.
I wondered how this would even be possible for me after being a lifelong chocoholic. Fortunately there are so many amazing organic, vegan chocolates made with raw cacao and superfoods on the market now. It tastes so much better than the processed variety and is actually good for you! 😉
My boundaries have become much clearer with myself and other people. I no longer have difficulty in saying ‘no’ if I need to or taking time out. I love being with myself and know that giving myself time is one of the most nourishing things I can do. I recharge and then happily spend time with others.
Currently, I’m also doing a morning practice of dry body brushing for 9 minutes whilst chanting along with this fabulous mantra of Liberation, ‘Har Makunday’ performed by the lovely Mirabai Ceiba. Try it and let me know how you find it.
2. What book is a must-read for self-love, body image or a related topic?
One book that I regularly pick up is When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim McMillen. This beautiful little book contains simple wisdom that this lady learnt was important in life, to share with those she loved.
Sadly, she died very suddenly but not before she had left behind this heart-opening legacy. One of my particular favorites is: “When I loved myself enough I quit projecting my strengths and weaknesses onto others and kept them as my own.”
However, I’ve actually created an entire list of self-love related books that have helped me over the years that fall into various areas where we often have challenges with self-love.
3. What are your favorite ways to move your body?
I love walking and it’s one of the ways I start my day. I go for a walk every single morning for around 20 minutes. It’s part of my daily self-love practice.
Did you know that as little as 12 minutes of walking each day is enough for us to fire the synapses in our brain, releasing those feel good hormones? It gets my day off to a great start and I usually repeat at least once more in the afternoon.
One of my favorite holidays of all time was trekking in Himalayas in Nepal. I felt so invigorated and refreshed the whole time. This experience fed my soul on so many levels.
I used to give intuitive massage sessions when I had a healing practice, and I really enjoyed being in the flow and moving around the table. It was almost like a dance and I found that very satisfying.
I often put on a high-energy song and dance during the day when I’ve been on my laptop too long. It’s so important to take these regular breaks and move our bodies. I’m looking to take my physical activity to another level and am currently looking into some yoga classes.
4. What’s one or two things you wish women knew about appreciating and loving themselves?
The irony is that when we cease looking for approval and love from others, it’s much easier to receive it. I have learnt this lesson many times when I’ve felt disappointed by someone else. Several years ago, I felt incredibly betrayed and deceived as my marriage disintegrated.
During some painful soul searching, I learnt that he was really mirroring to me the parts of myself that I had abandoned and ignored for a very long time. So often we look to our partners to fill a need within us, when in truth this is not sustainable or fair.
It was me that had left me and his actions forced me into admitting this truth. For this life lesson, I’ll be eternally grateful.
When we stop projecting our needs onto others and allow them to just be themselves, it actually creates space for them to love us. I truly believe that this is one of the biggest cosmic jokes!
I would love to remind everyone that you can only ever love anyone to the depth you can love yourself. Anything else is just need. When you can find that space of love within yourself and allow it to overflow, you can share that love with another purely for the enjoyment.
Your relationship with yourself is the filter through which you see everyone else. Could your filter benefit from some cleaning?
5. Who are your heroes?
I love to hear stories of regular people overcoming adversity and going on to inspire others just by purely being themselves.
It’s wonderful to hear of people who transcend extremely challenging childhoods, life threatening illnesses or situations, who stay focused on their dreams and turn their lives around — inspirational people like Nick Vujicic, an Australian motivational speaker, who has no limbs and yet travels all over the world helping others and demonstrating that all limits only exist in our minds.
I also read a wonderful book last year called My Recovery by Julie Parker, which documented the personal journeys of 18 people who recovered from eating disorders. People’s real life stories of hope and strength are so enriching.
We have all heard the stories of teachers like Neale Donald Walsch and Eckhart Tolle, who were homeless at one time and had hit rock bottom. I love hearing these stories that really demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit — a great reminder that our biggest obstacle in life is usually ourselves and that we can do anything.
6. What do you think is your greatest obstacle in loving yourself?
My overactive mind! I used to suffer from chronic negative self-talk and a lot of obsessive thought patterns. My mind was just so overanalytical and drove me insane, which led to severe insomnia and panic attacks.
This spiraled into depression for several years. I felt so disconnected from myself and put too much focus into everyone else’s opinion, rather than my own.
Even though this was a very dark period, I learnt so much, mainly how not to believe most thoughts. When I have bad days now, I bring my focus back on what I want to create in my life and put my energy in that direction.
7. How do you work to overcome it?
Mindfulness and observing thoughts, without believing them is incredibly powerful. It’s interesting to ask ‘what part of me believes this?’ and see what the response is.
I’ve learnt that resisting thoughts doesn’t really work and so I consciously change the focus. The mind is just doing its job, which is to have thoughts, so it’s great to remember that and drop the judgements.
I find entering into a dialogue with myself can be enlightening about where this thought is coming from and often end up laughing at myself.
I find meditation, hypnotherapy, EFT and affirmations particularly helpful and still incorporate all of these into my daily routine.
I created my own Self-love affirmation cards a few years ago. These serve as a positive focus for the day, and I pull one out first thing in the morning and place it somewhere visible. It’s helpful when having a bad day when I know that my thoughts are getting totally out of proportion to interrupt that mental loop.
For example “I choose not to compare myself with others. I am me and I will embrace the fullness of who I am.”
I also love the work of Byron Kate and especially her book Loving What Is and her four questions, that she calls “the work,” questioning the validity of your thoughts and free turnaround sheet that can be downloaded from her site www.thework.com. I love the truth of it.
A sense of humor is also one of my most important tools!
8. Anything else you’d like readers to know?
Self-love is really about entering into a healthy lifelong conversation with yourself. It’s not a one-off phase and even though it seems to be the latest buzz word, it’s important to understand it’s an ongoing commitment. It can be challenging.
Consider the amount of effort and energy that we put into our romantic relationships and friendships. Imagine if we put even a fraction of this effort into creating pockets of time to focus on the relationship with ourselves?
Our lives would be transformed exponentially. Imagine how it would feel to be really in tune with your feelings and connected to your body.
I’ve learnt the hard way that what is most important is how I think and feel about myself. Seeking external validation is the biggest waste of time and energy (yet we can all fall into this behavior from time to time). It’s a bottomless pit.
Don’t let anyone or anything outside of you have more authority over you, than your own heart. That is the most disempowering thing in the world and it serves no one.
Be the happiest, best possible version of yourself – that’s the best way you can serve the world. YOU are the guru of you, and no one else can possibly ever know what is best for you. Trust yourself. You have all the wisdom you need. Truly.
More About Michelle:
Michelle Marie McGrath is a Lovepreneur and creator of Sacred Self’s organic Self-love range of Alchemical oils, bespoke Sacred Scents and popular self-love cards. She’s the co-author of Love and Oneness in the best-selling Adventures In Manifesting series and author of 7 Ways to Love Yourself ebook. Michelle is passionate about falling in love with ALL parts of herself, and creating products that remind others to do the same.
You can find Michelle at these websites: