“Love Yourself First”

I recently hosted a Boudoir event for Valentine’s day, with the theme “Love Yourself First”. More than any photoshoot I’ve done recently, this one really stuck with me. So much so that I’m beginning to wonder if Boudoir should become my niche ūüôā It was immensely fulfilling to help a handful of women who were ready to embrace themselves at a level that so many of us aren’t ready to do. These women were nervous, excited, but mostly nervous at the start, which is normal. Yet they got half (or fully) naked and became comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality and absolutely ROCKED THE SHOOT. It was an empowering experience for all of us! I admire all of these women who stepped in my studio for this event or a similar shoot because it takes a lot of inner strength to do such a thing! At the end of the day It’s really not about looks. It’s about accepting yourself, and showing yourself that you are enough RIGHT NOW! Which is why this themed event was about loving yourself first, putting yourself first. That’s not easy for most of us to do, but I want to spread the message.

 

And I know what you’re thinking, “Oh god, another self-love, body-acceptance post” I can already see your eyes rolling.¬†It’s like the message of loving oneself has become a shallow trend.

 

We hear it everywhere – “Love yourself”, “Self love”, “Self acceptance”. To some of us, it sounds¬†cheesy. Myself included, I definitely got tired of hearing it last year. That was, before I really understood what it meant. Now, this post is about to get pretty deep. It’s not going to sit well with everyone, I can predict that. But I’m putting this information out there because making this realization changed my life, and I know¬†it could change yours too.

There is a reason we hear these words so often, and there is a reason we resist it.

People who have figured it out are trying to spread the message. That message is that it all starts with YOU.

Literally everything – It all starts with you. It was hard to wrap my head around this at first. Because we’ve been taught to think differently – by our parents, teachers, partners, and society. And they may have good intentions, but…

They were wrong about a lot of things.

 

They’ve taught us to believe that Worrying = Love. So now we live in fear.

They’ve taught us to believe that embracing our sexuality and showing our bodies is wrong. So we shame ourselves or others for doing so, or thinking about doing so.

But the biggest inhibiting belief, (I have to bring it up especially with Valentine’s around the corner) and this one is so big it feels like second nature; We believe down.to.our.core that we cannot exist happily without the love of another. Think about that for a moment.

We spend the adult part of our lives unlearning what our parents and society have taught us to believe.

 

It is true that we are living this life to create connections. There is absolutely nothing wrong with acquiring a partner with whom we can rely and depend on. But what we’ve forgotten is that we are in control of our feelings. Love is within you. Happiness is within you. Believing anything otherwise is just giving up your control. That’s another subject that I won’t get into right now. But the point is, self-love is a big topic because¬†there is nothing more liberating and empowering than realizing you’re in control!¬†You can create that love and joy within you. We should be able to exist without feeling empty, because we are capable of filling ourselves up.

What giving up your control in a relationship looks like:

“I need you to be happy, I need you to feel loved, without you I’m unhappy, empty and lost.” That is an unhealthy relationship.

Society has taught us that kind of thinking is okay. It’s normal. We see it in the movies, in books we read, in our parents. SO at a young age, unless we were taught otherwise. We adopt these beliefs. But as adults, why do we choose to give up our¬†control like that?! Besides the fact that we’ve been programmed to think this way…But also because it’s comfortable. Really think.about.this. The next few sentences that I’m about to write may startle you, they may point you out and expose you, they may make you angry or they might make you laugh or otherwise. Depending on your inner ego.

See if it proves to be true that we control our thoughts and feelings, then it must also be true that we are in control of our mistakes. It’s easier to give up our control than to accept all responsibility for our lives. As my good friend says “Some people enjoy living in the warmth of their own shit”. Our egos are involved here. For those who aren’t familiar with the Ego, it exists inside us to protect us. To make us believe that we are good people who do not make mistakes, despite accepting the reality that every human makes mistakes and it’s really not that bad, it’s part of growth. But the ego has another part that can also harm us, since it believes that in order to keep us alive, we need to be good and perfect, we must inwardly judge ourselves to hold us to those impossible standards. Before we can move on and start to love and accept ourselves, we must confront the ego. We must teach it that it’s okay to make mistakes, and fully experience our emotions as opposed to suppressing them.

Have you ever heard “you can’t love someone until you love yourself?” Well it’s true. Why? Because once we love ourselves, we can be independant. We can now look for a partner, not because we need someone to rely on, not because we need someone to complete us, or pull us out of our own shit piles, but because it’s pretty great to spend your time with someone who loves you too and builds you up and helps you grow. Additionally when we love ourselves, we attract the right type of people.

 

This is what a healthy relationship looks like:

“I love you, I want you in my life, but I don’t need you. If I don’t have you, I will be okay.”

Why will they be okay? Because after¬†losing someone they love and care about, people who think this way know that fulfilment, happiness and love starts within themselves. Of course we can still feel sadness and anger, especially with initial loss. That’s valid, and that’s okay. But these people will build themselves back up using only the power of their thoughts, because they understand that they control them! If you’re not sure where to start, there are several ways of changing your inward thoughts. Literally tell yourself you love you and that you’re beautiful can be hard, but try smiling at yourself in the mirror, practicing gratitude every morning by naming three things you’re grateful for, when something negative happens, can you try to see the positive? Ask yourself in every decision, “what would someone who loves themself do?”. Take yourself out on a date, give yourself some flowers, take a long bath, take time for your needs. Whatever makes you happy – do that!

My point is this: Self-love is achievable by all.

It is, in my opinion and experience, the most empowering and liberating feeling a person could ever realize while living on this planet. Is it easy? HELL NO. But possible? HELL YES! It is my desire and my goal, to help other people¬†open their eyes to feel this incredible strength that exists inside them.¬†I do this, through portrait and boudoir photoshoots. How is self-love achieved through photoshoots? I will create portraits of yourself that you will love. Because to own a portrait of yourself that you love to have, to show to the world, is loving yourself!! To be able to gift yourself a portrait shoot is an act of self-love. It’s just like taking yourself out on a date and doing something that makes you happy and excited. When you give yourself¬†those good vibrations, you thrive.

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Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think! If you liked this post, you probably have a friend who would like it too. Spread the message, share it with them, download this image and use it on IG.

XOXO,

Audrey

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