• Richie Crowley

Are You In Love With Yourself?

Place your hand on your heart.

Seriously. Do it.

Now I am going to ask it again:

Are you in love with yourself?

The question above can be asked a variety of ways:

  • Do you care for yourself?

  • Have you made your entire self a priority?

  • Are you treating yourself how you need to be treated?

Because being in love with yourself is by no means a “selfish” act. To be in love with yourself is not what our high school peers would comment to us as we spent an extra few minutes in the mirror. It is a radical act that everyone deserves for themselves. It is defining your true north of self-care and self-prioritization which may include career, relationships, body, and health — all of which are all interrelated. All transitive.

But in these pursuits, we must remain in alignment and ask ourselves if we are acting out of self-love? Or out of a need for validation?

To offer a little background, for those who haven’t known me long, I was an athlete. From the age of four, my identity was built on being an athlete, narrowing year after year until it became my profession. And then it burst. At 25, 3 years out of university, I was no longer an athlete. For so long I had been The Hockey Player, amplified by living in Boston, a market where sports are highlighted. And when that burst my daily to-do list changed as well. I was forced to start over. I no longer had this anchor in my identity, this constant stream of attention, this effortless external validation. Was I bitter? No. But I was in this cocktail of being lost, and being completely free. So I began.

I began shedding skin. I explored new hobbies, activities, pursuits, and I had to think much larger and fall in love with a much broader version of me. At 25, I rediscovered myself.

Over the course of what has now been two and half years, the process of discovery has unveiled new forms of exercise, which led me to yoga, which led me to meditation, which led me to plant-based diets, which led me to remove alcohol from my life, which led me to adjust my career. And it began with one act of self-love. My experience was that the more I formed a loving bond with myself, the closer I wanted to become. The better I felt, the better I wanted to feel. The more I was conscious, the more conscious I wanted to become. I fell more and more in love with myself through these activities. These “hobbies.” The avalanche effect was real. Each new hobbie opened a new door to a new opportunity for me to show affection to myself and build a new identity.

Through exercise, I found new challenges and began to love my body, how it felt, how it worked, how it looked. I was able to change how I spoke to myself, how I spoke about myself and how I viewed myself. I loved my whole body. And Yoga. This practice opened up a conversation between my mind and body asking it: how are you feeling? With the challenging poses of a yoga practice, I found comfort in operating at my own pace and explored the process of removing unhealthy competition. Then came my diet. During my training days, I thought I needed steak and chicken, now I eat green. I consume fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, tofu, hummus and so much more. Beyond the energy and performance levels, upgrading my plate has increased my levels of compassion and clarity of mind. Not to mention the health benefits. This lifestyle also introduced me to meditation which has become a staple. Daily, I have silent conversations with myself where I am able to release pressure, confront life, and strengthen my compass. The latest installment has been to remove alcohol. This action has allowed every relationship I have to flourish. And again, these are all transitive. They weave through my core in a fashion mirroring my DNA.

The aggregation of these hobbies is increased self-love.

They have made me happier, I have made better decisions, I have slept better, I am calmer, I have less anxiety. I thrive off the endorphins at hour 2 of a long run, I kiss my knees when I bring them into my chest for a new stretch, and I melt at the sound of my breath during meditation. I get a rush when I prioritize myself like this. This has been my experience.

So, is loving yourself just starting to doing things to make you feel good about yourself? At the highest level, sure. But I want to take it a step further and introduce motive.

These lifestyles updates were not popular.

Most of them, at the time, were isolating. When you choose to not eat animals, nor drink and get to sleep early while living 30 minutes away from your circle of friends, your social life changes. It was clear to me though, that living this way was what I needed to do to love myself. I needed to make better choices, I needed to release anxiety’s, I needed to change the conversation with my body and generate my own self-love, self-confidence.

As important as it was for me to be known for something I made the error of allowing myself to love myself because of it. I can thrive off the attention from my work, and who I am to friends, family, and strangers, but I also can’t rely on this. Being your own source of love, confidence, and energy is an important ingredient to the longevity of your happiness.

My observation is that when you are able to cultivate all the love you need for yourself, relationships also transform. In all relationships, self-love removes the dependencies we have on others for self-worth. I have felt a clearer path in romance, career, friendships and more. When we love ourselves the most, we don’t seek the affirmations of others in the same way.

We owe it to ourselves to be in love with ourselves.

The landscape of our life is ever-changing and in the chaos of a 24 hour day, we cross a mountain of items off our list. Wake up, exercise, grocery shop, pay that credit card bill, meet a friend, work, work late, go to a show, watch a show, cook food, order food, go on a date, scroll through Instagram, stay up late, and just before falling asleep remember that ONE thing you really needed to do. We are also exposed to interactions of debate at work, socially and politically, interruptions and more. Our days are not perfect, nor should we expect them to be. Just look at all we are carrying and exposed to. What is important is this: Without daily acts of self-love, any stress, anxiety, debate or exhaustion that visits us during a day is carried with us. These negative burdens are micro-tears that our acts of self-love heal. Without them, we remain wounded. Leaking.

And it begins by asking yourself: What do I need for myself?

To initiate this conversation I ask you:

  • When is that last time you felt into your body?

  • When is the last time you cooked yourself a nutritious meal?

  • When is the last time you calmed your mind?

Now take your knees and hug them to your chest, kiss them and thank them for carrying you today. Take 5 deep breaths and listen to the sound of your exhale and it’s weight. Don’t let it leave your body empty-handed, let it carry something out of you that you want to release. Slide your fingers between each of yours just to feel yourself, cook yourself a meal tonight with your phone in another room.

And if these aren’t you speed ask yourself:

  • How do I want to speak to myself?

  • How do I want to look at myself?

  • What do I need to do for myself?

Loving myself has ignited a whole new spirit of curiosity and inquiry that turns me on. As I continue there are still so many habits to try and experiment with. I want to discover how other people and cultures have sought this self-love, thriving, and living in longevity. I want to educate myself on the nuggets of wisdom from The Blue Zones of Happiness that are simple to do but radical in their ability to transform and ignite. I want to align myself with groups like The Buried Life and Scare Your Soul and be in a constant exploration of ways to love myself.

To love myself, I must know myself.

To know myself, I must spend time with myself.

I encourage you to get to know yourself better. More intimately. Fall in love with yourself. For yourself. Live in awe of yourself.

I can’t wait for you and me to get to know ourselves better.

Richie. Human.


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