For many people, the relationship that we have with ourselves, can be a source of struggle. Self-criticism, guilt, shame, self-doubt, we’ve all been there. The relationship with self can also be a major aid in the creation of your happiest life. I would even go as far as to say it is necessary to find a way to return to (self-)Love after every struggle if you want to be the happiest version of yourself.
In the Self-Love Series you’ll find inspiration to guide you on your path of cultivating self-love, saying YES to yourself ‘with all your curves and all your edges’, as John Legend would say. Beautiful people who are on their own path of Love and Light will be sharing a little bit of their story in this series of mini-interviews. You’ll find many nuggets of wisdom in there.
Enjoy the very first one!
Introducing to you: Tim van der Vliet.
Tim lives in Amsterdam and has 4 kids (aged 16, 14, 11 and 3). Officially Tim is 45 years old. People often think he is 35 (but his kids say 85 ;). He says his body is 25 years old, mentally he’s 15 years old and spiritually he’s 5 years old. ‘The latter is my biggest achievement in life’ ;). His mission in life is to help people find their true self, their purpose in life and more love. His philosophy is called Zen from Amsterdam. Zen from Amsterdam is Zen without rules. Tim is the author of the book Spiritual Awakening (the easy way).
‘If you want to follow your dreams, there are no other rules to live by, but your own. Your intuition is your guru’.
What is self-love to you?
To me self-love is the acceptance of any situation in life that I encounter. In accepting, and at the same time having fate in my faith, lies unconditional self-love. If you can accept the things that life brings you, you can be a true warrior of light and be the root of positive change in this world. Before loving action, comes acceptance. Acceptance gets you out of any dark situation that life may bring you.
How do you experience self-love in your life?
I experience self love at moments that I don’t need anything. Everything is just perfect, exactly as it is. Physically I get a tickle in my heart. Love is not something vague. It is an energy that flows through your body and you can feel it. With this tickle in my own heart, most of the time I make people around me happy too. And this goes without the intention of helping people around me.
Have you ever known times where you felt a lack of self-love? What was that like and how did you overcome that?
Yes of course! I’ve never been as happy as I am now, but this doesn’t mean I always have a big smile on my face. Honestly, I slide back easily. I am out of balance sometimes, you might say. But the difference is that now it only takes a day or so to get back to my centered self again. That used to be months, even years :).
The last time I experienced a lack of self-love was when a friend of mine didn’t want to see me anymore. First I took this very personally. Then I started accepting it. I learned that, without this person in my life, I am as beautiful as with this person in my life. I got up (metaphorically) and let go of this person. And you know what? Now we are drinking coffee again. Letting go might be the most practical act of self-love there is.
What role does (self-)love play in the work you do?
Such a big one! I help people find their self-love. People should take authority into their own hands, they should empower themselves. This means that there is only one person that can make you happy, and that is you. My philosophy, Zen from Amsterdam, is all about this.The only Guru is you. The only thing that you should learn, is to love yourself, and the rest (partner, abundance, maybe even kids?) will follow.
In my book I write the following:
If spirit is over mind is over matter
the core is strong
and all these mind and matter things
just come along
Spirit = self-love
What do you think it would mean to our community when more and more people choose love over fear and embrace self-love?
It would mean we’d start taking care of each other, for real. A person who loves him or herself doesn’t need rules to stay within the lines, but just loves. A world where people love themselves would be enlightened. This would mean that decisions would be based on love instead of fear.
What do you do to cultivate self-love, that would be a great practical tip for anyone who wants to amp up their self-love game?
Ha! The best question saved for last :).
Practicing gratitude can help you to start loving yourself. Try it. If you are grateful for something or somebody, this is such a joy. Even if it is just for a moment. What you feel is love, self-love. Because you are the one being grateful. Practicing gratitude can be learned. Just do it before you get out of bed. Find 3 things you are grateful for, then get out of bed and start your day. Better than a double latte!
Finding things you are grateful for is very simple. Just watch your feelings during a normal day. Whenever you feel good, write down why this is. This is a moment of gratitude. But whenever you experience something as being negative you can also extract information from that. Let’s say you hate sitting in the train every day to go to work. Turn this around to what would work better for you. In this case a job closer to home or a home closer to your job, for example. You just got yourself a new dream! A negative feeling is a root for a new dream. I write down my gratitudes and my dreams together in one list. I call it a ‘what makes me happy list’.
How to do a ‘what makes me happy list’
Find out what moves you. What moves you are your gratitudes and your dreams. Simply said, the things you already have and the things you would like to have in your life. When you dream you shouldn’t be realistic. Dream your biggest, unrealistic dreams. Write them down on a sheet of paper. At the top of the page write ‘What makes me happy’. At the bottom you draw a big heart. Your gratitudes and your dreams are what you like in life. Within your ‘likes’ (yes different from Facebook) are your ‘loves’. Your loves are what really moves you, what makes your heart tickle and what you are born to do: your higher goal or that what life wants from you.
You don’t have to fight in your head to find that one thing that moves you.Your loves present themselves to you automatically. Every time you find something that you are grateful for, or a when you have new dream, write it down. Some things on your list will seem more important than others. Whenever you take out your list to write something on it, they will be ‘staring’ at you. This may be one of your loves. Write them down within your heart. You have found your passion. (Watch a video about the happy-list here).
On my ‘what makes me happy list’ I wrote down ‘playing with my kids’ next to ‘end poverty in the world’. In my heart I wrote down: singing with my children, showing my way of living to the world (I am now on a plane to Spain with my 4 children, by myself. Busy, but still sharing what I would love people to hear). Inspiring people and making them laugh through speaking engagements, books and coaching. Keeping that healthy body, dancing. And I wrote down some people that are very important to me.
Love what you heard from Tim? Find out more at www.timvandevliet.com.
Did you enjoy this first episode of the Self-Love Series? I had so much fun making it for you!