Self-Love is not Self-Ish: 5 Self-Love Actions in Work & Life

Self-Love is not Self-Ish: 5 Self-Love Actions in Work & Life

“Give to the world the best you have … and the best will come back to you”


Mirror Mirror on the Wall

A yoga teacher shared in class that life is not about changing the world and serving others. Life is about serving yourself with love and then actually that self-love is what creates positive change in others and in the world.

Am I at the mercy of serving others so much that I lose myself in the process?   What does that do to my energy and the energy of those around me?

We don’t want to give away what we aren’t giving ourselves. The action of over giving and having no boundaries or “people pleasing” leaves us empty. Yet, we worry about focusing too much on ourselves that we over compensate.

Self-love is not selfish.

Self-love is your energy and your central power system to be YOUR best in service to others.

We are mirrors.

I need to be patient with me – so I can be patient with you family, friends around me, with the world.

I need to take care of me – so I can take care of you family, friends around me, with the world.

I need to spend energy (time & money) on me – so I can spend energy (time & money) with you family, friends around me, with the world.

I need to LOVE me – so I can LOVE you family, love friends around me, love the world.

When I realized this truth above, I realized we are mirrors. How strong is your mirror? How strong is your reflection? That is the power of self-love from within. The more we love ourselves despite setbacks and fears, the more we shine and help others shine. And, the more others can help us in our self-love journey.

So, what does self-love REALLY look like in action?

1) Create Space 

If you do one thing after reading this article, apply these two words in your day for the next 3 days: ‘Create Space’.

‘Create Space’ is all about being REALLY clear about energy boundaries with people at work and in life. This is all about being grounded in your own energy rather than absorb the stress of your kid, the frantic energy of your boss, or the person honking their horn at you.

You can use this as you are standing in line … ANY LINE. Notice your body. If you are like me, you might get anxious when you are waiting in line at the grocery store or coffee shop. This is a normal reaction to waiting in line.

Use the ‘Create space’ mantra to separate you and the person in front of you. You can still serve people around you, support your kids, and do great work. Yet, if you keep ‘create space’ in your mind as you go about your day, you are learning the awareness of your energy versus others.

We tend to cross over and take on the energy and emotions all around us without even realizing what is happening. And, we tend to create stress and anxious energy ourselves through trying to maximize every minute of the day and we can leave ourselves feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

Give yourself space to breathe…deeply. Use any mantra to help you create space. Be aware.

2) Do YOUR Best

“Give to the world the best you have … and the best will come back to you”

This quote is hanging on my 92-year old grandmothers’ wall. Self-love includes doing YOUR best and also includes accepting that what BEST looks like for you will change depending on the year, month, and even day. Some days our BEST feels great, other days our BEST doesn’t feel so great, and some days we find ourselves in a swirl of perfectionism. The goal of perfectionism was part of my life for many years.  At some point with work and 2 kids and everyday life, I just didn’t have enough time to be perfect every day.  I hit a breaking point and then slowly started reframing what BEST really means.  Today, I focus on doing my BEST based on my current conditions. It is REALLY ok to be late to cub scouts. It is REALLY ok to feed your kids take out food or cereal for dinner. It is REALLY ok to change a meeting time or ask for another day to respond to e-mail.

At the end of the day, forgive yourself for what you didn’t get done today and honor yourself for what you did for yourself and others. You did YOUR best.   

3) Do the MUSTS

Get clear about what you SHOULD do versus MUST do in your day. Do the basics…the MUSTS. Click here to read an outstanding article by Elle Luna called: “The Crossroads of Should and Must”.

4) Build Energy Flow

Energy flow comes through breathing with exercise or meditation. Create and protect time that allows you to build energy flow. This can be a walk. This can be any exercise for 10 or more minutes. This can be meditation even if you don’t know how to meditate. My friend Sam Shelley shares his own experience with meditation in this blog post.  Sam: “I deserve 5 minutes a day to meditate.”  

And, another great free meditation series is coming up in July from Oprah and Deepak – you can enroll here:  

Give yourself energy flow. You deserve it AND you will feel the difference.

5) Find Inspiration

Inspiration can come in surprising places. Click here to check out my favorite videos and articles related to launching your ideal work & life.

One Saturday a few years ago, my inspiration came from cleaning out old papers. I found this quote and since then I have leaned on Marianne Williamson’s words to help me through my journey of self-love. Marianne describes the mirror:


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Marianne Williamson


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Kara Smith is a talent development / HR leader and is the founder of the Soul of Work project:, a think tank and not for profit learning lab.  The mission & intention of the Soul of Work project is to bring best practices, tools, and practical insights from thought leaders to help professionals get hired, build more sustainable economic fulfillment in both work & life, and do their best work.  As part of this mission, the Soul of Work project is dedicated to actively fundraise and donate to aligned non-profit organizations.  Learn more here:  Kara is a working mother who believes we do our BEST work when we align work with our life.