Do you know what the most generous thing that you can do is? The most helpful, the most loving, the thing that has the greatest impact on your life, the world, and quite possibly, the universe? Practice self love.
I know. I know. I hear you. “What?” “It can’t be that easy.” “That sounds self-fish” “Honey, nobody has time to practice self love.” “I don’t even fully understand what ‘self love’ is.”
The truth is, how we show up for ourselves is a major influence on how we show up in our work, in our communities, and in our relationships. You know how on airplanes flight attendants instruct: “In the event of an emergency put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before assisting others.” Self love is our oxygen. And, nobody can give their best if they can hardly breathe.
By beginning to practice self love, that breath radiates into a light that begins to shine bright on all who near. These 10 books will help you find that magnificent shine, and blast its brilliance into your world.
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
I have read, re-read, highlighted, wrote out, typed out, and more… these words from Marianne Williamson. They were used in Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration speech when he was elected President of South Africa in 1994, and they were written here, in A Return to Love, first, along with droves of additional priceless gems of truth and inspiration. This dose of self love leaves the reader understanding a new level of greatness and beauty residing inside you at every moment.
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More by Janet Mock
“Self-definition and self-determination is about the many varied decisions that we make to compose, and journey toward, ourselves, about the audacity and strength to proclaim, create, and evolve into who we know ourselves to be. It’s okay if your personal definition is in a constant state of flux as you navigate the world.”
Janet Mock’s memoir detailing her journey in learning to own, and define, herself left me near speechless with its beauty, authenticity, and powerful prose. Not only is Mock an exceptionally talented writer, but she allows the reader a true and raw glimpse into the turbulent rise of an icon and activist, a rise that beckons the reader to redefine your own realness, and come along.
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body by Jessamyn Stanley
“By speaking of ourselves in a positive and affirmative fashion and finding ways to eradicate self-hate, by speaking kindly about ourselves and those around us, we can foster a sense of love and compassion powerful enough to restructure our society’s entire perspective of ‘body love.’”
So, at first glance, this does not look like a self love book, it looks like a yoga book. Maybe even a yoga manual. But it is also internationally recognized yoga teacher and award-winning Instagram Influencer Jessamyn Stanley’s addition to the idea of what an “ideal” yoga body is. Jessamyn tackles body acceptance, the meaning of beauty, and the fact that yoga, like life, isn’t about how it looks, it’s about how it feels.
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth
“There is no glory in a grind that literally grinds you down to dust.”
As the youngest editor-in-chief for a Conde Nast publication, best selling, NAACP award winning author, writer, Project Runway judge, and Cultural Ambassador for Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative, Elaine Welteroth certainly must know first hand about putting grinding effort in front of everything else, and the true cost. What many don’t realize is that the need to grind can mask a deficit in self love that leads to a person’s constant need to prove themselves. Aside from it’s rave reviews, More Than Enough makes this list because, when it comes to self-love, realizing that you are enough is often the first step.
Dying to Be Me: My Journey From Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing by Anita Moorjani
“Everything that seemingly happens externally is occurring in order to trigger something within us, to expand us and take us back to who we truly are.”
Anita Moorjani was lying in a coma after a four year bout with cancer, and as her organs shut down, she experienced an NDA –– Near Death Experience. In an instant, Anita fully understood that her illness was a response to her lack of self love and the over-abundance of criticism she’d focused on herself for years, if not decades. With this knowledge she woke up from her coma, went into radical remission, and by the time she left the hospital, her fatal cancerous tumors were gone. Here, she tells that story, and along with it, what she has found to be intrinsic truths about our relationship with ourselves and our health.
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A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson
“When a woman rises up in glory, her energy is magnetic and her sense of possibility contagious.”
This is another Marianne Masterpiece that I have read, re-read, gifted, and, after selecting this quote, decided to read again. Of all the books I have read, this is one that I consider mandatory reading for women raised in a patriarchal society. Let me be clear, Marianne is not a man hater or basher, she loves men (as do I). Along with that, she has a distinct understanding of what society has done to the mentality of many women, and men in the world, and what can be done to reclaim one’s power.
You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
“No matter how clueless you may feel right now, pay attention to suggestions and opportunities that suddenly present themselves… Take the first step in the direction toward something that feels right and see where it leads you. And do it NOW.”
Reading Jen Sincero’s, You Are A Badass is like taking a roadtrip with someone who adores, respects, and thinks the world of you –– it’s fast, fun, and leaves you feeling restored, and encouraged, beyond measure.
The 4 Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.” When it comes to choosing self love, over bad relationships, I think this quote from The Four Agreements speaks for itself.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
So, one could just say: Michelle Obama. Full stop. But let’s look at why one could “just say” that. Because this is the woman whose wisdom packed stadiums, whose honesty moved the nation, and whose lips and life articulated the moral code: “When they go low, we go high.” But, as a self love recommendation, what I like about this selection is this: Michelle Obama’s story of Becoming asks the reader to think about who they are becoming. And if you don’t like the answer, she inspires and encourages you to change it.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
On its surface, The Alchemist is the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who goes on a treasure hunt. But, at its heart, this tale enchants with the scope of it’s wisdom regarding the journey of the seeker in search of their own pot of gold, and the understanding that following one’s own heart is the roadmap. Fun trivia fact — Will Smith gifted this book to Paula Patton on her first movie, Hitch, which he starred in with Eva Mendes.
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