Our friend and wellness expert Alex Kate Knight is a model, blogger, nutritionist, pilates instructor, founder of SelfMADE, and co-owner of Bluestone Lane cafés. To say she has a lot on her plate would be an understatement. But, despite having such a successful career, self-love was, until recently, conspicuously absent from her life. After hitting rock-bottom, realizing that she wasn’t superhuman, and understanding that she needed to take more care of herself, Alex’s self-love journey began. She spoke to us about how important self-love is, how it changed her life, and shares some tips on where to begin.

Our number one relationship in life is with ourselves. The best person to understand self, is self. The best person to love self, is self. Self is the foundation of prosperity, aspirations, and fulfilling, sustainable relationships.

This is something that I didn’t understand or respect less than 18 months ago. In fact, at that time, I was trying to be superhuman. Anything that I put my mind to, I would achieve, no matter what.

Self-love matters a lot to me because I’d lived with the wrong image of it in my mind until very recently. When I thought about self-love I pictured bubble baths, long massages, and skin masks. This luxurious sense of self-love was something I told myself I didn’t have time for. I considered myself too busy for all that self-indulgence. I was too busy giving myself to everything and everyone.

I was depleting my spirit, my emotional reserves, and my energy. My relationship with myself was asymmetrical. I was like a piggy bank: I had a strong debit system, yet there was never any depositing! I was driven and unstoppable. Those qualities were what I considered essential for being a true New Yorker. To set aside an hour to simply relax would be giving in — it would be me being too soft on myself. I did once book a massage, but instead of having the courage to care for myself by choosing a relaxing one, I opted for the strongest, hardest, toughest Swedish sports massage. The force of it was so intense that I basically crawled off the table! Self-compassion simply wasn’t in my sphere.

I began to feel empty. I no longer had the energy or positivity to see the brightness in my days. I’d only ever known bright days, so what was going on? I had a comfortable, loving, successful life, yet every evening I was an emotional wreck. I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t explain why. How was it possible for me to be unhappy? I was lucky enough to travel the world for my career, I’d just married the man I adore, I lived in a safe country, and I’d recently launched a company with my husband which was booming. Unhappy didn’t fit into this context, so how could I talk to anyone about it? Surely they’d just think that I was an ungrateful overachiever? In fact, it was hard to even have this conversation with myself!

It would be fair to say that I was living an inauthentic life. I was one person to the external world, and internally I was someone completely different. Why? Because I never had any “me” time. Unless you could count exhausting sprints on the treadmill or punching a boxing bag. While there is certainly a time for those activities, they weren’t always what I needed. It suddenly became obvious that self-care, self-love, self-compassion, and self-respect were non-existent in my life.

So I began my journey of discovering and caring for myself. I put my needs at the top of my list, and this what I learnt to do:

  1. Choose what’s right for me, even if it means choosing the option that will make me a little unpopular.
  2. Be honest. Express what I truly, yet respectfully, feel, think, or want.
  3. Listen to my body’s needs. This could mean that one week I need restorative exercise and the next week I can let it rip!
  4. Wear clothes that are “me” — clothes that make me feel confident and good.
  5. Build a life I’m happy with, rather than waiting for someone else to bring me happiness. Even the greatest love in my life can’t create my self-love for me.
  6. Accept myself as I am, and that includes accepting all the things I might wish to improve on.
  7. Make time to just play and not be worried about the outcome. Nothing that nourishes self is a waste of time.
  8. Embrace quiet time alone without any distractions.
  9. Follow my gut. Since 70% of the cells in our gut have the same neurological power as brain cells, we must learn to listen to them!
  10. Know where I’m spending my mental, social, emotional, financial, and physical energy, and make sure it’s giving back to me in a positive, creative, and engaging way.

When you give yourself self-love you become a greater person to yourself, and to others too. That was my self-love discovery journey, and I hope it helps you to begin yours.