We are approaching the tail end of the Lion’s season. Whenever any type of season or cycle comes to a close, it feels natural to reflect and harvest wisdom that can be applied moving forward.
My astrology teacher, Kelly Lee Phipps described Leo potential as "radiant radical self-love". He said that when someone fully embodies this Leo trait, that they care about their own well-being so much that they seem to light up a room! This type of Leo just shows up and everyone feels inspired to love themselves a little more.
The shadow side of Leo is an addictive need for attention, spotlight, approval and/or drama to validate self-worth. This inevitably distracts self-care practices towards caring too much about what others think about what you are doing. This is not self-love, this is self-adoration or self-exaltation.
The other day while getting ready for a troupe performance, I heard one of the dancers receiving praise from the others for having her costume super organized well before the day of the show. The dancer responded with, "it's one of my acts of self-care". This got me thinking for the next couple of days on an expanded definition of "self-care" as acts from a place of "self-love".
What truly is this "self-care" we hear so much about, and how is it related to "radiant radical self-love"?
Self-care is often interpreted as pampering oneself or taking care of ones health in terms of proper diet, exercise, rest, meditation, relaxation, day at the spa..etc. It seems to be associated to all things that relax, center, re-energize and/or restore/heal. What if we expand this concept by stepping outside of the Self to imagine if we were the caretakers of this Self - as if this Self was someone you deeply loved, respected and appreciated?
How would you make sure they were taken care of beyond the elements mentioned above?
How could you help make their life more smooth with less stress?
How could you help set them up for more success, joy, love?
How could you help them suffer less?
When you truly love someone, you are genuinely interested in understanding them better - you take the time to listen and are willing to help where you can.
Perhaps you notice that this Self endures a lot of stress by always being late. An act of self-care could be coming up with a plan to reduce the stress around arriving on time - and making it a priority. Perhaps you notice that this Self is not living the life they want because finances are always a struggle and this causes constant deep sadness. An act of self-care could be addressing this sadness head on, coming up with an action plan and following through with it.
Genuinely loving yourself is an act of truly caring about your well-being and putting action behind it.
It's about knowing that you have the right to love and be loved - no matter who tries to tell you otherwise, and that inevitably it is your own love for yourself that matters most. For some, this can be super challenging to embody especially since we seem to be in a time where many eyes are judging and not afraid to throw around terms such as sociopath or narcissist. There can be a real fear around actually caring about yourself and your needs, as if you will suddenly stop caring about other people. I believe the opposite is true.
The more you care for yourself from a genuine love, the better you can care for others. Knowing that when the inner Lion purrs, you are taking care of yourself with the love of a mama to her cub.
Genuine self-love expressed as a practice of self-care, is exactly that - a "practice". Like any committed practice over time the behaviors ripple out into our relationships with others which strengthens our ability to not only take care of ourselves, but also identify personal boundaries and strengthen how we relate and care for others.