Today I’m introducing a wonderful Self-love Ambassador, who promotes the message of self-love through her work in the medium of photography. Vivienne McMaster is known for her fabulous course “Be Your Own Beloved. This is about cultivating self-love through self-portraiture. Vivienne is a photographer and mentor who offers ecourses, workshops and photo shoots. Her beautiful message is about encouraging people to see themselves (through their camera lens) with kindness and compassion. Let’s see what wisdom Vivienne has to share with us on our favourite topic of self-love. For those of you who would like to explore this medium further with Vivienne, the next round of her ecourse starts very soon on 1st September!
It can seem trite when we hear the words ‘just love yourself’. How would you suggest that someone does this if they don’t know where to start?
The process of loving ourselves is, for many of us, connected to releasing ourselves from self-hate and the idea of ‘just loving yourself’ has me feeling like I’ll fail before I even begin! In my work I consciously use the word self-compassion instead as I feel like that word makes so much more room for the ebb and flow that is so naturally going to be a part of that journey!
In terms of taking a first step, I feel like ‘courting ourselves’ is a pretty powerful way to look at it. Just like if we were connect with a new friend or potential love interest, what are the ways we can begin to build a loving relationship with ourselves? We might go out for coffee & connect with ourselves through journalling or go out for a photo walk with our cameras and seek out moments of seeing ourselves in a new way through it.
We don’t always just love other people right away either. It is something we build towards and there is ebb and flow to it so I like to think of it that way. Why not even just cultivate ‘liking’ ourselves more first? There is really is no right or wrong way to do it, but starting with finding ways to spend nourishing time alone can be a powerful first step towards cultivating a stronger relationship to ourselves that indeed can lead to healing and to cultivating more self-love
What’s the best self-love tip you have ever heard?
One of the tips that really shifted things for me is from Jill Bolte Taylor who says “You are responsible for the energy you bring” which resonated deeply in terms of relating to other people, but it really hit home in considering the energy I was bringing to my relationship to myself too. It really woke me up to how much of my self-hate was something that I could indeed change and even if it felt impossible, I was the one that was going to need to decide to consciously make that shift towards self-love, day in and day out!
How do you bring yourself back into your heart when you are feeling down on yourself?
My core tool on my self-love path has been the camera and using it as a way to rewrite negative stories into ones that feel empowering. So it is most definitely the place I return to when I am having a rough day. I go out for a photo walk, seek out some inspiring thing to photograph and indeed, I turn the camera on myself.
Taking self-portraits allowed me to feel like I had a voice again about how I saw myself, my body & my life and so when I’m feeling down, it is the place I return to and let myself have a place to be heard, be it in the truth of what I’m struggling with that day or if I’m feeling drawn to want to shift out of it.
It can truly be as simple as putting my hand into a photo with something beautiful I find or putting my hand on my heart to feel connected to myself again (and take an arms length selfie) or some days, especially when I’m feeling really down on myself, I set up the timer & step into the frame. It might seem counterintuitive, but for me (and for so many folks who explore this with me in my classes) something about really stepping our whole bodies into the photo for some playful exploration always has a way to bring me back to my body, back to my own story, and back to a voice of truth.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom Vivienne. I resonate with so much of this and appreciate your time. For more about Vivienne’s work see her site here.