Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Embracing Self-Love with Brittany & Sarah
[00:00:02] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 455 of Live Happy Now. This week, we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Today, we want to talk about the greatest love of your life, yourself.
I’m your host, Paula Felps. Today, I’m talking with Brittany Derrenbacher and Sarah Pavey of The Healing Collective in Louisville, Kentucky. In their practices, Brittany and Sarah teach clients how to discover a deep lasting love for themselves. They also hold workshops on creating self-love vision boards. Today, they’re sharing some insights on how self-love improves our lives and our relationships. They also give us some tips for starting your own self-love practice. Let’s have a listen.
[00:00:44] PF: Brittany and Sarah, thank you for joining me on Live Happy Now.
[00:00:48] BD: Thanks.
[00:00:48] SP: Thank you for having us.
[00:00:50] BD: We’re excited to be here together.
[00:00:52] SP: We’re so excited.
[00:00:53] PF: I know. I don’t usually do tandem things, but this is absolutely too perfect, and I’m really excited to be able to do this. All of the month of February, we are talking about love, the different types of love. One thing that really struck me is all of our guests have mentioned – all of our guests. Both of the guests prior to you have mentioned just how important self-love is. Everything begins with self-love. No matter – whether you’re trying to build another relationship with a person, it still goes back to self-love. Can you talk about that? Why does everything really start with self-love?
[00:01:28] BD: I think our relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship that we’ll ever have in our entire lives. If we don’t cultivate that relationship with ourselves, we always consistently show up in our other relationships with people with a glass half-full. I think when we lean into this idea of self-love, we’re able to embrace all of the parts of ourselves and realize that I think we’re the ones that we’ve been waiting for, right? We can love every part of ourselves and really sit in the ooey-gooeyness of our essence and our being and our greatness.
[00:02:13] PF: To make sure we’re talking about the same thing because self-love can seem kind of this concept, tell me what true self-love is. What are we actually talking about here?
[00:02:23] BD: I think self-love is the unconditional acceptance of self. It’s showing up for ourselves the way that we would a best friend. It’s seeing and hearing and valuing and just loving every single part of ourselves and the way that we do our friends, our animals, our family. We’re projecting that back to self. I think that is one of the most beautiful relationships that we can cultivate.
[00:02:56] PF: But that’s a tough thing because we aren’t really taught to love ourselves. Even it’s difficult sometimes to be comfortable with the concept of trying to learn to love ourselves. We really do oftentimes try to get that love and validation from the outside, and we don’t even know how to go inside. Where do we start even learning how to do that and how to discover self-love?
[00:03:19] SP: I kind of like what you said, Brittany. That was a really beautiful approach to it. When we look at ourselves how we do our best friends or even loving ourselves how we would a child, when we’re tough on ourselves, almost visualizing yourself as a child and sitting down and how we take care of ourselves in that way or talk to ourselves. Sometimes, I mean, we can be really tough on ourselves. It’s easier to show yourself self-love when you think about like, “Little me,” and making sure that every child gets what they need or just showing ourselves that same love that we would our friend or a child or even our pets sometimes. Yes, I think that that’s a great place to start is how we take care of other people.
[00:04:01] BD: I also think this is inner child work. We’re getting back to the root of when we are born into this world, we have unconditional love for ourselves. We want to get our needs met. We think we are the best thing ever.
[00:04:19] PF: Especially if we’re only children.
[00:04:21] BD: Yes, yes. Like there is no one greater than us. Then we start to grow up and life happens and society happens. That changes over time. So I think we have to lean back into that. We’re almost reclaiming that love for ourselves that we are born innately with.
[00:04:43] PF: That doesn’t feel natural for a lot of people. It doesn’t feel natural to go back and say, “I’m going to talk to this wounded child that I was.” How do you kind of start taking steps toward that?
[00:04:54] BD: I think the first thing that we have to do is start understanding the parts of ourselves that maybe are uncomfortable to look at. That is usually what I do with my clients, right? It’s like this road back home to self, embracing and holding all the parts of ourselves that maybe we wanted to push away or overlook. You may have heard the phrase shadow work. This can also teeter into shadow work. I think, ultimately, the first step that we have to take is to view that all of our parts are good. They are there for a reason, and they make up who we are as we sit here today.
[00:05:37] PF: What happens when you run into someone who’s like, “I hate this part of myself.” I hear that from people where it’s like, “I hate this about myself.” They are so hard on themselves about this one thing. How do you get over something that was very strong feelings about what’s wrong with you?
[00:05:54] BD: I think this will be an interesting thing for Sarah and I to both answer because we do this both innately in our work but differently based on our professions, right? My step is to always work with the person to identify why this part of themself exists, how it used to show up for them in the past and protect them and help them survive. It’s like a reclaiming of that part of you and coming to understand it so that you can love it and also tell it that it can take a break. Like, “It’s okay. I don’t need you to jump in and protect me right now.”
[00:06:34] SP: Like you said, seeing how those parts did serve us at one point and how it was a protection of armor. Also honoring the valuable purpose that that armor has but also being able to take a step back and set it down to find a way to love those pieces and see how they can flow into your life and, yes, just look through a different lens.
[00:06:57] PF: One thing that you ladies did, and I am just so fascinated by this, you’ve done it last year. I don’t know if that was your first year. I know you did it again this year. That was a self-love vision board workshop. First of all, tell us what that is.
[00:07:12] BD: It is a fun, playful, imaginative, and creative way to reclaim a part of ourselves that oftentimes we lose from childhood into adulthood, right? Imagination, creativity, play. We lose that, and we become really serious adults. I think it’s a really beautiful way and a tool to allow people to dip their toes into self-love because they’re essentially sitting with themselves.
We usually start with the meditation and have them call in their higher selves and really kind of do a heart activation to where they can drop into their bodies and into their hearts and sit with themselves. We ask that they essentially create a board that encompasses all of the things that they love about themselves and also the things that they want for themselves. It’s really interesting to see how that plays out for each individual person.
[00:08:14] SP: Yes. Also, it’s hard when you have glitter glue and scissors and stickers. It’s hard to take yourself so seriously. I think that that really allows people to get into that inner child. Also, by the time they’re done, they look at it, and they’re like, “Wow, this feels really good. This is something I would love to look at every day.” But they’re like, “I had so much fun doing it. I didn’t – I can’t believe time went by so fast.” I think it’s a really fun way for people to get in touch with that.
[00:08:41] PF: What kind of things do they look at in terms of self-love? What kind of pictures and words do you see people gravitating toward to create these self-love vision boards?
[00:08:50] BD: Well we ask that people bring in an inner child photo to also work off of, too.
[00:08:55] PF: Oh, nice.
[00:08:56] BD: But a lot of times, especially with women, there will be something that they’re working through with their bodies, their relationship with their bodies. Learning to love their bodies and meet themselves where they’re at. You’ll see a lot of language and verbiage around their relationship with their bodies.
Also, it’s interesting to see a lot of people will reclaim parts of themselves that maybe they’ve lost. Maybe life got in the way, and they haven’t been able to travel in a while. Maybe they’ve had complicated romantic relationships in the past. So they’re calling in a partner that is exactly what they want for themselves and knowing that it’s not asking too much.
[00:09:38] SP: It’s also incredible to see how everyone will relate to each other. But when everyone holds up their boards at the end how different they are. Also, everyone’s like, “Oh, that is so amazing. That feels so good to look at.” Then you look around, and everyone’s so different and so unique to them. It’s just such a beautiful feeling.
[00:09:57] BD: I’ll share a story of this woman’s board that was really moving for everyone. Everyone gets one board, but really there’s no limit. You can do what you want, and she did. She got several more, and she attached them all, and it became this expansive board of – she used different imagery of women and a lot of bright colors, very vibrant inner child colors, and created this board for herself to remind herself how beautiful she is. That not only is she beautiful but she’s surrounded by beautiful amazing women all day. It was almost like this love letter to herself and to all of the feminine energies around her. It was incredible.
[00:10:44] SP: It really was. That same woman, she asked everybody to sign her board, which has never happened before. It was just so beautiful for her to make those connections with herself and everyone else.
[00:10:55] PF: What happens when people do this? Can you talk a little bit about how that changes what’s going on in their brain? You’re focusing specifically on this self-love topic, and you’re getting into the magazines. What does it change with them, and how do you see that just over the course of this workshop which takes how long? How long are you there?
[00:11:17] BD: About two and a half hours.
[00:11:19] PF: Okay. How do you see people change, just during this two and a half hours that they’re working on this? What’s it doing to their brains and to their hearts?
[00:11:28] BD: I’m glad asked this question because we did something a little differently this year. I use a lot of essential oils and breath work in my therapeutic practice. I used a specific oil that’s good for heart activation, and I had them do what’s called a manifestation breath. Really what that helps them do is drop out of their brain and into their bodies, and begin really focusing on the wisdom of their body and focusing on their heart.
I think when we drop out of our minds that tend to worry and overthink and criticize and intrusive thoughts, we drop into the natural wisdom and rhythm of our bodies that’s like, “I love you. This feels good. This is fun. I want to do more of this. I like this.” You start to get more of the I am affirmations, which is powerful.
[00:12:23] SP: Yes. What’s been so exciting to see the last couple years is by the end of it, everyone’s like, “Wow, I didn’t think I would have so much fun doing this.” When they first walk in, they’re kind of – you can tell everyone’s like, “Okay, what is this going to be about?” Then by the end of –
[00:12:38] PF: What have I signed up for?
[00:12:40] SP: Yes. They’re like, “Wait, it’s been two hours already?” It’s like show and tell. When they hold it up at the end, they’re all excited to share. I mean, it’s a really vulnerable thing to share, but they’re so happy and excited to do it. It’s really beautiful.
[00:12:55] BD: Sarah and I, we’re super excited this year. We had a surprise come to our workshop. We had a man come. It’s not that – self-love is not just for women. In fact, I think it is incredibly healing modality for men. I think it helps just as a collective healing to bring men into this work. Yes. Do you want to tell the story?
[00:13:21] SP: You could tell when he came in, he was nervous a little bit like, “I don’t know what I’m getting into.” But it was so beautiful to see him come in and just see him feel supported by that feminine energy and really settle into kind of the womb space we created and to have that that nurturing healing energy around him.
[00:13:38] PF: Is there a home version? How does someone do this if they’re not in a group, and they’re like, “Maybe that would help me.”? How do you sit down and create your own self-love vision board when we don’t have you guys to walk us through?
[00:13:53] SP: There’s no right or wrong way to do it. What I love to do at home is sometimes I’ll even use a bulletin board and pack it and change it throughout the year. But really on construction paper, on anything, and cutouts from magazines. Or you’re walking and you see something that resonates with you, just putting little images or anything that calls you. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.
For me, at least, the whole purpose of a vision board is something that you can look at and see. It’s a little cliché, right? Every day, we get to reset and get to start. But that’s true and having something to see and set your intentions towards, it gives you a direction to go in every day when you want to start new. Really, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There’s not.
[00:14:42] BD: I think whatever your creativity level is, whatever your capacity is, wherever your imagination takes you, go with it and have fun and don’t limit yourself. Collect weird things. I dare you. Collect cool stickers. I dare you. Cut out pictures of yourself as a kid and create a masterpiece. You will be so proud of yourself.
One thing I will say about the vision boards that we’ve created together is I look at them with so much pride. I love her. I love that version of me from a year ago. I love her, and I’m a different woman today. So I got to create something new in this workshop, and I love her.
[00:15:29] PF: That’s so great. How do you use it properly? As we all know, you can put the affirmations up on your mirror. But after a while, you don’t see them. How do you make sure that this stays fresh every day? You kind of make a ceremony out of making sure you look at it and remind yourself and kind of reinstill that self-love every day? Or how – what’s the best practice?
[00:15:52] BD: I think probably Sarah and I do this two different ways because I tend to leave space on my board and add to it throughout the year. It does always kind of lead me back to it.
[00:16:06] SP: Yes. For me and a lot of people in our groups, they like to put them in the bathroom or in the kitchen. But kind of like you said, we put it up there. Then we kind of get too used to seeing it. For me, I just fill my board up. When I meditate, I like to look at it but I mean really what aligns to that person. Some people, they like to see it while they’re cooking or while they’re using the restroom. It’s some good material. Yes, I kind of like that, though, the idea of adding on to it throughout the year. That could keep you more involved with it and have more attention on it throughout the year or however often you do it. Yes. That’s a good tip.
[00:16:42] PF: Since self-love is so tough, how important is it that we’re able to remind ourselves daily of this self-love journey that we’re on?
[00:16:50] BD: Oh, this is – I love to talk about the brain. Yes, repetition, repetition. It takes so many times. I think scientifically it’s 300 to 400 times of repetition, right? If we stand in the mirror at day one and we say I love you to yourself in the mirror, it may seem kind of weird. It may seem uncomfortable. It doesn’t stick. Day 20, I love you in the mirror. Maybe it lands a little bit more.
Then by the end of this cycle, say you do this every day for a year, your brain – this is a new neural pathway, and it believes that is truth. So whether or not it feels silly to us and it feels maybe like, “I don’t want to do that. That’s not going to work,” it will work. It will work. Your brain will believe you. I think that’s an important tool that I think we just have to do things until it becomes our truth.
[00:17:52] SP: Yes. I think that’s so important. It might feel silly at first. That’s the cost is to feel little silly, but it will pay off. Like you said, I don’t know the exact numbers, but we can think something so many more times than we could say those words out loud. If you’re telling yourself in your brain, “I love you. I love you. I love you,” and you’re just changing that narrative, it will create those new pathways.
[00:18:16] PF: I had a guest on the show. It has been a couple years now, Shauna Shapiro. She wrote the book called Good Morning, I Love You. Her practice is one that I started doing, and that was she would put her hand on her heart every morning, before she gets out of bed, as soon as she wakes up. Now, I do it. It’s good morning, Paula. I love you. It’s like put your name in there and state that truth to yourself. When that’s the first statement, the first thought of your day that your day is going to get better. It starts better. That is a real powerful way to do it as well.
[00:18:49] BD: That is part of my morning practice, and it’s non-negotiable for me because, otherwise, my intrusive thoughts are louder, and she’s not going to win.
[00:19:00] PF: That’s awesome. What changes when we really start embracing self-love? How do we show up differently in the world? How does it change us? How does it change the way we interact with others?
[00:19:12] SP: Not to get too woo-woo out there, but I mean I truly think it changes the vibration that you send out to the universe. That changes how you interact with yourself, with others. I mean, just the law of attraction and abundance. If you can imagine something for yourself, so much more is available to you. I think having some sort of reminder about that, it can totally change how you interact in the world, the vibration you set out.
[00:19:41] BD: Fort me, I think when we cultivate a better relationship with self and we work on self-love, self-compassion, all the selves, we show up better in our relationships. We show up as a whole, happy, excited, joyful version of ourselves, right? We don’t expect our partners and our friends and our families to be the ones that are always going to meet those needs.
That is something that I think traditionally happens in especially romantic relationships, right? I mean, we’re in the month of love, so we have to kind of talk about that. That societally and traditionally, we have been taught that once we find our partner, the happiness goal has been met. Really, it’s being able to show up and create that from within. So then we can be in our relationships in a very easy lighter way that gets our needs met.
[00:20:42] PF: What about the people out there this Valentine’s Day, this season of love who are lonely, who don’t have someone special in their lives, don’t have a significant other? They feel very isolated, and they feel maybe unloved. What are some ways they can specifically embrace them themselves and show themselves love and feel that same kind of love that they’re looking for?
[00:21:04] SP: It’s interesting you asked that question. We actually had a woman last night at our group. She was one with the big beautiful board. She was talking about how she used to hate this time of year. It would make her depressed, make her feel so bad, and how she had this shift where she’s like, “I can buy my own flowers. I can buy flowers for my friends.” I think that that’s a great place to start is, whether it is romantically or not, showing gratitude in the places that you can for yourself. Also, if you’re not there, if you do have a good support group, showing gratitude and love towards those people and those things in your life will help cultivate that type of thing.
[00:21:42] BD: What better way to celebrate love and to learn about self-love than to spend Valentine’s Day with our best friends.
[00:21:51] PF: That’s a great talk, especially women tend to put a lot of pressure on the day. I love the idea of reframing that and saying this is about love and not just romantic love. It’s about our love with our friends, with our pets, with our family. I really love that idea.
[00:22:07] BD: There’s nobody better to show up unconditionally for us than our pets and our best friends.
[00:22:12] PF: Exactly. Your advice for everyone out there. They want to learn more about self-love, and we will. We’ll put that affirmations, make that available as a download to them from you. Thank you for that. But what are some things they can do right now, some steps that they can take to just start practicing, baby steps toward greater self-love?
[00:22:35] BD: I think we have to be open to spending more time with ourselves. I think – yes, and that involves releasing a little bit of fear around that. But just showing up and spending more time with ourselves, whether that’s going out for a walk and not putting headphones in, really just spending some time with ourselves.
[00:22:56] SP: Yes. I think a lot of times we are hard on ourselves because we focus a lot on how things may have gone wrong. But do we ever stop and think about when things go right or how we have supported ourselves so far into this life? I think we should pay more attention to those moments.
[00:23:12] PF: Well, ladies, it’s a lovely time to talk to you because it is all about love. I appreciate what you have to say to us. I really thank you for spending your time with me today.
[00:23:21] BD: Thank you.
[00:23:22] SP: Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:23:27] PF: That was Brittany Derrenbacher and Sarah Pavey, talking about self-love. If you’d like to download a free printable poster of their self-love affirmations, learn how to create your own self-love vision board, or follow Brittany and Sarah on social media, visit us at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for our weekly Live Happy newsletter. Every Tuesday, we’ll drop a little bit of joy in your inbox with the latest stories, podcast info, and even a happy song of the week.
That is all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.