Do you want to live a happier and healthier life? If so, there is nothing more important than treating yourself with dignity and compassion. If we don’t love, value, and cherish ourselves it is unlikely we will treat our mind, body, and soul in a nourishing manner. You are a priceless vessel! How are you treating you mind, body, and soul? Is it worthy of a priceless creation? Are you ready to let go of your self-deprecating patterns and replace them with self-love? I know, I know, it’s easier said than done, but that’s why I want to introduce you to Vironika Tugaleva. She is the author of The Love Mindset and creator of the Real Us. She stopped by to talk about happiness, healing, and self-love. Enjoy!
Welcome Vironika! I know you have a few different exciting projects, so first tell us about the book The Love Mindset and the overall message it shares.
The Love Mindset is a book about why we suffer and how to make it stop. It teaches that what holds us back most is not our emotions, circumstances, past, or culture. It is the way we think about ourselves.
Q: What is The Love Mindset and what can people do to cultivate it?
The Love Mindset is, quite simply, a state of mind that allows us to effortlessly love ourselves, other people, and the world. In such a state, we can heal past wounds, connect deeply with others, and do something meaningful with our lives. Cultivating this mindset is a bit like growing a beautiful tree. We need to do two things: nourish it with what it needs and avoid what it doesn’t need. What we need are thoughts of unity, compassion, forgiveness, strength, and beauty. What we do not need are thoughts of judgment, hate, blame, shame, powerlessness, and injustice. There is no need, however, to memorize the specific thoughts that are “bad” and others that are “good.” We only need to tune into how those thoughts are already impacting us. Our emotions inform us about the quality of our thoughts much like the feeling in our stomach informs us about the quality of our diet. To cultivate a loving mind, begin to notice how loving thoughts, towards yourself and others, give you pleasant feelings. Begin to notice how judgmental and hateful thoughts give you painful feelings. Notice how insulting yourself in your head makes you feel weak and accepting yourself makes you feel strong. Simply by attending to our responses to our thoughts, much like watching for the brightness of a tree’s leaves, we can figure out whether we’re feeding ourselves what we need. I’ll say, as well, I have not found a single person yet who has wilted from thinking of themselves as beautiful, powerful, healthy, or eternal.
Q: What does it mean to “love yourself” and why do you think most people have trouble with this?
True self-love is no different from an unconditional love of other people and life itself. Love is, first and foremost, a state of mind. From this state of mind, we experience the feeling of love. Where most people go wrong is they try to find something in particular about themselves to love. They set up conditions. They say they love their eyebrows or their golf skills. So if their eyebrows go grey or they cannot play golf anymore due to some injury, that “self-love” disappears. The key is to get into the state of love and then look at yourself, instead of looking at some part of yourself trying to force yourself into a state of love. When we look at ourselves like this, we realize that we’re completely connected with everything and everyone around us. That is true self-love – it is the love of everything, because self is everything.
Q: What has been your experience with the Love Mindset? Share a little about your story, struggles, and triumphs.
I discovered the necessity of this state of mind simply through deprivation. I spent close to 10 years struggling with addiction, eating disorders, and self-hatred. I was suffocating from love deprivation and it showed in my mental health. At the age of 23, I had a mental breakdown. In the weeks leading up to it, I had begun to hear voices and seriously consider suicide. When I broke down, it boiled down to a simple choice: change or die. I chose to change and that choice led me to the epiphanies contained in the book. It was almost as if I had been drowning my entire life and I finally made the choice to go up for air or die trying. To me, love was air. When I tasted my first gulp of it, it was the most intense positive feeling I’d ever had. How could I not share that with the world? Now, cultivating a loving mind is a daily practice for me. My mind is my friend. It is a brilliant tool. It is a great way to figure things out and analyze them. And it gets out of the way if I want to have some peace and silence. Cultivating a loving mind is, as I’ve said, just like growing a tree. The tree needs sunlight and water every day. My mind needs loving, positive thoughts every day. Now, these nourishment rituals have become a habit. My most nourishing habit is helping other people in the world discover the same freedom as I’ve stumbled upon.
Q: You’re also creating an online community called the Real Us. Tell us about this site and why you’re creating it?
Throughout my life, I’ve seriously lacked role models. When I was a little girl, I was chubby and I wanted to be a leader. When I turned on the TV, all I saw were men and a few skinny, perfect women. I wasn’t like that. When I was trying to develop a loving relationship with my body, I went natural. I looked around me at all the “natural” women and they were flawless. I was not. When I was healing from a lifetime of self-abuse, addiction, and trauma, I looked to all the experts around me. They didn’t have bad days or negative emotions. I did. When I came out to build a legacy and spread my message to people, all the teachers and authors around me were older, richer, more well connected. I was nowhere close. Every step along the way, I’ve wished that I could just have a role model who reminded me of myself. And that’s really what The Real Us is about. It’s about real people sharing their stories of authenticity, courage, healing, and kindness. It’s about all of us coming together and showing each other what’s possible, one story at a time.
Q: How can people start practicing being more real, true, and authentic?
The first step is realizing the difference between self-discovery and self-creation. This is something most people stumble over. They try to look within themselves and find their authentic self. They look for something in particular that makes them different from others. This is where they go wrong. Inside of us, we all have a boundless, eternal potential to do anything we want. When we get in touch with that potential, we feel immortal and all-powerful. That is self-discovery. Authenticity is being in touch with human potential. My authentic self is just like yours. Self-creation, then, is about what you choose to do with that energy. That is unique to you, but you cannot do that if you’re out of touch with it. To go back to our tree metaphor, to discover your authentic self, your true nature, is like discovering the true nature of a tree. Every tree has the same nature – it grows when nourished. That is your nature too. And so, that is your job – give yourself the nourishment you need. Give yourself air through your nose, food through your mouth, and love through your mind. When you feed yourself like this, your unique self will naturally emerge, but you do not need to force yourself to be unique just like you do not need to force a maple tree to be different from an oak tree. Give nourishment and the potential will become what it becomes.
Q: What is one take away that you think will help someone live a happier and more meaningful life?
I’ve found that the one thing that separates happy people from unhappy people isn’t how many problems they have, how lucky they are, or what they’ve been through. The biggest difference is that happy people think happy thoughts, regardless of what is happening around them. It is that simple. Of course, it is not always easy. The key to leading a truly inspired life is to have your mindset full of the same quality of thought when you have nothing as when you have everything. When your quality of thought is right, it does not matter what happens around you. You will recover from the pains and you will make the most of the pleasures. Like love, happiness only works when it’s unconditional. Like love, happiness originates in the mind, not in outside circumstances.