by amy |
Self-love. I’m sure you’ve heard of it since it’s become such a buzzword recently, but how do you actually achieve it? It’s definitely something I have always struggled with, which is why it has become one of my priorities for 2019. I made the conscious decision that this was something I wanted to work towards and decided to put together an action plan for 10 ways I plan on practicing self-love this year. I hope that you can find some of these practices helpful as well, but before we get into that we need to define what self-love is and what it is not.
- an ongoing commitment
- getting to know you and accepting yourself as you are
- respect and appreciation for yourself
- putting yourself first
- considering yourself worthy and deserving of happiness
Self-love is not:
- being better than you already are
- being more deserving
Now, I know this is all going to be much easier said than done, which is exactly why it’s taken me 31 years to recognize and decide I
want need to make this a priority. I also know there are going to be times when this is extremely difficult to practice, but I’m hoping these action items can help get me started and keep me going.
Ah, another buzzword. But have you honestly ever practiced being mindful? It is seriously so freeing and rewarding. Being mindful really just means being fully present in whatever it is you are doing; being aware of your surroundings, how you are feeling, and/or what you are experiencing. It is so easy to become distracted anymore – we all know this and we are all guilty, but I realized I hate being that person who has to ask to someone to repeat what they just said because I was busy checking my phone and not busy listening. I decided last year that this was something I wanted to practice while I was on my Honeymoon. I made the conscious decision to be fully present on our trip. I wanted to really take in the surroundings and make memories with my husband. I made sure to text our families to let them know we were safe, but other than that my phone really only acted as a camera for the majority of the trip. Since then, I have practiced keeping my phone away during concerts, during conversations with others and I’ve learned that practicing these little things can really help create more meaningful experiences.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. If this seems so obvious then why do so many of us still try to pour from the damn cup?! You cannot take care of anyone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Self-care is important and can come in many different forms whether it’s exercising, eating healthy or treating yourself to some ice cream after a hard day, a bath and a face mask, reading a book, scheduling time with friends or even scheduling time to be alone. I’ve decided to implement “Self-care Sunday” as a time where I can treat myself, spend some time alone and set myself up for a good week. Whatever self-care means to you, do it and fill up that cup!
3. Be realistic
It’s time to say goodbye to the labels of optimist and pessimist and slap a new one on yourself – realist. Goal setting is important in every aspect of your life, whether it’s work, your health, money, etc. One of the most important steps of setting a goal is making sure it is realistic and achievable. Say you want to start exercising more. Great. That is a good (overarching) goal. But how are you going to achieve this? Are you going to go to the gym every day for an hour? Maybe. For most people, however, that is not doable. Maybe making a goal of going three times a week for an hour is more realistic for you. You need to be honest and real with yourself whether it’s setting small goals or looking at the bigger picture. Self-love is something we can all achieve, but how we get there is going to look different for each individual. So take a step back and set some realistic goals for yourself. Once you start achieving the small goals, you will gain more motivation to keep going and eventually get to that overarching goal you have been wanting to achieve.
4. Set boundaries and know your rights
Let’s not beat around the bush – this one is hard. It’s probably the one I struggle with the most but it is also one of the most important to practice. I could probably write another whole post on this one, but I think the most important thing I’ve learned when it comes to boundary setting is assertiveness. In order to be comfortable being assertive, it is crucial that you know your personal rights. Here are a few I have been reminding myself of lately:
- I have the right to ask for what I want
- I have the right to say no
- I have the right to express my feelings
- I have the right to make mistakes
- I have the right to not be responsible for others’ behaviors, actions, feelings or problems
- I have the right to change and grow
- I have the right to be happy
Okay, that was more than a few. There are actually a lot more too, but for now these are the ones I am concentrating on. Just don’t forget that you have the responsibility to allow other people to have these rights as well.
5. Forgive yourself
Self-love isn’t going to happen overnight and we are going to have set backs. Everyday is not going to go as planned. Life is messy and tends to get in the way. A lot. So, be gentle with yourself. Before your inner critic starts reminding you of your failure, tell yourself that it is okay, and you will try again tomorrow.
6. Silence your Inner Critic
Speaking of your inner critic we need to come up with a way to try to silence it, because honestly he’s just here to crash the party. Next time your inner critic starts to speak up, ask yourself “would I say this to my friend?” The answer is probably no, so why are you saying it to yourself? Most of what you are telling yourself is undeserved and frankly just ridiculous – these thoughts are counter intuitive to what we are trying to achieve. When you start to hear this voice in your head, remind yourself of your goal and everything you have already achieved.
7. Surround Yourself with Meaningful Relationships
I have always been the kind of person who values quality over quantity when it comes to relationships, which has also caused a lot of stress when coming to terms with letting go of a friendship or relationship that was toxic and/or not adding value to my life. Why do we feel the need to keep people around who bring us down? I will never fully understand this, but what I do understand is that having people in my life that bring me joy makes it a lot easier to find reasons to love myself. Find those people that build you up and support you and don’t let them go. Recognize the people that don’t and cut that chord.
8. Stop Comparing Yourself to People on the Internet
When I think of this action item, my mind automatically goes to Instagram. Instagram is honestly one of the best/worst things that has ever happened. There’s so much I love about it, but it can also be the most destructive thing when it comes to achieving self-love. How many times do you find yourself idealizing other people, their bodies, their lifestyles, their clothes, their homes? Multiple times a day, right? I know I did and sometimes still catch myself. It can be extremely difficult to take a step back and stop the comparisons, but you will never fully be able to accept yourself and your uniqueness if you continue to do this. So, how do you stop? Honestly, this is something I am still working on, but one step I have taken is every time I catch myself comparing myself to someone on Instagram, I unfollow them. Seriously. Just click unfollow. It’s so simple and then you will never catch yourself comparing yourself to that person again. I’ve ended up unfollowing a lot of people on instagram (it’s not you, it’s me) because I kept finding myself saying “I wish I could look like that” or “I wish I had the money to buy these clothes or decorate my house that way”. And since I’ve started this practice, I find myself comparing less and less now. Obviously it still happens from time to time, but I can at least say I’ve taken a (small) step towards eliminating this (huge) setback from my daily life.
Self-love tends to be more about what you need, rather than what you want. But I am a true believer that balance is key in all aspects of life – it allows us to work towards our goals without burning out and completely falling off. Did you stick to your meal plans all week? Treat yourself to some ice cream or pizza this weekend. Did you spend time with friends last weekend? Maybe take “me time” this weekend and have a night in with netflix and a glass of wine. Are you tired of going to the gym? Switch it up and try a group fitness class. Whatever you need to create balance in your life, do that.
10. Take Time to Reflect
I’m a very introspective person, so sometimes I feel like all I do is reflect on things (feelings, achievements, failures, relationships, etc.). Reflection is a big part in learning more about who you are as a person which is in turn a step to discovering self-love. This can look different for everyone, but one way that has been proven to work over and over is the act of journaling. I’ve made it a micro-goal of mine this year to journal at least three times a week. The idea of journaling was really hard to me to buy into at first. What was I possibly going to write about? How will this help me? But once I started, I was able to get all of my thoughts out of my head. Remember that inner critic we were talking about? This is a great way to help you reflect on why you may be feeling a certain way and telling yourself these negative things. Once you have taken some time to reflect, you can then come up with a way to combat it and move forward. It can also be a great way to reflect on the progress you have made towards your goal.
This is obviously not an end-all be-all list, so if nothing else I hope this can inspire you to find ways that work for you. Be patient but persistent because self-love is important!