I thought that I would be the very last person in the world to write about self-love, it seemed like such a cheesy concept. I had it on a list of my blog post ideas that I brainstormed, but would always ignore it. Recently though, I had an unexpected life-changing moment where I was able to get to the root of why I treat myself the way that I do. It was similar to a breakthrough that someone would have during therapy, and it made me realize why I have that voice inside my head that’s always criticizing me and pointing out my flaws. I’ll spare you the details of what happened, but I realized was what lead me to somehow believe that I am an awful person who is unworthy of love, friends, happiness, and success.
Once I realized this, I became aware of how insane it was to measure my self-worth and my right to live a happy and fulfilled life off of what a few people had thought of me. With that realization came an overwhelming feeling of self-confidence and happiness that I had never felt before. For once I felt that I was finally worth it, and my place in the world was just as important as anyone else. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and I have to continue to remind myself every morning to stop criticizing and intentionally practice self-love.
Why is self-love so important?
Loving yourself and treating yourself with respect makes every day easier. Life is more peaceful when you’re not constantly feeding yourself negative thoughts. Practicing self-love has made me feel happy, healthy, confident, and strong. I don’t hold myself back anymore because I don’t think I’m smart enough, pretty enough, popular enough, strong enough etc. to do whatever it is that I want to. I can now do things that I normally wouldn’t because I was holding myself back.
What self-love isn’t…
For the longest time, I thought that self-love meant using Lush Bath Bombs, putting on face masks, doing my nails, binge-watching re-runs, shopping, etc. I got this idea from the media that I was consuming throughout my teen years. I can’t even begin to count how many tweets, Instagram posts, and pins that had a picture of a gorgeous girl using lavish toiletries or bath bombs with a caption said “self-love.” (Edit: I just saw another one today!) So during my free time, I would practice “self-love,” but it wasn’t real. Buying expensive products and constant pampering isn’t self-love. It’s not something that you can buy or do to make yourself prettier. It’s not Yankee Candles and online shopping. It’s something that you regularly practice for your mental health.
How to practice self-love:
Step One: Stop Criticizing.
Every time you catch yourself thinking of something that you don’t like about yourself or comparing yourself to someone, stop. Make a conscious effort to stop the negative thoughts in their tracks and think of something that you appreciate about yourself instead. This will take time, but with regular practice, it will get easier.
Step Two: Do What Makes You Happy.
I don’t mean watching Netflix, online shopping, or playing video games. Do something that makes you feel so happy and fulfilled without spending any money or staring at a screen. Something like hiking, painting, and writing. One of the best ways to practice self-love is by doing things that fill yourself with happiness and gratitude.
Step Three: Come Up With A Mantra.
This is another thing that I used to think was cheesy and clique, but coming up with a mantra that you tell yourself throughout the day actually helps keep you on track. You’re less likely to slip-up and revert back to old ways when you repeat a self-love mantra. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just a quick sentence that you can repeat to yourself when you need it.
Step Four: Take Breaks.
When you notice that you’ve spent hours working and you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, step away. The truth is that no matter how hard or long you work, there will always be something else that has to get done. There will always be another email that needs to be answered, another meeting to set up, another homework assignment, another shirt to be sewed, a lightbulb that needs to be changed, something to be cleaned, more laundry to be done, etc. There will never be a moment where every single little task that you need to accomplish is all done, so there’s no point in getting mad at yourself about it. Remember that you don’t have to be on top of everything all the time, and it’s ok to step away and take a break.
Step Five: Exercise.
Any self-help blog or book that could be found will tell you that one of the best ways to better yourself is by exercising. I had to mention it because the physical changes that are made through exercise bleed into other areas of your life. When you’ve been exercising consistently and suddenly you notice that your stronger and faster, that feeling gives you the confidence and reassurance that you can accomplish other things in your personal and professional life.
I hope this inspires you to begin practicing self-love too. What are your suggestions for practicing self-love? Happy Valentine’s Day!
“and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.”
Photographer: Kendid Visuals