Self-love is a lesson that you keep learning over and over again.
When I was in the second grade, I liked a little curly headed boy named Milton. I was so smitten that I drew hearts, with arrows through them, on construction paper that said “I love Milton”. Young and naïve, I convinced myself that he was my boyfriend. One afternoon, I talked to him on the phone (for the first and last time). During this brief conversation – that I am sure my mother wasn’t aware of – Milton informed me that I was merely one of several girlfriends. In fact, he told me that I was #3 and proceeded to name the holders of the coveted 1st and 2nd place. I remember asking him why I couldn’t be #1.
In hindsight, that one childhood experience, ignited a life long struggle with my self-worth, my self-esteem and my self-love.
It’s been a long time since the days of puppy love and innocence; but I wouldn’t be telling the truth, if I told you that I have my life completely figured out. Life is like a roller coaster. Some days I’m flying high, while on others, I just want to binge on Netflix, cuddle up in a warm bed and not communicate with anyone. To be honest, there have actually been all-out Netflix binge weekends… snacks included; all because I didn’t want to be bothered or, I was feeling overwhelmed.
I’ve learned over the years, and in my profession, how to self-evaluate and get to the root of my feelings before they completely take over my life. I’m introspective enough to know that me wanting to ‘temporarily check-out’ is a manifestation of a myriad of feelings, all coming at me at once… and that much of it is tied to trauma that I experienced as a child. I know that I’m not alone with this.
Have you met one woman, just one… that doesn’t carry some emotional luggage from her past?
Yea, me neither. The same way, that brief encounter with, Milton changed how I felt about myself for years to come… is the same way some life altering event changed your perspective of the world. Although it shows up in many different ways, we all find ourselves struggling with the residue that comes with life’s experiences. Your memories will always be there, there’s nothing any of us can do to change our past. But you can learn to love yourself more. I’m sharing my favorite tips to learning to love yourself!
1 – Journal Your Feelings
This is not your typical ‘Dear Diary’ entry. When you’re feeling heavy, or anxious, or down, grab your favorite journal and just start writing. Write down every thought that comes to your mind and DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF for it! There are no rules for this type of writing. Let’s your words hit the page and take on a life of their own. Grab a cup of coffee and get somewhere comfortable, safe and quiet… and let it all out!
2 – Love Letter 101
How many times have you written someone, that you’re smitten with, a love letter? Where you’ve gone into great detail to express everything that you love about them, what all they’ve done to make your life better and how much you appreciate them for just being alive. Well… that’s exactly what you’re about to do for you. You’re going to write yourself a love letter. Go to Target or Marshalls and grab you some pretty paper and a cute gel pen. You may experience writers block at first. I mean, it’s not often that you’re asked to smother yourself in romantic sentences, but you’ll get the hang of it. Use this moment to compliment yourself on the type of person that you are and talk about what all you bring to the table. If you feel like you don’t know what to say at first, it’s okay… you’ll get the hang of it and each time will get easier and easier. Over time, you’ll have a collection of love letters to reference when you’re feeling unsure, unworthy or unhappy – as a reminder of the truly remarkable person that you are!
3 – Check Yourself
Have you ever noticed the correlation between how you feel about yourself and how you’ve been treating your body? It’s there. We tend to negate how much the mind and body are connected. When I started paying closer attention to how I was feeling, I realized that generally when I’m down and out, I’m also not taking proper care of my body. I’m not getting enough sleep, not eating properly, not exercising, not reading books regularly and definitely not getting enough massages.
How could I feel my most confident, when I haven’t even been taking proper care of myself? If you’re like me and you sometimes falter with your personal wellness, then it’s time for an action plan.
– Meal plan your week with healthy choices
– Wash and deep condition your hair
– Take a 30 minute walk every day
– Drink fruit infused water or green tea
– Give yourself a pedicure or book an appointment to get one
The most important thing that you can do is to develop a true connection to your body.
Make a commitment to take better care of yourself and you’ll notice a change in your moods, your ability to focus and your energy levels. The icing on the cake is that it doesn’t take long to start feeling better, you’ll have results almost immediately.
4 – Ignite Your Endorphins
I’m sure that you’ve heard it before, but it’s the best advice anyone can give. You’ve got to MOVE your body. Endorphins are like natures mood enhancing drug… but you have to activate it. Go on Groupon and find a local Yoga or Zumba class. Put on some bass-heavy music and dance around your house… and just let it all go! You’ll think somebody spiked your punch.
5 – Create a Passion Playlist
There’s one undeniable thing about music, it invokes emotion. There have been moments in my life that certain songs, literally got me through some tough situations. Yet still, I didn’t value the act of being intentional with music until I witnessed my husband’s expertly organized curation of playlists and Pandora stations. He has a list for every mood. I recently started taking the time to build my own playlists and it’s been life changing.
Feeling low energy?
Turn on your bust a move music – the songs that no matter what is going on, you can’t help but gyrate in your seat or sing along.
Turn on your feel-good music – the songs that by the time you’ve sang the last verse, you can’t even remember what was bothering you.
These aren’t just sound-good tips. I actually use each one of these regularly to reinforce a positive self-image. As you start to implement these strategies, you’ll start being more intentional about caring for yourself – mind, body and soul. Making these tips non-negotiable, for my life, has completely changed how I see and treat myself. I have a newfound appreciation for myself, that I’ve never experienced before.
But, I can share as many tips as I want; none of it will matter if you don’t actually put them to work! The most important thing that you can do right now is to get started right away! Whichever step you choose first, remember that this is just the beginning of the journey. Be kind and patient with yourself. Start small and allow yourself to process the results of each new habit and behavior. In time, you’ll develop something so priceless: self-love.