About 6 months ago I set out to make this the best year yet. I made a ton of goals, graduated from my master’s program, and decided to start focusing on growing my social media and forming a personal brand. While this is all well and good, I have completely lost touch with my inner me. You see, it’s so easy to get caught up in the physical and visible parts of ourselves (our bodies, our school work, our social media accounts, our friends) these things provide us with direct results and satisfaction. We can see ourselves getting what we want, and it feels amazing. However, it eventually won’t mean that much if you aren’t working on self-love too.
What is self-love? It’s what I like to think of as a combo of self-awareness and appreciation. According to google, it’s the regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic). Why is this important? You truly cannot find true happiness, love, and connection without it. A lack of self-love will result in difficulty in areas of confidence, relationships, success, and so much more. You may be in a relationship, you may have great success, but you will not feel connected to them.
For me, this neglect towards myself has caused me to feel a little lost, sad, anxious, and insecure. I have noticed that I have been constantly seeking validation from everyone and everything around me and feeling devastated when I don’t receive it. Why am I desperately looking for this validation? Because I’m not giving it to myself. So simple. I promised myself that I would focus on the relationship I have with myself for the remainder of this year, and will hopefully create rituals and habits that I will carry with me forever.
- Practice self-care
Self-care can be anything from listening to music to going on a hike. It’s anything that makes you feel peaceful, happy, and energized. If you are unsure of what you should do for self-care, or if your are like me, and forget until it’s last minute then I suggest making a list of all the things you could do for self-care and keeping it handy. I have mine in the notes app on my phone. Some of my favorite things to do are, putting on my headphones and going for a walk, journaling, going to a coffee shop, reading, yoga, and baking.
- Learn to forgive yourself and to let go of shame and guilt
Holding onto shame and guilt from past mistakes will keep you frozen in time. When we hold onto our shame and guilt we aren’t able to be vulnerable. This keeps us from putting ourselves in places where we can improve and keeps us from witnessing our growth. You want vulnerability and you want peace. As much as you will resist this-go ahead and think of the things you have been holding onto. What did you learn from this? What could you have done differently/better? What will you do moving forward? This is all you need to know. Take this bit of information and let go of all the negativity surrounding this event, and find peace in knowing that you will do better- you are better, and you are not your mistakes.
- Really go after your goals- increases self-trust
I am awful at this. I find myself holding off on going after my goals out of fear all the time. I’ve gotten better for sure, but I still struggle with pushing myself to be uncomfortable. However, achieving your goals, or even just putting all of your effort into achieving these goals will prove to yourself that you believe you are worthy of success, and you will increase the trust you have in yourself to work hard and get shit done. If you find yourself losing focus of your goals and purpose, write them on post it notes and place them all over your apartment/room. The more you see them- the more you will want to stay focused.
- Talk yourself up
Learn to be your biggest cheerleader. This is key. A lot of people will try to keep you from going after your dreams. They don’t always mean to be rude or unsupportive, but change for anyone is scary, and sometimes when you are close with someone they will work hard to keep you the same. Don’t let that hold you back. You need to become your biggest supporter. This will keep you motivated and determined in the times of doubt, and there will be a lot of those times.
- Change your inner dialogue
Have you listened to the voice in your head lately? Is it kind? What do you usually say? I know that I can be incredibly hard on myself. In fact, I am harder on myself than on anyone else. I cut myself little to no slack. I want to change this. I need to treat myself with as much care and respect as I do the other people in my life. I’m trying to become more mindful of what I say to myself. If I find that I am being harsh or negative I immediately shift focus to be more positive. Being harsh or negative is not helpful at all and will not create any solutions.
- Become more assertive and say no (practice boundaries)
This is pretty straight forward. Set boundaries for yourself, and try not to overextend. It will prevent you from burning out and becoming resentful towards the people in your life. This also extends to yourself. I know that I am the type of person that likes to do everything and I will avoid asking for help. Set a boundary for yourself, and start making an effort to ask for help when you feel yourself crossing that boundary.
- Practice gratitude for yourself and your body
Start and end each day being thankful for your health, your body, and all that you have to offer the world. I like to spend the first couple minutes of the day making a list of what it is that I am grateful for, and do the same thing as I brush my teeth. **I’ve noticed that this has actually made me actively seek positivity since I know that I will be making this list at the end of the day : ] **
- Spend time with friends and family
Spending time with loved ones always reminds me why I do what I do in the first place. It brings me back to my purpose. I always feel re-charged and motivated when I am around the people I love.
- Get comfortable being alone
Spend time with just you. Challenge yourself to eat dinner alone, take a trip alone, or just spend a night in. If you find these things to be incredibly difficult you should take this as a sign that you need to nourish the self-love muscle.
- Take time to be more mindful
Take it all in- Your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to what goes on throughout the day. It will help you understand what makes you tick. If you know yourself well then you can avoid negative situations before they affect you.
- Act on what serves you not just on things you want
Stop impulsively going after things. Stop yourself and then ask yourself if this thing will really serve you, or if it will end up holding you back. Is this a habitual thing that you are doing? Is this maybe what has kept you back for a long time? This is an incredibly important part of therapy, and working with clients, and stems from having a deep sense of awareness. If you can start only accepting things into your life that serve you- you will see drastic changes in your overall happiness.
I hope these little tips have helped you see what you could improve on, and maybe there is something here that you could use. I plan on really nurturing myself these next few months, and will update you all on how it has helped : ]