When I think of self-love, my next thought is usually, “bullsh*t.”
If you Google it, these are the tips you’ll find:
1. Get a facial.
2. Be kind to yourself.
3. Think positively.
4. Start exercising.
5. Repeat affirmations and mantras.
6. Meditate for 10 minutes.
7. Having a hard time? Just love yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with these messages, but they're getting old, cliched and unhelpful.
It’s time to take our ideas about loving ourselves to another level.
The way self-love is usually talked about in mainstream media doesn’t fully acknowledge the power of self-love.
Imagine what the world would look like if every woman lived in the practice of loving every part of herself, especially the parts we’ve been told to apologize for by our world, communities and families.
These things are the following: our kinky hair, our youth, our living situation, our bodies that may not look or function like the majority does, our languages, our ways of speaking, our hairy legs, our dark skins, our vaginas (or lack thereof), our minds, our aging bodies, our stretch marks, our pleasure, our pain, our choices, our dreams, our visions, our histories, our fire and our love.
If we honored and respected these parts of ourselves, it would not only transform our relationships with ourselves, but it would also revolutionize the way we relate to one another and our world.
The familial, cultural and institutional systems that aren’t serving us and the whole of humanity would have no other choice but to shift as we shift.
Our belief systems both affect and are affected by the issues in our world.
This is the conversation I don’t hear happening enough when we talk about changing the world.
Self-love is revolutionary.
It won’t fix all of the world’s problems, but it does support the healing of them.
Self-love is a practice of sustainability, not only for yourself, but also for your communities.
Self-love is a form of activism.
There’s a misconception that self-love is selfish. It’s not.
Here are two reasons why:
1. You deserve to live well. You deserve to know for sure you are loved (by you). You deserve to express and embody all that you are.
2. You are constantly influencing your surroundings (whether you are conscious of it or not). Your presence already makes a difference. When you honor yourself, you create a ripple effect.
Self-love is not just about you.
When you are well, the wellness of those around you is more possible.
More can be accomplished, more of an impact can be made and life can be lived more fully.
Seeing you thrive opens up new possibilities for me to thrive.
If you want to make a difference with your life, there’s something you should know: You matter.
This is something I’ve struggled to accept.
I have spent most of my life catering to the needs of others, protecting others, caring for others and loving others.
I've been doing what others expect of me and holding myself back so others could be comfortable.
I've been putting their satisfaction before my own.
Where did that lead me? To depression, anxiety attacks and suicidal thoughts.
I thought my purpose in life was to help people, but what I didn’t know was this: You absolutely must include yourself in your mission.
This is imperative and non-negotiable. Burnout is real.
Stress will kill your passion and your drive. Forgetting about yourself is dangerous.
It’s unsustainable, and that leads me to something else: We need you.
You have specific, unique thoughts, perspectives, ideas and gifts, and you’re here to share them in the way only you can.
We need you here.
We need you sharing. We need you leading. We need you to be well.
There’s no way for you to sustainably make a difference in the world if you don’t practice caring for, tending to and loving yourself.
“I get it. This is important. But how do I love myself?”
Here are 12 ways you can practice self-love today:
1. Take inventory of all the ideas you have about yourself. Question them all.
Are they true? How are they affecting the way you live?
Where did they come from?
2. Think about the last mistake you made or the last time you felt like a failure. Instead of shaming yourself, celebrate yourself.
You’re learning. You’re growing.
If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not living. You’re just existing.
3. What are you feeling? Acknowledge your feelings and emotions as they come up.
Whether you see them as positive or negative, good or bad, they are valid and important.
4. Take a deep breath (it’s easy to forget sometimes), and listen to your body.
What is it trying to tell you?
What does it need? A glass of water? A nap? A short walk? A nourishing meal?
5. The next time someone compliments you, just say “Thank you,” instead of coming up with a way to deny it.
People like you. Why would you argue with them about that?
6. Say the scary thing, the provocative thing, the profound thing, the uncomfortable thing or the simple truth.
Say it. What are you holding back?
7. Define your allies and reach out to one of them. These are the people who are supportive of you and your vision.
They inspire you, empower you and tell you the truth.
They are there for you when times get hard.
8. Use your creativity muscles. Explore something (or someone).
Journal. Go on a little adventure.
Get out some colored pencils and draw.
Have a dance party of one, or invite some friends and make it a party of many.
Take a step out of your everyday rituals.
9. Set limits and boundaries. Say no.
Fiercely protect your time, energy, vision and overall well-being.
10. Make the spaces where you spend the most time more enjoyable.
Decorate. Light a candle.
Put a plant on your desk. Play your favorite music. Open a window.
11. Create time in your schedule for solitude. Get recharged and energized.
Then, get back out there and do you.
12. Share one of the parts of yourself you’ve been told to apologize for, you’ve felt ashamed of or you wish people would accept about you.
Instagram it. Tweet it. Facebook it. Blog about it.
Call up your best friend. Share your story.
Choose one of these (or come up with your own), and do it right now because you definitely don’t deserve an empty, “I’ll do it later.”
How will you love yourself today?