How to love yourself!
In celebration of Valentine's Day, I want to share a bit about the love we ALL get to practice on this special holiday: self love! Self love used to sound like a bad thing to me. I equated "self love" with selfish. Turns out they're not the same. If anything, the more you have self love, the more you can focus on being less selfish! When we spend so much time hating ourselves or lacking confidence, we're more worried about what other people think rather than coming up with extra ways to love those around us.
So here's to loving yourself more so you can love others better!
I'm NOT an expert at this. In fact, I've fully accepted that self love is a life-long journey. I used to think it was becoming something, but now I realize it's more about peeling off all the layers that aren't you. Underneath all the performing, impressing, and what you think you should be, is the real you: the one who loves carbs and is a really good friend and has killer calf muscles.
Here's my personal permission to you: you are ALLOWED to love yourself! You DESERVE to love yourself. Do not deprive the world of who you truly are! Your best self is the self the world needs. Let your light shine.
Get used to being really really really honest with yourself. I know that sounds like a vague concept, but use your inner voice to tell the truth all of the time. Say no and mean it, without being sorry. Don't promise you'll do something when you know you won't. Admit when you're wrong - this has been one of the best things I've been practicing! I'm naturally SO stubborn but lately I've just been like "oh I guess I was wrong!" and it turns out it wasn't even a big deal in the first place and I feel a lot more peace in my life. When it comes to being honest with yourself, it's not about hating who you are: it's simply addressing your faults and not beating yourself up about it but simply acknowledging it and then deciding to do better. For example, if you know you were acting selfish or inconsiderate of someone else, simply acknowledge it. From there you can make a mental game plan to do better next time.
Change your inner language. This one is HARD but probably the most important step in loving yourself. I like to think of my inner voice as a different person: basically I don't allow them to say ANYTHING bad about the person I love (aka me!). You would get FURIOUS if someone told your amazing best friend, your mom, or your sister that they were fat, stupid, worthless, etc. So why do we allow our brains to say that kind of thing to ourselves? If you wouldn't allow someone else to say it to someone you loved, then start putting yourself in the same category of someone you love! When those mean thoughts come in get protective of yourself and let the voice know it's not welcome. Over time, your brain will start to retrain. The key is simply noticing it and replacing it with better thoughts. "You're so fat" becomes "I love the color of my eyes." "You're so stupid, you'll never get this right" becomes "I'm trying my best and I'll get it eventually."
Imagine how much power you could have if you believed in yourself! What would your life look like if you could actually accomplish all the things you hope and dream of? Turns out, you're blocking your own way. So tell the voice to sit down, shut up, and take charge.
Set meaningful goals. It's easier to love yourself when you're doing at least one meaningful thing a day. This could be anywhere from calling your mom on the daily to setting apart 10 minutes at night to simply meditate. When you're creating time for yourself to accomplish what is meaningful to you, you are sending the message that YOU are important and worthwhile. You are worth time and care.
Focus on compliments that aren't physical. Dig deep and think about why you're super awesome OUTSIDE of the way you look! Maybe you're a talented teacher or friend. Maybe you're great at coming up with creative ideas for the weekend. Maybe you make killer banana pancakes or know all the lyrics to every song on the radio. Every day come up with a few small + random reasons of why you love yourself. Pay more attention to who you are in your heart rather than just the outside appearance (which btw, is never the source of actual self esteem: think about all the beautiful girls you know with low self esteem. It's because self esteem comes from being a good person AND loving yourself).
Today mine are: I love helping others, I'm bomb at making playlists for every occasion, and I folded all the laundry even though I reaaaaaaally didn't feel like it so GO ME.
Lastly: be who you really are. I know this sounds like the cheesy advice your mom gives you before you go on a date, but guess what? Mama knows what she's talking about.
Turns out there are a million factors that contribute to who you THINK you need to be. Based on the media, opinions of friends, expectations from church or other social groups, we all build this ideal list of who we're supposed to be. We invent stupid lies about the mold we all need to fit into: skinny - but not too skinny, healthy, obsessed with the gym, a woman without a career (or the opposite expectation), wearing specific brands, etc. We even get this way about music, movies, and other hobbies: as if you're automatically a dumb person for enjoying a crappy chick flick or loving country music.
There's this little mental trick I like to play on myself all the time. I put up "blinders" to everyone else's' life and really think about my own and what I want.
Sometimes I feel pressure in the Instagram world to be constantly traveling: but you know what? I've accepted that I actually LOVE routine. I love coming home and getting in the groove. I love traveling too, but that doesn't mean I can't be a homebody sometimes.
Sometimes I've felt pressure in the past to eat or present myself a certain way, but when I put up those blinders to what everyone else is doing, I sit there and realize what I actually enjoy and how I want to live my life.
Maybe you feel like everyone is hustling and starting a business and you're "just a mom." Maybe you feel the opposite: others make you feel guilty for wanting a career outside of motherhood. Maybe you're the one girl in your entire group who loves carbs and meat! Maybe you love spending your time watching trashy TV shows and maybe you'd prefer to go on walks instead. Get rid of this idea of "guilty pleasure." Just enjoy whatever it is you enjoy!!!
I've never been happier than these last 6 months or so where I just decided to be okay with who I am. I am not graceful. I'm not particularly athletic, either (being good at surfing is a distant dream for me). I prefer working out alone in the gym and absolutely despise group workout classes like zumba. I love carbs and cheese and cookies - and healthy foods too! I eat a TON of food, sometimes where it makes me feel self conscious while those around me pick around their plates like a bird. I grew up with brothers where it was perfectly acceptable to talk about bodily functions all of the time. Memes are my love language and I'm all about self help books even though everyone makes fun of them. I don't enjoy sad acoustic music anymore and would way rather listen to upbeat modern songs. I'm a really amazing friend who probably puts way more effort into my friendships than I sometimes get back, but I'm okay with that because I genuinely love caring about people. I'm highly spiritual and love Jesus and reading my scriptures but when it comes to going to church my husband pretty much has to force me every Sunday because I would rather sleep.
Maybe you relate, maybe not! And that's the beauty of it! You can love being vegan and are perfectly athletic and never watch garbage movies and think burping in public is gross and you're always dressed up and fashionable and as long as that is TRULY you then great!!! I love that! I think we should all be striving for what is actually us underneath it all!
I am not perfect at loving myself or having great self esteem, but I've realized that I'm okay with that too. I love myself even though I'm not perfect at loving myself. I am who I am, and the right people are coming in and out of my life because of it.
I'm learning to love myself. It's a process. A journey. But a worthwhile one. The more I love myself, the more room is in my brain to love others because I'm not selfishly worried about myself and my own problems as much.
So if you're spending Valentine's Day alone, don't worry: you've got you. And you deserve all the love in the world.