I am no master of self love. In fact, I find myself on a continuous journey …and over time …as I grow, and change, and evolve into the beautiful creation that I am, I’m going to have new things to learn to love about me. My love will always be evolving. The love I have for my 24 year old self today will look different when my future wrinkles show up, my darling children throw a tantrum, unavoidable grey hairs emerge, and the impending doom of my butt that was at my hips, eventually sinks somewhere north of my kneecaps
I say this all to encourage you. We are imperfect. And we are imperfectly in process. I think over time and experience is when we develop strategies and resilience for the things that challenge us in self-acceptance. I wish it was three clicks of your heels and no place like home …but if there’s one thing I’ve found consistent in my years on earth …it’s that things take time …and if you have a dedicated heart, anything is possible.
It’s been a mixture of things that I’ve learned on my journey of self-love, and I look forward to the more. But here are ten simple ways I’ve learned to love me, and I hope that in sharing, these can do the same for you, sweet one. Xo
Why is it so imperative that we understand and dominate the lifestyle of loving ourselves? Because, you wont embark upon a journey that takes relentless dedication and choice if you don’t understand the why that’s driving you forward. By knowing your why you know that you’re worth it, and by knowing you’re worth it, you find significance, and in finding significance, you’ve just met a really good reason to pour copious of love into something good, *Nice to meet you, Why.
Ask yourself plainly “Why am I important? Why do I have a need to be loved?”
2. Know Who You Are
A few months ago, I found myself in a counselling session … with myself. I was sitting in my room, having some quiet time. There was a whimsical summer breeze blowing through the windows, and I could hear the songs of a newly married bird couple in the tree just outside. (Yes, in my mind, animals fall in-love and get married- let a girl dream). I smiled, sighed, and in turning, caught my reflection in the mirror. We locked eyes, and suddenly I heard something I’ve never heard before …
“Anna, you are so incredibly committed”
I nearly leapt of my bed I was so startled. After a moment or two, I returned to the reflection, and again, she said “Anna, you are so incredibly committed” I looked deeper into those big brown eyes …She continued “you are a good friend, you are kind, you are joy, you are a fighter, you are a lover…” It clicked within my that in that moment …all my life I had allowed others to tell me who I was. Be it influence, family, friends, media, yet I myself had no idea who I thought I was. Here was my reflection, pleasant, smiling and freckled. It could have been any normal day …but in that moment, the deepest part of me needed me to know who I was. Since this day, I love myself now on a daily basis and perform this little ritual in the mirror. It may be hard for some of you. It may feel weird. But I promise you it’s groundbreaking. Ask yourself: Who are you?
3. Self Talk
Have you ever done something categorically stupid? and (even if jokingly) said to yourself, “oh, you idiot (ding-bat, weirdo, klutz, wanker, stupid-human, _____) I certainly have. 9 times out of 10, my life is just a series of moments waiting to be made fun of. I’m all for embracing your imperfections, but what is your self talk like in those moments? That’s what’s important. We don’t realise it, but we talk to ourselves most out of anyone throughout the day. Do you hear encouragement? Comfort? Or does it tend to lean towards criticism or pessimism? You have the power of life and death in your tongue. If you know who you are, and know your why you wont beat yourself up for being human. Loving yourself well looks like encouragement after a mistake, comfort after a slip-up, and honesty about who you are not what you do. I may spill every water bottle that I touch, trip over the air, trip over the air, or say something monumentally awkward …but I’m not stupid for that …I’m still amazing, just as worthy, and still belonging everywhere I go.
4. Renew Your Mind.
Renewing your mind is a profound act of self-love. It takes fierce dedication, it’s not for the faint hearted, but it’s the faint hearted that need it most. It’s learning the balance of experiencing negative emotions, but not allowing them to consume you nor identify you … the art of owning positivity, thankfulness and joy, so that whatever comes your way, you won’t be swayed by the wind. The process is different for everyone, for me it looks like 30 minutes daily dedicated to pure positivity, gratitude and worship. I have a friend who goes on gratitude walks everyday. In that times, she only thinks, speaks and dreams about things she’s grateful for. Isn’t that stunning? Renewing your mind looks like filling it with truth …truth contains anything good. It looks like not allowing yourself to latch onto negative thinking. It looks like seeing enough value in your own life to take ownership about what consumes you. Love yourself enough to make sure what consumes you is good.
5. Put Shame In a Straight Jacket
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” (Brene Brown, The gifts of imperfection)
Shame is that nasty little bugger that weasels it’s way through the cracks of your weaknesses, and makes you believe that you deserve to have it stay. It separates you from receiving the love that you deserve, from yourself and from others. It’s a universal sensation. We all have dealt with it, are dealing with it, or are simply unaware. The reason this is such a token for loving yourself, is because shame has a way of making you utterly convinced that you’re unworthy of love. Become well versed about shame, explore it, investigate it, and see where it’s touched you. Bring it to the light. Because in the light it cannot survive. Remove it carefully, and you’ll have a new space for love to pour in.
6. Make Time For Joy
Play is absolutely essential to my life. It’s a core value I hold in the highest regard. I think one of the most disappointing moments that I’ve faced, was climbing into bed at the end of a long day and realizing “I didn’t laugh today” I set goals for silliness because I know how it feeds me. When was the last time you last and felt a negative emotion at the same time? It’s impossible! Life is too short to give a rip.
Have a dance party with the car next to you at a red light.
Skip down the sidewalk.
Drop what you’re doing and break into song.
Get around people who make you laugh. Do what you need to do to make joy. It kills pain, it squashes negativity, and it sets you free from being so darn serious all the time.
7. The Gift Of Time. From me to me.
The sweet gift of time. It’s so valuable, and many of us struggle to find it. But I’ve heard it said, that it’s the busiest people have the most time, for they know how to manage it. Carve out moments in your week (day if you can) to do something for you. For me, that looks like reading a book, painting my nails, or putting in headphones, blasting Mi Gente and pretending I can dance. Sometimes it’s a glass of cabernet with candles on my patio. Big or small, it’s a moment of oneness, and it’s a gift to you. The rest of the world grows quiet. Leave your phone behind, and partake in some TLC.
8. Know Who Loves You
“Two are better than one… if they fall one will lift up their companion… if two lie down together, they will keep warm… though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. ” – Ecclesiastes 4:9
Who loves you? Who knows you at your core? Who would take a bullet for you? Who can you call at your worst? And will meet you with kindness, acceptance and truth? These are the people you need to surround yourself with. You need to know who loves you, for some of you, you might need to re-evaluate your friends, and that’s perfectly fine. But we need people. We weren’t meant to do life alone, and we certainly weren’t meant to satisfy all of our own needs. Loving yourself well looks like acknowledging the need for community. Someone has something you don’t, go find out what that is.
9. Afford to Dream: Think Big.
Dreaming is the expression of my originality. The dreams that I have in the depths of my being are exclusive to me and only me, just as yours are to you. I love myself by letting my dreams soar freely. I let them fly higher and higher each time. I have a notebook that’s abounding in sketches, ideas, names for children, business ventures, places I want to see, moments… When I create time to dream I experience joy, and the tangible presence of hope. Dreams birth anticipation, purpose, and a great joy for each day, moment and breath that unfolds around me.
10. Get Low and Serve
Oh, love is so backwards.
I feel most filled and most loved when I’m at someone’s feet, speaking truth into them. There’s something that happens to you when you take your eyes off yourself and place them upon the single goal of serving each other.
Pay for a strangers coffee. Volunteer. Buy a gift for the person you know is having a hard time. Do something kind for that friend you keep thinking about. You don’t serve to get, but the beauty is in that doing so, by grace, you receive anyways. Maybe it’s a “me” thing, but maybe, just maybe it’s how humans were made to function. I find genuine joy in blessing others… and what a better way to love yourself by spreading it? Get low and serve. Love someone fiercely.
I think it’s true that when we love ourselves unconditionally, are vision is cleared, so that in turn we may love others conditionally. When we don’t love ourselves to the fullest, it’s rare we are able to love others at the level they deserve.