I sat watching the children playing and laughing happily among themselves, it made me stop and think. We are taught many things at school: how to read, how to write, how to study, when to say “please and thank you,” how to calculate, how to analyze, and how to know what is acceptable and unacceptable to others. Where is there mention of self-love or self-care?
As it was at school, self-resect and the value of loving oneself was never talked about with my parents in our home. We never discussed how to set healthy boundaries or know how to say “yes” and “no” and really mean it. We were taught that other’s opinions and needs are more important than our own. There were rules at home that we had to abide by, that way we knew if we were being good or bad. Within these rules we often challenged them by acting out and in doing so we found the boundaries we liked! When you are not taught boundaries, the chances are, you’ll experiment with them on your own. For some people, this can cause problem behaviors and, consequently, l low self-esteem.
There was no how-to manual that I ever found in my youth about loving, accepting, and caring for oneself. Even now, I noticed with alarm that many women did not even have self-care on their radar.
So, let’s start with what self-care and self -respect are not. It isn’t about narcissism or selfishness or comparing yourself to others to determine if you are better than they are. It’s not about being arrogant, and, it is not necessarily anything you can buy in a beauty makeover or find in a new set of clothing, and absolutely nothing to do with vanity. In addition, it is not about walking all over people to get ahead. It’s not about being entitled and being obsessed with your own problems. Most important, one should never feel guilty about pursuing self-care and self-respect. Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to be depressed as men, and about 11 percent of the women are taking anti-depressants. Is this possibly because of feeling guilty for putting their needs first?
Along these same lines perhaps it is necessary to let go of the voices in our heads and the thoughts we hold about ourselves that have become part of our core for so long that we believe them. The sad part is that we don’t know that we are doing it until someone points it out.
Now let’s talk about what self-care and self-respect are.
Self-care and self-respect are fundamentally self-love, so, how do we begin to love ourselves?
It is not always easy because we often believe that we do, indeed, love ourselves. Yet some of our actions and reactions do not indicate this at all. For example, eating unhealthy does not represent love of one’s body. Self-love is a combination of self-acceptance and self-awareness, therefore make your conscious choices in light of your self-acceptance and self-awareness.
Five tips to love yourself:
- Learn your false beliefs. When you start to go down the path of self-criticism and begin to feel pain, STOP, ask yourself, “What am I thinking or doing that is causing these painful feelings”? Notice what negative feelings are coming up for you. Feel them and allow them to surface, see where are they coming from, and then let them go. Ask yourself, “How would I like to feel”? If you find a better thought and replace the negative ones you’ll start to notice that you are beginning to feel better. Also, become emotionally honest with yourself. Painful thoughts and emotions come from living in the pain of the past or fear of the future so, strive to live in the present moment.
- Relax and have fun. Give yourself permission to take some time for yourself. Exercise, take a walk, listen to music, read a book, sit in silence, and do things that nourish your Life is meant to be enjoyable. Spend more time having fun than taking yourself seriously. Enjoy the moments that light you up and make you laugh and cherish the occasions that fill you with happiness. Expand your interests, learn something new, visit places that you’ve never been to before or do things you’ve never done before. Spend time alone and also spend time giggling with girlfriends. Practice mindfulness. That could mean meditating, journaling, or taking some deep breaths. Just slowing down and taking five minutes for yourself has been shown to have incredible positive impact on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
- Practice appreciation. Write out 10 things that you love about yourself, and why you love them, and then write out ten of your strengths, and why you love them too. If you can’t think of any, then ask some friends or family members. Also, it would be helpful to create a list of what you have achieved and what you have accomplished. When you feel down, focus on those positive things. Keep reminding yourself that self-care is not selfishness. When you start to take care of yourself in a loving, healthy way and think kindly and positively about yourself, your self-love will Take some time each morning to journal. If you feel that you don’t have the time to spare, then take just five minutes to write out five things you are grateful for, and do the same in the evening. Be patient with yourself and trust yourself, you will begin to see results.
- Make yourself #1. Many of us put everyone else’s needs first. In doing this our needs are put on the back burner. Pretty soon we are burnt out, drained, and have nothing left to give to anyone, not even ourselves. If we could only understand that taking care of our self plays a huge part in how we love ourselves. It is vital that we nurture ourselves in order to replenish our well- being. Practice self-care, listen to your needs, honor your limitations, and respect your dreams. Find or create work that fulfills you.
Remember, when you learn to take responsibility for yourself emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually, then you will feel self-love. This is up to you. Taking care of yourself will make you a better parent, worker, partner and friend.
- Just be you. Find out what makes you feel good, what lights you up, what makes you feel fulfilled. Everything we do is to make ourselves feel good, so give yourself permission to do the things you love to do. The more you can do those things the happier you’ll be and the self-love will increase dramatically.
Understand that learning how to love yourself involves daily practice, the more you practice the more you will improve. You deserve to be happy and enjoy the life you have been given. loving with yourself can provide you with that happiness, self-confidence, self-worth, and self-respect. Start by becoming your biggest cheerleader and learn how to best take care of yourself in healthy ways. Self-love is at the very core of your well-being and self-empowerment: it is the pathway to create the life you want, and don’t forget that giving to yourself is equally essential as giving to others.
If you need help along the way, contact me I’m here to support you.
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.”
~ Rupi Kaur
Diane Morgan works with women who are overwhelmed and torn by the aging process and have a hard time finding themselves and their place in life during and beyond midlife. She is the creator of a powerful transformational program Awaken Your Beauty Inside Out: Fall In Love With The Skin You’re In. This phenomenal program capitalizes on her 20 plus years of experience in the beauty industry and her expertise as a certified Master Empowerment Coach for women.