In February, and especially this week, we tend to think a lot about love due to the very loving holiday, Valentines Day. I love thinking about love and all of the aspects- romantic relationships, marriage, loving your neighbor as yourself, loving gestures, caring deeply about others, unconditional love, loving your children- just to name a few.
One of my favorites all year long is the idea of self love. Deeply caring for yourself. Some people get uncomfortable with this conversation. Though our world may not be as humble as it once was (selfies?), the idea of putting yourself first still gets bad press. Think about the following that may help you to reacquaint yourself with yourself:
- Give yourself some time to get to know yourself. Not just the running voice in your head that you occasionally listen to. Take an hour (or more or less) and a piece of paper and pen and make a list of all of the things that you enjoy, or used to enjoy. How often are you engaging in things on this list? Is it at least weekly?
- Make a list called What’s Good About Me? For some people this is easy, for others, it is a very confronting exercise. If this is difficult for you, be kind to yourself. You have gotten out of the habit of recognizing your own goodness. It happens. Just get that muscle going and work on this list little by little. The best thing about developing this list and keeping it handy, is to pull it out to read on those days you are being hard on yourself. Those are the days when it is hardest to remember what’s good about you.
- Write a list of things you don’t like just to have something to measure against when you are presented with a choice- awareness in writing of what you don’t like will help you to remember to say no to things that come up that are not in your best interest.
- Learn to trust yourself to just be you, know that you are okay and perfect as is and no one else can be better at being you than you. Decide to stop changing because you think someone else will approve of you more or love you more. If you have to be different for someone, you will not be optimal at living your life. It is not always others that are creating the idea that we need to be someone we are not. This is an area I continuously see people making things up. They perceive they are not good enough, or not enough in a million ways and it is an internal job, dictated by the voice inside their own head. We are masters of making stuff up. Which leads to…
- Self talk- that voice in your head. Your voice is trained by you and can be re-trained, too. It can also (and should be!) questioned. One of my favorite questions to ask myself: Is is true? followed by What is my proof? Learn to be truthful with yourself. This requires taking time to be quiet with yourself. And forgive yourself for mistakes you make- do this continuously- we are human and we are not perfect. Every time we make a mistake we get a chance to learn and grow and that is what life is all about.
- Stop settling for less than you could have and less than you want. Self love means standing up for yourself, doing it kindly, but not apologizing for it. This may take practice, take it once step at a time.
- When things get overwhelming and you feel out of control- give yourself a time out. Just stop everything, take a break and a few breaths. Just stopping and closing your eyes for a moment is one of the most powerful acts of self love you can take. Excuse yourself for a moment to regain clarity and to get grounded. That is the best place to move forward on sorting out the busyness and overwhelm.
- Learn the Serenity Prayer and keep it close. I say it at least once a day and it reminds me to stay in my own lane, to really recognize what I can control (very little other than my own thoughts and actions), what I can not control (mostly everything), acceptance, and to tap into courage and wisdom which is available to all of us.
God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I
can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
We have all heard at least once or a hundred times, taking care of yourself first makes you better for everyone else. When you are feeling optimal you are much more able to be kind, to think about others, to have the energy to do those things. You are available to live your best life. It’s not just a theory.
There are only a couple of weeks left this month. Can I challenge you to consider one of the following points and to take at least a small action on one of them? Extra credit if you continue beyond this month, and weave your action into your plan for the rest of the year.
Let me know what you are committed to!