9 things I've learned about self-love
Showing up to write this blog and share my experience as an empath has been monumental in my ability to accept myself.
It's a big statement, but I no longer compare myself or worry I'm not good enough. It wasn't always this way, though, I've spent the majority of my life feeling very insecure and unsure about who I was and whether or not I was good enough. True acceptance is at the heart of self-love and self-love is at the heart of a healthy, happy life (and our ability to self-care) so here are a few things that have helped me grow into a person who knows herself, accepts herself, and is confident in her worth.
For me self-acceptance means awareness and appreciation for one's strengths and weaknesses AND peace of mind over one's current situation and future potentials. I hope some of these learnings can help you!
Life is a social construction: I am quiet and sensitive in a very loud and desensitized world - and for a long time I felt flawed for being that way. I felt as if I needed to be more outgoing and exciting to be loved. But then I started to ask why; why is being quiet and sensitive a bad thing? Our loud and desensitized world is all a social construction - someone somewhere decided loud and desensitized was better and with their power spread that ideology through the many institutions of our world. When we don't fit in to the dominant culture, be it because of our gender, race, religion, personality or anything else, the world is stacked against us. We receive messages every day that we are different. That who we are is not good enough. That we are flawed, defected, and in need of fixing. But what if we don't? What if who we are is perfect, and it's actually the world that needs fixing? Would it be easier to accept ourselves then? This is really important to remember.
You don't have to settle: 2015 was the year I learned not to settle. For anything. I learned about boundaries. I learned it was OK to say no. I learned to put my energy and how I wanted to feel above all else. We often hold out for things - jobs, people, plans - because we fear there won't be something better. But there is always something better - as long as we don't let ourselves settle. On my way to my first post grad 'social work' job I had to pull over because I was crying so much I couldn't see through my tears. My heart knew the job wasn't for me but I knew social work jobs were not easy to come by and I was lucky to have an opportunity to work in my field. On the drive to the job I couldn't push away the fact that I was settling - so I put my trust in my tears and drove home. When I arrived home I had an offer for an even better job (with better pay!) waiting in my inbox. Each time we choose not to settle we actively honour our true worth. Over time this leads to a deep level of love and acceptance - and a bunch of better things from the universe! Where are you settling? Be so brutally honest with yourself.
Speaking up is a skill that can be learned: If 2015 was the year of learning not to settle, 2016 was the year of learning to speak up. It started out small, offering my opinion on little things, and eventually grew into having the courage to start this blog. I always thought speaking up was scary. I worried about inconveniencing other people with my thoughts and needs. So I kept them all to myself. But it was really the opposite - not speaking up lead to me losing important people and missing out on important things. Just like beliefs influence actions, actions influence beliefs. The more we speak up, the more we learn to love and accept the person behind our voice. Are you speaking up?
Do what you love: It sounds simple - but the truth is, most of us don't do what we truly love. We shape our actions around the opinions of others. I love listening to hip hop (and Celtic music - haha!) but always felt weird about it. Most of my friends are into more alternative music. Last year I decided to embrace my love for *my* type of music by signing up for a hip hop dance class. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! I went week after week and always left with a big smile on my face. It's not surprising that the same week I started the dance class I attracted a guy who shared my taste in music. I accepted what I loved and the universe sent me someone who loved and accepted that about me as well. What do you really love to do? Are you doing it? Like really doing it?
Never EVER put yourself down: We are our toughest critics. Especially those of us who are perfectionists. No one is perfect - which is an important point to make - because needing to be/appear perfect is usually the main reason we struggle to accept ourselves. Acceptance means loving who we are - the good, bad, and ugly. We all make mistakes and we are all really bad at some things. Never put yourself down for those things! Own them instead. Admit when you are wrong, worried or confused. Admit when you aren't good at something and need help. I'm an awful cook and for years I felt really bad about it. I put myself down constantly. But that meant missing out on sweet moments with friends and family. So now I host people for dinner and ask them to cook with me while we all laugh at how bad I am. I could put myself down for not being good at something - or I can reframe and use my weakness as an excuse to bond even closer with others. Do you put yourself down? How could you reframe some of your inner insults?
Clear out things that do not reflect the true you: Look around at your surroundings. Does everything reflect the things you love about yourself? If not, it's time to make changes. In December I moved into a new apartment and there is not one thing I do not love about my space. I have plants and crystals scattered everywhere. I also have vegan cookbooks, lots of black, and a big comfy bed. This is who I am. A girl with a huge passion for animals and their rights, who loves to keep things simple and be cozy. When I look around my apartment I often catch myself thinking how much I love my space - and since my space reflects me, it means I like the person I have become. It might sound silly, but it's effective. What represents you? How can you bring those things into your space? Can you take this practice deeper? Do your friends, partners, jobs, hobbies reflect who you are/want to be?
Understand life is ebb and flow: It's easy - or easier - to accept and love ourselves when things are going well. When life is giving us a hard time, it's a bit more challenging. Those are the moments we need to understand life is ebb and flow; made up of good times and times of growth. There are times that will knock us to our knees and make us question every part of our being. This happened recently. I did something I didn't like and I felt really shitty about it. But then I remembered bad things happen to help us evolve. So I chose to grow from the experience, to practice self-forgiveness and true apology. I didn't put myself down and instead let myself fit comfortably in a phase of ebb, patiently waiting to return to flow. Do you resist or embrace life's ebb and flow?
Be OK with not knowing: Acceptance is a willingness to be OK with not knowing. Whatever that means to you. For me it means being OK with not knowing how the future will play out; not knowing what "I'll be", where I'll live, who I'll be with. Those parts of me aren't figured out yet and being OK with that is a big part of accepting myself for who I am in this moment. I know who I am at this moment and that is enough. I'll change a hundred times over the course of my life, each time shifting the potentials for my future paths. So even though I might have some idea of what I want to be, where I want to live and who I want to be with, those things can - and probably will - change. So trying to figure it out is a waste of time. Where are you asking questions that can't be answered? Can you let go and be OK with not knowing?
Be OK with the things you cannot change: Finally, be OK with the past or the things you cannot change about the present. One of the hardest lessons we will ever learn is that the only thing we have control over in this life is the way we react to this life. Yes we can influence our future with our thoughts and beliefs, but we cannot control it. No matter how many times we read The Secret ;). This is especially true when it comes to our bodies. We can adapt and improve - I hope to get braces soon! - but height, body composition and facial arrangement are here for keeps. So let's love them! Exactly how they are. This is also true for the actions of other people. Sometimes people choose to leave our lives. Sometimes people decide to give up on us or not give us a chance. That's not in our control. Letting all that go and doing the best with the cards we are given is key to acceptance. Are you OK with the things you cannot change?
Life is a social construction.
You do not have to settle.
Your voice matters.
It's safe to do what you love.
Inner insults can be reframed.
Surround yourself with the things you love.
Life is a balance of ebb and flow.
It's OK to not know.
We only have control over our reactions.
Do you struggle with accepting yourself exactly as you are, where you are? Do you think any of these things will help?
Feel free to pop me me an e-mail or join our Weekly Self-Care Reminders! I send an e-mail every Wednesday to support my readers in putting themselves first and loving themselves exactly as they are.