A Beginners Guide to Self Love- Part I

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“You don’t have to hold yourself hostage to who you used to be.” -Oprah Winfrey

Self-love is the answer. “How do I make my life suck less?” is the question.

With self love, you make choices that make you feel empowered, healthy, beautiful, and alive. Without it, you kind of just bump along, taking whatever comes along, not thinking you deserve any better and so not taking action to create anything better. Then, you wonder why you feel so mediocre about the life you’re living, when it’s all just a series of choices we make. We can make these choices from a place a self love, or self-loathing. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

When we can ramp up our self love, however, and make most of our choices from a place of self love, our lives transform in beautiful ways.

Fear-based living keeps us small, and it keeps us chained to beliefs that could suck the life out of anyone: I’m unlovable, it would never work for me, I’m such an idiot, I’ll be broke forever. There’s no benefit to these internal dialogues. 

We have a tendency to treat ourselves in ways we would deem disrespectful or even “toxic” if someone else were to treat us that way. We spend our time and energy taking care of and appeasing others before ourselves. We say “yes” to things when it’s a “no,” and vice versa. We say things to ourselves like, “no one wants to hear what you have to say,” or “you’re a big fat loser,” and if we don’t check ourselves, we think nothing of it. But if your friend were to say these things to you, they probably wouldn’t be your friend for very long. So, stop being a toxic friend to yourself. 

Self love is about recognizing your inherent worth, value, and unique beauty, as well as the inherent worthiness, and unique value of others- even if they drive us crazy from time to time. When you learn to see your own beauty, and love yourself, it becomes easier to see the beauty in others as well, and to love and accept them more fully.

Self love makes doing what feels good, making healthier choices, and making time for things that heal us, give us life, and renew us a no-brainer. Imagine how your life would feel if you made these habits that made you feel really good non-negotiable.

Developing deep self love doesn’t mean you’ll never have a bad day again. It doesn’t mean you won’t still be challenged, or have negative thoughts that creep up. But it does mean life’s blows will soften a little, because you won’t go blaming yourself. It does mean you’ll learn to see those thoughts approaching and swat them away instead of following them into their moldy little caves.

Make no mistake, learning to love yourself, and committing to it, like any relationship, requires consistent effort to flourish. You can’t just will it into being and expect it to maintain it’s gloriousness all on its own. You need to take action and nourish your self love every single day. The good news is, you can start super small and build your way up.

When You Learn to Love Yourself

If the concept of self love is new to you, the idea of loving yourself may feel uncomfortable. Maybe it feels vain, or too vulnerable or intimate, or this whole self-love movement is just too much for you. The idea that I could, or even that I should, love myself, at one time seemed  out of reach and bizarre to me.

I mistakenly thought self- loathing made me humble, interesting, dark, and creative. I thought if I lost my inner turmoil, let go of my trauma (which we all have) and actually learned to like to myself, I’d be boring, and I’d lose my creative drive.

The truth is, self loathing kept me from creating much at all, and I didn’t have the confidence to share it with the world. I knew I valued my creativity, but I felt ashamed of it at the same time; it was too raw, not good enough, too much, and I feared what others might think of it. In retrospect, I see I was wasting my time, but I also know that without having experienced that I wouldn’t appreciate the flip side as much, and I wouldn’t feel the need to shout the importance of self love from the proverbial rooftops of the internet.

Creating for yourself alone can be wonderful and therapeutic,  but sharing it is truly the icing on the cake. It makes our art come alive. Our creativity has the power to uplift others, whether it’s your killer brownies, the mural that is the highlight of someones route to work, or the jokes you tell that make people laugh and relieve the stresses of daily life. Your creativity matters in huge ways, even if it doesn’t ” go viral” or make lots of money. If your creativity uplifts and inspires one single person, even if that person is you, that is magic, and it’s selfish if you don’t share it.

Self-love has transformed not only my life, but so many others. You become free to create more. It becomes mandatory to take care of yourself, your errands, and your home. You’ll learn to take care of your body and move in ways that feel good, fun and challenging instead of punishing. You will learn to eat in a way you love, and you begin to train your brain to see possibility, hope, and magic. Self love allows us the space and emotional intelligence to fill our lives with experiences that bring  us pleasure, peace, and joy as much as possible.

Plus, when those bad days inevitably happen, self love and self trust lets them be, knowing they will pass. You learn to be patient and dust yourself off quicker  instead of feeling bad for having bad days and spiraling further. Life’s edges soften a little, and at the end of the day, when it’s just you, you can feel content, at home, and grateful.

When you learn to love yourself, you’ll develop the confidence to go after what you really want instead of doing what is practical, laid out in front of you, or simply what is right there for the taking. Confidence and self love also help us develop the ability to trust that we can handle whatever comes our way.

If you hate yourself, it’s no surprise that when life’s obstacles come knocking, you don’t believe in your ability to make it through. When you  love yourself, you learn to trust yourself, and give yourself credit for all the shit you’ve already made it through. That way, when the shit comes knocking, you can stay calm, stand up straight, and get through it with grace.

Know that you are capable of so much more when you walk through this life loving and caring for yourself.

Life is short. Our time here is limited, and no matter your beliefs, there is no guarantee that we have even tomorrow. What’s the point in spending your own life here walking around in misery, if you have a choice (and you do.) What are you really gaining from your self loathing?

Frankly, all it’s doing is making you miserable, keeping you small, and a bummer to be around. Plus, when you hate yourself, people sense it, and it can hurt your ability form fulfilling relationships and friendships. Also, it’s just plain not rooted in reality. You’re literally just choosing to believe stories about your suckage. It’s all up to you to choose what to believe.

Why not choose to live your one precious life  feeling joyful, seeking pleasure and self-expression, authenticity, silliness, fun, and creativity? 

You are stuck with yourself forever, until death do you part and beyond! You might as well learn to love the person you are stuck with 24/7. It’s going to be a much more pleasant ride this way. You can’t divorce yourself, so make that shit happy and healthy.

We are literally floating on a rock, spinning in space, orbiting around an enormous ball of fire, right now. Remind yourself of the big picture. Life as we know it could end at any moment, do you really want to be thinking about what a loser you are when it does?

Also, self loathing is extremely self-involved. The sooner you learn to get out of your own head and stop worrying about how you’re being perceived, the sooner you can bask in the magnificence of this life and other people. Worrying about what others think and feeling not good enough is your scaredy-cat ego and a guaranteed buzzkill. Honoring your own divinity is your soul and your soul is ready to party.

The sooner you can accept yourself and share your authentic self with the world, the sooner your eyes open to all the beauty in our world, which goes so, so, so, so, fantastically beyond us as individuals.

Take it From Me

I spent many years deeply buried in my own self loathing, so believe me when I say, I know.

I used to stew in my own self-loathing. I would beat myself up for mistakes I made years ago, I would stand in front of the mirror and criticize my body. I starved myself, self-harmed, had a horrible script running in my head, and used copious amounts of drugs and alcohol to numb out and try to escape myself and my life.

Nothing I did was good enough, and I was generally miserable, and so I made most of my choices coming from that place of lack, unworthiness, and suffering. You can probably guess these choices didn’t amount to the life I wanted for myself.

With a commitment to self love, forgiveness, and continuing to dust myself off and try again, I eventually pulled my head out of my ass and started living in a way that feels fulfilling.

Ten years ago, I committed to loving myself and healing from my eating disorder. I made a hand-drawn piece of art that said “You are beautiful in every way” and taped it to my mirror. It was hard to believe it at first, and I didn’t truly believe it for a while.

I didn’t heal overnight, but writing “you are beautiful in every way,” choosing to believe it, and seeing it every day, and refusing to argue with it created a shift that would help propel me in a different direction. I never looked back, and I’m so grateful I decided to start walking in another direction. This one habit led to writing down what I loved about myself, eating and exercising for health instead of thinness, making gratitude lists, reading self-help books, and really it just built momentum until one day I woke up and I felt like myself. I felt happy to be living, happy to be me.

There’s been plenty of zig-zagging, and two steps forward, and one step back, but making a conscious decision to love yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the world.

Make the Decision

Picture yourself in ten years: If you make the choice today to commit to loving yourself unabashedly, and filling your life with experiences and habits that feel amazing, and learn to be happy in your own skin, and bask in your own weirdness, what does your life look like ten years from now?

Now, picture the flip side: It’s you, ten years from now, doing everything you’re doing exactly the same. You do not make loving yourself a priority, or call yourself out on your bullshit beliefs and habits that are dragging you down. You are stuck in a cycle of self loathing. Where are you?

Stay tuned for Part II next week where I’ll go over daily practices, tools, rituals, and mindset shifts to help you love yourself fully. It’s really fun, and you can customize it exactly to your tastes. I can’t wait to share it with you ❤

As always, please share this post with your friends and on social media and spread the love!

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