Self-love is a word that has been toted around the mental health community that does not have much meaning or clarity. Self-Love is:
The ability to make healthy boundaries in relationships to maintain peace and dignity
Being able to trust your instincts
Giving yourself honest yet compassionate feedback
Using self-compassion to work through fears, self-sabotaging behaviors and missteps
Being able to forgive yourself and being gentle with your self-growth and progress
Taking care of your body, mind, emotion and spirit
Honoring yourself through daily practice of self-care
Self-love is a daily practice. You begin to love yourself more intensely through the daily practice of self-love exercises. It takes deliberate practice and consistency to de-program and rewire our brains from automatic negative thinking and the effects of trauma on our psyche. It is important to practice deliberately and mindfully every day.
Day 1: Take Personal Inventory
Begin to ask yourself honest questions in order to build awareness. It is important to shy away from self-criticism and negative judgment of self while doing this personal inventory exercise. Begin asking yourself:
In what areas of my life am I feeling unfilled? Why? What needs to change for me to feel more fulfilled?
What are my unmet needs in my current relationship? (relationship with an intimate partner, adult child, platonic friendships, parents, etc)
What unresolved issues are still present in your life? How are these unhealed emotional wounds still affecting your life?
In what areas of your life are you self-sabotaging?
What negative labels do you hold about yourself? How are you negatively judging yourself?
What passions or desires do you have and are currently ignoring in your life?
Day 2: Create and practice daily affirmations
Daily affirmations help to de-program negative automatic thinking, reduce difficult reactions to stress, fears and unresolved traumas. It is important when creating affirmation to make them meaningful, create affirmation in positive perspective (avoid negative phrasing such as “I won’t” and “I don’t want”) creating affirmation in presence tense is important- for example using ‘I am’ and ‘ I will’ are more powerful than ‘ I hope’ or ‘ I wish’ Check out: https://www.dummies.com/health/mental-health/self-esteem/how-to-write-your-own-affirmations/ for more information on guidelines on creating tailored daily affirmations. Some examples of affirmations are:
I am worthy
I am doing the best I can with where I am in my life
I am grateful for what I already have, and I intend to continue to move through the process of life to attain more
I am becoming a better version of myself
I have been through a lot in my life and I’m proud of myself for growing through my past experiences
I will be kind to myself and others
I will honor my body, spirit, emotions and mental through daily self-care
I will let go of the things I cannot control and plan for the things I can control
It’s important to set aside 5-15 minutes per day to deliberately and mindfully saying your affirmations out loud to yourself in order to build an internal anchor.
Day 3: Do something you always wanted to do. Treat yourself to nice things because you are worth it!
Begin to identify activities that you have always wanted to explore and have put it off because you have prioritized other people over your own wants or desires. Begin to recognize adventures you are missing out on because of your negative self-talk or self- sabotaging patterns. Examples of activities to explore are:
Hot air balloon ride
Massage/ Day at a spa
Live music event
Taking an online class for degree credit or self-development
Day 4: Admire your body for all the things it can do
Put an effort in yourself, in taking care of yourself because your body is your vehicle through this life. Stand in the mirror and admire yourself. Affirm how your body supports you and carries you in this world. Learning to accept your body for all that is just as it is, means a commitment to self accepting although there are things about your body you would want to change in THIS moment it’s the only version of your body you have. Practicing gratitude for your health can be an integral part of the self-love process.
Day 5- Make better choices for your body, mind, emotions and spirit
Ask yourself if I were to operate as a person who entirely loves myself what choices would I need to make to enrich my full being? Make choices from a place of supporting your body, mind, emotions and spirit. Make healthy choices for your body- by focusing on movement, food choices that supports your health. Ask yourself would someone who love and honor themselves eat this right now? Choices that supports your mind may include feeding your mind may include exploring podcast that are mentally stimulating and expansive, finding online courses that gives you a much wider perspective. Making choices that supports your emotions may mean journaling and becoming more aware of your emotional triggers, emotional unprocessed feelings and built up daily feelings. Speaking to a professional therapist or life coach that can support you through your emotional health can make you more aware of issues that severe you from your true self-acceptance. Spiritual health can include finding a consistent yoga practice, guided meditation, walk in nature, attending regular reiki/sound healing events, finding a church or worship community.
Day 6- Write yourself a love letter.
Write a letter to uplift yourself. Give yourself the affirmations you need, the reassurances that you need on your journey. Encompass your younger self in the letter and show some compassion for your missteps, past trauma. Highlight areas of your personality and character traits that you respect or admire about yourself.
Day 7- Develop a strategy to remedy your stress
Finding stress management activities are imperative in restoring yourself back to a reentered and grounded space. Chronic stress can pop you out of self-compassion and self-forgiveness over time you can start to experience burnout and self-loathing behaviors. Consider creating a list of cues to knowing when you are stressed for example, feeling constantly cranky or agitated, muscle tension, feeling low on patience, having low patience or compassion for others or self. Begin constructing a list of restorative activities you can practice applying when feeling stress. Some examples of stress management activities may include:
Gym/ Walks in nature
Sitting by the beach and having reflective moments
Listening to inspirational music
Joining a support group (in person or online)
Therapy or life coaching
Creating a vision board or engaging in arts and crafts
Taking up a hobby that’s playful and enjoyable
Remember self-love is a journey and requires a deliberate practice for true self-acceptance. Take it easy with yourself. If you miss a day of practice it is OK. All is not lost; you can always pick up where you left off. Practice self-forgiveness.