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These days, we live in a world where self-love is literally everywhere. It’s all over your Instagram feed. It’s in your workplace when chatting with coworkers. It’s present at your yoga practice and most importantly; it’s within you.
Is self-love a face mask at the end of a stressful day? A soothing bath to wash away the insecurity you felt on that first date? Or maybe it’s heading into a therapy session ready to discuss your triggers. Self-love takes on many forms. It can be all of those things—or it could be none of them. But what all these activities have in common is care. The act of self-love is proving to yourself that you’re worth the effort and time that goes into your rituals, whatever they may be.
Finding self-love hasn’t always been smooth for me. I spent the majority of my life feeling like I wasn’t good enough, allowing my insecurities and anxiety to swallow me whole. My journey to self-love is still constantly evolving. I have days where I wake up feeling so free, so content with myself, so real. Other days, I wake up shrouded with self-doubt and swarming with insecurities. But now, it’s all in how I handle that anxiety throughout my day, and that’s where self-love comes in.
Whether you’re searching for a way to turn down the volume of that overly-critical voice in your head or want to start 2019 on an authentic note, here are some of the go-to lessons I’ve learned about navigating self-love.
Around this time of year especially—oh hey 2019—there is an overwhelming pressure to quickly change ourselves for the better. In years past, I’ve found myself directing energy to what others were doing—like committing to be more fit with a new gym membership—and it caused me to compare their goals with mine. They were always doing more, and I wasn’t doing enough.
2019 is the year of breaking that pattern! The more you focus on what others are doing, the less attention you give yourself. And here’s a little piece of advice: whatever you are doing is enough. Whether it’s taking five minutes out of your day to go for a walk outside and meditate, signing up for weekly classes at your favorite yoga studio, or making the choice to start therapy, these decisions are yours and no one else’s. You don’t have to accomplish anything according to any timeline, so give yourself permission to move at your own pace.
What if your “weaknesses” were actually your strengths? For me, I had been living most of my life thinking that my sensitive nature was “too much.” A burden for the people around me. It wasn’t until I made a choice to start therapy almost three years ago that I was introduced to the idea that vulnerability is my superpower. It’s how I express myself and connect with others, so why would I hide it? Instead, I leaned into it. The world needs more of us softies, let’s show them how compassion is done.
Just like self-love isn’t always a walk in the park, setting boundaries can be challenging, too. Establishing healthy boundaries is a way to make space for your authenticity to shine—and it’s at the core of self-love. For me, setting boundaries always seemed like a negative thing until I started actively doing it. It’s not fun to put them in place, and you need to get honest with yourself as to why you left those doors open for so long. But in the end, it’s worth the growth. Remember that bringing these boundaries into your life is about you. You have all you need to experience your authentic self, so start trusting the lines you’re creating.
We all fear the dreaded “F” word–failure. This whole “self-love” train feels smooth when things are going well—you’re in a healthy relationship, you just got a promotion, etc.—but when we mess up, it’s not so easy.
It’s a revolutionary act to not only make mistakes, but to talk about them. How will I learn if I don’t delve into why I made that decision? Failure is the fire that fuels my growth; it teaches me how to turn right instead of left, and where I should shift my focus for the future. That’s why self-love is something I consistently practice.
It’s not an accomplishment, a gold star, or something you finish. I’ll be learning how to love myself all my life. It’s essential to keep pushing, keep working at this ritual of self-love for the moments when I’m anxious, worried, or things don’t go as planned. This healthy habit acts as the roots of my inner self, helping me to steer clear of negative self-talk when times are tough.
Creating a safe space for your authentic self to flourish takes time, effort, and investment. Whether it’s something small like leaving a party early, or a big decision like setting a boundary with someone close to you, make the art of self-love part of your daily practice and remember that you are worthy of loving yourself fully.
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.