If you can’t love yourself…
Self-love. I feel like in recent years this is something that we have been hearing a lot about. The benefits have been preached to us, we’ve heard about the wonders it can do to our every day life. But how do we actually get there? What does it really even mean? It sounds like such a big, ominous concept. How do you get to a point where self-love is not just a daily habit or practice, but an actual part of you? That, to me, is the biggest question that hangs over this concept.
Over these last few months, I have really been trying to get myself to a point where I felt like I was okay again. Going from being an athlete in the prime of my career, to someone who feels lost and without a purpose can do a lot to the feelings that you have about yourself. Self-love is something that I have really let fall to the side. I typically am my worst critic. I will say the most heinous things about myself first, so that in some weird and twisted way I can beat anyone else to it. If I already say something mean about myself, someone else’s words won’t hurt me. Of course, after months, or really years, of this kind of mentality I started to crumble. Without any real infrastructure in my life to take a moment in my day to practice self-love, I started to feel overwhelmed and strung out. I cannot stress this enough, you can be surrounded by all of the love in the world, but if you don’t love yourself first you will never truly be happy. Or, in the words of my life icon RuPaul, “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”.
Ok, so now the important part. Where do you even start!? First things first, you have to get sick of feeling the way that you feel. You have to get to that point where you can’t just be complacent with your own happiness. I have gone through the darkest of days in this last year of my life, and the only thing that was able to pull me from the depths of the depression that gripped on was self-love. Self-love doesn’t just happen, it is a practice that you have to make time for within your life. It is a medicine that you have to take every day. I decided that I would create a few regimens throughout my day that would just be for me.
I wanted to start my day fresh. I wanted a complete reset of the way that I was living and I decided to start every day off on the right foot and in the right headspace. When I wake up in the mornings, I get out of bed as soon as my alarm goes off, and I get started. I make myself some lemon tea, and while the water is boiling I wash my face. I sit down, and put on my oils and my creams, giving my skin a chance to soak up all of that goodness. I play some music in my house and head back into the kitchen to get started on breakfast. My morning is only about taking care of myself. It is something that is so simple, but easing my way into the day by beginning with something that is just for me feels really great. I feel like I can take on the day because I have started off by acknowledging myself and my needs from the start. I am my priority, and I can help others out best if I feel like I approach the day full and happy from the top.
2. Surround Yourself with Quality People
I don’t care how new age, dairy-free, cheesy this sounds, I really mean this. Self-love is a journey, you are going to be constantly navigating the world and you will always have to find a way to sneak it in to your every day life. Surround yourself with positive people. I had a few toxic friendships that were so draining to me, and over time I saw that I didn’t owe anyone that kind of energy. I am not saying cut out anyone in your life who doesn’t bring you joy and happiness 24/7. I’m not Marie Kondo and we aren’t talking about your old college sweatshirts. I’m saying, give time and energy to the people who make you feel full and happy. If someone isn’t giving that sensation to you regularly, perhaps they aren’t someone that you need to interact with as often. Self-love can also be self-protection. If someone is draining you, if someone makes you feel bad about yourself constantly, do you need them in your life? Only you know the answer, but your gut reaction is usually the right one.
3. Take Care of Your Body
I can speak on this from the years of care I put into my body as an elite athlete. Back then my body was my ultimate tool, it was a Maserati and I had to treat it like one. All bodies have different purposes, and not everyone needs to be a Maserati, but your body is the vessel that propels you throughout the day. Take care of it. Self-love is about doing things that help you appreciate yourself. Cook yourself a delicious, clean meal. Instead of that being something in your mind that you see as a chore, view it as an act you are taking within your day to take care of yourself. It might seem silly and small, but that small change of mindset creates just an ounce more of positivity in your day that over time will greatly change how you see yourself. Get the MindBody app and look up a fitness class that looks fun. Working out isn’t fun? NOT TRUE. Working out creates endorphins and the hardest part is getting out of your house. If you actively do things to take care of yourself, if you start treating yourself like you are worth taking care of, you will start to believe it. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is a regimen that you have to keep up but you will get there.
4. Always Learn
This I learned from the wisest uber driver I have ever rode with. I don’t remember her name, I do remember that I was so late for my flight that I had to fake cry my way through the security line at LAX though. Either way, we got to talking, she asked me what I did and I explained to her that I was a figure skater. Most people get very excited when I mention that, and I am met with a series or typical questions that people tick through. This woman though, immediately asked me what I was doing for myself to make myself better. She told me it was important to never stop learning. When I asked her to elaborate on that, she told me it was important that even though I had reached the top level of my sport, it was important that I didn’t stop improving in other areas of my life. I LOVE that mentality. You should never let your curiosity die off. Love yourself by learning. I enrolled in a free class online from Coursera, which has been really interesting. There are so many ways to better yourself every day. Look for a class online in something that maybe you would never have let yourself normally explore. Go get a book on a topic that you are fascinated with. Go take a circus class. Always be actively improving yourself because you are so lucky that you have the ability to do so. That is self-love at its finest!
I love writing (obviously). I like to take the stream of thoughts I have constantly racing around in my head, and as soon as I get them written down, it somehow makes them feel real and valid. Write down what you love about yourself. Don’t roll your eyes at me. Get a notebook. Write it down, make it real. Maybe you don’t truly know where to start. What do you think are the good parts about you? What do you think people like about you? Are you kind? Are you funny? Do you have an awesome booty that you worked really hard for? Write it down. Once it is out there on that paper it starts to feel tangible. You can really feel it. Actively write what you are grateful for, jot down things that make you laugh during the day. By turning positivity into something that is real, and not just something that is floating around in your head, you will be able to really start believing in it.
Ok, so there you go! I have a long way to go with self-love, but these are some of the steps I have taken to get myself going in the right direction. I feel a lot more confident and sure of myself over these last few months, which I can credit to a lot, but mostly I point to this. Positive change and forward motion are the only things I am really trying to invest my time in these days, and self-love was high up on the list of things that needed to be tended to. You will want to just feel better immediately, but give it time. You have to repeat this over and over to yourself to rewire your brain. You have to act like you are worthy of love before you start to really believe and feel it. You’ll get there though, start a regimen and don’t look back. Comment below, I want to know what works for you guys! Good luck, XO.