Often as women, as busy mamas, wives, sisters, daughters and colleagues, so much of our daily routines revolve around everyone but ourselves. We often pour our love and attention abundantly over others, but leave only a few drops for ourselves.
In our ‘always-on world’, we’ve elevated busy-ness to new heights, judge success in terms of monetary gain and status symbols and have the ability through social media to compare ourselves with hundreds of other women we barely know. We run ourselves into the ground, feeling guilty for taking time out for our own dreams and passions and remain last on our to-do list.
If we don’t replenish our well of self-love regularly we can become exhausted, overwhelmed, resentful even, and run to the instant gratification of Netflix, sugar-highs and credit-card bashing.
I believe that self-love isn’t just a nice-to-have.
It’s a necessity for us all.
Self-love means not only nourishing ourselves with enough sleep to refresh our bodies and minds or with healthy food that gives us energy and joy, but with positive self-thoughts, forgiveness, gratitude and acceptance.
Importantly, self-love doesn’t mean self-pity. Self-pity can dress herself up as self-love when really it’s an indulgent emotion that keeps us stuck. Self-pity looks like making excuses, quitting, not honouring our commitments to ourselves, comparing ourselves negatively with others and living a drama-filled life.
Real self-love is NEVER indulgent. It’s about living life with purpose on purpose, letting our decisions and actions flow from a place of intention and making choices that support our dreams and passions rather than letting life happen to us.
10 Strategies For Practising Self-Love
1. Honour How You Want To FEEL
You don’t have to be crystal clear on your purpose in life and it doesn’t have to be grand or noble in order for you to feel fulfilled.
Start by considering how you want to FEEL each day, how you want to feel when you get up, how you want to feel when you go to bed. Successful, satisfied, calm, excited, grateful, joyful… whatever has meaning for you. Then begin to consider what THOUGHTS would lead to those feelings and what ACTIONS you need to take to bring that to life. Intentionally commit to taking one action a day and schedule it into your planner or diary. What gets planned gets done.
2. Discover What Brings You Joy
Allow yourself time to discover, without judgement, what truly makes you feel fulfilment, joy and contentment – this is about the art of what we COULD do rather than what we feel we SHOULD do. We all have bills to pay, but it’s important to carve out time to honour our passions, dreams and goals, to do what we love without guilt or shame.
3. Be Your Own Cheerleader
When we practise self-love we acknowledge and celebrate ourselves rather than waiting for others to approve of us. Give your inner cheerleader something to cheer about – make a list of your positive attributes and reflect on them whenever you’re feeling low or insecure. Try to add one new thing to the list every morning. At the end of the day celebrate 3 things that have gone well.
Everything counts, from taking a step towards your goals to giving yourself the space and grace to rest or read. Choose your cheerleading outfit – pick one or two outfits from your wardrobe that makes you feel confident and amazing and wear them when you want to give your inner cheerleader a boost.
4. Respect Your Boundaries
Set clear boundaries in your life that protect and nurture you, your relationships and your beautiful dreams. Then respect these boundaries by consciously choosing how you spend your physical, emotional and mental resources. All too often we say ‘yes’ to other people’s requests at the expense of our own goals and plans.
Here are three ways I’ve learned to say ‘no’ – pin them near your desk or your phone so you’ve got them handy when someone asks for your help…
“No, I’m sorry, I can’t take that on right now – but I can help you next week/month?”
“I’m sorry I won’t be able to get to that until (day/week/month) – but perhaps I can help you another way by” (suggest another way you can help i.e. someone else who might be able to help them)
“I’d love to help, but I’m really busy with an important project right now and I know I won’t be able to do it justice.” (Leave some silence and hold your nerve! You can follow this one up with one of the other responses as well if you need to.)
5. Speak Kindly To Yourself
When we speak unkindly to ourselves, using negative thoughts and words, we reduce ourselves from the incredible, complex human being we are to a single element of ourselves that we don’t like. When you recognise a negative thought about a part of yourself, take a moment to consider yourself as a whole, amazing person full of beauty and strength. Make a special effort to love and appreciate your own very special uniqueness without judgement. We’re all perfectly imperfect and we’re MEANT to be that way.
6. Give Yourself Permission To Make Mistakes Without Self-Criticism Or Remorse
All too often we hold back our brilliance and resist sharing our amazing gifts with the world because we worry about what others will think of us. Remember that there is no such thing as failure, every challenge is part of our journey to success and a valuable opportunity to gather information about what doesn’t work so that we are one step closer to what will.
7. Take Responsibility For Your Actions AND Reactions
It’s easy to blame others or our circumstances for how we feel, but when we do that we give away our power to make ourselves happy. When we come to understand that it’s our own THOUGHTS and the meanings we create inside ourselves that create our emotions, we can claim back that power and the ability to choose how we want to think, feel and act.
8. Live In The Present
So often we live in the past, rehashing past experiences or in the future, worrying about what might happen. We berate ourselves for conversations we’ve had, replaying them over and over in our minds. We create future worlds of catastrophe and drama, planning for the negative and living in fear. Make a commitment to not live constantly in the past or the future, but in the present.
We cannot control what has happened, we cannot know what will be. The only true reality is right now, in this moment and it’s a beautiful gift of sensations and choices. To bring yourself back to the present close your eyes and focus on your feet. Feel the ground beneath them supporting you. Take a deep breath in and out and say to yourself “in this moment I am complete, alive and full of potential”.
9. Use Comparison To Inspire You
It’s natural for us to compare ourselves with others and social media has made this easier than ever before. But we never really know what it’s like to live someone else’s life and we can fall into the trap of “comparing our behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reel” (Steve Furtick). Instead, pick role models that inspire you to live your most authentic, intentional life with passion, joy and integrity.
10. Have A Mental Detox
To stay healthy and strong our mind needs to rest, recharge and process the events of our day. But with so much external stimulation from television, music, the Internet, our kids, social media, email and other people, it can be hard to take a mental time-out. We get addicted to the cycle of stimulation-seeking and reward and the chemicals that releases in our brains.
To break the cycle:
- Switch off your phone (or just the notifications) for a period of time each day.
- Clear the mental clutter in your mind that saps your energy by getting all the worries, thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto paper.
- Practise focusing on what’s important rather than what seems urgent and work on one thing at a time.
- Give yourself the gift of meditation, a walk outside in nature or just quiet time away from the ‘noise’ of daily life.
- Create a bedtime routine that allows your mind to wind down and prepare for sleep; switch of your phone and television at least 30 minutes before, drink a glass of water to rehydrate yourself and read or meditate just before sleeping.
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Michelle Reeves is a passionate life coach for busy mamas, an ambassador for the MIND mental health charity in West Essex and a PND survivor. She runs the Sparkle On Mama Facebook and email community which helps women to regain their gorgeous sparkle with weekly personal development topics, sisterhood and support.
To find out more and join visit: MichelleReevesCoaching.com/MANIFESTO
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