"comparison is an act of violence against the self."
For today’s post, I wanted to create a message that would speak to everyone, but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s exactly what society does. Too often, our culture projects one vision of what is beautiful, or valuable, or lovable. That is not real life. No one, unique individual should feel constrained by a specific message, or image, that they need to fit.
The journey to self-love, or to put it simply "to love yourself", is authentic and unique. Self-love means finding your own message and sending it back to society as a unique expression. So how do we create that unique message, and how do we send it out to society? I have four fundamental practices to share.
Be present with positive vibes.
Fuel your mind with positive thinking. Too often we let our minds fill up with unhealthy thoughts. We relive our regrets, compare ourselves to our peers, or daydream of a different life. These are unhelpful and negative habits. They do not add value to our lives, and they take away our precious time and energy. We could spend this time and energy providing positive vibes to ourselves and others. When we become present and mindful in these negative moments, we create an opportunity to manage and reverse our unhelpful thoughts.
ACTIVITY: Get some sticky note paper. Write the word “STOP!” and then below it write a gratitude statement. For example here's me going down a rabbit hole... “Omg. So and so is on another great vacation, what a great life they have and look at all those bikini photos…I could never look like and I never would be able to…”<STOP!> “Right now, I’m grateful for eyes that can appreciate beauty.” The point of this exercise is to first train your mind to recognize unhelpful thinking, and then to replace it with productive thinking. You’ll feel better in the moment and avoid a rabbit hole of negativity.
Know your core values.
Knowing your core values is key to living a life full of self-love. Values drive our behavior. If we embed our values in our daily lives, our behaviors become purposeful, meaningful and important to us. If we live without values, we risk letting others determine our meaning. Creating core values provides guidance and perspective you can apply to any area of your life. Determining your values is the first step to living a life of meaning and of self-love.
ACTIVITY: Brainstorm! Take a sheet of paper and write out as many core values as possible. Once you’ve written out your list, fine tune it. Is there a pattern? Is there one value that inspires other values? Which values are most important to you? Now put that list somewhere visible so that it serves as a reminder.
Fill your cup before you fill others.
Knowing is the first step, doing is the hardest. This is one of the hardest ones for me. Best intentions aside, life is busy! I get it. I'm a full-time working mom in school with an internship on top. However, if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot fulfill these numerous roles. That's why setting aside time for self-care is imperative to sustaining a purposeful life. If you don't fill your cup up, someone else will. You might not be satisfied by what they’re serving.
ACTIVITY: Plan a day (Yes, a full day!) of self-care. Self-care will have a different meaning for each of you, but let's brainstorm together. For example, my last selfc-are day was in December, I'm about due for a refresh. But that nap I took, back in December, has fueled me to this day. So plan your day. What are you going to do? Who is going to help you accomplish it? Put your day on paper and schedule it.
Connect and share your intentions.
Standing alone in your values and intentions takes strength and courage. Practice makes you stronger. Sharing your intentions with others as well as connecting with like-minded people provides reinforcements, and builds strength in your supporters. Share your goals and connect your support network to your journey of self-love.
ACTIVITY: How can you share your message with others? Perhaps a conversation topic at dinner? Your new status on Facebook? Commit to yourself and share your version of self-love to inspire others and strengthen your commitment.
Jessica Nickels, Counseling Intern