It’s the middle of the night, it’s storming outside, and the thunder is rumbling. A soft grumble that reminds me of a purring cat. I love nights like this, it’s when my creative-self likes to come out and play and dance in the rain. I love to write and the sound of my fingers on the keyboard. It’s music to my soul.
I was thinking about how we do things that are not in line with the values of self-love. How some of those behaviors seem so innocuous, or so “normal”, that we don’t realize how they affect our energy and the way we feel about ourselves.
So I made a list. I like lists.
I thought about the ways I struggle to love myself and how I unlove myself.
Self-love is like this beautiful tapestry that we weave for ourselves. There are knots and tangles and we work them out. Sometimes there are strands that get caught and unravel the work we do. Just one little thing can slowly be the undoing of all of that work. It unravels.
There’s always room for improvement when it comes to how we’re taking care of ourselves. There’s always something to work on, something to do better. It’s not about being perfect, but being better. Just a bit today, and a bit tomorrow, until it’s years later and things have fallen into place. That’s how growth works, slowly, day by day.
So check in with yourself often. Make sure you’re getting what you need when you need it so that you can grow, little by little.
Here are some things we do that affect how we love ourselves.
Everything else is more important than sleep/rest/taking a break.
How many times do you put off sleeping for x, y, and z? I know that I need a good 8 hours of sleep to function but sometimes I ignore that need for months at a time. My intentions are good, I promise. I need to create, to get things done, to be productive.
We’ve beaten it into ourselves that rest is bad, rest is lazy, and that when we’re resting or stepping away – we’re doing something we shouldn’t. There are mornings when I just want to take a break and zone out, but there’s that little voice in my head that bounces around telling me all of the things I could be doing right now.
I’m continually re-learning over and over again, how important rest is. Rest, sleep, taking a break – fills up your self-care tank and like a car, it helps you run more smoothly. It helps you to function in a more optimized way.
When I feel that tingle of guilt for taking a moment to myself, I remind myself that it’s not trivial, it’s a necessity.
So, I’ve been working on it.
Sleep is one of the most important acts of self care and when I wake up grumpy, rush off to work tired and in a bad mood, I’m setting myself up for a bad start to my day.
One of my favorite anti-stress-completely-bliss-out activities is journaling in my Self-Love Workbook before bed. I look forward to releasing my thoughts before I go to sleep and it’s helping me keep a consistent bedtime.
So let’s make sure that we’re giving S-L-E-E-P the respect that it deserves and that we pay attention to how much we need and then try to shoot for that.
Challenge: Go to bed at a decent bedtime for a week straight and see how extra energized and bushy-tailed you feel.
Neglecting your feelings for the sake of everyone else.
Hello. My name is Dominee, and I’m a (semi-reformed) people pleaser.
How often do you do things you don’t want to do for other people? Refuse to speak up when your feelings are hurt? Shutdown when it comes to communication? Constantly rationalize that everyone else’s feelings/problems/thoughts are more important than yours and you don’t want to be a bother or rock the boat? When you do that, you’re not loving yourself or allowing others to love you, in a healthy way.
There needs to be a balance in what you do for other people and what you allow them to do for you. All relationships work on giving and receiving. It’s not about keeping score or anything like that but you should make sure that you don’t give and give and give until you’re worn thin and tired to people who don’t invest the same care back at you.
Relationships are about balance. Let your friends or your partner fill you back up. Voice your fears and your thoughts. Use their shoulders for crying without feeling like a burden.
You are allowed to feel and have feelings and have those feelings heard and acknowledged.
Challenge: Ask for what you need. If you’ve gotten into the habit of not relying on other people. Work on that. Build up your support system.
Apologizing or feeling guilty for being who you are.
I’ve noticed that a lot of my tribe feels like they don’t belong and that there’s something wrong with that. They’re too quirky, or shy, or their interests are too strange, or they just don’t feel like part of anything, or they feel like they have too much baggage to be loved and worthy.
I’m pretty socially awkward and introverted and while I think all of my friends know that, accept it, and love me anyway I went through a period where I wasn’t okay with it. I tried really hard to be the social norm. To go out with groups of people and be an extrovert and have fun. It made me miserable and completely exhausted.
It was the opposite of self care.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. It’s good to try to be a good friend to those around you and to take an interest in what they like to do. However, keep in mind that you matter too and you don’t have to change yourself for anyone.
Challenge: Whatever your weird is – embrace it. And then go find others with your weird, they are out there and they want to have deep conversations about your mutual weirdness. (A lot of us hang out in the SoulSisterhood)
Not making time for yourself.
I know, you need to get things done, make things happen, you mover and shaker, you. It’s hard to make time for yourself. Especially when you’ve got a family to take care of and bills to pay and work to do. I’d love to tell you to take an hour every day and devote it entirely to you but I know that’s not easy.
So take the moments and the opportunities for a break from busy-ness and savor them when you come across them. Take a five-minute break to just stop and breathe and check in with how you’re doing in the moment.
Challenge: Multiple times throughout the day, ask yourself: “What do I need right now?” Then, do your best to make time for that thing.
Refusing to let go of the baggage that you no longer need.
Okay. I am guilty of this one probably more than all of the others, but I’ve been getting a whole lot better, especially in the past few years. Did you know having a thought that you just can’t get rid of, no matter what can actually be a sign of OCD? Sometimes thoughts are not just as easy as letting it go.
There are times when a thought will consume my brainpower for hours at a time. Over and over and over I’ll think about that mistake I made two years. How I could’ve done things differently. What life would be like now if I had just… Why did I have to do… Why is my judgment so flawed that… It can be consuming. And if your brain works like, you aren’t alone, and it’s not as easy as thinking a happy thought and moving on.
I’ve used DBT to help me out with that one.
Tip #1: Bring your mind back to the present. Sometimes it’s like driving a car that is perpetually leaning to the left no matter what you do. Flex those brain muscles and bring yourself back into your lane, over and over until you get control. Tip #2: Distract yourself. Start listening to music, listen to an audiobook, or get lost in your favorite show. Tip #3: Become a lawyer in your brain. Mentally argue with every one of those thoughts like you’re a defense attorney that is determined to win. Seriously, arguing your brain into submission by presenting facts and evidence about why you need to let it go and why it doesn’t matter anymore, helps.
When I’d get depressed I would beat myself up over every single infraction that had taken place in the last decade and I’d inevitably feel worse about myself and my life. There comes a point when there is nothing left to learn from the past. You’ve learned from the mistakes and you’ve moved on but you still haven’t let yourself let it go. Let yourself let it go. Stop carrying your mistakes around like they have to define you every second of everyday.
Forgive yourself, it’s worth it.
Challenge: Work on changing your thought process. It’s a battle that’s won by inches. Each time you course correct those thoughts, you’re making it incrementally easier each time you do it.