I invited Makayla Nielson from www.helloprofessionalgirl.com to write a guest post on self-love. I think it’s a topic most of us struggle with a lot or at least from time to time. Here are her great tips for practicing self-love!
When I look in the mirror, I am instantly drawn to my imperfections. I see the blemishes, messy hair, and round cheeks. My thoughts are generally some variation of, “I wish I had better skin,” or “I need to work out more.” This also happens when I think about my current circumstances. It’s easy to think that things will be better and happier when I’ve saved more money, have more time, or when I’m done with university.
And I don’t think I’m the only one that thinks this way! How often do you look at yourself and think that you are genuinely beautiful? Or that you’re happy with where you are in your life? If your answer is “Never!” or “Rarely,” please know that you are not alone! There are so many people that have the same thoughts. Also know that there is a tool that can help you overcome these thoughts: Self-Love.
WHAT IS SELF-LOVE?
Self-love is a hot topic among Millennials right now, especially on social media. It’s something that can be difficult to understand, and most people only have a vague idea of what it is. Before looking into it, I thought self-love was narcissistic and self-serving. The only examples of self-love I’d heard of were taking bubble baths and treating yourself to shopping, which are great, but they cost money and time.
I now understand that I was totally wrong!
Self-love is something that is unique to each person. The definition of self-love is “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.” To me, that means simply being aware of how you’re feeling and what makes you feel better. And no two people are the exact same when it comes to what makes them happy.
I would like to point out that every single person deserves love and has the potential to be more than they know. No matter what your circumstances are, no one can take that away from you or make you think you’re not worth loving. For those of you in situations that make you feel worthless, please keep reading. Self-love is a tool that can help you change your mindset regardless of what’s happening around you.
WHY IS SELF-LOVE IMPORTANT?
Every single day we are bombarded with stress and responsibilities. The opinions of others ring in our ears and we rarely have time to just sit and think. We look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. This is why self-love is so important.
You are the only person that’s with you all day. You know all of your thoughts and feelings. Since this is the case, you ultimately influence yourself more than anything in your environment. That should tell you how important it is to treat yourself well! If there was someone in your life that constantly treated you poorly by saying you’re not good enough, pretty enough, or worth fighting for, you would hopefully kick that person out of your life! So, don’t treat yourself that way.
Self-love is essentially making yourself your own biggest fan. This is a role that no one else can fill (although it’s certainly wonderful to have family and friends that support you). The truth is that even if everyone else is rooting for you, it will be incredibly hard to succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.
HOW DO YOU PRACTICE SELF-LOVE?
Self-love is a great practice that doesn’t need to take extra time or money. I would like to focus on self-love practices that only require you to replace something in your day-to-day life, not add something. The goal here is to help you create a better inner dialogue so you can appreciate yourself on a deeper level by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. And, all of these suggestions are free!
SPEAK KIND WORDS
There are so many ways to be kind to yourself. Physically, we can eat healthy, exercise, and rest. Socially, we can find people that make us smile and support us. And mentally, we can cut ourselves some slack and speak kind words to ourselves! This practice is intended to replace all of those negative things we think about ourselves during the way.
Personally, I tend to let my negative self-talk influence how I perform at work. For example, if something isn’t going smoothly, I immediately think it’s because I did something wrong, I’m incompetent, or I’m simply not smart enough to deal with the situation. Do you see how harmful that is? It makes it so I block myself from succeeding. The situation would be so much better if I simply spoke kind words to myself and said, “This is a difficult situation, but you have the ability to handle it.”
Having an attitude of gratitude is a fabulous way to practice self-love! Many people keep a gratitude journal, which is amazing. They will be able to look back on their lives with a sense of positivity and hope for the future because they took the time to record the things that truly matter.
For our purposes, I want to focus on the part of gratitude that doesn’t take any time at all to do. The habit that gratitude should replace is complaining. Complaining is focusing on all of the negative things going on in your life. When you complain, you essentially disregard all of the good things happening around you! Being grateful might be harder at first, because complaining is something that’s ingrained into our day-to-day lives (at least mine), but the benefits are worth it. To practice self-love, try to think about your personal attributes that you’re grateful for.
I have personally heard people tell me to, “Just be positive!” a billion times and every time I hear that I internally roll my eyes. I want to scream, “It’s not that easy! You have no idea what’s going on in my life.” And although those statements may be true, being positive is still essential to self-love.
This does not mean that life needs to be sunshine and rainbows all the time, because that’s just not realistic. To me, positivity is having the understanding that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to, if you just keep going and trying your best. I have a friend that always tells me, “Things will not always be like they are right now, you just keep going.” That’s positivity. She acknowledges that what I’m going through is difficult, but also knows that it will get better! It’s okay to feel sad, mad, or frustrated. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and annoyed. The problem is when you let those emotions stop you from progressing and limit what you can achieve.
The idea of being intentional is something that is relatively new to me. Being intentional is noticing your thought processes, seeing how they can be improved, and then making an effort to change. I love this because it gives you all of the power over your thoughts! When you wake up in the morning, be aware of the thoughts you’re thinking. If they make you feel strong and capable, keep thinking them. If they don’t, try thinking something else.
One tip for being intentional is to think of your thoughts as experiments. By thinking of your thoughts as experiments, it takes the pressure off of yourself to stick to one way of doing things. If one way of thinking fails, that’s okay! You tried it, learned from it, and now you can move on to something better that actually works for you. Being intentional costs nothing, and it helps you find healthy ways of thinking.
I find it absolutely exhausting to be someone I’m not. One-on-one I am naturally bubbly and energetic, and in groups I am quiet and reserved. If I try to change either of those things, it makes me feel junky. And yet, I still try to change them! One way to practice self-love is to recognize that you are YOU for a reason. Your unique talents and abilities are yours to develop and cultivate. Do not waste your precious time trying to change things that don’t need to be changed. Instead, focus on enhancing those abilities and attributes that make you unique.
Using these ways to practice self-love, I hope you choose to see yourself in a more flattering light the next time you look in the mirror. There are certainly more ways to practice self-love than the ones mentioned here, and I would love to hear your thoughts on what has worked for you!