My whole life, I’ve struggled with issues of self-worth. Honestly, I think we all do. We all have a hard time loving ourselves or believing that others love us, or that we are worthy of love. The journey towards loving myself has been long.
For a long time, I thought I really did love myself until my therapist pointed out that my actions weren’t really reflecting my words. As much as I was saying, “I love myself” or “I love who I am,” I wasn’t always acting like it. I chose to be in unhealthy relationships, I didn’t eat well, wasn’t keeping my space clean… the list goes on.
After realizing that I do have worth, am loved, and am loveable, I decided to make some changes. Just like many of you, however, I live a very full life and needed to come to terms with the fact that some things (like eating 5 small, healthy meals a day) just are not possible for me right now. I can dream big, but I also need to be realistic. Because the truth of the matter is, when I set goals for myself, if they’re too high and I can’t follow through, my self-worth plummets. Therefore, setting realistic goals for how to love myself through action became incredibly important.
I know we all struggle with this, so I wanted to take some time to share some small self-love actions with you today. I don’t expect all eight to resonate with each of you, so take what you like and leave the rest:
1. Little written affirmations
When I first open my planner (yes, I still write my schedule out on real paper with an actual pen!) at the beginning of the year, I go through and write little tiny love notes to myself. That way, as I open up my planner on a given day, I may come across a little note like, “You are a gift,” or “You are loved!”
If you do not have a paper planner, other ways you can do this is to write little affirmations on sticky notes and place them on places like inside a cabinet door, on your closet door, or on your mirror. (I do this in addition to the notes in my planner!)
Little things like this are a great way of reminding yourself of how wonderful and loved you are! (even – or especially – on the days you might not believe it!
2. Eat one healthy meal per day
As an insanely busy person, and as someone who doesn’t really enjoy cooking, I realized quickly that even meal-prep is too much for me. I tried to keep up a rigorous schedule of 5 small healthy meals with snacks each day, but that only lasted a week and I felt awful about myself for not being able to keep it up. I decided that what I could handle was at least one healthy, delicious meal each day.
This ranges from tuna with avocado on toast, to smoked salmon with crackers and cheese, to protein pancakes with blueberries, to a full-cooked meal of salmon, potatoes, and broccoli.
Meals can be hard, but being intentional about at least one meal each day can make an incredible difference in how you feel! Good food is an act of love, my friend.
3. Mental stop signs
Negative self-talk is a huge problem for many of us. We can nag at and criticize ourselves all day long. It can be a crippling and debilitating downward spiral. But here is a phrase I try to live by:
“Tell the Negative Committee that meets in your head to shut up and sit down.”
Every time I find myself stuck in a meeting with that Negative Committee, I throw up a mental stop sign. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but what I’ve found is that it’s really just a matter of noticing when the Committee starts and being able to adjourn the meeting before it gets on a roll. The trick is to stop the downward spiral of negativity before it begins. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle, “Stop it. You’re great.”
More often than not, I have to repeat this to myself in different ways multiple times until I actually believe it, but if I can notice, say “stop,” then replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations, I’m usually able to get enough momentum going to reverse the spiral.
So get yourself a mental stop sign and throw it up like a judge with a gavel whenever that Negative Committee in your head adjourns.
4. Take time for yourself at least once a day
As busy as we can get, there is always a 5-minute or even 2-minute block of time you can take for yourself. It may be just the thirty seconds it takes to walk to the mailbox when you can finally just take a deep breath, but the time exists. It’s about being intentional. Even just creating the space to take one deep breath with your eyes closed, or while looking up at the sky, can make a difference in feeling a little more loved.
(Though I do not recommend the guilt/shame approach, I admit sometimes I guilt myself into this one: If I can spend 5 minutes, or even 30 seconds, to scroll through Facebook, I can take a few seconds to take a deep breath for myself.)
5. Drink water
I used to hate drinking water, but I feel so much better and so much healthier (and get WAY fewer headaches and stomach aches) when I drink more water.
This is one we sometimes have to be really intentional about, especially if we are coffee-drinkers. One of my dance/yoga professors used to tell us that for every cup of coffee, drink one cup of water. Making the change to carrying around a big water bottle with me (that’s cute and feels very “me”) has made a huge difference in how I feel every day, so drinking water has become an act of self-love!
6. Dress in a way that makes you feel good
When I know I’m going to have a tough day, I wear Christmas socks because they make me smile. I wear a little cross around my neck that reminds me to be loving to others, God, and myself. I put on mascara because I like how it makes my eyes pop
Throw on a pair of socks that make you smile or rock your favorite pair of earrings. These are little tiny acts of love that we can do every day!
7. Check at least one thing off your list.
I love to-do lists. But sometimes I feel awful about myself if I don’t get to everything. What really helps is writing down one thing I have already done, or one thing I know I can easily do (like a quick email), so that I have at least one thing checked. It helps me feel a little more accomplished, which improves my sense of self-worth tremendously.
8. Dance around your kitchen
I don’t care if you feel like you can’t dance. If you can brush your teeth, you can dance. Throw on your favorite music and get moving. Shake your booty! Or maybe you just sway. And if you really don’t like to dance, maybe get up and walk around the room once, or do one downward dog, or just dance with your voice. Music is food for the soul, and so is moving. It’s a blessing if you can get in a little of both for yourself in a day.
Loving ourselves in theory but especially in action is hard. One of the most challenging parts of choosing to follow through on these actions is actually believing that we deserve to be loved. I never realized I was depriving myself of things I love, or of things that make me feel loved, because I didn’t truly believe I deserved it. But I do. And you do too! You deserve to feel like you’re wonderful, amazing, beautiful, brilliant, and loved, because you are.
And if no one else has told you this today, I love you.
Thank you for being on this journey with me!
P.S. I would love to hear the little acts of love you do for yourself! Feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email!