If you earned a dollar for every time you heard someone say “you can’t pour from an empty cup” you would probably have earned tens of thousands of dollars by now. Okay, sure, that may be a bit of a stretch, but you know exactly what I mean.
Self love and self care have become such buzzwords in the last few years, and probably rightly so. To be truly, madly, deeply in love with our own self, and to take care of our mind, body and soul should be a necessary prerequisite for everyone! Sadly, many of us tend to forget ourselves in the daily grind of life and the adult and/or familial responsibilities that we need to take care of.
It’s only in the last couple of years that I have truly come to appreciate that learning to love yourself is as important as demonstrating your love for someone else. I think I am waaayyyyy happier in my relationships with others when I am happy and at peace with myself. The days when I am upset with myself are usually the very days when I am rather prickly with others.
I’ve got a few self-love ideas that you can practice today and every day:
1 | Learn to accept yourself
Of all the self love ideas, I think this is one of the toughest to practice.
I cannot think of a single person around me who is flawless every single day. And obviously, neither am I. We all make mistakes, we all have our shortcomings, we are not perfect. Learning to accept yourself is not about not wanting to become better, but about acknowledging that you are enough the way you are and that you can continue to work on aspects where you feel the need to be better.
Here’s an example for you – I enjoy cooking. I don’t do a lot of it, but on the days that I do, usually the weekends, I love the whole process of it. I don’t consider myself a great cook, but I would say that seven times out of ten, I make a good (but simple) meal. I could beat myself up not coming up with something as good the remaining three times and serving my family not-so-great-tasting food (trust me, I’ve done it plenty of times!!!), however, I’ve learned over time to not fall into that trap.
I put my heart into what I am cooking, and usually, that’s good enough, and sometimes it’s not. And that’s okay! I will continue to practice more and learn to make better dishes, but in the process of becoming better at cooking, I will not berate myself for not being good enough already!!!
2 | Speak kindly to yourself
There are enough people in this world to bring you down. Why would you allow your inner voice to do it to yourself? Learning to speak kindly to yourself can be one of the best things that you do for yourself.
Boost yourself up, repeat positive affirmations to yourself. Your words matter, and you need to learn to be your own biggest cheerleader!
3 | Surround yourself with people who lift you up
Do yourself a favor, and learn to dissociate yourself from the toxic people in your life. The ones who make you feel bad about yourself. The ones that are always and forever negative about everything. No, you don’t need yes-men or yes-women in your life only, but you’d want your inner circle to be made of people who will love you for who you are, and yet practice tough love when the need arises.
4 | Get intentional about “me” time
I become unbelievably cranky without sufficient “me” time. I love my space and am incredibly fortunate to have a partner who completely respects and understands that.
In this current season of life, my definition of “me” time is indulging in some retail therapy, working on this blog, spending time on my memory-keeping projects, and reading. I am also a textbook introvert, so I really need a little bit of alone time to be truly engaged when I am with others.
No matter what you choose to do with it, learn to appreciate that a little bit of “me” time is essential to truly recharge yourself; otherwise, you really are working yourself up to a massive case of burnout.
5 | Write a letter to your younger self
Borrow a page (or two) from Victoria Beckham and write a letter to your younger self. You can also read this letter that Victoria Beckham wrote to her 18-year-old self for British Vogue. It’s filled with some wonderful insights and life lessons.
Try it for yourself – it is a liberating experience to reflect back on your life and see how much you’ve grown and achieved in all these years!
6 | Practise gratitude
One of my senior colleagues at work mentioned that the first thing he does every morning on waking up is to go to the bedroom window, look outside, fold his hands in prayer, and thank God for the opportunity to see a new day.
I found that to be an incredibly powerful gratitude statement, and since then, I’ve tried to become a little more intentional about practicing gratitude myself. Practicing gratitude is a simple way to silence the internal and external negative chatter, because truly, even on the worst of days, we have much to be thankful for. Start a little gratitude habit to enhance your own happiness and your own personal growth.
7 | Learn to say no
Again, something from the workplace. One of my bosses once remarked to me that we’ve got to become better at saying no, not because we don’t want to work, but because our time is precious and we should not let ourselves or others forget it. So sensible, right?
I’m sure if you think hard enough you will come up with at least a dozen instances where saying “no” would have improved your day/life. I’ll admit, I still struggle with this. I’m a bit of a people pleaser and often say “yes” to things/events out of sheer politeness and then complain incessantly. I’m trying to get better at this – because really, if I don’t respect my time, why will anyone else?
8 | Laugh out loud
Life can be hard, and we all have our own daily struggles and challenges. But a life without some fun and laughter would become unbearable, no? Seek out your funny friend, or see a funny movie, or browse through hundreds of cat and puppy videos on YouTube – whatever it is that brings a smile to your face and makes you laugh – do that, and then do it some more.
9 | Declutter your mind and your space
I find it quite difficult to work and think when everything around me is a literal mess. Sure, I’ve sometimes used “cleaning up” as a form of procrastination (please tell me I’m not the only one!), but seriously though, I’ve found that even a little bit of tidying up helps me be more productive at work. And no, my desk (or room) isn’t always spick and span, but I do spend some time every week straightening up things and discarding/donating things that I longer have use for.
And similarly, when my mind is too heavy with angry or hurtful thoughts, I find it difficult to focus on the present and end up in a dreadful spiral of dark thoughts. In such situations, I’ve found that journaling really, really helps. Ever since I’ve started using the Simplenote app on my phone, I’ve become a lot more regular with my journaling.
Another tool I should mention is art journaling. I haven’t done that in a while, but on some of my really, really dark days (and we all have those), I find myself reaching for my art journal, somewhat like how you would scramble along the walls if you’re suddenly thrown into a dark, dark room, trying to find the light switch.
10 | Invest in your body
I kept this one for the very end because it’s my biggest struggle. I don’t think anyone of us is unaware of how important a healthy body is, but oftentimes, out of sheer laziness, we (okay, I!!!) choose to make it our last priority. At least until we’re confronted with some massive warning or scare.
In the last few weeks, I’ve taken some baby steps towards improving my health and fitness (I’ve started working out, albeit, at a much slower pace than what I’d want) and it’s one of my key focus areas this year. I still have a long way to go, but we won’t get anywhere if we don’t even start, right?
Kudos to those of you who are already working on your fitness, and to those of you who you’re struggling – trust me, I know what it feels like. Try doing just one good thing for your body today – like drink 8 glasses of water – and keep adding to it each day. And I’m really a quick email away if you want to share your experience/frustrations with someone!
Phew, that turned out a bit long, no? If you want a TL;DR version, here’s what you should know – you need to love yourself, friends, and you need to accept and invest in yourself. All relationships take time and effort, so why won’t you do that in your relationship with yourself??? And if there is just one thing you take away from this post, know this – you are enough, and you are worth it.
How do you practice self-love? What are some of your best self-love ideas? I’d love to know in the comments below!
Image via Unplash / Alexandra Seinet