Who do you love? Your family, your friends, you beloved, your children, your pets? Yeah – I love all of them, too (not yours, silly – mine, although I’m sure your people are wonderful and I’m fairly confident I would love them if I met them). However, something I frequently struggle with is not necessarily loving myself enough – and I’m determined to start working on that. Fabulous drag queen RuPaul says “Remember to love yourself, because if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen in here?”
I’ve been composing this post in my head for about a week, trying to figure out exactly what it is that I wanted to say about this issue, something that so many of us (women in particular) struggle with – and then the strangest thing happened yesterday (it was a SIGN!!): Jane Pratt (yes, I know…all roads in my life lead to Jane Pratt) introduced her new Beauty and Style Editor at XOJane – and it happens to be Gala Darling! If you aren’t familiar with her, you really ought to be – she has a great blog, writes for other publications, has spoken at the TED Conferences, and preaches a pretty good concept called Radical Self Love. I normally avoid such ‘self-help’-y type of thinking, but there is something about her ideas that speaks to me – probably because they are ideas that I rationally know, but struggle to implement. She has written a Radical Self Love Manifesto – I kind of love it. Here it is:
There’s some really good stuff in there – yes, a lot of it is obvious, common sense…but we don’t do enough of it. If you visit Gala’s blog, you can find a downloadable version of this that you can print super-large and hang up somewhere (which I intend to do) – and it looks pretty, too.
Also on Gala’s site is a list of 100 Ways You Can Start Loving Yourself Right Now – I love this list! I’m going to share a few of the ideas with you now – and from time to time, I’ll post more:
Make lists of reasons why you love yourself…
& write down (or keep mental lists) of the compliments other people give you. We’re so quick to believe people when they say nasty, unkind or “brutally honest” (ahem, cruel) things to or about us, & we discard all the times we’re told how amazing, beautiful or intelligent we are. Usually this is because our sense of self-doubt is stronger than our self-love. If you can build up the love side of things, this will begin to change.
Reach out to others…
…& do it regularly. When we don’t talk to people about how we’re feeling, or don’t have anyone to bounce ideas around with, it can be easy to feel lost, confused & out of touch. It also makes it easier for depression & sadness to nibble at our toes. Being reminded that the world is bigger than our bubble can inspire & uplift us.
Think of a way you could make your life easier — then do it.
This could be anything from hiring an assistant to buying a better computer or just learning to say “no” more often. Whatever it is, make it a priority. Do some research on how to make it happen, & then get going!
Change the way you think about food.
So many of us get trapped into thinking that food is “good” or “bad” & there is no in-between. Associating a word like “good” or “bad” with a type of food doesn’t help us, it doesn’t mean anything, it just makes us feel guilty or like we should be “doing better”. What has helped me is to think of food as pure fuel for my body, & considering how it will make me feel or how much energy it will give me. I know that my body (& my brain) work better when I feed myself with fresh raw vegetables & lots of water & fruit, & that I feel sluggish & useless when I eat heaping forkfuls of pasta. If you can think about food that way, there’s less guilt, & you feel more informed & aware.
Stretch in the mornings.
It gets the blood moving, it fires up your brain & it gives you a few moments to just be still & grounded before the day begins.
Really listen to people when they are speaking.
Look at them, make eye contact & be present. They’ll feel good that you care enough to properly engage them, & you’ll feel great in return.
Have media black-out days.
The concept of doing this terrifies me but I know it needs to happen. Stay away from your computer, phone & television for an entire day. Those of us are who technology addicts will FREAK out at this idea but that’s an even bigger sign that we should try it. So many of us use technology to distract ourselves & keep our minds busy, when we would be far better served by just sitting still & learning to be comfortable alone.
Have that “awkward” conversation.
You’ve been holding it in too long. Bite the bullet, take a deep breath, & tell the truth. Be gentle but honest. No one can predict how they’ll react, but it doesn’t really matter. The time has come. Say it, & move on.
Ask for help.
Whatever you’re going through, someone else has been through before, & come out the other side. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel — don’t be afraid to ask someone for advice or help. It could make a huge difference.
Know that you are good enough ALL THE TIME.
Yes, you are.
Do your very, very best to stop judging people.
Wayne Dyer said, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” Those critical voices inside of you get a great work-out when you let them loose on someone else, & it’s like training for the grand event — that of judging yourself. If you don’t exercise those voices, they’ll eventually disappear altogether, making you a much happier person.
Express love in as many ways as you can.
Tell your friends you ADORE them, say thank you & mean it, flash your biggest & most sincere smile at strangers on the street, hug people for longer than normal. The more love you give out, the more it builds inside of you & the more you’ll get back — I pinky promise.
They’re a wonderful mood booster. If you’re too conservative to wear them, buy sequined knickers & wear them secretly!
Take a bubble bath wearing a tiara.
Embrace the unknown.
Not everything needs to be planned to the last-minute detail! Mystery is wonderful & invigorating. It is the zest of life.
Clean out your closet.
In addition to getting rid of old junk, cleaning out closets or cupboards is therapeutic because at the same time, you’re clearing space in your life for new, better things.
Increase the amount of spinach you eat.
It’s like a miracle food. It’s so good for you & makes you feel amazing! Throw it in a smoothie (you won’t even taste it), use it as the base instead of lettuce in a salad or just snack on baby spinach fresh out of the bag. Yum!
Forget about your “to do” list & just BE.
That’s when you’ll have the most fun, make the best breakthroughs & experience the most amazing adventures. Life is much more exciting & wonderful when you throw caution to the wind & do something ridiculous.
Make a little extra effort every day.
Your definition of “effort” could be wearing a bow on your head, brightly coloured socks or even just taking the time to sit down with a book every night before bed. Just pick something that you know will make you feel good, & then do it.
Listen to new types of music & dance!
Country? Bollywood? Rap? Seek it out & enjoy it with your whole body.
Some good ideas there, eh? I don’t know about you, but I personally spend so much of my time working on things for other people, and trying to do whatever I can to ensure the happiness of those around me…and I often overlook the happiness of the one that should be the easiest to tend to: me. I don’t spend much time pampering myself (rarely to never is not much time, right?), I don’t do very many things that are simply for the joy of myself – and I need to stop that and smarten the hell up. I’m not going to be any good to my daughter or anyone else if I’m unhappy within myself. I also think I need to learn to give myself a break sometimes – I’m not SuperWoman….why do I try so hard to be? It all goes back to that idea of being good enough, and my constant fear that I’m not. That nonsense MUST stop…I want to raise a daughter who knows in her heart that she is more than good enough, and she will be taking her cues from me. If I can’t get my shit together for myself, at least I had better figure it out and get it together for her…she is SO worth it.
Have a beautiful day, my friends! I love you just the way you are!
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.