I can be really hard on myself. Left to its own devices, my inner critic is harsh, condescending, and mean. I am a perfectionist, have high expectations of myself, and often forget to have fun or to see the joy in the small things.
If you’re like me, this blog post is for YOU.
I made the intention to love myself more in 2019 and have more recently been working with my own nurse coach to develop strategies to enjoy life and have better balance between work and family. This can be a difficult thing to do as those lines are pretty blurred these days. Yet over the past six months, I’ve become much more self aware and self compassionate, which has left me with much greater resilience and confidence, particularly during this difficult (and fun!) phase of life. In fact, it has led to a rebirth, or journey of self discovery that I did not expect.
So today, I’m bringing to you five of my favorite practices that I have been using in my mission of self love.
Affirmations. I am not one of those people who are mindlessly positive. In fact, I find ignoring and shaming negative emotion to be dangerous. So, know that when I say that daily affirmations are beneficial, know that I MEAN IT. Affirmation usage has been shown to change the neural pathways in your brain. If you think, know, and say it, you can become it! This goes for negative self talk, as well. If you tell yourself that you’re lazy, you will self-fulfill that prophecy.
Identifying thoughts. This one is an essential piece of mindfulness for me. Too often we move throughout the day on autopilot, without really being aware of the tiny voice (or voices) inside our head. No, we are NOT crazy. It is our brain attempting to make sense of the complex world around us. By becoming mindful to thoughts, we can become more aware that we are not our thoughts and we don’t have to identify with them. For example, I just realized that I forgot to put my daughter’s glasses on today before school. The voice inside my head gave me a pretty good lecture. I can choose to see them and to let them go.
I will physically do this when I have a particularly difficult day. I will write down a thought, identify where it came from, and then reframe it, ultimately letting it go.
Identifying emotions. This is the other side of the mindfulness coin. Each morning, I write down an emotion that I am feeling- sometimes many of them! By giving them a name, I am able to feel them fully. We do not need to feel shame over our emotions. Many of us have been unconsciously taught that emotion is bad and must be hidden. By seeing my emotions, I am able to observe them with curiosity and kindness, fully feeling it. Like thoughts, I do not need to identify as these emotions.
Reflect on strengths. Each evening, I write my accomplishments for the day. It can be difficult for me to see what I do each day, particularly when it is segmented between business work, self care, parenthood, and basic adulting. By writing these accomplishments down, I am acknowledging my successes, even tiny. Following this exercise, I name a strength of mine. At first, this practice did not come easily. Looking at the positive aspects of myself feels unnatural; however, it has become much easier with time. Most evenings lately, a strength comes up quickly without much thought. I often surprise myself with my own reflections. Then, I truly try to embody this strength and feel it deeply, knowing that this is who I am as a person.
Journaling. Finally, I have been using journaling as an act of self love. I have not journaled in years. It often felt like a chore. But rather than recounting the day, which I do in my “Ta Da! List,” I reflect. This activity often follows a meditation or a particularly challenging moment or day. It has allowed me to process emotions and thoughts that are far more complicated than my daily practice. By getting things out on paper, I am able to see situations more clearly. If writing is not a part of your daily self care practice, it may be the perfect place to begin for you.
I hope these self love ideas have been useful for you. It has been amazing to watch myself grow in my own self compassion this year and these activities are only the beginning for me. I have a much better sense of self and an awareness and consciousness I have never had in my life. By focusing on that inner work first, I know that I will be able to make behavior changes much more easily. We must first work within ourselves to create the outer self we desire.
These self love activities do not need to take up a lot of time and can be completed in the morning or evening (I do both). Take up some of these practices and watch yourself grow and evolve and become more present and mindful in your own life.
If you struggle with activities like these or other aspects of self care and development, reach out! I am taking new clients and would love to work on this with you.
May you be happy, healthy, and at peace.