Today I feel like an unwritten story that would rather laze about in someone’s brain than go through the harrowing work of being written. I feel like a metronome that is finally getting set to the right tempo—and that tempo is a little faster than I had expected.
This was the title and the first paragraph of my original post for the night:
All The Times I Failed To Love Myself, And How I’m Learning To Do Better
We can all look back at our personal history and chart the the fluctuations of how much we like ourselves. I know that for me, my chart of self-love has been a long, slow, spiky mess with a tiny upward trend. My mess of a chart often changes more than once during a single day, so I’m obviously not going to talk about every single time I’ve failed to love myself.
But then I found myself stuck at how to type out exactly how I had failed to love myself without getting into very specific details. I’ve dealt with mental health issues and some unhealthy notions around food in my time, and typing out specific incidents was starting to open up some old wounds and just generally bum me out.
So, in the spirit of loving myself, I’m not going to write about those incidents as a list like I had originally planned and just focus on the successes and “getting better” part!
Self-Love Hasn't Come Naturally For Me
If you hadn’t guessed already, I’ve had a tough time learning to love myself. I mean, sure, most days I think I’m an alright gal, but love? That’s a work in progress.
So here are a few of the ways that I've been able to increase my self-awareness and self-respect over the past year.
First of all, starting up at a yoga studio has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life. It has taught me to be patient with my body and my mind, and that things like self care and self love take practice. As one teacher shared with the class, “we practice today so that we can practice tomorrow.” It’s all about patience and sustainability.
I have also learned to be more intentional about what I feed my body. Early last year, when I was working exclusively from home, I was having a hard time remembering to feed myself properly. I was so caught up in work that I couldn’t quite take the time out of my day to prepare and eat a proper meal. This has been a recurring pattern in my life. I’m so glad that I work out of the home nowadays (and also that I have a yoga practice that keeps me insanely hungry), because there’s a little more structure to my days. For someone with a healthy self image, feeding yourself doesn’t seem like something that’s difficult to do. But there are any number of factors that can creep in and remove it from the priority list. Quick tip: if someone you love is struggling, make a nice, healthy meal for them. It nourishes bodies & souls.
I also quit coffee, and now have worked into the point where I have it when I am really excited about drinking it. Being thoughtful about my consumption has been empowering, and I recommend starting by ditching coffee if you feel a general lack of control in your life. Beer is next, but I'm still clinging to every last drop of that goodness.
In the past year, I have begun to add tiny moments of joy in throughout the day to remind myself I am worthy of love. Things like using a sweet-smelling lotion or fixing an afternoon herbal tea or wearing my favorite dress. Again, thanks to my hot yoga routine, I am also showering every day. If you need some tiny ways to spark self-recognition in your life, start with sensory practices. I love a good soap and shampoo, and an essential oil diffuser or candle adds a touch of magic to even the dullest day. Smell has a huge impact on how I feel and go about my day—is it that way for you too, or do you find that joy in a different sense?
Another way I’ve shown myself love this past year has been my commitment to wearing clothing and makeup that I enjoy. I had gotten into the habit of wearing the same old dress for several days in a row (since I didn’t do anything other than sit at a desk in it). That dress hasn’t seen the light of day in over six months because I’ve been making a point to wear things that aren’t just utilitarian. It’s a privilege to be able to wear things just because I like them, and I’ve been working on seeing that and taking advantage of the opportunity. Skincare and makeup are a newer addition to the list, and I’m navigating the tricky waters of how to simultaneously rid myself of acne and also love my face exactly the way it is.
An area that I struggle in is my media consumption. I’ve been adding more interesting podcasts to my queue, and I’ve also relished new and old music alike (now playing: Purple Rain). Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty bad about mindless Instagram scrolling, comments-section reading and general outrage consumption. I read certain things under the guise of “being informed,” but deep down I know it’s just to fuel inaction and bitterness. It’s time to be more selective in my reading and do a little more work in the real world. As silly as it sounds, avoiding Twitter comments can be a form of self love.
And now, I’m learning to cultivate my interests and skills, even on days when I don’t want to. Friday marks the 30th day of my writing challenge, and I fully anticipate that I will have posted 28 blog posts. I worked on one post over a span of two days, and then there was an emotional meltdown one of the days that kept me from writing. I consider that missed day a win, though, because I worked hard not to beat myself up about skipping. I was surprisingly gracious and kind with myself, and am still basking in the sweetness of knowing when I needed to go easy on myself.
I know that I have other things to work on: getting out on more walks, drinking more water, making sleep a priority, developing a morning routine, and loving this crazy mosaic of a face. But I’ve made so much progress this year, much of it subconsciously, and I’m pleased. You can’t force self-love, but you can do everything in your power to strongly suggest it.
How have you learned to love yourself more?