Can I get some (self) love?

The times they are a changin’ ma! Everyone is focusing on bettering themselves and loving the person they are and it’s SUCH a game changer!! This post is dedicated to the topic of self-love and I’ll share a little about my journey with it as well.  I started out like most women, from a place of lack when it came to self-love and compassion, and I’ve journeyed to a place where I’m loving who I am more and more each day. So let’s dive into my story but don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you. We’ll review what you can do to start showing yourself some compassion and love today!

Ok, so what is self-love?

I tend to use self-love or the term self-compassion interchangeably.  When I feel love for myself, it’s typically when I show myself the same compassion as I would for another person. I would never tell my best friend that she was a terrible person because she lost the necklace I gave her. I’d tell her, “It’s ok.  It was just a necklace and it can be replaced.” We were friends before I gave her the necklace and we’ll be friends after. I’m sure at the time she might have been feeling like she let me down or that she “sucked” because it was misplaced, neither is a fact. They were just feelings. Identifying the difference between feelings and facts is an easy way to see if you’re being kind to yourself.  If it’s a feeling and it’s a negative one, you’re not show yourself love.

One of the most influential people in the realm of self-love and self-compassion is Dr. Kristen Neff and she defines self-compassion as the following:

“Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself.”

She has some amazing meditations on her site and outlines exactly what it’s like to have some self-compassion/self-love.

I truly believe that in order to begin having self-love one needs to have self-compassion first.

My teens and 20s were ROUGH

When I think back to the teenage and 20-something version of myself, all I can think is oooofph.  I tried so hard, especially as a teenager to fit in with everyone and I just wanted to be liked. I however did so at the expense of my own desires and happiness. My teen years were about going with the flow to fit in, whereas my twenties were all about hiding myself in a depressed state.  I hid and hated every part of myself. I didn’t feel cute, happy, or healthy, and it showed. A traumatic event deeply affected how I perceived myself and it can be summed up in one word, unworthy.

I would seek love and acceptance externally (from relationships and friendships) instead of internally (from myself).  This led me to get married at 21 and divorced in my late 20s. It wasn’t until my divorce that I started to really learn who I was and began to learn to love myself without the pre-qualifier of someone else loving me first.

Sexy Dresses and Diaper Changes

My 30s were definitely a HUGE change in how I felt in my own skin.  The first change was finding a defined style and the second was becoming a mom.  The former taught me all about loving the skin I’m in and the latter taught me about how amazing my body is and what it can do.

Turning 30 is probably one of the most intense shifts in my life. I felt a calling to create a style on myself that I had always admired, vintage and pinup.  Soon I started doing pinup contests and photoshoots and began feeling confident. When I was on stage or getting my photo taken, I was a different woman and I wanted to be around her ALL THE TIME. I began integrating that self-love and confidence from the stage and shoots into my daily life.

Then when I was 35, I became a mom and oh my goodness, my life changed AGAIN! I went back to the old me of hating myself and felt like I was a terrible mom with a flabby body. Truth be told, it was probably the lowest my self-love had ever been. I was the hardest on myself at that moment and it took some group therapy and medication to get through it.

Almost two years later though, I can honestly say that had I not been able to get my negative self-talk in check, I would be extremely depressed to this day. I would never dream of telling a friend or even a stranger the things I thought about myself as a woman and mother.  So now when I have a negative thought like “I’m not a good mother”, I reframe it. I tell myself that “I AM a GOOD mother and that I’m just having a hard moment.”

My body was able to grow a person and feed that person and now I’m able to show him that I take my self-love seriously by taking the time I need to re-center.  I take time most days to do some yoga, sometimes with my son. I want to teach him that food is energy and not a comfort blanket but that we CAN enjoy it. I want him to learn that no matter what he looks like, how he feels is what is most important.

5 Ways You Can Start Loving Yourself Today

So I’m not sharing my struggle to achieve self-love as a road map for you but rather to show you what all I went through to get where I’m at today.  Below you’ll find some tips you can start implementing in your daily life to begin to change how you feel about yourself but the first thing I want to remind you is that YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THE SUM OF YOUR PARTS.  Your hair will look better some days and you won’t be as bloated the next day. You should focus on loving your personality, your tenacity, and your drive.

Anyhoo, onto those actionable items: