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:


1) Stop The Scroll

Stop comparing yourself to everyone’s highlight reel on the ‘gram and Facebook.  You’ve got much better things to do with your time than think about how her makeup looks better than yours, or how she has a cuter wardrobe, or how her boyfriend is JUST what you’d want.  So please, I beg of you, stop the scroll when you feel vulnerable. Post that pic of you in that cute new top or that drink you’re enjoying and get back to it and enjoy REAL LIFE.


2) Give Yourself Some Grace

We all have those days where we feel like we can’t catch a break and we just want to run and hide. It’s ok. When that happens, just give yourself some grace. You can have that bad day if you need. You don’t need to be perfect everyday.  You don’t need to please everyone. So what you tripped on that sidewalk? So what if you didn’t get the grade you expected on that paper? You learned from that experience and will do better next time, and if not, hey there’s always the time after that! If you need a break from those adulting moments, go get that coffee (or wine) and binge some Netflix until tomorrow.  You’re doing the best you can!


3) Affirmations

If you would have asked me even two years ago if I said affirmations, I’d look at you sideways. However, now I know the power of affirmations and let me tell you, they’re my friend.  Our brains are simply amazing. We can change our thoughts from negative to positive by simply training it! (Gotta love neuroplasticity) Say this with me now, “I love the person I am today and look forward to seeing how much I’ll grow tomorrow.”  Or one of my favorites, “I’m going to own today!”


So go make a list and put those bad boys on a post-it somewhere around your house and read them OUT LOUD when you see them.


4) Make a List of Your Accomplishments

Wouldn’t you feel like a boss if you saw a list of all of the amazing things you’ve done in your life? I sure do! So get that pen out and write it down, babe! You’ll be amazed at how successful you already are and how you CAN do hard things.

Start with ten and then keep adding as you add accomplishments. I like to keep my list near me on my desk at home.


5) Do Something that Makes YOU Happy

We all have our guilty pleasures, the things we love doing that we don’t care if others judge us because they make us happy.  So when you’re feeling down on yourself and need a boost, start doing what makes you happy. Maybe it’s a quick walk around the block on your lunch break or maybe you love reading.  Maybe you love to send your friends encouraging text messages or love shopping for lipstick, or maybe you love the high you get after a new tattoo or getting your hair done.

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself and take the time to make yourself happy.


So are you feeling all the feels right now?


This time of year is usually when we shower all of our loved ones with love but I encourage you to love yourself this year and show yourself some compassion. You’re a badass and can do AMAZING things!! Self-love takes daily action until it becomes a habit.  So start or continue loving that human you see in the mirror.



XOXO,

Erin

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