I work in an arena in which I get to literally watch women's view of themselves be transformed within moments, hours or a few sessions. I'm really good at my job and it is rare that I do not see that transformation. That being said, there are days when I'm asked why it matters. Why does personal style matter, why does the way we move through the world matter and why has "self-love" become such a hot topic?
In the last week of February I hosted a self-love workshop at a lululemon store in Atlanta, Georgia. We had over 100 "yes!" RSVP's for this event. So, self-love is important. It's something that people want. It's something that people are striving to OBTAIN. And yet, the more I thought about self love and "how to get it" before guiding this work shop, the more clear I was in that
self love is not something to achieve.
self love is a series of choices made
out of self respect.
When I say "Self-Love," I might as well just call it LOVE. Because when we cultivate love for ourselves, we truly, honestly, automatically create more love for those around us. The only way that I know how to describe, share or teach the importance of choosing self-love over self-doubt or self-loathing (or denying yourself authenticity) is to tell you the difference it's made in my life. You may look at me and see an almost 30 year old bad ass with a ridiculously amazing career, sense of Self, family and support system. True. I know that this is how I'm viewed because this is what I am told on a regular basis. But more importantly: I FEEL these things to be true.
But where I am now is truly the outcome of years of mindfulness-based therapy, forgiveness of my Self, redirecting my inner dialogue and applying a lot of patience when I feel like I'm not living up to my own wildly high standards.
I've struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life.
On top of being prone to these two mental bullies, I've pushed myself over the edge to be the best athlete, daughter and student for the majority of my adult life. Being this high strung is rough but my world was really rocked when I lost control of an interaction with a guy my freshman year in college. It took one night, the kind of night that every parent prays doesn't happen to their daughter, to tip me over into a self-loathing spiral that left me thinking suicidal thoughts for the better part of the following two years. (That got super real super fast, right? Keep reading. This isn't about me, it's about you.) If you're in a rough patch, I get it. I empathize, I sympathize and I feel you. I know that cultivating self love feels like a massive uphill battle. But listen to me. This cultivation we're going to discuss, is really is relationship about loyalty, honor and respect for yourself.
So, why? Why is it important?
Because how you feel about yourself colors EVERYTHING.
Think about a time when you walked into a room -- maybe it was a job interview, audition, wedding or a reunion -- and at that point in time you felt "less-than." Maybe you felt that you didn't look the part, whatever that "part" was. You doubted if you mattered. You said some not-nice things to yourself. Instead of seeing opportunities, you saw yourself falling short. I hear this all the time from clients that I work with. I hear that they walk into a room and feel like they've missed the mark (before working with me, obviously!) Sometimes it's about their clothes but most often it's about something deeper. In those moments when we really feel that we are less than, that we're not enough, that we don't measure up... we deter possibility and we deflect greatness.
It is almost impossible to attract greatness
when we don't feel greatness within.
Now think about a time when you've felt overwhelmed with
Pride. Joy. Confidence. Gratitude.
Before I embarked on this journey of Self-love, I could think of plenty of times when I was "proud" of myself but I couldn't really put a finger on a time when I thought "wow, I really loved myself right then!"
You know what comes up when you start to honor your Self?
Opportunity. Abundance. Relationships. Wealth.
SO! Here are the building blocks* to cultivating Self-Love and a Life you can LOVE:
1. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.
How many of what your decisions are made in haste? Think about it. Food, clothes, routes to work, responses to texts and emails, the way you spend your monies. Slow the fuck down. And make your decisions based on these two questions:
- Does this honor who I am right now?
- Does this honor who I want to be tomorrow, next month and next year?
Boom. See where that gets you.
2. SELF CARE:
If we go back to the definition of Self-love (as referenced above), it's the attention we devote to the choices we make. Those choices, your choices -- what you consume, how much you sleep, who you date, how you dress, where you work, what you put up with -- add up to a kind of dedication to the Self that no one else can make but you.
When you begin to make choices based out of a sense of love, loyalty and respect for the magnificence that lives inside of you, your choices are automatically "Self-Love Choices."
Imagine yourself as a plant.
Plants need constant shifting and care.
You can't let the plant get overcrowded by other plants.
You gotta keep it from getting choked out by weeds.
You gotta shift it towards sunlight.
You gotta remove the dead stuff.
You gotta water it.
And (spoiler alert)
all plants are different.
Figure out what works for you and your GROWTH.
3. CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHTS.
"My thoughts aren't choices." Yeah. They kinda are. Here's how: you have a choice to attach yourself to what's going on in your mid or choose something else. When this *dawned* on me... GAME CHANGER. Now, when the thought crosses my mind that *holy shit what if I'm actually single forever or what if my legs fall off or what if I won't be able to afford my own ridiculously kick ass modern house, I simply say to myself "meh... that's not a helpful thought. let's not do that." You guys, try it. It will literally save you from catastrophic trips into the wild wildabeast of your thoughts.
Cut the bull shit negative self-talk.
4. SURROUNDINGS & TRIBE:
Who's in your top 5? The top five people you spend your time with have a direct impact on how you view the world and yourself.
- Who are you choosing to be with?
- Are these people lifting you up and encouraging your personal growth?
- Do they have your back?
- Are they confronting you when shit gets whack?
- Is your squad helping you be VULNERABLE or are you shrinking because sharing feels too dangerous?
Check that shit.
Amongst whom are you spending your time in the sense of community?
- Is where you work out competition based or teamwork based?
- Does your place of worship foster fear or courage?
- Is your office sucking the life out of you like a toxic intimate relationship would or fueling your growth?
What are the individual cultures of the places where you are spending the most time?
Check that shit, (too.)
5. GET GRATEFUL.
I know, I know. This is a buzz word. Gratitude, bla bla. But ya'll. It's Biblical (and like all the other major belief systems, too.) Cultivate gratitude for what you have and what you want to have and abundance will have no choice but to flow to you in a dramatic way.