What are the stories I tell myself that interfere with self-love?
Self-care is the way in which we care for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Practicing self-care is a proactive way that we can show ourselves self-love and to help us be our best.
Self-care means knowing and understanding all aspects of ourselves. It means not only making space for our flaws and weaknesses, but also our strengths, well-being, and overall happiness.
For many people, these concepts of self-care and self-love can be new.
I’m slowly learning that self-love doesn’t make you selfish, or a narcissist. It means that you won’t settle for less than you deserve. You understand and respect your own needs.
I was taught that prioritizing yourself or your needs is selfish and that you should focus your energies on other people. As the oldest child in the house, my needs were not a priority. This is especially true since in many instances I was expected to be the parent in the household.
The challenge is that as I continued to advance in my personal, and professional life, I never took time to appreciate it. My family would indicate that they were very proud when I graduated high school, or graduated from college, or earned my Masters. Each time I would snidely indicate that “it was nothing” and to “wait until I did something meaningful.” As I earned my Ph.D., I felt myself still holding that poisonous mindset.
As the saying goes, we are often our own worst critics. Practicing self-love means ditching that old maxim and moving forward.
Love Yourself as You Love Others
In my house, there is a running joke. I say that it is a running joke because my family never knows what to give me as a gift because I already have everything I need.
Every time I’m asked what I want for a gift, my response is always that I want my family to be happy and healthy. I started with this mindset not soon after I started dating my partner.
The mindset has carried on to this day as my children make their Christmas lists. It becomes a big production and they ask what I want “from Santa.” They happily scribble down all of the things they want and then turn to me. I begin to utter my same manta, and then one of the kids kicks in with “we know, we know.” They all begin to mimic me and turn to the next person on the list.
The truth is that practicing self-care and self-love often just means extending the same respect and care you have for others to yourself.
This is an opportunity for my family to show me love, even in a materialistic fashion. This is also an opportunity for me to show myself some grace, love, and care. Perhaps my children need to see that it is okay, and that is the most valuable gift I can give them.
Make Time For RAIN
Work self-care into your daily routine with small, achievable steps to increase your self-kindness, self-love, and humanity.
The acronym RAIN from Tara Brach is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion using the following four steps:
- Recognize what is happening;
- Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
- Investigate with interest and care;
- Nurture with self-compassion.
This post from Brach shares the full description of the steps of RAIN as well as a guided meditation. The RAIN of Self-Compassion includes the steps of RAIN, as well as some translations to other languages.
Take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps whenever challenging feelings arise.
Create an environment for yourself in which you can make mistakes, grow, and flourish.