At some point in your life, treatment someone has probably told you to “love yourself or no one else will?”
This phrase is 90% a steaming pile of bull sh*t, and 10% a misspoken truth. Because even if you don’t love yourself, there are plenty of people all over the world who do. From the ones who are close to you to those you’ve never met, there are so many people who care and are here for you. But this saying, just like a lot of well-intentioned advice on self confidence, has one great piece of advice buried within it: love yourself, and things will get better.
This is where I started to get confused. I knew that the end result of loving myself would be that I felt happy about who I was and what I could do. But how did I get to that place? What were some steps I could take to feel happy about who I was? Turns out, to get started, all you have to do is decide to devote the time and energy to taking care of yourself.
First, you begin to acknowledge yourself by noticing the things you think, say, and do. Just like when getting to know a new person on a date, you’re on the lookout for someone’s habits and traits. Are they nice? How do they treat others? Do they work hard? Are they cute? Are they funny?
Now take those same “noticing skills” and turn them on yourself. Don’t pass judgement—just notice and acknowledge. Be realistic about how you make people feel, what you say and how you say it. Think of all the things you accomplish in a day. If it helps, write them down. Nothing you do is “trivial.” Acknowledge your efforts, and stop saying that you did “nothing” today. You made food for yourself. You listened to music. You went grocery shopping. You did a lot more than you’re giving yourself credit for.
Step two is learning to embrace yourself because you’re the only you there is! Once you’ve acknowledged the things that make you you, begin to embrace them. You’re a damn good cook! Say it loud, say it proud, and then treat yourself to a special home-cooked meal. You’ve got great hair! Treat it to an at-home deep conditioner. You’re a hard worker! Get you a refreshing iced tea.
You’re incredibly kind to others—but remember to be kind to yourself too.
Everything you enjoy doing or like about yourself needs cultivation. Take care of the parts of you that you like. Celebrate and enjoy them. Treat them! Everything that you do in a day for others, try to do for you as well. Include yourself as a recipient of your labor. Gift yourself your own time. Start small, and build up.
A lot of folks have anxiety around treating themselves to things for a variety of reasons—time, money, or other. This exercise helped me and many others combat that line of thinking.
Take out a blank sheet of paper, and set the timer for 5 minutes. Get some nice markers, your favorite pen or pencil, and use the 5 minutes to write down all the small things you enjoy doing that are less than $10, and take less than an hour. From painting your nails to reading a book, drinking a cup of tea, doing yoga, writing a poem, styling your hair, working out, drawing, cooking—the list could go on forever. Write them down, and when the timer’s up take a look at the list, and notice how happy that list makes you feel.
Imagine yourself doing these amazing things. Consider how much time they’d take, and how you’d feel after doing them. Then make yourself a promise: for one hour every day, you’re going to let yourself do one thing from this “safe list.” It’s ok to do them because you have time for them, you want to do them, and you deserve to do them. Best of all, after you do them, you’re going to feel great!
Written by Saint Spicer