In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I would like to propose a new idea. Over the years I have spent numerous hours planning the ways to show my loved ones how much I care. I have surprised my kids with crepe paper streamers from their bedroom doors, balloons, stuffed animal gifts and candy. I have printed verses from love songs, made hand-written cards, organized special dinners and the list goes on, but in all of these years, I have never once thought about what to get myself. Social protocol would say this holiday is meant to show and tell others how we feel about them but as busy wives, mothers, sisters, friends - we rarely spend time loving ourselves. Don’t you think we should change that?
My 12-year-old daughter recently brought home a draft of a school paper she wrote and it sparked this idea to create time to foster self-love. Wise beyond her years the title read, “We Learn the Ropes of Life by Untying the Knots.” As I began to read the paper, examples of negative self-talk, self-forgiveness and learning from our mistakes popped off the pages as tendencies that resonated with my own heart. She explains throughout her paper that although we are not perfect, we make mistakes, and we encounter problems, it is through the process of learning we prepare ourselves for our futures. She poured out her young, tender heart by saying that there are times in life she does not feel good enough. Moreover, not feeling good enough can lead to a feeling of powerlessness and anxiousness.
Hello? Did you hear that? From my twelve year old? Can anyone reading this right now honestly say they haven’t felt exactly like this before?
What impressed me more and opened my eyes was that she has a plan to overcome these issues. So here are a few tips a 12-year-old. You may want to grab a pen and a tissue.
Take time to practice what you’re NOT good at.
In regards to self-love, see this as an opportunity to be aware of your negative inner voice, aka inner mean girl. You know that one. It tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough… you get the point. We all have inner thoughts that limit us and the more aware we are of them the quicker we can shut them down. Lately I’ve been working to re-write those scripts with affirmations and positivity. Did you know you can literally re-write that voice? It’s been life-changing for me. I take a negative script that my inner mean girl tries to tell me, and I simply acknowledge the thought for what it is (self-limiting) and replace it with a an encouraging message instead. Now do not let me fool you. This takes practice, but as with anything you work at, it will get better and easier over time. Freeing your mind from negative self-talk allows you to see yourself more realistically and your confidence increases as a result. Self-love is not easy for many women for reasons too numerous to psychoanalyze in this blog! But with patience, self-compassion and practice you will find the benefits are valuable and refreshing.
Ask for help.
Proactively, begin by setting proper boundaries. Too often busy women tend to get busier. I am experiencing that a fuller life doesn’t come from a fuller schedule. Learn to say “no” or agree to never make a commitment to someone or something without giving yourself 24 hours to think about it. People have respected this response from me on many occasions and I found that when I do choose to say “yes” it’s because I am truly vested, excited and the commitment aligns with my personal values and family schedule (not just a favor for someone else which happens too often for people pleasers like me.) Just as you have to practice changing your mental script, you will also have to say “no” a few times before it gets easier or a little less uncomfortable. Saying “no” is a way to show that you respect yourself, your time and your family. Stretching yourself too thin isn’t good for anyone in your life—including you! Now that you have the proper boundaries, the second piece to asking for help is literal. Whether you ask before you need the help, in the midst of needing help, or after getting in over your head (we’ve all been there,) asking for help is a way to let others in. You may have told yourself that asking for help is a sign of weakness, imperfection, or lack of effort but you can reframe this thought too. Consider the perspective that asking for help from others allows them to use their strengths and talents and not asking for help limits others from their potential or opportunity to shine!
Ha! How’s that for a mental 180!? Feels much better—right? Life is about perspective and knowing you have the power to change yours at any time is the ultimate act of free will.
Stay focused on your overall goals.
Your life’s journey will be filled with problems. There is even a verse in the Bible stating this as a fact of life if you want to read it (John 16:33). My daughter eloquently puts it in her paper, “problems are difficult to understand in the moment, and may be hard to overcome, but in the end, they can help you succeed at life.” Too often we get caught up in seeing only our problems (insert negative self-talk here) and we lose sight of our goals. When you stay focused despite your troubles, your willpower to succeed will overcome your reasons to quit. Negative self-talk, poor self-esteem and lack of forgiveness are simply not in the recipe book for what it will take to achieve our goals. When we truly love ourselves, we believe that we are worth fighting for, have the talent necessary to reach our goals and this perspective allows us to extend beyond our boundaries.
I recently discovered the work of Teri Cole, a licensed psychotherapist, who describes authentic self-love as: “regarding yourself in the same positive way that you do other people you love; holding yourself in high esteem; treating yourself with respect; speaking kindly about yourself and to yourself.” If you don’t feel that way about yourself, take the advice of a 12-year-old and do something about it!
Here are five simple steps to get you started: https://terricole.com/create-real-self-love-5-simple-steps/
What I uncovered in two pages writing from a child with just barely a decade of life experiences is that we have the power to change our thoughts; we have the power to learn to love ourselves, which helps us overcome our problems and realize our goals and dreams. When we do this, those around us receive the ultimate gift of love: happy, healthy, confident mothers, wives, sisters and friends. Join me this year and carve out time to love yourself this Valentine’s Day. #selflove2018