I can't recall when I first learned about self-love. I'm sure it was in the last five years or so—nowadays it seems like everyone is familiar with the term. I do believe, however, that the concept of self-love had been waiting for me to discover it for a while.
I needed self-love. I need the tender love and care that it offers my body, mind and emotions. Had I not come across the idea, who I am as a 26-year-old woman would be very different. It would have been nice to learn these six particular practices sooner, but as the saying goes, "Better late than never."
1. SETTING BOUNDARIES
It's completely OK and acceptable to distance and separate yourself from toxic people. It's not wrong to distance yourself from those who wear you down! I want you to know that choosing yourself is OK. Walking away to protect your peace is not only allowed, but I encourage it.
2. TAKING A BREAK
I've learned that giving yourself time to breathe and reflect, especially following times of great stress, is essential. This allows you to process what you are feeling, why these feelings arose, and how in the future you can better prepare for similar situations. I've come to find that I need a break every now and then, and that it's not weakness—it's simple self-care.
Looking at yourself in the mirror and reciting a set of affirmations with conviction may seem a little silly at first, but lifting yourself up in praise and validation can be empowering. I've been using affirmations in my life for the last couple of years and they've been transformative in my mindset.
4. FORGIVE MYSELF
I think we've all heard the old adage, "You are your own worst critic," and it's true. You will sooner tear yourself apart for a mistake than another. And if you're like me, that mistake can follow you around for hours ... and sometimes, days. Set yourself free. Mistakes will be made, and when you hang onto those missteps, you're giving power to your inner critic.
5. USE POSITIVE SELF-TALK
The way you talk to yourself matters and holds great power. This is one of the reasons that I like affirmations so much—because you are reinforcing yourself with positive self-talk. Next time you find yourself making a self-deprecating comment about yourself, I encourage you to take a step back, ask yourself where that comment came from, and follow up with an affirmation or an "I" statement that's focused on something you like about yourself.
6. LET MYSELF FEEL
I'm an overall positive person, but choosing positivity doesn't mean ignoring all other emotions—you need to feel. What I don't allow is for myself to dwell in negative emotions for too long. Sadness and anger are both valid emotions, and I give myself time to experience them, but I do not allow them to rule my life.
Try implementing even one of these practices today. You deserve self-love, too!
Written by Hannah Pikaart for West Michigan Woman.
Photos courtesy of Hannah Pikaart.