Anyone else obsessed with Miley's new song "Flowers"? 💐
If you said yes, I'm totally with you! Not only have I been a Miley fan since her Hannah Montana days, but you know I'm all for a girl lifting herself up and treating herself the way she wants to be treated by anyone else 💁🏻♀️
Therefore, when I heard this song, I knew it was time to drop some self-love knowledge because I'm confident we can all take a play out of Miley's book and love ourselves more.
Now, I'm going to be real with you, I'm NOT an expert in the self-love category... Sure I know a lot of ways to love myself and can be the ultimate hype woman when it comes to encouraging you to love yourself, but when it comes to practicing what I preach... that's where I lose it a bit.
However, I will admit that my self-love game has gotten a lot better over the years. Let's take a trip down memory lane to a presumably dark time in everyone's life... Middle School.
I can't say I had a horrible middle school experience. I found my way to chorus, orchestra, and acting, three passions that brought me SO much joy over the years, learned a TON, and worked towards and finally achieved making the competition team at my dance studio.
But with all that growth came a TON of insecurities. It was during this period of my life that I really started to notice my body- especially how different it was from the thin dancers surrounding me at practice, how I didn't fit in with others, and just how nerdy I was. As many of us do, I started to internalize feedback from others as overwhelmingly negative things and started hating on myself too.
Fortunately, the hatred stage didn't last too long for me as I learned quickly that I was going to be me and as long as I was happy with what I was doing, it didn't matter what other people thought. As for my body... we definitely had a complicated relationship, but I learned to accept what my body looked like and not be revolted every time I had to wear a two piece for dance or obsess over the inevitable comments that were made about how "big" I was while I was on stage.
However, I realized within the past couple of years that I didn't truly love myself. I treated myself like an acquaintance most of the time- quickly acknowledging myself any time I truly saw myself and ignoring myself the rest of the time. I allowed myself to use my mind & body like a machine continuing to grind towards the next goal.
I won't lie- I still struggle with this tendency. Even writing this article now is probably not the most loving thing I could do for myself on my bereavement day. However, the difference between then & now is the primary concept that makes the journey to self-love possible: balance.
We hear this term so often that it's started to lose some of its importance, but it's SO vital to making progress towards self-love. Let's be real: you're not going to wake up one day and decide that you love yourself despite your flaws nor will those flaws just float away. So, in order to work towards self-love, you have to create balance and slowly start tipping the scales towards self-love.
Here are a few ways to get started...
1) Lay It All Out on The Table...
First and foremost- it's time to get real with yourself. What do you truly think of yourself? I want you to write down what comes to mind. What do you love? What do you hate? What random tidbits couldn't you care less about? Let it flow out from you until you run out of things to say.
2) Deep Dive Into Your Mind
Then, I want you to take a look back at what you wrote in order to deep dive through your psyche. Really examine what you wrote and try to think of the root of those thoughts. Is the root something that matters to you? Or is it the result of an external force that doesn't even matter any more?
Let me demonstrate with my own ~super fun~ experience. In middle school, I was cornered in the bathroom by a girl that simply didn't like me. In this "conversation," she berated and belittled me until mercifully someone came out of one of the bathroom stalls so I could change for our chorus performance. During this encounter, I decided not to encourage her with any responses because I knew she wasn't worth it and was only trying to get a rise out of me (mad props to 7th grade me!). However, this didn't stop my mind from using some of her words as evidence for negative beliefs I had about myself. For years I believed I couldn't make close friends because I was weird and no one would want to be friends with the nerd. I know now that this isn't the case because there's been many instances where I've found people who love me for me and share many of my interests, but if I didn't go back and address that belief with myself, I would continue to block myself from the opportunity of becoming close with those around me.
3) Develop an Affirmation Practice
Now that you've acknowledged what you're truly thinking of yourself, it's time to develop a targeted affirmation practice that helps you shift away from the thoughts you wish to leave behind and towards a loving, accepting mindset.
This may look like...
Developing affirmations for how you want to see yourself. Ex. I am healthy. I work hard towards nourishing myself and my body thanks me for that.
Develop affirmations to guide your mind away from old negative thoughts. Ex. I accept myself for who I am- weirdness and all. My interests are what makes me unique and I love being different.
Developing affirmations to bolster the positivity you see in yourself. Ex. I have always been caring and will continue to be this way. It's one of my favorite qualities about me and brings so much abundance into my life.
4) Build Upon Your Relationship With Yourself
As you start doing the inner work, you'll start to notice a shift in your mindset when it comes to how you feel about yourself. This is where I was in high school once I stopped hating myself. It's not the worst state to be in, which makes it extremely easy to get stuck in.
In order to get yourself out of this state of mind, you've got to put the effort in with yourself. It's very similar to developing a relationship with another person, except in this case you can quite literally read their mind and cater to as many of their wants as you desire. This means that it's time to start connecting with yourself (my two favorite ways are through Journaling and Meditation), listening to what you have to say, and taking care of yourself. At first, it may feel a little bizarre, but feeling in and listening to yourself as you'd listen to someone else is the most steadfast path to developing a loving relationship with yourself.