“Why does it have to be so hard?” I cried out to myself.
It was a Friday night some years ago and I sat on my kitchen floor, in my father’s house, sobbing. I attributed this to my high sensitivity to just about everything.
I cried for the missed opportunities, the countless dates that led nowhere, the body I longed for that I felt I didn’t have, the fear of my unknown future. Then it dawned on me: it was not all of these outside factors that were causing the sadness; it was my lack of self love.
Why couldn’t loving myself come easy?
This was a question I asked myself day in and day out for years.
What does it mean to love yourself?
There is no wrong way to love yourself, so long as you are doing just that…loving yourself. Self care is not selfish; it is necessary for growth.
Like boarding an airplane, self love can be scary.
We are scared to go there because we are scared of what we are going to find. Fear can be a wonderful motivator if you allow it to be. There is excitement when you first step foot on your self-love journey. Just like when you first step foot on that plan, relish in that excitement, while honoring the fear.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
So let’s not waste anymore time.
Here is my gift to you—my no-nonsense guide to self love.
1. Plan ahead.
When we book a vacation,we plan out the details of the trip to ensure we are prepared. Self love is kind of the same thing. Time must be carved out each and every day for ourselves.
We cannot expect to positively think our way to a better version of ourselves.
Self love is a verb; it is an action. Ask yourself, what are those actions I need to do each day? Then, carve out the time to do them. Plan to go on that run after work. Take the time to grab a drink with friends and catch up. Read a chapter of that book before bed.
But whatever you do, plan ahead.
2. Know your gate/terminal.
Just as it is crucial to know your gate when you are boarding a plane, it is even more important to know your own “gate…” that is, know yourself. Learn it, understand your wants and needs, likes and dislikes.
In order to get where you want, you must have a clear idea of where you want to go.
Self love is not molding into someone else’s idea of perfection; it is becoming okay with all parts of ourselves.
Work with those parts instead of beating yourself up about it. We cannot love that which we do not know, so get to know yourself.
3. Bring headphones.
Ever travel on a plane with a screaming baby? What about a row of twenty-something guys who have clearly been drinking for hours leading up to the flight?
Yeah, it’s awesome.
Just like being surrounded by noise on our flight, on our self love journey you can bet that there will be noise. This noise may be our family members who call us selfish for spending so much time on ourselves. It may be our friends who simply don’t understand our need to recharge our batteries on a Friday night.
But nine times out of 10, it is us. We are the ones who are beating ourselves up, filling ourselves with negative statements and creating the noise in our heads.
Learn to drown it out.
4. Stay present.
Much like being stuck on an airplane, self love is about learning to be okay with yourself in the moment. When you are in your seat on that plane, you are on that flight. It is next to impossible to be on that flight and simultaneously somewhere else. Yes, we may be so ridden with anxiety and panic at the thought of uncertainty but we must embrace it in order to stay present.
We cannot be totally immersed in that beautiful sunset while we worry and obsess about the size of our thighs. We rob ourselves of the joy of walking our dog when we allow the anxiety of our to-do list to spin around and around in our heads instead.
5. Always, always, travel first class.
And last but not least.
Yes, it may be more expensive to bump up that ticket but think of the joy that comes with the increased leg room, the champagne, exotic food choices and privacy. What can that look like in your everyday life? What would it be like if you bought yourself flowers on a Tuesday, just because? What about looking yourself in the mirror, into your eyes and saying,”You are beautiful.”
We deserve the best now, every day…and even more so on the days we believe we don’t deserve it.
Life is a journey, not a destination. We will travel near and far, we will go places that we can’t wait to return to and places we are scared as hell to even think about. We will travel them alone and we will travel them with people by our side.
But the true journey is the one that takes place inside of us. That journey, is the ride of the lifetime.
Buckle up and enjoy the ride.