"Good morning self! You look beautiful this morning. Look at your beautiful skin. The lines around your eyes and mouth that tell stories of a joy filled life. The gorgeous stretch marks on your tummy that remind you how your belly stretched and grew and gave birth to life. Your bright eyes that are downturning a bit more with each passing year, reminding you more and more of your father. You are radiant. You are perfect. I love you."
This is the dialogue that I consciously run in my mind when I look at the mirror in the morning. How many of us wake up and say something similar to our reflection? How many of us think about all of the amazing things our bodies do every day and give thanks for another year, month, day, hour, minute that we're blessed with life? In a youth and body obsessed culture, it can be hard to hold a "self-love" perspective; to see all the beautiful things that others see in us.
We think we're alone in beating ourselves up or not acknowledging our beauty, but I can tell you that you're not alone. In fact, I hear women beat themselves up so much when they sit in my makeup chair that it inspired this blog. Whether it's a mother of the bride in her 50s lamenting about her frown lines or a 20 year old model with radiant flawless skin, nearly every woman I've done makeup on has self doubts and insecurities that she wears on her sleeve. It can be so much easier to beat ourselves up and think about all the things we want to change about ourselves than to love the skin we're born in.
It wasn't until I hit my 30s that I started to feel comfortable in my skin. I've been on a mission to love myself at every age and stage especially since becoming a mother. As mothers, aunts, cousins, mentors, the younger generation of women look to us as an example of self-love. If we're beating ourselves up all of the time, talking about how fat we look, how old we look, how we want to have this or that done to ourselves, then they too will be programmed to think they need to start "fixing themselves" at an early age, fear aging and not focus on their inherent beauty. It has forced me to be much more vigilant about how I love myself and encourage my girls to do the same.
It takes everything in me when my daughter grabs my belly and says "look at this chubby pansa mama," to respond, "I love my chubby pansa!" Dear Lord, it takes every ounce of me to say that and believe it! It's such a process. Having spent most of my life conditioned to "improve" myself, it's going to take time to set my default thinking to "damn girl, you fly!" Whether I'm chillin in my pj's with no makeup or I'm wearing my hottest outfit and I'm contoured to high heaven, I want to always feel beautiful in the skin I'm in. It's definitely a process.
You might be thinking, "okay, I know I need to love myself more, but how?" Here are a few tips and regular practices you can incorporate that promote self-love--just in time to support that New Year's resolution, right!?! I'm working on it myself, so I welcome your tips and recommendations too. We're in this together ladies and none of us have all of the answers, so please, share your wisdom!
The words, "I Am" and what follows them are so powerful. I'm a firm believer that those "I Am" statements are the foundation of who we are and our reality. If you're telling yourself that "I am fat", "I am tired," "I am unattractive" then those things will be true. What we say to ourselves, both in our mind and out loud, are essentially a prayer that we send out into the Universe/God/Energy. All of the great teachers tells us that the Universe is out to conspire to support our intentions. What intentions are you putting out into the Universe? What are you telling God/Spirit that you believe to be true? The more we say things like "I Am beautiful," "I Am powerful," "I Am healthy," "I Am Strong," "I Am Self-full," the more it will be true. This might feel odd at first, but I promise you the more you say these things to yourself and about yourself the more it'll be ingrained in the fiber of your being. Now when I wake up in the morning and I'm feeling most vulnerable about my physical appearance, I make it a point to focus on all the things that I love about myself. I only want my girls to hear me utter words of love about myself so that they know they should do the same for themselves. I want them to understand that love and beauty come from within and no amount of someone else telling them they're amazing will convince them of that truth until they believe it themselves.
"Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it's about self-preservation"
Saying "No" and Self-care
Are you a chronic people pleaser? Do you find yourself overextended because you want to be there for everyone that you love and care for? Women especially are innately nurturing healers. We have a desire to be there for those we love; to problem solve; to bring comfort and love. All important qualities, but it can sometimes mean we're taking care of everyone else but ourselves. If you're overworked, over tired, not eating healthy, not making time to move your body, then you're not in the right mindset to show up for anyone as your best self.
Making time to care for ourselves can often mean saying "no" to some of the requests that those we love pose to us so that we have time for ourselves. I felt uncomfortable saying "no" especially when I was in my 20s. I was spread thin and didn't spend much time recharging my battery. I remember one of the healers I've worked with bringing to my attention that one of the reasons I had a hard time saying "no" was because of my fear of not being liked. Realizing that truth helped me step into my power and be more reflective about the reasons why I was agreeing to do things that were causing me stress. Having my own family has really forced me to be more reflective about how I spend my time, so I'm finding it easier to be selective about my commitments. Setting those boundaries is a good thing and those who truly love you will come to understand and appreciate that.
That brings me to self-care. There's no denying that we have full plates with competing priorities, so it's not realistic to always feel fresh and fab, but it is realistic to be conscious about how you're caring for yourself. Whether it's taking 30 minutes to take a relaxing bath, going for a run, giving yourself time in the morning to fix your hair and makeup, cooking your favorite meal, taking a 5 minute walk in the middle of the work day; whatever it is, we should all do something each day that is intentionally meant to care for our mind, body and spirit.
Here are some self-care practices I've committed to this year: training for a half marathon and going on long runs solo or with a friend, monthly facials, weekly at home facials, frequent dates with my husband, and time with my girlfriends. What acts of self love are you going to commit to?
"Birds of a Feather Flock Together"
There's nothing better to reflect back to us who we are and the energy we put out into the world than our friends. Take pause the next time you're with your closest friends and notice your topics of conversation. Are you spending time gossiping? This is a big one. We spend so much time as a society focused on producing and consuming gossip. From the tabloids talking about the BradJolina breakup or the latest Kardashian scandal--we live in a culture focused on "keeping up with the Jones'" and finding joy in others' misfortune. It's how we build relationships within our own lives. Sharing the latest chisme with a friend about another friend is how we've come to show we trust each other and make ourselves feel better about our insecurities. Changing the paradigm can feel daunting when we've been socialized to avoid introspection by judging other people. It's so much easier to ignore the issues within ourselves that need healing when we're focused on things outside of ourselves. Once the conversation isn't centered around gossip or fantasizing about what cosmetic procedure you want to have done now or in the future, space is made for introspective and more productive conversation.
I speak to you as the converted. The first fourteen years of my young life I gave into my socialization and didn't think twice about my tendency to gossip. It wasn't until I sat in a library friendless my Freshman year in High School that I went inward. If I was the only one sitting there friendless, then the problem wasn't everybody else being lame (which is what I told myself); the problem was me. It was at that moment in my life that I chose to be a positive person and surrounded myself with positive people. I stopped talking bad about others as a way of building friendships. Quitting the self deprecation came later in life, many thanks to the inspiration and help of my friends.
It's so much easier to think positive thoughts about yourself and honor yourself when you're surrounded by people who are doing the same. Positive, ambitious, loving, compassionate people are infectious. They shine so bright and inspire us to do the same. Start by being that light and you will attract others who are on the same wavelength if you haven't done so already.
Hopefully this guide has helped either reinforce what you're already doing, has given you some ideas of what more you can do, and/or has given you some good tips to love yourself more today, tomorrow and for years to come. Again, please share your thoughts as well--we're on this journey together.