A few months ago, one of my favorite trainers approached me with a book in his hand. It was You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. He flashed the bright yellow cover in my face and asked if I’d read it. Nope. Pushing it toward me, he said, “You need to. Here, don’t lose it.” Sincero has a lot of lists in the chapters, and I quickly noticed that every list, no matter the topic, ended with the same piece of advice, “Love yourself.”
Why would she do that? Pretty redundant. Didn’t her editor notice? I can’t speak for Sincero, but I think it’s because this is foundational to an awesome life. Maybe this should have been day one in our habits for happiness, because it is what this whole thing is about. That’s why on day one, I made the point to talk about being kind to ourselves and not just others. Loving ourselves is primary.
This is no Justin Beiber “go love yourself” stuff.
This isn’t about being vain, and it’s not selfish or self-absorbed to love yourself. It’s self-care. It’s self-sustaining to love oneself.
If you think you are giving 100% of yourself to everyone around you but you are not taking care of yourself, you are fooling yourself. If you are not taking care of yourself, you don’t have 100% to give. You are not being admirably sacrificial. It’s not an honorable thing, as some of us have been misled into thinking, to martyr our self-care in the name of taking care of our family. You may be giving all you have to give to others, but are not running on all cylinders. So, can we just put to bed this nonsense that self-care is optional?
Loving yourself is more than taking time for self-care, though. It’s a deep mindset. I think of my personal growth in this area like the rings on a tree. When a tree is cut, there are rings that you can count to determine the age. Each ring represents a year in its life and they are different widths based on the amount of rainfall that year. See, I don’t know that anyone gets to a point where they have this love yourself thing down. I think we learn over time. Some periods of my life have been a drought in the self-love department, but I’m at a stage where I’m trying to intentionally rain down more on my inner tree trunk.
One of the ways I’m trying to grow a thicker ring this year is through affirmations. I know, I know, it’s so hokey. But here’s why I’m convinced that it works, and I’m going to go back to my happy place, the gym for this story. The way things work at my gym are there are 30-minute sessions wherein the workouts are planned out by the trainers. One trainer is on a microphone telling you what you’re supposed to be doing, for how long, and encouraging you to do it harder, faster, better, etc. Other trainers go around the room helping us with our form. When I started at this place, it struck me that while I was going in for a work out, I was also getting 30 minutes of affirmations every day. For 30 minutes, I was hearing one of the trainers say things like:
You have more in you than you realize. Don’t quit on yourself. Give yourself everything you’ve got. You can do this. Champions get stronger at the game goes on. You’re worth it. There are no quitters in this room. The hardest working people in town are in this room. You don’t know what you can do until you refuse to quit. Go get what’s yours. Take what’s yours. You are stronger than you think. Get out of your own way.
My confidence grew as my pant size shrunk. How could it not? I was being pumped full of positive affirmations for 30 minutes every day. No wonder, I became addicted to this place! How could it not be a happy, albeit sweaty, place when I was hearing all these affirmations? Whether you believe them or not, if you hear them enough, your brain will start to absorb them. Just like it will conversely gladly absorb negative self-talk. It’s the old garbage in, garbage out adage. But we’re reversing it and purposefully putting positive in. I have the following on the mirror in my bathroom, so I have to look at it every day.
I have post-it notes around my desk with sayings like, “You are more than enough. Avoid comparison like the plague” and “Consistently add value to those around you” and “Allow your pain to become your power” and “Buy milk” …oh, wait, that last one is my to do list. Oops.
You get the picture, though. Maybe loving yourself comes easy to some, but it certainly hasn’t to me. So, I’m very purposeful about it. I want to have 100% to give to my family, friends, AND myself. I’m convinced this is the first step. The daily step. The step I never get to skip.