Self-Love can radicalize your life
by DEFINE’s Emotional Wellness Expert, Jessica Pass, LMFT
It’s officially Valentine’s Day, the international day of Love; a day of sending flowers, cheesy chick flicks and excusing ourselves to eat ridiculous amounts of chocolate goodness. Whether you’re celebrating with a special someone or ignoring the day all together we can all relate to needing a little more love in our lives…especially towards ourselves.
Let’s be real, loving others is so much easier than really and truly loving ourselves. We’re judgmental, critical, doubtful, embarrassed, regretful and sometimes ashamed of who we really are that we spend so much time masking our uniqueness by denying our feelings, adopting belief systems and buying into fads that just aren’t true to our true selves. It’s easier to buy into the media’s perception and expectations of what we should look like, feel like and sound like that we can become disconnected from ourselves. We believe that our identity is found in what we do, what we look like, how successful we are and whether or not we can fit into those size 4 jeans, virtually setting ourselves up for failure by trying to squeeze every bit of our uniqueness into a “one-size fits all” model.
Pictured DEFINE instructor Ashley Barber, Photography & Design Christi Minter, DEFINE body & mind
I’m the first one to admit I fall victim to the notion that buying the cute outfit, landing the perfect husband or decorating the perfect house will finally fill the void that taunts me in the quiet of my mind. The one that doubts, denies, blames and shames me for not meeting those “realistic” expectations of perfection. Maybe you can relate here? Has your biggest hurdle always been you? Do you find yourself struggling to believe you are capable and worthy, doubting yourself and wishing perfection to fill the chasm deep inside of insecurity and inadequacy?
What we have to remember is that we hold an immense amount of power within our minds. Thoughts of empowerment, assurance, validation, strength, kindness and respect have got to take front and center. If we really want to be equipped in relationships to love fully and without abandon, we have got to first experience this type of love towards ourselves. The way we love is a direct reflection of how we experience it and if we believe we deserve it. If we, our biggest obstacle, the one that knows EVERYTHING about us, the good, the bad and the ugly, cannot express true, genuine love for ourselves, we will not be able to trust it coming from someone else.
When we make the decision to love who we are, we are actively embracing our flaws and extending gentleness and kindness towards ourselves that will ultimately enable us to be our best selves. Eliminating self-criticism, worry and self-doubt is difficult–it won’t happen overnight and will more than likely creep in time and time again, however, it does not have to be the theme in our lives. We can find freedom in loving ourselves to come alive and live a fuller, happier life.
If you want to radicalize your self-love this Valentine’s Day and enhance your life get a pen, some paper and take notes.
Take time daily to comfort your mind, body and spirit with thoughts of embracing yourself for who you are. This can be challenging, especially if you relate to being your biggest critic. However, the more and more you practice the easier it becomes. Just as negative self-thought becomes a reactionary response to any discomfort or stress, positive self-thought can also become the same. You can actively change your reaction just by first recognizing what you are actually doing. From here awareness is created and change becomes more readily accessible.
Your emotional hug can be a verbal affirmation or written positive statements. If you haven’t seen the video of a 4-year-old girl on YouTube (click here) standing in front of the mirror and commanding powerful affirmations about herself you are missing out! Click here to view it and be ready to feel her self-love radiate from the screen into your heart. We have a lot to learn about this young girl’s determination to build herself up and start her day self-assured with who she is, a unique and beautiful soul.
TAKE YOURSELF ON A DATE
You heard me. Plan a night, afternoon, Saturday morning, whatever works for you, to just be alone. Get a pedicure, meditate, take a fitness class, walk in the park or visit a museum. Feel empowered by the time you have to get to know you. Being alone can be awkward and uncomfortable, so start with what feels best and build on it. If staying home feels better just make sure you unplug. Turn the TV, computer and smartphone off. It’s important, with how accessible social media is and everything else found on the World Wide Web, to take breaks and remember that just because you aren’t physically with someone, you can be looking to fill the void online. You wouldn’t like it if you were on a date with someone constantly looking at their phone, so give yourself the same respect and take a break while you spend some quality time with you.
Being OK with who you are is the most important thing you can do for yourself and others around you. Spending time alone strengthens our inner-voice, creates focus, and confidence. It takes guts to eat alone at a restaurant or go to a movie by yourself. You might even find yourself wondering if others think you are weird or a loner. Try to quiet those voices and take pride in the courage you have to be alone and comfortable in your own skin. Remember that outer beauty radiates from the inside-out. Self-love creates self-assurance and self-confidence, an incredibly attractive quality that will attract positive people into your life.
What you take in daily and how well you engage in regular exercise will make a dramatic difference in your feelings about you. When we feel healthier, stronger and more energized we are more likely to focus on the positives in our lives, feel empowered and view ourselves as attractive. You’ve heard the saying, “Your body is your temple”– take initiative and learn about creating healthier nutrition habits to take care of the one body you were given. Try a refreshing and vitamin rich smoothie with powerful nutrients and mood enhancing power foods or better yet, make your way to the Define Foods section of the blog and explore DEFINE’S In-House natural foods chef, Erin O’Leary Stewart’s fantastic selection of energy rich foods that will inevitably wake up your body and re-energize your system.
I cannot stress enough how powerful movement and exercise are for your self-esteem. Attending an upbeat fitness class at any one of our DEFINE locations is sure to get your blood pumping and your feel good emotions running! Regular exercise, no matter what you enjoy, is an all-natural mood enhancer sure to boost your self-esteem. Not only that, but regular exercise and proper nutrition now, enhances your life expectancy and communicates care and concern for not only you, but also those around you by sending the message that you love them enough to love yourself.
These are just a few ways of many to extend and express self-love and engage in a life-long romance with ourselves. The effects will not only enhance how we experience love but also how we love those around us. Without fully accepting, embracing and loving who we are, we are incapable of being the love to others that we desire and find paramount to our relationships. In addition, without first loving ourselves, flaws and all, we can easily mistake true love for other less desirable forms of “like,” robbing ourselves of the love we deserve.
Knowing all of this is one thing, but taking action to change how we show ourselves love is the second most important step. Take action now by leaving a comment about what thoughts you found to be the most helpful or how you are extending radical love towards yourself today. This Valentine’s Day, let’s not only reach out to those around us and express love, let’s reach inside ourselves and truly experience the powerful and life changing effects of SELF-love!
DEFINE’s Emotional Wellness Expert, Jessica Pass, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Instructor at DEFINE body & mind. She has a private practice in Houston, Texas, specializing with children, adolescents, individuals, couples and parents. Jessica’s approach incorporates mind-body integration, education and practical strategies to improve emotional wellness, emphasizing all aspects of who we are to live fully and thrive in our relationships.
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