Ever felt like you already own a small library filled with self-help books, listened to every podcast there is and still don’t really feel better? In this blog post I will share my biggest and most important habits and tools that have helped me to actually practice self-love and brought radical change into my life.
A few years into my inner growth journey I read a quote that resonated deeply with my soul and turned everything I had thought I’d learned upside down. Just like that.
“It is not through healing that you will love yourself. It is through loving yourself that you will heal.” – Anabel Vizcarra
Yeah, it might sound counter intuitive at first. But in the moment I read that quote for me something clicked. It opened my eyes and I started to see.
At that point in my life I had already read every self-help book I could get my hands on, had listened to every podcast and still felt that something was lacking. It felt like there was this unsatiable void that needed filling, but all the books and podcasts and soul searching in the world wouldn’t help me fill it.
And in the moment I read this quote I understood that I had fallen prey to one big mistake:
The idea that I could somehow acquire inner healing. Self-love. But just like with happiness, self-love is nothing to be acquired. It cannot be bought, claimed or coaxed into our lives. It has to come from within. Genuinely and unapologetically.
I realized that for many, many years I had tried to find my self-love through reading every possible book and digging up what felt like my entire childhood again and again.
And don’t get me wrong.
Understanding past hurts and trauma can be crucial and essential in our healing journey. But I genuinely think that there comes a point where it starts to get repetitive. When every past hurt and spilled tear has been thoroughly inspected, many times at that. And it can feel like we are walking in circles.
That’s exactly what happened to me.
I felt like there wasn’t anything left for me to learn through all these books I read, the podcasts I listened to. I had acquired so much knowledge, but still it didn’t make me feel any better.
As soon as I’d had this new insight, I understood exactly what I had to change. I had to do less - and live more. It was really about applying all the principles I had learned about. Applying the knowledge I had acquired. It was about living them.
Instead of reading the 223rd book about more or less the same topic, I sat down on my butt and concentrated on actually loving myself. Telling myself kind things, closing my eyes and giving myself an internal hug, being really effing nice to myself.
Since then I developed many everyday habits that have helped me (and continue to do so) immensely to not only read about self-love, but actually practice it.
MY MOST IMPORTANT EVERYDAY SELF-LOVE HABITS
HAVING KIND SELF-TALK
If you’d take a jar and put a dollar in it every time you think something mean about yourself, how would your jar look after a day?
Many of us struggle with negative self-talk. It is incredible how mean we can be to ourselves. Think about your inner dialogues. Would you talk to your best friends like that? If the answer is no, there goes another dollar.
Fact is, we ourselves can be our greatest bully – or our knight in shining armor. It all boils down to the choices we make. Yes, it might be true that we didn’t have any control over past experiences that brought us to this point in our life. But we do have control over what to do with it. How we want to shape our future.
The thing is: negative self-talk is a habit.
But then, so is positive self-talk. We can become more aware of the self-talk we’re having all day. And once we’ve become more aware, we can train our mind to change it. We can train our mind to have more positive self-talk. It will become more and more automated the more we practice it. Training our mind is like training a muscle. The more we do it, the better we’ll become. I will say this again and again.
The following method I developed myself. It helps you to build the habit of having kind self-talk and had a profound impact on my own life:
“THE STICKY-NOTES METHOD”
Here’s how it works:
Put a sticky note someplace you can see it as often as possible. Write down the following affirmation:
“Today, I focus on everything that I am instead of everything that I am not.”
Every time you see the note check in with yourself. Just take a beat and ask how your self-talk was doing since the last time you looked at your sticky note. Were you being nice to yourself? Kind? Or were you being mean, bullying yourself internally? If the latter is the case, don’t fret. Don’t judge or berate yourself for the negative self-talk. This would only bring more of the same.
Forgive yourself instead.
Then go on an rephrase your self-talk. Say something nice instead. Hug yourself internally. See yourself for this amazing human being that you are, trying so hard, doing the best you can. See that you deserve so much more.
That you deserve it all.
Because in reality, you do.
This is an amazing visualization meditation that’s not only super quick and effective but most of all, healing. You can do it anywhere, anytime. If you’re out and about, just excuse yourself to the restroom for one minute. This meditation is my go-to first aid kit when I feel that my thoughts and emotions are headed down a negative or self-depreciating path.
In this meditation you visualize yourself standing in front of a mirror. You look at your own reflection and tell yourself the three words.
Look at yourself and say, “I love you.”
Feel your own love flowing from you, to you.
It might take some time to get used to this meditation and feel awkward the first time you do it. But from my own experience I can only say that this meditation had the most profound impact on my life, and I still do it on a regular basis.
CHECKING IN WITH YOUR NEEDS
In this busy life we’re living it’s easy to forget our needs, to override them. Work is demanding, the social schedule pressing, the to-do list growing and all we really want to do is take a nap.
As we go on through our day we have to meet lots of needs. The needs from our family, friends, work. But what about our needs?
One habit that lets us practice self-love on a daily basis is checking in on our needs. Mind and body. We have to make a habit of asking ourselves what we need. Is it rest? More social interaction? Or less? A girl’s night out? An evening just for ourselves?
So you feel drained and don’t want to go to that social event? Well, don’t. Of course you can’t cancel every social obligation all the time. But you can make space for yourself here and there. For your self-care time, hobbies, sports or maybe to do absolutely nothing if that’s all you want to do.
There is nothing selfish about prioritizing your needs.
Read that sentence again.
More importantly, prioritizing your own needs is necessary. Because you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So let’s make a habit of filling it up.
If you have any questions or thoughts I'm more than happy to hear from you. Don't hesitate to reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org