When the topic of self-love comes up, there are so many different reactions. It makes some people squeamish and uncomfortable. Some people equate self-love with being selfish (I’ll admit, I used to be one of those people). I didn’t used to have a healthy perspective of self-love. I surely didn’t value it much less cultivate it. I grew up thinking it was normal and expected that I sacrifice myself for the happiness, prosperity, and good of others. I didn’t understand that I had a relationship with myself. The thing is, I wasn’t alone.
I didn’t grow up having or hearing conversations about cultivating my self-love. I grew up watching my mom pour every fiber of her being into everything and everyone but herself. I saw her friends doing the same thing. Even though that’s not what I wanted for my own life, I followed in their footsteps. As I really stepped into adulthood, I almost ceased to exist as an individual. I was wrapped up in labels and the responsibilities that came with them all. The more demanding those roles became, the smaller my part in my life became.
I didn’t want to live my life like that anymore. Spending the majority of my life each day at a job I didn’t enjoy. Working to pay for a house I was hardly in with things I was too tired to use. Putting all of my dreams on hold until I reached retirement. Overstretching myself with commitments. Spending my free time filling the responsibilities of the roles I had. Never making time just to relax, have fun, and enjoy life. Taking care of those I loved and making sure their wants and needs were fulfilled. Going from work to activities and commitments. I was miserable but I thought that’s what life looked like. I didn’t realize I could live it differently.
There came a point I couldn’t continue on like that. I had sacrificed and deprived myself too much for too long. I had no hobbies, no time to myself, no fun, life was all work and no play. I started finding ways to do little things for myself. At first, it was hard to find the time but I found ways to squeeze it in. Sometimes I was so tired I’d rather sleep, but I knew how good I’d feel after doing something I liked. It started with going for a walk while my daughter was in gymnastics instead of waiting in the lobby killing time scrolling through social media on my phone. Then I started going to the library and picking up books to read before I went to bed as well as audiobooks to listen to on my commute to and from work. I began to doodle, paint, craft, and play racquetball.
I realized that this was important. It’s not something I valued or that even made my list of priorities but it was extremely important. I would never expect my relationship with my husband to thrive without devoting time to it yet somehow I expected to be a happy person without giving myself any time or nurturing my needs and wants. In the beginning, it honestly didn’t take much time. It was so nice to do something for myself that I would take what I could get. One quick chapter, 15 minutes of doodling, a half hour leisurely walk at sunset, I’d take what I could get! Each of those things started to make me feel alive again.
The more time I dedicated to myself, the more I valued it. It no longer seemed frivolous, selfish, or like a waste of time. I no longer thought there was something better or more productive I could be doing. I started evaluating the way I spent my time and dropping every commitment that didn’t directly sow into my life in a way I wanted it to. I didn’t want to live my life backwards anymore. Adding everything to my bucket list and putting everything on hold until I retired and had the time and money.
One of the best things I learned how to do was make time for myself. Enjoy the moment, make the most of today, and do something for me each day. Whether it’s a warm relaxing candle-lit shower or an hour of practicing calligraphy. I want to be present in my life. I want to make the time to cultivate the relationship with myself. I want to practice self-love in a myriad of ways. These days I’m very selective about what I commit to and how I delegate the responsibilities in my life. I don’t believe that I have to do everything on my own. I’m not afraid to ask for help. I’m not afraid to say no. I enjoy being apart of my own life and cultivating the love and relationship with myself. Those around me benefit from it as well because I can show up with more energy, love, enthusiasm, and in a better mood when I’m at my best.
Today I just want to encourage you to evaluate the relationship you have with yourself. Have you ever stopped to think of it as a relationship? Are you giving yourself the time, love, and energy you need? Are you treating yourself like the individual you are with wants, dreams, and needs? Are relaxation, fun, and creativity as important as they should be in your life? Do you spend so much time fulfilling roles and responsibilities that you don’t actually live? Just some things for you to explore. I know I lived that life and it’s not for me. I encourage you to live life on your terms because the more you enjoy it, the better it is for everyone.
Sending lots of love your way!
Former self-sacrificer turned women’s worthiness coach
Have you signed up for the 7-week journey of self-love through kindness yet? If not, I encourage you to do so! It will support you in cultivating a relationship with yourself.