More often than not, we forget to take care of ourselves. We put ourselves on the back burner and focus on everything else going on around us. I am sure you have heard the saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” or if you have ever flown before, you have listened to the flight attendants saying that in an emergency, put your oxygen mask on before helping anyone else. Why do those sayings exist? What is the basis for supporting yourself first before helping anyone else? How will you breathe if you are helping someone else get their oxygen mask on before putting yours on? The same logic holds true in our everyday life! We let ourselves run out of energy by giving it all to those around us.
When I talk to people about shifting their focus to themselves, I usually get the same feedback. Most people are taught to believe that taking care of themself is a selfish act or that putting themselves first is selfish. Self-love is not selfish. Self-love is a controversial construct in which the concept has two different sides. Self-love is viewed as positive, which focuses on well-being, self, and health, and then it is also considered negative by looking at it as selfish or even narcissistic. Remember that self-love and narcissism are nowhere close to being the same thing.
What is self-love? Self-love starts with being defined as appreciating one’s worth or value. That is an interesting way to view the term. To respect your worth or value, now, if that is seen as selfish, it might be time to evaluate the people in your world. How can we elevate our self-worth or self-value? We can start by ditching the negative self-talk. Start by switching all of those negative statements about yourself to something positive. Think about your negative ideas about yourself and ask if that is anything you would ever say to anyone else. Probably not, so why would you want to say it to yourself? Try shifting your focus to your positive attributes or restating your negative comments to something more positive. I have stretch marks, or I have grown and birthed two humans with my body! Those stretch marks no longer look so bad; they remind me of the incredible things I can and have done!
Another way to view self-love is to pay attention to your own personal happiness and well-being. How are you doing? What do you need in your life to support your happiness? What works for you to shift your mood to a more self-focused, positive outlook? For me, it is the 30-45 minutes a day I take for myself to exercise, stretch, do yoga, or just be connected to my body. That time helps to reset my mindset, helps to switch my focus, and allows me time to reconnect with myself. All day we run around doing things for everyone else, at home, at work, with family, with friends, and even for strangers. What do you do for yourself? Self-reflection and looking inward can help to evaluate your happiness and well-being. If something is not working for you, or if you need to make adjustments in your day-to-day to elevate your happiness and well-being, what would that look like for you?
Finally, let’s talk about self-love affirmations. Affirmations are statements we create and repeat to help keep us focused on the goal. If the goal is self-love, work on an affirmation to help you maintain the self-love outlook. Today mine is “Self-love is not selfish.” For affirmations, you need to ensure that it feels right for you! What works for me might be different from what works for you. Try a few affirmations to see what feels good. Above all else, remember that it is okay, even necessary, to put yourself first! If we do not put ourselves first, we will always come last. Put yourself first, so you have enough energy to help and support those around you. Keep your cup full, and when it gets low, remember what works for you to refill it.