"by starting each morning with positive thoughts, affirmations, and words of wisdom, we can grow in body, mind, and spirit." - Louise Hay
We didn't learn to love ourselves in school. Nobody ever told us it was the key to getting through life, or that it was just as important (if not more) as brushing our teeth and getting to school on time.
But this is why blogs exist, so we can finally hear it now. It's important.
In fact, open the selfie mode on your phone right now and say to yourself, nothing is as important as loving myself.
Silence all the other voices in your head that say it's a waste of time, and just say it once to your reflection in the mirror. You don't even have to believe it, just be willing to say it to yourself at least once. So your subconscious will eat it up.
We hear stuff all over the place about how important self-love practices and rituals are, but today I'm going to give you the actual benefits of what happens when you actually practice daily self-love.
Because you're missing out on some truly awesome living.
First off, here's the deal with self-love:
When we take time for ourselves, we become less irritable about doing things for other people.
You can't drive a car with an empty fuel tank, so you can't truly give yourself to other people until you fill yourself up with some good juju first.
And there is nothing selfish about filling yourself up with some good juju (aka love). That's a myth that my favorite self-love guru Amy Smith talks about at length in this very podcast.
So if that's something that stops you from loving yourself, go listen to that podcast and come back, because her argument is very convincing (and true). There is nothing selfish about self-love.
So without further adieu, I'd like to open myself up to you today and share with you the ACTUAL benefits of a daily self-love practice. Like, the real live guts of how setting a sacred space for myself every day has contributed to my overall mental health and well-being.
Here are some of the actual and true benefits I've experienced since starting a daily self-love practice.
1. You can deal with people you don't even like.
There's a few people in my life that I don't particularly like. We all have them, and in a perfect world, we'd be able to live without them, but this isn't a perfect world, so sometimes we just have to get over ourselves and live with them by putting love first.
This doesn't happen over night, so here are some before/after "pictures" of me, in terms of using a daily self-love practice to deal with people I didn't like.
Before: When I came in contact with people I didn't like, I'd inwardly roll my eyes, groan, physically ache, and literally predict that they were going to do me wrong, cause me stress/anxiety, boss me around, be mean, judge me, etc. I would cringe because I would absolutely know they were going to be horrible. (As if I knew the whole truth about everything and everyone).
Notice how all of the characteristics above put me as the "innocent" one, and put them as someone "separate" who is completely at fault. It was always something the other person was doing to me.
After: Now when I come in contact with people I don't like, the initial "ugh" that used to creep in still rises up, but then it slowly inches out. And it happens quickly. Instead of tension and physical pain, it slowly gives way to acceptance for who the other person is, and a comforting knowledge that I am not the gatekeeper for the way this person lives their life.
I come into a slow understanding that this person in front of me is doing the very best they can, just the way I am. This person needs oxygen, water, and love the same way I do.
On a much deeper level, I realize this person is a child of God, and that God loves this person just as much as he loves me. And if God can see the love in this person, then so can I.
2. Problems aren't as catastrophically horrible.
Nobody likes problems and when they happen, we tend to see only the problem and what this problem is doing to us, versus the fact that it's temporary as f*ck.
Before: I once created a vlog for my blog subscribers, and I only had about 30 minutes to do it before I had to leave for work. It had been on my schedule to finish this video before work, or ELSE.
The video was about 10 minutes long. When I'd finally gone through enough 'takes' and got comfortable rolling in front of the camera, I didn't have much time left before work, so by the time the video ended, I was super glad it was over, and proud of myself for having gotten it done.
And then the video didn't save.
There was nothing but a black screen after it ended, and for some reason the whole thing was gone. I was fuming.
I did the whole thing over again, because hell if I wasn't going to get this thing done before work as planned!
But lo and behold, it STILL didn't save. I left for work that day nearly in tears, and you know what? The entire day after that SUCKED.
The coffee was bad, the work was bad, the people were bad. EVERYTHING WAS BAD. And I was depressed and crying by the time I was sitting in traffic on the way home. All because of this stupid video not working, and me feeling like a complete failure.
After: A few months after I started my daily self-love practice, and after this whole tragedy above, I was writing a blog post for this site in Squarespace. I had typed for literally 30 minutes, before the entire page suddenly reloaded and a window popped up that said "Safari quit unexpectedly".
At first I thought, F*CK (and various other expletives). I closed my eyes and cursed in silent rage for about a minute. Then I took a deep breath, and started again. Instead of my previous rage, moaning things like "how am I supposed to remember all the stuff I just wrote!?" and throwing a fit like I used to, I just started writing, and thankfully, everything I'd written, I remembered.
I gave myself a chance to start over. I accepted the fact that things were out of my control, as shitty as they were, but I believed in myself enough to know that I could write the whole thing over again, and that I was talented enough to recreate everything I'd just wrote. I had the most insane trust in myself, like something out of a Disney movie.
I had the understanding that the past was now done. I couldn't do anything to retrieve that lost text. And I knew I could let go of whatever had disrupted me, and start again. The only thing we can really do in situations like that is to keep going. It's so easy to be angry when stuff like that happens, and who wouldn't be?
But my daily self-love gave me the courage and trust in myself necessary to get back to work, to not get so wrapped up in the problem that was already over that I could do nothing about, and to just get the f*ck back to work.
3. You're able to relate to strangers much easier.
Because believe it or not, when you love yourself, you start loving other people. Even people you don't know, and/or expect to dislike.
When you have love for yourself, you're enough, and you're not expecting anything from the other person. You're able to sit and have a conversation with them without any expectation for them to like you, or for them to impress you.
Before: I used to get really nervous in social situations, especially ones where I would meet people for the first time. I'd stay really quiet, rarely say anything about myself, and dread the thought of someone asking me a question about what I did for a living. I'd feel my face get so hot, and I'd start burning up from the inside out.
I had an intense fear of people not accepting me. I'd feel so hurt and humiliated if I said something and someone questioned it, or didn't laugh if I said a joke. All of my worthiness was placed in the hands of complete strangers, and by the end of the event I'd replay in my mind what they must have thought about me, and how dumb and forgettable I was.
After: Thank God for daily self-love. My practice has taught me to rediscover my own self-worth, and that it doesn't lie in the hands of other people. I no longer need to feel accepted by new people I meet, because I accept myself.
And now when it comes to talking about myself in front of other people, I recognize that other people aren't asking about me in order to judge me, but because they're genuinely curious. The only person judging me is me. And as long as I have an inner peace with myself about what I'm doing in my life, it makes me more comfortable when it comes time to talk about it with complete strangers.
It all comes down to what's going on with YOU. When you judge other people, it means you are judging yourself.
4. It's easier to give love back to the people who love you, and to see the love behind their actions.
This pertains mostly to family, but it can apply to other people who are close to you. Sometimes family members and parents flood you with so much love and advice, you push them away.
Before: I used to dread big family events. To me, they were simply opportunities for other family members to see what you were wearing, and judge you on life.
If they asked me how work was, or how school/my boyfriend was, I always felt like they were just looking for some reason to make fun of me or put me down. To me, I was never acceptable, and something about me was always wrong, goofy, or stupid.
After: I started to see my family's inquisition of me as a form of love. They were simply curious as to what was going on in my life, and I noticed that I did the same thing with my cousins who were much younger than me.
I started to see them not as attackers, but friends who loved me very much, and I owed it to them to give them respect, love, and my full attention. No more was there a need to hide myself from them, because I started learning there was nothing wrong with me and who I was.
Low self-worth was something I had learned to think about myself over the years, but the small moments in my day that I took to give myself love, helped me unlearn all of that. Which made my family look to me less like attackers, and more like people who loved me, and I accepted their love with open arms.
5. You get an extraordinary amount of patience.
Impatience is a form of resistance to be where you are. It reveals how unacceptable you think the present moment is, and it creates severe unrest in your mind and body.
Before: I used to be completely unable to deal with how long it took to learn new things. If I couldn't learn a new platform that would seriously help me out in an evening, I'd get so frustrated and never try it again. If I couldn't get my new site up within a month, it wasn't worth it to me. If I couldn't get a guest blog post published in a week, all signs pointed to complete and utter failure.
My mind was all about getting to the next thing that would get me to the other next thing and so on. I'd wake up anxious in the morning because I'd feel super impatient with how long it was taking me to finish my goals for that week, and I'd jump out of bed in a big fat rush because I felt like it was taking me forever to get where I wanted to be.
As if I should want to be anywhere BUT where I am right now.
After: A daily self-love practice (and a little Marie Forleo) taught me to make 'is-ness my business'. Right now is the only place that exists. If I want to get anywhere else other than where I am right now, it means I want to get to a place that does not exist.
I only ever want to experience the now. The journey that is this moment. The whole world is happening right now, in this moment. This is where the party is at! Why would I want to be anywhere else in my life? The things I want for myself in the future are incomparable to what is going on right this second.
The sooner we learn that nothing beats the present moment, the easier it is to live in it. We get so much more relaxed and we allow everything that we want in our lives to fall in place. So much of life is just allowing the things we we want to happen, versus struggling for them.
6. You rarely feel lonely.
It's hard to feel lonely when nothing's missing in your life. Daily spiritual and self-love practices give you the kind of assurance and fulfillment you need to get through days where maybe you wish there was another person around.
Before: I hated going home and being alone on a Friday or Saturday night. It felt like I was in high school with no friends. These were the party nights, and I had no one to party with.
I used to try and make myself feel better by putting on a movie and pouring a glass of wine, but I still felt like I was missing out on something fun. That somehow, being alone meant I was shunned from society, that I didn't fit in, that I was the only one in the world who was home alone, and that no one loved me.
After: It took a few months, but I now enjoy being alone (to a great extent). It gives me time to work on my creative projects, meditate, or just wind down from being around people all of the time. It made me realize there is a particular energy and effort you have to put out there when you're around people, and being alone was like I was recharging that energy, so that I could go out into the world rejuvenated later.
On a more spiritual level, I know that God and the angels are always with me. They never leave my side, and haven't once since I took my first breath on this earth. I can feel God in the presence of everything around me. In the planes I hear, the clouds, the moon, the cars outside, the little bugs I find in my bathroom, everything.
Isolation is hell.
There is nothing worse than feeling like you are all alone, and cut off from everyone else.
Remembering that you are a part of the universal current, a part of everything on this earth, that you are never separate from the oneness that exists in all things, keeps you from feeling isolated and lonely. And if it weren't for my daily spiritual and self-love practices, I don't think I would have ever believed any of that.
7. You start feeling like the richest person on earth.
Self-love practices help you focus on all that is already abundant in your life. They allow you a special time each day to focus on things you are thankful for, and done often enough, it becomes second nature to find thankfulness in small things like spoons, brushes, and shoes. This creates a bigger picture for you of all the love in your life, and you feel rich as hell.
Before: I never felt like I had enough of anything. I never had what I considered to be enough money to buy all the things I wanted. I never had anything to wear (ever), and I always felt like I was lacking in everything. Especially money!
I also compared myself to everybody who was self-employed and making their own money. I felt like I wasn't business savvy enough to make money, or design savvy enough to make my blog look pretty. I never felt like I was where I wanted to be, and I never felt like I would get there. I lived in a constant state of I don't have enough and the world confirmed this for me, since this was my projection.
After: I now feel as abundant as all of those people I used to compare myself to. Most days, I feel like the richest person on earth, and I haven't made a single dollar more than I used to. But it's because my daily self-love practice has taught me to see the riches in everything around me. Pillows, rugs, refrigerators. My own breath.
I've created a kind of awareness about my life now, where I feel as though I am the observer. My mind isn't so quick to react to things, I feel like it's slowed down enough for me to savor and appreciate all the little things, and the little things add up to create this wonderfully abundant life.
You just start realizing you already have so much, that anything added to it is just a bonus, and not necessary for contentment.
So how the hell do I start my self-love practice?
At this point you might be wondering what a daily self-love practice looks like and how you might start one out.
A daily self-love practice is the time you set aside each day to love yourself.
It can be 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, focusing on something that brings you inner peace. It shouldn't be just anything you do, just for the sake of doing it. It should be something that will actually inspire a shift in you, no matter how small, after you're done with it.
It can be absolutely anything that lifts you up, from coloring, painting, and sketching to meditating, journaling, or praying. It's yours to work with.
The lovely Sarah Starrs wrote a terrific blog post on 5, 10, 20, and 30-minute acts of self-love you could incorporate into your practice, and you can also get some other ideas via Jessica from Jessica Says, on quick morning rituals for when you're short on time.
You can journal, write down things you're grateful for, give yourself a foot, face, or hand massage, meditate, read, listen to an audiobook, whatever you want!
I'm telling you, amazing things will happen once you start making time for yourself each day.
For me, at this point it's like my medicine. If I don't get my morning time in, I start to get a bit out of sorts. The biggest things I need in my life are prayer and writing. If I don't make time for those, I pray for the people who have to be around me! (haha).
If you want to experience any of the benefits I mentioned today, I encourage you to start a daily self-love practice.
I've created a free mini workbook to help you get started below, if you're unsure of how to go about it. It comes with a fun activity to get you thinking about different activities you could possibly do, PLUS 30 different self-love activities to include in yours.
Give yourself this time. I swear to you, there is nothing more important than loving yourself.
What you do for yourself, you do for the world.