Twenty-nine has been the first year of my life in which I have been able to experience true love and acceptance of myself.
This is the first time in my life I have ever made caring for myself first and honoring all of me a priority. At the beginning of every year I journal about all the things I want to accomplish in the year to come. I write out all of the goals I want to reach, accomplishments I want to achieve all in longs rambling lists and paragraphs falling into one another. In the past my goals have always been more materialistic in nature – things I can see, things I can touch. I’d write about how in X year I want to buy a new car or save X amount of money. I want to run a 5k in this amount of time; I want to travel here. I want to go there… all goals I would know when I reached them. Goals I can cross off my list once I got there.
As I journaled by a lake on the first day of 2019, for the first time I found myself at a loss. I was feeling emotionally full and I didn’t feel the typical excitement to start the new year I usually felt. For starters, I felt unusually tired. The walk to the lake I sat in front of had been taxing despite being a distance I usually run with no issue. I felt drained. The year hadn’t started with the same kind of fanfare and celebration previous years of my life had. When I laid my blanket next to the lake and pulled out my journal to write, I felt oddly empty. I couldn’t think of specific things I wanted to do. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to accomplish. I wrote this in my journal, confused by my own of lack of enthusiasm. As I continued to write, I found myself getting more and more agitated by my own lack of focus.
Why couldn’t I think of anything I wanted to do this year?
But after a few paragraphs, I found a new approach emerging. I couldn’t think of things I wanted to do, but I could definitely name what I wanted to feel. Instead of writing about the places I wanted to visit, the things I wanted to make happen, I started journaling about the feelings I wanted to feel, the emotions I wanted to let go of and let in. I journaled about the peace I wanted to feel, the kind of laughs I wanted to laugh – the ones that come deep from your gut, laughs that shake your body and are hard to stop. I wrote about how strong I wanted my self-confidence to become and how I wanted to feel as my self-esteem grew. But mostly, I found myself writing about love and acceptance, love and acceptance for myself. I wrote about all the love I wanted to feel for myself. I wanted to feel fierce, protector love for myself. I wanted to feel the unshakeable love for myself and the kind of acceptance for myself that depth of love breeds. I wanted it to be constant, and infinite. I wanted to feel it even in those moments where it feels like the most difficult thing to do.
This year I have taken more steps towards the kind of self- love I craved than ever before. Whether it was honoring how I felt about something rather than pushing my feelings aside or ignoring the negative story I had created about myself, I’ve continuously challenged myself to recognize, appreciate and love all of me. It hasn’t been easy, it has been a messy process. Some days it feels like I have taken two steps forward and then three steps back. There are the days that I’ve allowed myself to continue to feed that same played out negative story, cling to harshness and the ‘I can’t’. But then there have been the other days, days I have challenged myself and questioned my harshness and self-judgement. The more I did these things the less not loving myself fully, completely and always made sense.
The most surprising part of this has been how self-love has actually been the catalyst for me to feel all the others feelings I craved. That confidence I wanted to feel, the esteem I wanted to grow, even the carefree laughs I wanted to enjoy – the more I have made loving and accepting myself a priority, the more strides towards these feelings I have made. A few months ago, I felt the first feelings of the quiet confidence true self-love brings. Although it had been a situation in which I was required to be more assertive than usual and I knew my opinion and truth could cause the other person to not like me as much, for once I didn’t care. I didn’t care because I knew after it all, I would like me. And for once that felt like the most important part, without question.
Often, I think of how much time I’ve spent neglecting to extend this kind of love to myself. I think about all the times I’ve let the opinions of others matter more to me than my own, how often I’ve let the words of others have so much weight. I think of all the limits I’ve put on myself and of all the time I’ve given to undeserving situations and people. I think of all the desires I’ve convinced myself I’m not worthy of, all of the conditions I’ve placed on myself to become worthy.
But I am worthy. I have always been. I will always be, in every stage, in every moment. I am deserving. While there is a little part of me that wishes I had realized this sooner, what matters most is that I am here now and everyday it’s feeling more and more like this is how I was always meant to feel.
If you’ve struggled with fully loving and accepting yourself, I challenge you to
- Be Mindful. Listen to your thoughts, pay attention to your feelings.
- Protect Your Headspace. Make yourself a priority. Spend time with those who don’t make you question your worth.
- Make it clear what you will and will not allow in your life to yourself and others.
- Be Forgiving of Yourself. You’re not going to do the right thing 100% of the time. Forgive yourself for not being the thing no one is – perfect.
- Become Your Best Friend. Talk to yourself how you’d talk to a friend. Be the support to yourself that you’d give to others.
- Practice Gratitude for Yourself. Write out all the things you’re grateful for yourself for. Name the things that make you proud of yourself. Acknowledge all that it has taken to get you to where you currently are.
- Positive Self Talk. Question the negative thoughts you have about yourself. When you feel that “I can’t” coming or feel yourself expecting a negative outcome, ask yourself where that is coming and rewrite the narrative.
- Honor Yourself. Honor what you are feeling. Honor what you are thinking. Do not allow your thoughts or feelings become less important than anyone else’s.
- Give Yourself Time. Self-love is a journey, one that may not always be linear. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Allow yourself to back track. Allow yourself to mess things up and love yourself anyway.
We are deserving.
We are worthy.
We are capable.
We deserve the most righteous self-love out there.