Written By Tracy Orozco
A shell is both hard & fragile, yet it serves to protect and encase certain organisms. Your body is the vessel you use to navigate this world, making it significantly comparable to a shell. Your body is also considered to be your temple, as cliché as it sounds. In other words, honoring and caring for your shell, will lead you to growth, peace and happiness. The most compelling way to honor and care for your shell is to nurture its main control center, your mind. In order to nurture your mind, you need to practice self- love conscientiously.
For many of us, the concept of self-love could be viewed as something cheesy. Most of us imagine a kumbaya circle, filled with toxic positivity and self-help books. But, as many psychology studies indicate, self-love and compassion are essential for mental health and your overall well-being. Self-love means having a high level of attention/interest for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means nurturing your own needs and not reducing your well-being to satisfy others. In essence, self-love means not settling for less than you are worthy of.
Self-love can seem extremely unattainable, when you’re trying to overcome your ego, insecurities and psychological traumas.
The goal is to practice these techniques in order to achieve a healthy level of self-love: Gratitude recognition, holding space for healthy habits, self-kindness/compassion, mindfulness, journaling/reflecting, setting healthy boundaries and positive self-talk.
Gratitude recognition could be considered the most important step in our self-love journey. Gratitude journaling is a great way to reflect and start gratitude recognition. List 5 things you’re grateful for every day. Make gratitude a reflex. When you become gratuitous with life, you immediately stop comparing yourself to others. Comparisons jeopardize self-love and pull you away from your true self. Therefore, you become a stunted version of yourself. Comparisons bring toxicity from the past & future into the present. The present is nourished by gratitude.
Self-kindness/compassion is key to our self-love journey. We need to be our biggest fans, instead of our own worst critics. In other words, you should strive to have compassion for yourself and eliminate your inner critic / ego. In order to practice self-kindness/compassion, you need to have a level of understanding and forgiveness with yourself. When you’ve spent years cultivating your inner critic, you develop a senseless reflex to put yourself down for every small thing, no matter how insane or absurd it may be. You must incorporate self-compassion/ kindness in your every day, by bringing awareness to your experience. For instance, when you’re in a depressive funk, instead of saying “I’m depressed, I don’t can’t do anything right now, try saying : “ I feel helpless, I wish I had the energy to do this alone.” By doing this, you are dis-identifying with your depression and beginning to view it as an experience instead.
Another way to practice self-kindness/compassion is practicing positive self-talk. Writing down positive self-affirmations is a brilliant way to practice positive-self talk and gratitude. Make a list of 7 things that you love about yourself. Do this every day, multiples times a day if you can. You can also write positive affirmations, on a post it note and place the notes on your fridge, bulletin board, mirror, etc. Positive self-talk is a powerful tool for harnessing motivation.
Which leads to the next technique: developing healthy habits. Developing healthy habits can seem like such a hassle. Your life could seem too crazy, to fit in a healthy and mindful dieting/exercising routine. But, in truth, these tedious tasks'' are part of your growth and evolution. What you put in your body and what you do with your body, affects your mental health in a grandiose way. Setting up a weekly routine will keep your body and mind healthy. Something as simple as making healthy choices, like eating vitamin rich foods and hydrating 8-10 times a day, can enrich and improve our mental health in a colossal way. Something as manageable as walking, spending time in nature, jogging or stretching can boost your brain's natural serotonin and endorphin levels. Breathing exercises such as: diaphragmatic breathing, deep breathing, pursed lip breathing, alternate-nostril breathing, resonance breathing, and equal breathing are also mindful ways you can practice self-love.
Lastly, but certainly not least, adopting healthy boundaries will boost your self-love to the next level! Setting healthy boundaries is not an easy thing, but the rewards will be so worth it. Healthy boundaries look like: drawing boundaries that scare you, resting, checking in with yourself before you respond or commit to something, doing things that truly light you up instead of doing things to please others, honoring your values, communicating your needs and desires, being very clear with your priorities and lastly being direct. Adopting healthy boundaries will help you, connect with yourself, your emotions and your needs. Healthy boundaries will guide you, and make you feel safe and empowered to nurture yourself and cut any unhealthy people in your life off.
All in all, self-love is a full-time job. But I promise you, it’ll be the highest paying job you’ve ever had. Although you won’t be paid in actual currency, you’ll be paid in emotional exponential growth, which will help you achieve all the dreams and goals you thought were so out of reach. Humans tend to struggle with self-love because we tend to base our self-worth on the approval of others. Thus, creating a never-ending spiral of fear and self-doubt. Both fear and self-doubt are violently fueled by the ego. The ego is extremely difficult to see because it appears as an attachment to our identity. The ego can also deceivingly appear as our protector. But in truth, the ego limits us and sabotages our self-love and ability to support and love others. The most effective way to remove the ego is to practice self-love and live in the present.
The recommendation is to practice self-love techniques, for long periods of time, multiple times per day. Take care of your shell and it will take care of you. Center yourself, stay grounded, and remember, practice makes progress
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