Each day, we show up for others. We share a laugh with a coworker or kind word with our barista. We are patient with our children and loving towards our partners. And sure, perhaps the degree of goodness fluctuates slightly from day-to-day, but most of us believe that at the root of it all, we are good people.
This begs the question – why is it that we rarely reserve the best of ourselves for ourselves? I’m not sure about you, but my internal dialogue is rarely as kind and compassionate when directed towards myself. While I am deliberate in the words that come out of my mouth, the voice inside my head goes unfiltered and unchallenged. While that wouldn’t be such a problem if it turned out that my internal voice had the temperament of a sweet, nurturing mother, it turns out that my internal dialogue lacks the traits I hold dear as a “good person.” When I began to tune in to the dialogue in my head, it turned out that my internal voice can be judgmental, belittling, and sometimes just mean. The love and compassion that I carry in my relationships with others is nearly completely absent.
Self-love and self-compassion may seem hippy dippy, but in truth they’re the cornerstone of our well-being. Even the smallest acts of self-care can “fill our tank” by reducing stress, boosting our self-esteem and physical/emotional health, and even enhancing our relationships with others. Fortunately, we can practice self-love and compassion in even the smallest of ways to reap big benefit.
Step One: Tune In!
Awareness is the first step to building understanding of ourselves so that we can grow and live our best lives. Engage curiously with your own internal dialogue – and be sure to do it non-judgmentally! What do you learn about the messages you’re sending to yourself? What tone does your internal voice take? Do you notice any changes to your internal dialogue based on your stress level? By tuning in with ourselves and deliberately fostering thoughts of self-compassion and love, research shows us that we’re actually able to rewire our brains to default to the positive. All it takes is some diligence and practice and you’ll be able to nurture a kind and loving mindset.
Step Two: Transform Daily Routine into Acts of Self-Love
What if we transformed our daily chores into regular acts of self-love? Hold a morning jam session to your favorite tunes while you brush your teeth each morning. Burn your favorite scented candle while you make lunch for your kids. Practice mindfulness while you walk your dog. Write a love letter to yourself while in line at the grocery store.
Self-love doesn’t have to be radical, nor time-consuming and it can be a great use of your creativity. By creating these micro-moments of self-love, you’ll elevate your life in a big way.
Step Three: Prioritize Self-Care
The notion of self-care always prompts the thought of spa days or long, tropical vacations, but self-care can be as simple as blocking off time in your calendar on a hectic day to catch a breath, or painting your nails your favorite color. While many of us are comfortable in a caregiver role, we often overlook self-care as a way to practice self-love and compassion.
For some of us, self-care can mean action, and for others it can mean rest. You know what self-care looks like for you. Although our society downplays the necessity of self-care, know that it is a key ingredient to thriving. Taking care of ourselves allows us to extend the goodness within each of us to others sustainably.
Tuning in with ourselves, creating a routine built on love, and prioritizing self-care are small ways in which you can create a life you love. These actions are not selfish but rather selfless – they help you to be the best possible you, which in turn elevates those around you. Today, you can even start with the smallest of micro-movements: stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say “I love you and I am grateful for you.” There’s only one you that ever was and ever will be, so why not love it?