Love is a wonderful feeling. It makes us feel secure, warm, and protected. Often, we dream of receiving some form of love from others, or aspire to give some form of love to our nears and dears. However, the key to the best kind of love lies deep within each one of us. Be it love for one’s career, partner, or the environment – all love for anything external can be directly tied to self-love. Without having love and compassion for the self, we will often find ourselves struggling to connect with things and people around us.
That said, the pressures of today make it difficult to easily embark on a journey of self-love. Thus, mindfulness becomes even more important. We are so good at touching base with others, but so good at not being in tune with ourselves. As such, here are some pointers on how you can practice self-love in your daily life by consistently and continually checking in with yourself through the following questions:
Question 1: How do I feel right now?
We’ve had it asked to us way more than we’ve ever asked it to ourselves: how are you? When given to others, the answer is usually surface-level and colloquial, rather than introspective and honest. However, it’s essential to have a candid conversation with yourself and actually allow yourself the space to hear the true answer. Not only can this effectively inform next steps in either maintaining or changing how you feel, but it can support the processing of your emotions so that they come out in the form of positive energy that adds value to your life. Notice what is taking up most of your headspace and what that tells you.
Question 2: What am I thankful for?
Gratitude is directly correlated to greater happiness, but it doesn’t come naturally. As complex animals, we are amazing at identifying the negatives in our lives and find ourselves overwhelmed at work trying to solve issues and problems. In an ocean of would’ves, should’ves, could’ves find the people, activities, and even personal traits and accomplishments that you are thankful for. Whether it be as ordinary as pancakes for breakfast or as extraordinary for a breakthrough in your counseling sessions, there’s always something you can express gratitude for. As an added bonus, thankfulness is a life hack for coping with challenges and blocking out toxins such as envy, regret, rumination, and resentment.
Question 3: What (or who) can I let go of that is no longer serving my well-being?
Without realizing, we sometimes have repetitive patterns that become so familiar and normalized to us, that we don’t fully understand that these patterns have become energy draining mechanisms in our life. This may appear in the form of a seemingly harmless habit such as sacrificing sleep to binge a television show, or a seemingly harmless friendship that has outlived its purpose but is only in our lives because of a long history. Give yourself the intention to evaluate such presences in your lifestyle, and the permission to respectfully leave through the exit door when something or someone is continually making you feel bad about yourself and is taking more from you than giving to you.
Question 4: What am I putting off?
Being kind to yourself is a key proponent of self-care, but so is accountability. Sometimes, putting things off is just a tell-tale sign of procrastination, but sometimes, it’s a tad bit deeper. Even identifying procrastination can lead to further analysis of your self-esteem and impulse-control capabilities. On the other hand, putting something off can be an indicator of the fear of dealing unfavorable feelings, or the avoidance of breaking habitual behaviors. Be self-compassionate in those moments and give yourself a break, but just not too many! When you find yourself putting something off, identify why and adopt anti-procrastination strategies like to-do lists, reward systems, and distraction minimization.
Question 5: What am I looking forward to?
Hope makes the world go round. Pay close attention to the things and events that make you hopeful and that you look forward to experiencing. Give more of your time and energy to these parts of your life. When feeling down, use whatever it is you are looking forward to as anchor thoughts that have the potential to positively define upcoming phases of your life. Achieving goals and doing new things gives us a sense of accomplishment, and also makes us more likely to take action. Not only does it tell you a story that reveals what is truly important to you, but having something to hope for, dream about, and get excited results in a happier you!
Question 6: Lately, what has been stressing me out?
Everyone fantasizes about mastering stress. The only way to get there, though, is to start by figuring out what the causes of stress are in the first place. Be it a job, person, your environment, or even a political happening, don’t just put drivers of your stress to the side and lash out at other unrelated things or people. Displacing stress onto easier targets that don’t require a proactive solution-oriented approach might seem like the easier way out, but it only amplifies the stress. Before stress attacks your emotional equilibrium, determine what it is that’s stressing you out and plan to take the necessary measures to lessen or eradicate it.
Question 7: When I listen to my body, what does it need?
Your body is your home. Simply taking a moment to sit with yourself can do wonders in terms of really understanding what your body can flourish from: more sleep, deep breaths, nature walks, nutritious foods, water, and so much more! In a battle between the mind and body, the mind will often stretch out the body and overwork it. However, it is important to remember that if the body one day takes a day off unannounced, all that the mind wants to execute is futile and cannot be brought to fruition. As such, give your body the breaks, exercise, nutrients, and love that it deserves.
As you heartily share your love with the world, simultaneously also take a pledge of self-love and promise that you will show yourself the acceptance, encouragement, and patience you show other loved ones in your life. By becoming aware of the different ways in which you can build on self-love and religiously checking in with yourself, you’ll be able to create routines that enhance your quality of life and practice positive self-perception. An awareness of who you are and what you need creates a better you, and a better world!