In the Underpinnings dressing room I am privileged to see women smile at their reflections, do happy dances and even squeal with joy. I have also seen and heard women apologize for their bodies, lamenting stretch marks, tummies and the dreaded “back fat”. As women, we can be our own worst critics, and there seems to be something about a dressing room that brings out buried insecurities in so many of us. I created the Uplift Project video series as a way of trying to help women come to an appreciation of their whole selves, by showcasing the beauty of self-confidence and self-appreciation. Over time, and through continued interaction with women through my work at Underpinnings, as a facilitator of the Springboard Women’s Development Program, and yes, through my own journey of personal growth and introspection, I’ve come to realise that many of us find it challenging to be truly loving and accepting of ourselves. These show up in so many ways: we constantly find fault with our bodies, we settle for relationships or jobs that are unhealthy, we hesitate to try new things because we are afraid that we will fail because we are “not good enough”…the list goes on.
I believe that self-love is the act of acknowledging and accepting all aspects of myself: the physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional, even while I continuously grow and evolve. Developing this habit is the best thing we can do for ourselves, and while it takes work at first, with consistent practice it can become the default setting.
Here are 5 simple ways you can practice loving yourself.
1. Know your self-worth: Practice listening to yourself. How do you feel today? What do you need and want to make you whole? Be mindful of who you are as a person, rather than relying on others to provide affirmation.
2. Take care of yourself in order to take care of others: You cannot pour from an empty cup. To be a great wife, mother, employee or business woman you need to connect with yourself often, find your centre and take care of you. Allow yourself to be selfish sometimes; your inner circle will appreciate it. A refreshed version of you is always more willing to go above and beyond for those you love.
3. Engage in positive activity: Self-love doesn’t always mean bubble baths and spa retreats. Practicing self care can take the form of engaging in healthy activities, social interactions, intimacy, exercise and providing your body with sound nutrition.
4. Allow yourself to say no: Don’t be afraid to set boundaries! Loving yourself means knowing when you need to say no to the numerous activities that deplete your energy stores (physically, emotionally and spiritually).
5. Be unapologetically you: Never apologise for who you are! Live in your truth and your purpose. The more you do this, the more you will love yourself, and the more you will find the fuel to create your best life.
When we make a decision to actively love ourselves we become more conscious of the actions we take and thoughts we have. This awareness allows us to choose rather than just react. I choose love, and I hope you do too.