10 Ways to Practice Self-Love

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It's Valentine's Day, and with that, we tend to focus on lavishing attention and gifts on our significant others, friends and family. For those who are single either by choice or circumstance, it can be a non-day. Regardless of what you think of this day, the flower shops are booming and the candy stores are bustling. Some hearts are bursting or breaking too.
 

But what about YOU? What about every other day of the year? Where are you finding that kind of soul nourishment that we all need? 

Well, that's an easy one - it comes from YOU. 

Self-love and self-care are the one-two punch that we need daily to keep ourselves sustained on a groovy vibe, to stay centered, to acknowledge and connect with our core. Practicing self-love and self-care are as important as the air we breathe. It's more meaningful than any love and praise we may find from others. 

Think about it - people come and go. People pass away. People aren't always there. But you are with you always. You are intertwined with every part of your being. Loving and caring for yourself is the only constant. And in showing ourselves that love and care (and learning to accept it) also sets us up for stronger and more meaningful relationships with others. It's also critical when we are moving through transitions of some kind. 

How can we practice self-love and self-care? There are countless ways to honour yourself, but here are some ways to start:
 

1) Write out a gratitude list every morning - set the tone of the day with a positive mindset.

2) Be mindful of your self-talk - you can't shift into a higher vibration by talking negative about yourself.

3) Surround yourself with uplifting people - remove any toxic people in your life, or at least minimize the impact they have on you.

4) Forgive yourself for mistakes - hanging onto something you said or did a few minutes ago, a month ago or fifteen years ago does you no favor. Release that energy.

5) Don't compare yourself to anyone - the only one you can compare yourself to is you.

6) Take care of your body - whether it be what you eat or drink, exercising, and/or accepting and loving it for what it does for you, taking care of your vessel is so important, as it's part of the mind-body-spirit connection.

7) Do something you enjoy or are good at - build your self-esteem and have fun doing things that bring joy to you or tap into your value of accomplishment.

8) Explore your creativity - you don't have to be an artist to tap into your creativity. And while writing, dancing, art, music, etc. can be fantastic ways to feed your spirit, so can things like gardening, cleaning out your closets, or any endeavor that taps into the creative mind.

9) Meditate or practice mindfulness - you need not sit like a monk for hours on end to find that peace within. Even taking three deep breaths undisturbed can alleviate anxiety or stress. Explore mindful eating or walking.

10)  Follow your intuition more, your head less - learn to listen and heed the voice within. It's the part of you that won't steer you wrong. Trust yourself more and lead by authenticity than by ego.

These are things which you and only you can offer yourself. If you practice these, even one or two of these, on a regular basis, you will find yourself settling into yourself more, and accepting and loving yourself at a deeper level. 

And that's the best gift you can get, regardless of what day it is!

The Power of Self-Talk

Be mindful of your self-talk. It’s a conversation with the Universe - David James Lees

Our language determines our attitude and our attitude determines our language. It’s a powerful cycle, one which elevates our mood and mindset. When we watch our language with others, and more importantly, our selves, we create a vibration in which we move into. The question is: what language are you using?

We create mental chatter all day. We are often unaware of it, but the effects are cumulative and influential in how we see the world and ourselves. When we lead with negative self-talk, we are subconsciously influencing ourselves and our results. When we berate ourselves or talk down to ourselves, we begin to reinforce a negative mindset, and with that, results that fall in line with mindset.

Your language and self-talk also create emotional states within. How you talk to yourself can create a mood which can either be beneficial or discouraging. In choosing how we create our inner landscape of self-talk is purely up to us. We get to choose how we have that dialogue within.

When we sit with negative self-talk, we create a snowball effect of destructive statements which lead us to deeper and darker thoughts. We can start out with “I’m an idiot! I shouldn’t have blurted that out!” and easily fall into “I can never say the right thing. No wonder nobody wants to be my friend. What’s the point of even trying?” It deteriorates quickly.

The words we choose make a huge impact in how we look at ourselves and how we show up in the world. Speaking to ourselves in a kind and loving manner, as we would to a dear friend or family member, is a big step towards a more positive mindset. In a 2014 study, it was shown that shifting from the “I” or “me” words to the third person “he” or “she” (or better yet, using your first name), creates a self-distance and a space of compassion.

In using our first name when talking to ourselves, we form a space of introspection that enhances self-regulation. And that changes how we feel and behave. Also, add into that supportive language, we position ourselves to show kindness to ourselves and to create a positive mood, one where we aren’t punishing or putting down. Creating that affirmative mindset allows us to show up with a different energy.

The best way to build the positive self-talk is to first catch yourself when you come at yourself with a negative tone. At that moment, create a more encouraging and uplifting response. Use your own name when doing this as well. For example: “I will never lose weight. I’m going to be a fat blob the rest of my life,” can be turned into “Paul, you got this. You’ve lost weight before and you can do it again. You’ll fit into that new suit before you know it!”

It may take some time to get into the habit of creating a healthy inner monologue, but the benefits are worth the effort. It’s a powerful way to increase self-esteem and positive energy levels. We give ourselves the gift of an encouraging framework in which to better ourselves and show up in a strong way. We have no problems being kind towards others - let’s do the same to that wonderful person in the mirror!

Are You Pleased?

You're a nice person, aren't you? You would give the shirt off your back to anyone who asks. And we mean anyone. In fact, the word "no" isn't in your vocabulary. You laugh at everyone's jokes, you take calls and texts at any time of the day or night, you move your schedule around to accommodate everyone else and you just love when people ask you to do things for them. 

Or do you?

People pleasing may seem like a noble and hell, selfless thing, but in fact it's toxic and selfish. It's an arduous affair. It erodes the spirit and mind. And ironically enough, it doesn't please anyone at all. Including you.

Are you a people pleaser? Here are some signs that you may be people pleasing:

  • You have a fear of letting people down
  • You attract people who need rescuing or "fixing"
  • You constantly seek the approval of others
  • You have a very, very hard time saying "no"
  • You have a weak sense of self and low self-worth
  • You take criticism harshly and berate yourself when you get it
  • You rarely if never take help from others
  • You apologize often
  • You are hyper-aware of the perception of being rejected
  • You disdain confrontation
  • You will always lend money or time, even when you are short of them

People pleasing is all about control - controlling what other people think of you. It's about trying to set yourself up on a pedestal to gain the acceptance and love of people who may not even matter to you in the end. You are attempting to stack the deck in your favour. It's control, baby. And it's a losing proposition, which costs you you.

The drawbacks of people pleasing are hugely impactful and harmful to you:

  • You lose your identity - you are so concerned about mirroring others and their interests and opinions, that you never form your own, or they get lose underneath everything. You suppress your own identity to the point that you are unaware of it after a while.
  • Resentments grow - in burying your own feelings and taking on the ones of others, you start to bury the feelings of anger, annoyance, guilt, grief, etc. On the outside you are all smiles and underneath you are a rolling boil of catabolic energy. 
  • People use you - as good as it may feel to be of use and service, you attract toxic people, people who take advantage of your "good" nature and they begin to abuse your time, your energy and your emotional stores. 
  • Stress - the toll of trying to be everything to everyone eventually hits hard. Your resources, time and energy get tapped out and without any self-care (you don't believe in that, right?), depression and stress creeps in. The need to keep up appearances wears you down to the point where you are no good to anyone, especially yourself.
  • Lack of respect - when you act like a welcome mat, and take on everyone else's opinions and thought and rarely if ever vocalize your own thoughts, people lose respect for you. They see you only as a sounding board and nothing else. You don't contribute any sense of your own self, so they don't bother to ask you for your thoughts or ideas.
  • No true friendships / relationships - when you're the go-to person for everything including shoveling other people's walkways, house sitting or helping someone move, you aren't seen so much as a person to be with as to just use. In relationships, you will be counted on to do everything - plan events, be the shoulder to cry on, etc. It will be all give and no return. That is a recipe for a short-lived relationship.

Remember that there is a difference between doing good and people pleasing. It's terrific to be of service to others and be helpful and generally be a good citizen of the world. But we also need to claim our own space, to deal with conflict, to understand and sit with negativity at times, to enforce personal boundaries, to practice self-care and to assert ourselves when the times comes. The ironic thing is that in doing all these things, we actually gain the respect of others, and more importantly, ourselves. We find our own worth and value, and that gives us confidence. 

And because I love lists on this post, apparently, here are a few ways to help reclaim yourself from the cycle of people pleasing:

  • Practice self-care - this is so important in your own growth and recharging. Do something that pleases you. Explore your interests. Find what flames your passions. Get in touch with what your needs are - is it exercising? Reading? More family time? Whatever it is - do more of it.
  • Sift through your network - who are the people you really care about, and who are those who are just hanging about? Who are those who add to your life, and who sucks your energy like a vampire? Focus the time and energy on those who matter to you most, not who you are hoping to please for basic validation.
  • Create and enforce boundaries - this is the tough one, but it's so worth it. Treat yourself with respect and create lines in the sand. Perhaps there are certain times of the day you are unavailable, or your promise yourself not to get involved in other people's drama. Start small and build up. Saying "no" is okay!
  • Learn to deal with conflict - life will bear conflicts, and that's okay. Learning to understand and deal with them builds character and allows for growth. Asserting yourself in healthy ways while maintaining your integrity creates greater self-worth. Negative emotions are inevitable. It's better to accept and move through them than try and cover them up with platitudes and buckling to make things "better". Stand your ground.
  • Stop explaining yourself - if you tell someone "no", don't fall into the habit of trying to justify yourself and your reasons. "I'm sorry I can't make it tonight, I have plans" is more than sufficient. The more you explain, the greater the wiggle room you create in changing your mind. Stick to your guns.

Pleasing others all the time comes at a cost, and that cost is you. Create a healthy sense of self and remember that you need pleasing too. You are worth it. 

The Buzz

I spent a career making sure that people were being taken care of. As a budding chef, my passion for learning and practicing my craft was far reaching. I loved the sights and sounds of the kitchen - the sizzle of meat and fish hitting the smoking hot grill, the flash fire from pans as vegetables were sauteed over high heat, the hollering and laughing of cooks and servers, and the rat-a-tat-tat of knives hitting the cutting board as we prepped for service. It was a buzz.

As the years passed, my knowledge and confidence grew. I moved up the ranks and started to take on more responsibility. I was getting noticed, and yet inside, I was feeling fear. Fear of being seen as a fraud. Fear of not being good enough. I started to depend on alcohol, crushing work hours and the validation of others as a way to move past those fears. I learned to seek from the external instead of within. I took advantage of any time I could find a bottle or attention. I started to get a different buzz on.

I made a name for myself and everything looked great from the outside, but I was falling apart inside. I was emotionally and physically bankrupt. My drinking was a serious problem, and yet I soldiered on until it all came crashing down. There is nothing romantic about hitting bottom. And I hit rock bottom. And it was at that point that I knew I had to change. Bottom became my buzzkiller.

I cleaned up and recreated myself. I learned to build myself from the ground up. I had to learn to live in my authentic self, even when it frightened me, or when I was unsure. I had to get used to the idea of being comfortably uncomfortable. I had to grow up. And as a father, I had to model to my sons what it was to just be. To live life in a genuine way. And wouldn’t you know it, life started to unfold in ways that I never thought possible. I was helping others. I was working with others in recovery. I had a blog, a podcast, and eventually, a book. “Service” was my new buzzword.

I hit a fork in the road last year, when I realized that the allure of the kitchen, once my playground and canvas, had faded. I had moved up even more in my career, and I was at the peak of my 25 years of cooking and managing. I was a senior chef in a large company. But I felt a calling to do something more, something greater, something that would line up with my new sense of wanting to share even more of myself. And that is when I fell into coaching. And like when I was an apprentice chef, I have been immersing myself in this new path. I am so passionate about coaching and helping others, and more specifically, people like me. People in the industry that let me rise and fall and rise again. The buzz is back.

I am here to help you seek the answers you seek, which are already within you. I am here to hold a mirror up to yourself. I am here to advocate for you. I am here to hold your vision and to hold a space for the emerging and ever-growing you. I am here to serve you.

And that’s the real buzz.