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Go ahead. Scroll down until you see numbers and jump right into what you can do for your practice of self-love. I admire your enthusiasm or, at least, your curiosity that compels you to look deeper into another person's perspective on the topic. For those of you that will bother to read this introduction, I expect your practice will be a bit more productive, consistent, and ultimately more successful.
I can't stress enough that kindness and patience are your best friends during this journey. You will falter. You will have days when you struggle to meet your own standards, let alone someone else's. It's on those days that you must return to your basics and your practice. It's those days that matter more than any of the rest.
Even by reading this article, you've shown that you love yourself enough to want to do better. To build a relationship with yourself that is kind, understanding, and nurturing. It may seem to be a small step, but that initial spark is one of the hardest parts. So let's start there, from the beginning...
1. Set your intentions.
What are your goals? Do you want to build on your confidence around your body image? Maybe you'd like to improve how you communicate your needs within your relationships? You may want to step-up your love for self in all aspects of your life. Whatever your goal is, state it. You can do this in writing or pictures, a dream board, or even simply saying aloud each day what you'd like to achieve. Knowing what you're aiming for gives your path a bit of clarity, especially when times are rough. In moments of despair, return to and remember your intentions.
2. Speak kindly to yourself.
Get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror, and say, "hey, gorgeous." Pay no mind to the bed head (fix it before you go to work - or don't) or the imprints on your face from the sheets. When you're struggling to finish a project or spark some creativity, remind yourself how intelligent and creative you are. It doesn't matter if you believe these things at first. Say it to yourself until you believe your lie. Then, not only does it become the truth, but it becomes belief. You start noticing how beautiful you are. That the color of your eyes is wonderful and that project you were struggling with starts to flow with some ease. That your ideas are worthy of recognition and you're much better at this than you thought you were. The dialogue you have within yourself is one that will be present for the entirety of your life, so try and keep the conversation supportive. When you begin to speak down to yourself, try and find at least one positive affirmation.
3. Take responsibility for your emotions.
This may be one of the hardest obstacles when learning to love yourself. Often times, conversations and circumstances "make us so angry" or "cause us to be upset." It's this thinking that will stop our progress every time. When you allow something that is out of your control to upset you or make you feel less, you take away our own power. In that moment, you forget that you are in control of yourself and your life and no one, or thing, can change that. Love yourself enough to maintain a calm demeanor in the face of hardship. You didn't get that job? Don't beat yourself up. Focus on your strengths and take the time to highlight those traits in your next interview. When we take responsibility for our thoughts and emotions, we give ourselves limitless potential and the power to reach it.
4. Make time for things that feed your soul.
You know what I'm talking about. That hot yoga class you love going to but never seem to have the energy for when it's time? Get up early and go. How about that terrible movie you secretly love to watch? Indulge. Oh, and that hike you've been promising yourself for weeks? Take it! Draw some sketches while you're out there. Somehow you've made time to help your friend move their couch and to finish that project for work. You've even made time for the gym or that studying you've been putting off. Never mind the last hour you spent scrolling through your news feed. Making time for the people and activities that bring happiness, peace, or positivity to your life is just as important, if not more important, than your other daily activities. That yummy emotion this invokes can spill over into those routines, making them much more enjoyable and maintaining that positive relationship with yourself.
5. Let go of things that don't help you.
It's important to understand the difference between things that aid in your growth and things that aren't useful for you. Some people, places, or obstacles in our lives can be challenging. We need to be able to identify when those challenges are helping us grow and strengthen who we are and when they're simply exhausting energy that could be used elsewhere. Not all of us are able to just quit our jobs or move to different cities tomorrow, but what we can do is decide whether or not these things are helping grow us, or hold us back. If it's the latter, then we can implement changes to help us get to a space where we're able to let go of this "dead weight" and focus our energy on loving ourselves and our journey.
Remember this is a practice. You won't wake up tomorrow loving every curve of your body and each move you make. Your thoughts won't suddenly be magical and that spike in confidence will fade. Each day we work on growing and improving our relationship and dialogue with ourselves. Each day we learn to love ourselves a little more than the last and respect our body and mind. I hope that you find the love you seek within yourself and even produce it in abundance so that you can share it with those around you.