From a self-prescribed hermit and estimated semi-intermediate in personal growth, here are a few tips for getting real and loving YOU. Visuals by Polly Nor.
Hey guys and gals, let’s get down and dirty about this thing called self-love. By now, the term “self-love” itself has become a buzzword that recalls images of women with facemasks in bubblebaths, eating pizza, maybe with a glass of wine and perusing any assorted media of the various streaming sites at our disposal. Let’s get one thing straight: this sounds like an amazing combo and I approve wholeheartedly. Furthermore, it is my belief that there is, in fact, no wrong way to practice self-love. However, when it comes to the more vulnerable reality of what self-love means in actualization and a holistic sense of well-being, it can be far more subjective, perhaps less fleeting and generally less sparkly than advertised.
Loving the “self” will look different for each and every person, due to the fact that each and every person is innately different. Self-love is about looking yourself in the mirror, taking account for all of your woes, ills and glories and celebrating yourself with the highest kindness – whether this means giving yourself five extra minutes in the morning of unplugged silence, learning to say “no” to social gatherings when you’re just not feeling it or pouring your heart out to your Mom over the phone – that’s completely up to you.
Without any further ado, here are a few ways that I recommend as a means to get closer to yourself on an intimate level and practice loving that beautiful human being in the mirror.
1. Unplug, dammit!
For me personally, self-love is a lot about getting grounded. So first of all, let’s face it: electronics are distracting AF and you can potentially scroll or surf for hours at a time, all the while forgetting that you have a functional human body with joints that really hurt now that I think about it and OW maybe I should shift positions every once in a while – Jesus. At times, it may even feel like half of our working minds may exist in these tiny little slabs of delicate metal. That being said, I humbly suggest you practice self-love by coming back to the present moment, re-familiarizing yourself with your bodily needs and re-collecting your personhood via the information surrounding you in your physical environment. Give yourself several minutes or even several hours of silence per day (especially first thing in the morning) to either sit tight and meditate or give yourself space to wiggle around and find out what your own energy feels like, apart from the chatter of these virtual shenanigans.
2. Make time for yourself. Solo dates.
On the real, time alone is often time in transit (commuting, walking, running, jogging to work, school, or your preferred location), time being lazy consuming media or time in unconscious dreamland. While I believe none of this is time wasted, try spending time alone doing something you really enjoy, on a geeky, passionate or just casually interested level. One of my favorite activities while studying in New York was to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art alone, pay one to five dollars of the suggested fifteen for entrance at the time (sorry) and pop in some earbuds to listen to a playlist I created beforehand according the specific mood or vibe I was feeling (spoiler alert, I was very angsty and there was a lot of alt-J and Elliott Smith up in there). However, these self-loving solo trips need not be so elaborate. Dancing alone in your room in your PJs, or going to grab some solo sushi in your Sunday best when you’re feeling your Sunday worst, is just as effective. Point being: the more you spend semi-constructive or fun times all by your lonesome, the more you learn about your “self” in positive or even negative ways. It all matters!
3. “Real” dates!
I’m not talkin’ about these hopped-up dating app Catfish-level BS setups here. I’m talking about “real” dates. No, I’m not talking about on a romantic level, either. Think about the premise of a date. You meet up with someone, new or not, you do an activity and consequently get to know each other on a pseudo-authentic level. That’s all fine and good, but what I’m encouraging here is a “real” date: a date that you make, preferably with one, highly trusted, highly resilient friend where you both free your realest selves and let the magic happen. This can be as simple as a quick afternoon coffee, a trip to the movies or even a walk around the block in your respective neighborhoods, chatting on the phone or over far-too-long voice messages. The idea is that you can be your most unfiltered or even unhinged self and give and receive love regardless of your messiest emotions… Also, it’s not like shit has to go down; quite the contrary, it can easily be just a pleasant outing, knowing full well that sharing is caring. Self-love through loving others!
Apples falling from trees and other nonsense can be complicated when it comes to the family, but why beat around the bush – our family relationships are deeply intertwined with our sense of self starting from birth. Like it or not, these peeps are your tribe and probably know you on a level that not many do. Also, let’s face it: it doesn’t get realer than having your ass wiped by another human being (thanks, Mom), having your ass handed to you in a classic sibling fight or a good old-fashioned, deeply uncomfortable, drama-filled dinnertime squabble. It’s different for everybody, but whether you’re closer to the Addams Family or the Brady Bunch, forgiving and learning from these bonds will make you grow as a person through unconditional love. Good, bad and ugly, loving yourself is bound to take some time and concerted effort, just like nurturing your family connections. Also, family could mean anything, from your blood relatives to those closest relationships that you feel on a soul level.
Lastly, it’s all about being grateful for all the amazing stuff you have in your life – starting with you! “You is kind, you is smart, and you is important.” If you ask me, knowing your strengths is vital to success and well-being and there is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging and celebrating the things that make you great. It might sound cliché, but doing affirmations out loud in the mirror is an awesome way to encourage positive thinking when it comes to yourself and once you feel the warm embrace of gratitude from the inside, outside will quickly follow as well, leaving you in a lush garden of self-love, kindness and good vibes. When we think about gratitude, oftentimes we equate the concept with people shaming you into finishing your meal because there are other people in the world who don’t have access to one. Gratitude is not about comparing yourself or your lot in life to others or feeling guilty about what you have. It doesn’t need to be overthought or belabored; it’s about thanking those in your life who matter most, thanking yourself for being the badass bitch that you are and thanking the universe for all the gorgeous goodies you have at your disposal.
So go forth with all that love you have inside and around you and pour it all up in this world we got here; there is plenty to go around!