My Journey to Self-Love

“I’m not here to grant you the extraordinary love you never had for yourself. I’m here, on my own accord, to love you. So that when you stare into my mirror eyes, you may see how extraordinary you are.”

― Kamand Kojouri

Over 15 years ago, I was sulking as Valentine’s Day was approaching. I was out of an on-again, off-again relationship. And, I was convinced that not having someone meant something. I was used to receiving a gift or flowers or something from a man, but we weren’t on speaking terms at the time.

Something made me snap out of it. I thought, why can’t I do something for myself? Why do I have to wait for someone else?

And, I did. That Valentine’s Day, I bought my favorite food and a bottle of wine. I took a long, relaxing bath with bubbles. Then, I watched all the romantic movies and listened to romantic music. I essentially loved on myself.

This became tradition on any Valentine’s Day when I wasn’t dating anyone and found myself single.

At some point, I have realized that I am always going to be with myself. Even if I marry someone else, I still have to have a relationship with myself. It’s my choice if that relationship is a loving or abusive one.

To spend a love holiday feeling down because I didn’t have anyone to spend it with, felt like I was judging myself. Instead, I treated myself with self-compassion and chose to pamper myself in a way that I would hope someone who loved me would do.

There is no need to wait for someone else to be good to you. You can be good to you anytime you want.

“We are all capable of great self-deception when it serves us.”

― Holly Black

I spent the past 5 years focusing inward and really discovering how I talk to myself and listening to the incessant chatter that runs through my mind all day while I process my feelings about the world around me.

I have become more in my body than I ever was in the past. I spent years numbing my feelings and believing every stupid story that pops in my mind. I thought my mind was telling me something about the world around me, but my mind was pulling up old things that happened and warning me they could happen again.

It has ultimately been a process of unlearning things I believed in order to love myself properly.

I am appreciative of the ways my fears have tried to keep me safe, but I determined that it’s not serving me so when those old fears or doubts pop up, I say thanks, but no thanks. And, I lovingly correct myself by thinking of every reason to the contrary that what I am thinking couldn’t possibly be true. I look for real world examples of times when the opposite happened. I remind myself how capable I am of shaping my reality. And, if I’m not convincing enough then I find a YouTube video where someone is telling me that I have nothing to fear.

I ease my anxiety like someone would soothe a crying child. I wrap my arms around it, listen to it and rock it slowly until it’s merely a whimper.

As I became more aware of my thinking and fears, I also became more acutely aware of the people I surrounded myself with. In the past, I pushed myself to be around people even if I felt stress, tension or depressed while with or after leaving them. I smiled and endured because I valued any connection over healthy connection. I wasn’t in my body so I didn’t notice its distress.

When my mind became clearer, I was more attuned to how people made me feel. I listened to their words like an antenna and I registered within myself whether my energy was going up or down. Are my muscles tight or relaxed? Do I want to get away from them or am I fighting to leave?

If I felt bad, I took that as a sign and gave myself permission to let the connection go. I validated my own feelings and stopped betraying myself.

I clued into the way some people talked to me and disrespect actually sent fire through my veins. In the past, I would try to say things a different way to find a commonality. Now, I will not stand for it. I will shut down a conversation and I don’t feel responsible for the comprehension of someone determined to bulldoze me with their viewpoint. I invest in healthy communication.

It’s not my duty to change anyone else.

I had to stop being so hard on myself and thinking that I could handle things that I wouldn’t allow anyone else to go through without support. I was forcing myself to be a superwoman and invincible. I refused to ask for help. I didn’t allow myself to do things that made me happy or to simply relax.

I thought if I didn’t hit certain targets in my life that I wasn’t allowed to have fun or to celebrate until I did. I forced myself into suffering to punish myself for not meeting unrealistic expectations. I was my worst critic and I judged myself harsher than others. I held myself to standards that I would convince others were too high.

I felt like I was holding my breath my whole life, but I couldn’t exhale until everything was perfect.

Finally, I took a deep breath and let it out.

I had to love myself in my imperfection and stop putting my life on hold waiting for things to change.

It’s not like I changed in a day. Most days, I am successful at being aware of what I am thinking, feeling and how I am talking to or pushing myself. Then, I readjust and apply more love. Some days, I fall back into old habits and I show myself compassion instead of being critical on those days.

No matter what happens, I choose love. It’s a daily practice.

Now, even when I am alone, I’m with the funniest, sweetest, strongest person I know. And, she is my Forever Valentine.

Do something nice for yourself today.

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