Tuesday, April 17, 2018

6 Ways to Practice Self-Love

"We can climb mountains with self love" - Samira Wiley

I feel like there is this stigma we associate with when we hear the term "Self-Love." As if there was something wrong with us to begin with or maybe we are conceded and self-involved. But I don't see it that way. I see it as, us, being self-aware and I think when we become more self-aware, that's where self-love can come in and do its real work in our lives. And just like Samira said, with self love, we can climb mountains..hell, we can even move them!

I've talked a lot about Change (Here, Here, and Here). I've talked about having Grace (Here) and Letting Go (Here) and I've talked about Standing Alone. (Here) - and while all these lessons have been great and I'm still following through and learning from them, I want to take a pause on them and reflect on my current journey to Self-Love. Although, I shouldn't say current because it's been a 28yr in the making thing but it's been a focus for sometime now. And while I understand that navigating through self-love can  be tricky, I wanted to share with you what I have learned thus far and maybe we can swap stories on how our journeys are going. Self-Love is an intimate and personal thing, it's ours, but I have come to find it interesting and beautiful when I come across someone on the same path as mine. 

1. Write it Out

"Self Love..
It's a Scary, Fickle little thing.
As children we are taught to be ourselves.
As Teens we are told we need to fit in.
As Adults, nobody cares who you are yet people
constantly tell you who they think you are. 
Self-Love is a Bermuda Triangle.
We are always getting lost in navigation.
Yet, here we are, showing up every day to love ourselves.
Here I am, showing up, to love myself.
For myself."  

This is a small excerpt from my diary. A very raw, honest, naked excerpt. Maybe it doesn't make sense to you or maybe you understand it fully. either way, it's okay. With Self-Love, I think the first step, maybe the most IMPORTANT step is to release all the negative feelings you have towards others and yourself - and be vulnerable. Vulnerability and Honesty will get you the furthest on this journey. Become a Writer, even if its not your thing. Even if it's 2 words a day. Write it out. Set intentions and write affirmations to yourself. I promise you, as time goes on, your words will get bigger, your vulnerability will be more transparent and you won't be able to stop your cup from overflowing with self-love, self-awareness....Self. 

2. Read it. Read it Again. 
I know, first I want you to write and now I want you to read. But people don't realize how important it is to read and write, especially when it's words that can be powerful, and inspire you to want to do better. It's no secret that I am a writer and I write it all out. It's also no secret that I am a book worm. Readers make the best writers. There is nothing more I love than to find a good book, curl up on the couch and let my heart bleed out onto the pages of a good story. Fictional or Not. Stories like Eat, Pray, Love , Grace not Perfection, and Own Your Glow - all written by Powerhouse Women who have been inspiring me for years. These are the 3 books I will always go back to. These are 3 women who have inspired me to write it out, read it, and read it again. Liz, Emily, and Latham. Queens.

I believe that reading a good book inspires Self-Love because often we can find a character to relate to, even when it's a real person like the 3 authors I mentioned above. Real, Raw, Still working through their crap words are my favorite and most relatable to read. And reading their stories helps me want to pour more into my glass of self-love and I often think we forget that it's okay to be inspired by someone else. But I find solace in Liz crying on the bathroom floor during her hardest times, I relate to Latham feeling conflicted about moving from her apartment full of memories to a new place, and I share the same anxieties Emily does in feeling like she needs to have it together at all times. And yet, all of these woman have made it through to the other side. Self-Love is powerful man. 

3. Fuel Your Body, Know Your Body.
One of the biggest practices of self-love that I have been focusing on lately is Fueling my Body with what's good. and that doesn't always mean food. One night I sat down and wrote out all the things I do and don't do for my body. I don't stretch enough, I don't exercise as often as I should, I don't drink enough water, I don't have balance in my diet. Okay, so maybe there is more don'ts than do's. But now that I wrote it out, I can see it as a reminder of things to change and work on. For me, it started with up-ing my meditation and yoga practices. When I don't spend some time in meditation or quite yoga - my body feels tight, congested and heavy.  So I begun to change it. I put away all technology, light candles, and go into complete and utter silence. I think we all need silence from time to time. It's important. I then begun making small changes to my diet, which I have more about this coming soon, but I found that cutting back on foods that I absolutely love (carls jr western bacons)and putting more colors onto my plate made a huge difference in how my body felt. Listen to your Body! Seriously! and the last thing I fuel my body with is words of love and encouragement. Affirmations, quotes, positive words, and lots of words that make me smile. It may seem silly, but when you learn how to change the way you talk to and about yourself, your body reacts to that in a positive way. 

4. Have Faith, Explore Spirituality.
So maybe you don't believe in God like I do, and that's fine. We don't all need to believe in God to love ourselves. But for me, I find having a relationship with God really does remind me to open up my heart to myself. This has become probably the biggest self-love practice for me, because honestly, we all know, I have sucked at putting God first for the last several years. And by putting God first again, I have learned to put myself at a decently close second. I have begun to read my Bible again and I've made an effort to attend Church again, in which I am re-finding a great community. My relationship with God is becoming stronger every day - but I'm also digging in deeper and deeper to my Spirituality. Some may think it's the same thing, most think it's different, and for me - they both work together as a great thing. Maybe you believe in a Person, Entity, Animal, Place, Object. Physical or Materialistic. Which ever. But I think it's important to be in touch with something that makes you want to dig deep and be in-tune with a higher powered you. 

There is a stigma around Faith and Spirituality. I wish there wasn't but hey, it is what it is. Sadly, we live in a world where if you're in tune with God, the universe, nature, or yourself - you are outcasted. But hey, I say, let me be outcasted. There is no stronger human than the one who believes in something bigger than themselves. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything!

5. Cut it Out.
Uncle Joey said it best, "Cut it Out!" - Without harming someone else, cut out all the bad *ish from your life. People, Places, Social Media, Food, Jobs, etc. CUT IT OUT! Trim that Fat and get on with the rest. It's okay to do that. It's okay to cut ties with people, places, and things that no longer fit in the puzzle of your life. If your path is getting crowded, hop on that bulldozer and knock some *ish out of the way. Make way for the new and set intentions for what you want to bring to your path (aka life). This has always been the hardest thing for me. *refer back to letting go post; I feel so much guilt in kicking people/things to the curb and honestly, 90% of the time, I didn't do it intentionally. 90% of the time I find myself scratching my head saying "I didn't see that one coming..or going" - and that's okay. There should be a sadness but there should also be a breath of fresh air to follow. You know that saying, Inhale the Good *ish, Exhale the Bull*ish - it's true! To find Self-Love, you gotta cut out all the things that make you self-doubt. CUT. IT. OUT. 

6. Trust the Process.
Lastly, the best practice of self-love, Trust the Process. Ya'll, I'll say it again for the people in the back row - TRUST THE PROCESS. This is a lesson I was recently acquainted with. A friend of mine has kept reminding me to Trust the Process. Trust Yourself. Trust God. Trust the direction your life is going in. I'm a control freak, my anxiety does that to me, but I've had to sit back and let Go. As with anything that is worth it, Self-Love is a process. It doesn't come over night; hell, it doesn't come in a month or even a year sometimes. But jump on in, ride shotgun, and allow yourself to trust your journey to Self-Love. I know, It's scary and fickle. But it's also beautiful and life-changing. I promise you, we will make it to the other side. Our stories, our journey to self love is far from over. 

....and as the great, poet RuPaul said "If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gunna love someone else?" There is no way out or loop hole in life that's going to give you a free pass on Self-Love. It's something that needs to be practiced every day. It starts with us, only us, on the inside. and I'm the first one to tell you that it's going to be messy, ugly, and super painful at times. I've had to discover and uncover things within myself that have made me want to run and hide under a rock but I think it's important to truly know your flaws and lay them all out on the table so you can sort through them. Find out what you want to Fuel and what you want to Cut. Relationships, Carbs, Jobs, Doubts, body-shaming, fears, etc. What do you want to change? Write it Down and Start with yourself. It's amazing how many things weed themselves out while you are working on bettering yourself. Truly. Trust Me. and Trust the Process. and if not - Trust Yourself! 

Love without expecting, Love without fear..Love! Love! Love! 

 Instagram: @ash_felkner
Instagram & Twitter: @ashleefelkner

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