I loved myself very much in the moment I took this (I’m hugging myself, after all ;)), and that’s why I love this photograph.
I have a confession to make: I’ve been slacking off these past few months.
I’ve had several moments when I felt absolutely great about my health and how I was taking care of myself.
And I’ve had even more when I felt uncomfortable, sick, and numb.
I’ve ranged from eating happily and healthily one day, running and walking and doing what I love, to derailing into a body, mind, and soul-numbing session of stuffing myself for hours and refusing to move– sessions that often lasted weeks.
I’ve been getting quite a few messages from the universe nudging (or roaring at) me to remember to love myself, to be present, and to take care of my body better– some subtle, and some glaringly obvious. I got extremely sick to the point of being bedridden for a week, and I had other instances when I had a sour throat or cough (I hadn’t been sick at all for several years prior).
I even almost sliced off two of my fingers in a moment of mindlessness. (That story’s for another day.)
And yet I continued to slack off, despite these messages. I would go back to treating my body with love and respect for about a week, and then I would start to forget, let myself be mindless, and choose the easier route: doing whatever, not being present, acting mindlessly– regardless of how it would make me and my body feel.
The past two weeks were the final straw. In just one moment, clouded with unruly thoughts, ignoring the messages of my body, my self-love practice began to be ignored again. By whom else, other than myself? No one.
I chose to stop caring. I chose to stop working at something I’ve had to learn, over and over again: how to love myself. How to take care of myself. How to listen to my body. How to be gentle, giving, and grateful to myself. How to respect myself and my body.
I realized last night that enough is enough. I deserve better. And I’m going to give myself what I deserve.
And then I realized something else: Self-love is not for slackers.
Self-love is a constant journey that takes mindfulness, grit, and to be honest, hard work. Truthfully? It’s not for the lazy or the faint of heart. It takes real courage, perseverance, and a healthy amount of stubbornness against the too-easy-to-swallow messages from conformity, from people who don’t deserve to be in your life… and especially, from the messages you’ve accepted and told yourself. The fear.
The part of you that whispers seductively in your ear, begging you not to defy it: It’s just easier not to change. To stay the same. To never try. So why don’t we just stay here hating ourselves and treating ourselves like crap for a while, since it’s easier than to make any effort to learn to give ourselves any ounce of respect?
The part of you that tells you it’s easier to just stuff yourself tonight instead of treating yourself with care and trying to figure out what’s really wrong.
The lizard brain that tells you to stay inside, since it’s just easier not to start dancing or walking or running or biking or doing what you love with your body.
The part of you that says, Why bother even trying? It’s so much simpler to stay put. Let’s not put in the real work of trying to love ourselves, since it takes way less effort to not care.
Self-love takes constant reminders, constant mindfulness, constant awareness. It takes strength and power and courage (which you already have and just need to tap into!). It takes work– not just daily work, but every-moment-work, every-moment-awareness, every-moment-presence, every-moment-consciousness.
You can’t slack. You can’t give up. You can’t just say, “Screw it all, I’ll just overeat tonight, even if it’ll make me sick tomorrow morning… it’s just for tonight!” You can’t just say, “Well, I haven’t moved from my chair or taken a walk in a month… guess I just won’t do it today, either.”
You have to keep pressing on. You have to persevere. You have to persist.
You have to keep going, even when it seems the hardest. You especially have to persevere, take care of yourself, and love yourself in those hard times, because if you aren’t there for yourself when you’re falling apart, well then… who will?
You can’t give in to the thoughts that tell you it’s just easier to stay where you’ve always been and not love yourself, even though it can be so tempting just to listen to them and give up.
Do you know why that is? Because those thoughts are true.
It does get easier to love yourself as time goes on. But truly giving yourself the love and respect you deserve will always take constant awareness. The journey will always require you to wake up and pay attention to how you’re treating yourself at all times. It will always require you to remember that this is the most important relationship of your life, and you have to treat it like what it really is– a persistent consciousness of how you’re treating yourself and taking care of yourself and listening to yourself and giving yourself what you need.
But in the end, I know that none of what I’m saying here applies to you, huh?
Because you’re not a slacker. You know the work that goes into learning to love yourself, and you’re ready to put that effort in, and continue on the never-ending journey of self-love, constantly bringing yourself back to the moment, constantly taking care of yourself. You’re already taking the first or thousandth steps, you know what you’re doing, you realize that self-love is not the destination but the neverending journey, and you’re embarking on that path right now.
Thankfully, the road of self-love is paved for persevering, hard-working, amazingly wonderful warriors like you. 🙂
Isn’t that awesome? ♥