By Robin Howell
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers. A day when we give gifts and time to our loved ones. Today, I challenge you to love yourself.
As I was writing this, I came across a quote that said: “The best way to get things done, is to simply begin.” I think I’ve always believed and lived this, but with the added sentiment, ‘It’s easier to just do it myself.’ This is how I found myself trying to do it all. I’ve always been someone who took care of others first, routinelyputting their needs and wants over my own. As a mom, my children came first; as a wife, my spouse’s needs took precedence over mine; as an employee, my boss’s and coworkers’ obligations dominated my own. I believed it was selfish to take care of my own needs first. As a result of caring for and ‘loving’ others, I found myself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, and stressed out.
Turns out, I was missing a couple of key elements in my life. Self-love and self-care. Remember that at the beginning of any flight, the flight attendants give safety instructions, one thing they always say is: “put your own oxygen mask on first, before you help your child or others.” It is the same with self-care. Investing in and loving yourself is like putting on your own oxygen mask on first. This is something you have to do; only when you can breathe easily can you help those around you.
Realization is one thing; implementing self-care was entirely another. I found myself wondering if I was worthy enough to put my needs first. Would others think me too self-centered? Did I have the ability to love myself, to take care of me? The answer was and still is YES!
So how does one go from always putting others first, to caring for one’s self? The first step is becoming aware of one’s thought and/or emotions. The Nuuaria method reminds us that our repeated thoughts lead to our emotions, which impacts our behaviors, and our life circumstances. When one repeatedly has thoughts such as ‘I don’t deserve it’ or ‘I’m afraid of people thinking I’m selfish’ or even fear of criticism; can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, and discouragement. These feelings can lead to behaviors such as eating too much, not getting enough sleep, eating unhealthy food, and other less-than-desirable habits that can have a profound impact on our health and energy.
When you are feeling tired, discouraged, and low energy, it is easy to continue with thoughts like ‘I don’t deserve care’; ‘Others are more important’’ and ultimately ‘I can’t do it, so I quit’. These thoughts lead to even greater feelings of overwhelm, frustration, anger, and discouragement. These feelings lead to continued behaviors such as not getting enough sleep, or eating too much or not enough, creating that downward spiral.
The good news is you can stop the cycle! You can experience peace, contentment, and joy in spite of circumstances! You can love yourself as well as loving others!
It may seem like there are not enough hours in the day to take care of everyone including yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, and stressed, it is more important than ever to carve out me time.
Self-care can be done in small bites. Simple things such as when you first wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and stretch. Go for a ten-minute (or longer) walk, paying attention to the sounds around you. Put your lunch on a nice plate and savor each bite of your meal. Dance to your favorite song! Look in the mirror, give yourself a high-five and tell yourself how great you are doing! All these are wonderful, and I encourage you to do the activities that make you feel good. As with anything new, take smaller steps.
When you change the way you see yourself, the way you think about yourself, it is just like changing a physical habit. You do it one step at a time to help ensure success. Imagine that you decided to start drinking more water as a physical habit. If you only drink one or two cups of water a day, going to eight to ten cups of water a day can be hard and you might get discouraged. But by increasing your water intake slowly, say a few ounces at a time, over a few days, it becomes easier.
Changing your thoughts is the same way. Going from ‘I don’t deserve it.’ to ‘I love myself and I am worthy.’ is a big jump, especially if you are unhappy with your appearance. Once you become aware of your less-than-desirable thoughts, you can start taking small steps to change your self-image. Perhaps to start, your thought can go from ‘I don’t deserve this.’ to ‘I can enjoy my lunch today.’
Make your desired thought believable to where you are now. At the end of the day instead of telling yourself: ‘I made terrible choices today, I just can’t do it,’ try saying instead: ‘I made it through today, I know better choices are available and I am grateful that I can now enjoy a good night’s sleep!’ Rather than blaming yourself, own your disappointment, and still encourage yourself for the next day. Be patient with yourself. It takes time and practice, but your habitual thoughts and emotions can change, which will help you get healthier.
Maybe a better quote is this from Zig Ziglar: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.”
You are worthy! You can love yourself! And, if you cannot believe it yet, we at Nuuaria believe it for you! We will help and support you as you take the small steps that lead to big rewards for yourself. We do not judge, we support you. Be assured, we will not tell you what to think or feel; we will help you become aware of your less-than-desirable thoughts, and encourage you to ‘try on’ some new thoughts. What you ultimately decide to think, feel, and do is up to you.
Beginning today, I hope you will put on your oxygen mask and invest in yourself. And you are worth investing in, so you can keep loving and caring for others.