This is a topic that took me many of years of trial and error to even scratch the surface. It is probably one of the areas I still struggle with the most. It is also something I see many people neglecting. Have you ever had that moment of “how did I let things get to this point?” This could be with your health, diet, exercise, finances, relationship, work etc. There are times where I can feel overwhelmed with life, like I’m drowning with no life boat in sight.
In my opinion, a lot of this stems from what we are taught: to put others first, to not rock the boat when something something doesn’t feel right, to not question authority, it’s alright to help other but not alright to help yourself. For most of my life, I have fit into these categories of trying to be a people pleaser even if it was at the expense of my own happiness.
Through my growth in education and health, I started to think about “what if being selfish and making me the priority in my life lead to happiness.” Through the years, I started to focus on doing things that mattered to me and made me feel fulfilled. Even if it was as simple as saying no to plans with friends that I didn’t really want to do.
But it has not been easy. Let’s redefine what we think of as being selfish or self-love. For me - it means that I can decide what is important to me and what is not. It means falling in love with who you are - who you truly are and not who you want others to think you are. It does not mean you wish harm or misfortune on others, but rather you care about you.
Self-love is not necessarily the state of feeling good, but rather an appreciation for yourself that grow from the actions you do to support your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
ACTION STEPS FOR SELF-LOVE
IDENTIFY WHAT YOUR VALUES ARE: What matters most to you? How can you pursue what you want if you don’t know what matters to you. Sit down and write out all the values that are important to you and then narrow it down to the top 3. From now on, start making decisions that align with these top 3 values even if they make you feel anxious or uneasy at first.
BE MINDFUL: Recognize your feelings, emotions and thoughts in a moment. Be present with the people you are with and give to them the generosity of who you truly are not just who or how you want to be perceived. Pay attention to how your emotions are impacting situations in your life.
BE ABSOLUTELY IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD: Only give your word if it is something you deep down wish to follow through on. Set boundaries for yourself and allow yourself to set limits and say no to work, love or activities that are going deplete you.
PROTECT YOURSELF: Bring into your life and surround yourself with people who lift you up. There is not enough time in this life to waste on people that don’t make you feel the way that you want to feel.
FORGIVE YOURSELF: You’re not always going to be right and you will make mistakes. Use these situations to learn and grow from. Accept your humanness and the fact that you are not perfect. Some of the biggest eye opening moments for me are from mistakes that I never thought I could manage or handle but low and be hold I survived and in most case thrived.
It’s hard in this world, especially with social media and how people portray their lives, to be vulnerable and really practice self-love. Work at it as it takes time to open up to the people around you with who you truly are. A lack of self-love is plaguing our health and our bodies in ways we don’t fully understand. What we do know is that your thoughts and emotions absolutely impact your health. In order to achieve optimal health you must be happy and to be happy starts with loving yourself.
In the end, you can pour from an empty glass. In order to really give to others around you, your friends, family, loved ones, co-workers, you need to take the time for yourself often. Be unapologetically you. Imagine how your life could change if you loved yourself more then anything.
Dr. Alfredo is an health enthusiast who’s goal is to help people and families live healthier, happier lives. My philosophy on health is simple - our body’s have the amazing ability and potential to self-adapt, self-regulate and THRIVE in this world.