Jenna Banks is a podcast host, self-love advocate and the author of I Love Me More: How to Find Happiness and Success Through Self-Love. As we make our way through the end of winter and the ‘month of love’, we asked Jenna to nudge us further along the path of self-acceptance…
I am lucky to have survived my trauma-filled childhood. For years, my own actions starved my sense of well-being. It was my path from self-loathing to self-love that enabled me to finally overcome this past and find happiness in my life. I want all women to reach their potential; this is possible when we love ourselves more.
Women are forces of nature. We are the resilient backbones of our families, communities, and cultures. We lead, innovate, problem-solve, decide, and act. We nurture, cheerlead, create, and inspire. We perform acts of magic, acts of service, acts of love. We nourish others, literally and figuratively. Yet we often forget to nourish ourselves.
We must proactively protect our well-being. Here are seven ways to actively practice self-love in a way that supports your overall wellbeing…
7 Ways To Actively Practice Self-Love
1. re-Prioritize your own needs. As young girls, many of us were taught to self-sacrifice. To place the needs and feelings of others before our own. When we allow this limiting gender norm to guide our actions we deplete ourselves, leaving little energy for what we want.
When we prioritize our own needs, we strengthen ourselves with energy, positivity, and love. Caring for ourselves first is empowering and allows us to perform at our peak effectiveness, benefitting all others around us.
2. Release yourself from perfectionism. Perfectionism is often rooted in feelings of unworthiness. We feel an overwhelming need to avoid failure or judgment by others. This compulsion can immobilize us, manifesting as procrastination and avoidance. We free ourselves from its harmful grip by setting realistic expectations for ourselves, celebrating our achievements, forgiving ourselves when we miss the mark, and finding validation from within instead of seeking it from others.
3. Speak to yourself kindly. When words with a friend head in a negative direction, what do we do? We change or exit the conversation. When our inner voice criticizes us, we must also change or exit the conversation.
If we allow our own negative internal chatter to go unchecked, we will only magnify our flaws and minimize our own sense of self-worth. Ultimately, without countering that internal critic, we enable that voice to hinder our happiness and success. When we speak positively to ourselves, we grow our self-compassion, resilience, and confidence.
4. Protect your time, energy, and money. Our time, energy, and financial resources are not unlimited. By setting goals and boundaries we can manage our resources more effectively.
When we define what is most important to us, we can better protect our resources:
+ We say yes when we want to, and we learn to unapologetically say no to invitations, activities, and favors that drain us. + We take on projects aligned with our interests, strengths, and values.
+ We live within our means financially, creating a worry-free present and an opportunity-filled future.
+ We invest and protect our resources without worrying what others think.
5. Free yourself from guilt. Guilt is a powerful driver of behavior, especially for women. Guilt sometimes alerts us to breaches of our moral code. But, from the gender programming we received as young girls, guilt also stalks us when we place our needs above the needs of others. When we let guilt guide us, we can suffocate in self-sacrifice. When we break this programmed pattern — going against what we’ve been conditioned to believe we “should” do — we become comfortable with prioritizing our needs and acting in our own best interests.
6. Own your story. We all have events, mistakes, and even failures in our past that we keep secret because of regret, shame, and fear of what others might think. Things we did, things we didn’t do, things that were done to us. When we find the capacity to forgive ourselves, forgive others, and let go of what has happened in the past, we can prevent our past from defining our future.
While we can’t change past events, we can change how we think about them. When we own our stories — a powerful form of self-acceptance! — we allow ourselves to create a new, more positive narrative about who we are.
7. Connect with yourself daily. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship of your life. Nurturing this relationship takes as much effort as any other.
Make time to connect with yourself daily through practices like journaling, gratitude, meditation, visualization, exercise, and being in nature. Ask yourself the same deep questions you would ask your best friend. How do you feel? What is making you happy? What is making you anxious? When we tune in daily to what is going on inside, we create an open pathway for our reflection and intuition to guide us.
This story originally ran in 2019, but we loved it so much we brought it back. Read next: How To Deal With Toxic Relationships: The Cord Clearing Method