Out of all the things there are to love in this world, people are my favorite. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all of the hearts I am connected to and how grateful I am to have so many pieces of people’s lives intertwined with my story. Like the man from Budapest who told me about his daughter’s dreams while in Paris or the father I hugged when he got his son back. I think about the chance encounters that became my greatest friendships; your desk being placed next to mine because you were shy and I was not. I think about you crossing oceans and me moving to the mountains and both of us sitting next to each other on a hardwood floor in a circle, hands on our hearts. I think about all of us applying at the same restaurant as we made our way through college and dancing the night away eight years later on my wedding day. My heart thinks about you, all of the people that have read my words and then became my real life friends.
My heart overflows with gratitude when I consider the details that occurred in order for our lives to touch, the miles and miles we each spent walking the earth that resulted in your footprints making their way to my path. I’ll always believe that people show up right when we need them, to help us grow, to open us up to the possibilities, to carry a message, or to hold our hand in comfort after a particularly stormy chapter. I think about the people I’ve come to know who live their lives in the boldest, most beautiful, and magnificent ways. The people who teach you to be soft, who show you how to be honest and vulnerable, the ones who dare to change their paths to answer to their life’s calling. And I think about all of the people I do not know and all of the hearts that are beating just like mine. I think about entire populations of people that many of us know nothing about, who do courageous things and suffer in ways we cannot possibly understand. I think about all of the people sewing beautiful seeds into their corners of the world, who leave roots for things to grow in every place they touch. I imagine picking a flower they once planted or sitting underneath the shade of the tree they helped to grow.
With my blankets astray and snowflakes falling from the sky from my third floor apartment, I think about the ways in which we enter people’s lives. The ways our own feet lead us into another person’s story and create lasting change. We can show up in the world in big and small ways, like the way we carry ourselves, greet a stranger, or stand in a check-out line. We show up in the ways we use our talents to benefit another person, pursue our passions with every fiber of our being, and how we make a person feel about themselves. We choose the way we treat the people we love and the people we do not know. We can be soft while showing up strong, we can withdraw judgement and seek to connect, to extend a hand. We can help people to see the magic that they are.
I think about my yoga teachers, who without words, showed me how I want to be present in other people’s lives. In the last four months I’ve learned about the gift we offer to people we meet and the people we love when we are present and kind. I’ve learned that the more compassionate and gentle we can be with ourselves, the more compassion we can show towards others. I’ve learned how valuable it is to see each person as a whole, to take note of their heart, and to make room for someone to be just as they are. I was able to transform in beautiful ways because my experiences, challenges, and strengths were not only validated and seen, but celebrated and encouraged. I developed as a person because my heart was nurtured, my words were listened to, and my vulnerability was met with sweetness and love.
When it comes to loving people, here is what I know:
Powerful things happen when we allow people to be who they are instead of who we want them to be.
People transform with compassion, not shame.
When we nurture another human being, we create an opportunity for healing, softening, and growth.
We have the power to impact someone’s life in just one conversation, evening, or experience.
I believe when we show up authentically and vulnerably we encourage others to do the same.
We can stop trying to fix people and focus on loving them instead.
and so I thank you, for being who you are and showing up in the way that you did.
I am participating in a yoga teacher training and a few weeks ago we started to study the manomaya kosha; the mind. The parts of ourselves that include thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and images. We went through a practice that included observing our thoughts and we were asked to begin noticing a habitual running of sentences through our mind. As we were guided through the practice I found myself internally saying ‘I don’t know how to do this, I’m never going to learn all of this’ asking,”am I doing this correctly?” and similar variations.
What I know is that our thoughts are often snapshots of our underlying core beliefs; beliefs that feel imbedded into who we are and often consciously or unconsciously guide our emotions or behaviors. For most of us, these beliefs fall into a “I am not _____ enough” statement. Maybe you fill in the blank with words like worthy, strong, attractive, skinny, nice, competent, loving, masculine, successful, wealthy, good, or popular. Regardless of the adjective, the beliefs turn into feelings of lack, a general feeling of not being enough.
During this practice, I learned of a sentence that quietly runs in the back of mind, a belief that often masks itself in feelings of fear of failure, unsureness, and unease about my level of competency. When I introspected a little bit deeper, “I am not smart enough” came to mind. I went back to kindergarten where I saw my 6 year old self standing in front of my sweet teacher, feeling panicked and unsure about whether I would be able to successfully count to one hundred. I went back to 3rd grade when I failed a cursive handwriting assignment after writing all of my “f’s” backwards. Or in 4th grade when I was pulled out of math time while learning division because I wasn’t catching on as quickly as the other students. I recall being surrounded by wonderful friends who were more intelligent, bright, and quicker learners than myself as a seventh grader in junior high. And I can remember how embarassed I felt in high school after failing the AP calculus exam and learning that all of my friends had passed. I can hear the kind people in my life saying things that were internalized in a way that was perhaps unintended; “you have that lowest ACT score out of the group, but we are glad you are here,” and “we just wanted to spend extra time with you since it was taking you longer than everyone else.” The statements were harmless, but over time the words somehow blended together into an internal statement of “I am not smart enough.” This transpired into actions of excessive study, obsessive focus on success, and feelings of failure. It resulted in an undertone of feeling inadequate and sometimes placing extreme pressure on myself with expectations of scholastic perfection. This meant that I cried when I got less than an “A” on an assignment and felt panicked after reading the first question on a test. I felt unsure of my innate ability to learn and of the likelihood that I would be able to succeed. I didn’t know this about myself until recently.
I share these words with you because the homes that are our bodies exist on foundations of beliefs, experiences, and learnings. I am not _______ enough exists within us all. It is worth taking a look inside of yourself, asking where your insecurities may lay, and getting to know where those little sparks exist. I say this because perhaps you’ll find they are not true, that they no longer serve you, or that you might come to know where they came from. And maybe from this place of knowing, you might begin to see yourself in a more complete way. You might find that your life experiences have other information to show you.
And with a little work, a more balanced thought might arise after allowing all of the other thoughts to settle. One that says I am competent, able to learn, and intelligent. One that says I am smart, strong, capable, and deserving. One that says I am enough.
I share all of this with you in hopes that you’ll start to notice the thoughts that cloud your mind, that you’ll start to hear the stories that you tell yourself, and that you’ll start to shake and loosen your grip on the beliefs that that feel real but are not true. In hopes that you’ll allow some room for love and self-compassion in. In hopes that you’ll heal.
In hopes that you begin to deeply know that you are not broken.
Think about all of the transitions you’ve been through during this season of your life. Maybe you’ve began to raise a beautiful human being that exists with an infinite amount of possibilities or became a beginner again as a new college student. Perhaps you’ve had to navigate this portion of your life without the comfort of a hand you’ve previously held, tiptoeing atop the earth knowing that a part of your soul is in the sky. I like to think that parts of our selves, like leaves, fall to the ground during autumn too. And perhaps the only thing we will ever come to know is that it all changes; the leaves, the weather, our existence.
I moved to a new state four months ago and said goodbye to some of my hearts greatest treasures. I left a job I loved and became surrounded by new people, the mountains, and a different culture. I became a stranger in a city I once somewhat knew, lost again amongst all of the streets and forever trying to find my way. There’s nothing like change in the literal and figurative weather to stir things up inside, creating room for us to reflect, grow, and heal.
I like to think of our individual cracks- the hurts, disappointments, setbacks, heartbreaks, failures, traumas, and losses- as the same veins that characterize our favorite marigold yellow, burnt orange, and red leaves. For the leaf, these veins carry vital nutrients; for us, the life lessons, experiences, and unknowns meant only for our hearts. I believe that some of our most beautiful lessons can be our most painful experiences, if only we might be able to find the meaning deep within ourselves. Within each crack is the ability to be transformed and soothed. I am not suggesting that we forget, but am gently offering that we don’t have to hold on to everything. I believe we find the strength in our healing. The trees teach us that we must learn to let go, that we can find sweetness in the fall. My sweet friend, we can be shattered and still rooted to the ground.
During this transitional period of your life, what would you like to let fall to the earth? We can let go of people that are no longer parts of our stories, experiences that only remind of us of pain. We can let go of the beliefs we’ve held on to about ourselves that feel real but are not true. We can let go of expectations about we are supposed to be be, knowing that we don’t have to be everything for everyone. We can let go of the messages we’ve created or received about our worth and allow old behaviors to fall away, making room for something new.
We can offer ourselves more time, sunlight, or compassion. We can be good to ourselves so that one day, we will open our eyes and find that everything is covered in light again.
my dear friend, our favorite season of fall only exists because things change.
you’ve transformed in beautiful and difficult ways; this is your gentle reminder that we can do hard things.
We each have moments in our lives where we wished we had chosen differently or are unsure of how to proceed. For me, these moments exist in the mean spirited action I participated in as a junior in college or holding on to relationships that were not meant for me; in times when thoughtless words were spoken in moments of frustration and in gestures of unkindness to the people that I love. We get so busy, tired, and hyper-focused on our problems that we act out of habit or automaticity and engage in actions before recognizing our choice. If we stopped for a moment, we might observe our tendency to make decisions based on the way we feel and the incessant thoughts running through our minds rather than from the place in our hearts that are the truest expression of who we are.
Maybe for you, that moment existed today, yesterday, or last year. Or maybe it hasn’t happened yet; perhaps it’s a decision you are contemplating but have not decided on, a fork in the road between the person you are capable of being and a decision that is easy, convenient, or safe.
This is a simple reminder that our lives are characterized by actions; that every single action or inaction made is the result of a choice. And all of these choices bear fruit; they have consequences, slowly shape the story of our lives, and plant seeds that will eventually take root. Take a moment and think about the hundreds of small choices wrapped up in all the minutes of the day… when you choose to go to sleep, who lays beside you, and whether or not you push the snooze button in the morning. There are choices in whether you wake up to a moment of gratitude or three cups of coffee, extra sugar. Choices exist in the words we speak, how we express our emotions, and the kinds of people we allow into our lives. The people we let stay and the people we let go. We have choices in what we consume, how we feel, and the way we move our bodies. Choices in the purchases we make, the money we do or do not save, the activities we engage in, and the information we take in through the brightly lit screens on our telephones, computers, televisions, and games. Decisions also exist in what we choose not to do, like not finishing the degree, not quitting the job, or establishing healthy boundaries for ourselves. You can decide to quiet your voice or shout from the top of your lungs, to pause, or to constantly move from one place of busyness to the next. Maybe you routinely make the decision to treat yourself with less love and kindness than you deserve.
This is my encouragement to choose to respond to whatever challenge you are facing with your highest self. With the part of you that can look beyond the immediate situation and shift to a larger perspective. This is a reminder that we can choose to show up in every situation with the parts of ourselves that are calm, compassionate, honest, wise, and healthy. And on some days and in some moments you might be able to rationalize your actions even when the deepest part of yourself knows you are wrong. Maybe you’re frustrated and justified in your anger, but you still have the choice to let go of that hurt. You still have the choice to move on, to accept what is, and to forgive. You can take a step in the direction of your goals despite how difficult the journey may be, and no matter how unmotivated you feel; this is a gentle reminder that changes happen in our lives only when we choose to make them.
You’ll encounter situations that break your heart and still you can choose to put the pieces back together, to heal, to love deeply, and trust again. You’ll meet people who are hurtful and unkind and you can still offer them grace and the light that you are. And when you can’t offer that, perhaps make the decision to not act. Your choice is in the inaction, in the pause. You may find situations that challenge you, and you can choose to try, to learn, and to grow.
When we choose to act in congruence with the best version of ourselves- with the light and loving kindness that exists within all of us- we slowly start to become all that we already are.
A week ago today, we shared our vows between two trees in the mountains with all of the most important people in our lives standing before us as witnesses. I know most everyone says this about their wedding day, but it was magical.
Early on, I set an intention to enjoy the process and to maintain perspective- to remember that I wanted to create a marriage that was more beautiful than our wedding. And so I did my best with infusing each step of the planning with love, attention to detail, and a deep appreciation for all of the help we received along the way. I wasn’t always perfect, but I did always try. July 23rd was an absolute dream that I’m not sure I’ll ever wake from and I’ll take from it more than a genuinely kind husband and a new last name. I gained an abundance of wisdom I never expected to receive and a re-commitment to celebrate each of my days with the same peace, happiness, and thankfulness I experienced during our wedding.
And so when people ask about wedding planning advice, I guess all I really have to offer are suggestions about life and things we already know but so easily lose sight of.
What I know is that love exists in moments. Nights of staying up too late talking, learning to swing dance, and falling asleep in buses, trains, subways, and on hard-wood floors. It’s in monthly budget meetings, cooking dinner at midnight, training for a half-marathon, and watching thunderstorms from the front porch while sipping on wine. It’s in those simple, sweet words that get strung together so perfectly that will one day become your vows. These acts of love are the moments that we will be forever nostalgic for.
And when you choose the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, remember that you’re also choosing the person you eat breakfast with, experience heartaches and growing pains with, and a person who will deeply influence who you become. You’re choosing a person who will be in all of the memories you have; a person to sing alongside with during road trips, someone you’ll cry in front of when life gets hard, and a person who you’ll sleep in with on lazy Sunday afternoons. You’re choosing a partner who will not only see you during your greatest and weakest moments, but also endure them all with you.
Choose well. Be with someone who will tell you a corny joke just to make you laugh and who knows when it’s a wine, cheese, and salami kind of day. You deserve a love that lights up your soul in all of the most beautiful ways and knows all of the deepest places in your heart. You deserve a love that is centered around kindness, compassion, sincerity, and warmth; a relationship that is tender, giving, and pure.
The best advice I have is to give away all the love you have in heart, on your wedding day and on unsuspecting moments that feel like ordinary life.
It goes back to love, but take the opportunity to look at every person at the wedding and know that your life story, happiness, and experience in this world has been impacted by all of the warm smiles standing before you. Place your hand on your heart and recognize all of the beautiful faces that showed up in honor of your love and to celebrate your relationship and new life adventure. Know that there may not be another chance to have all of your most treasured people eating together in one place, dancing together during one night. Close your eyes and try to capture it forever.
Notice all of the effort that goes into making not only your wedding, but your life, as memorable as it is and understand that you couldn’t have done this alone. Be mindful of the time spent by your parents making all of the wedding crafts, the sweet gestures of your new in-laws in planning the rehearsal dinner, your bridal party and their willingness to go offer advice and problem-solve challenges, and your extended family members who give up their vacation and contribute their talents into making your wedding day everything you hoped it would be. Recognize that these are the same people that have been offering you their gifts all along.
As a general rule, surround yourself with the people you would like to be like; be kind to everyone and selective in who you allow to become your greatest support. The people who will encourage you to take on new adventures and schedule phone dates with you just so they don’t miss a thing are the ones that will be there on your wedding day and all the days after. Hold on tight to your relationships with them.
And on a different day and in a different setting, look around you. Feel the happiness that wells up in your heart when you focus on the gifts you received in this life that come in the forms of your friends and family members. Focus on the love that brings you all together and gently let go of the rest. I’d like to bottle up all of the love that we were surrounded with on July 23rd and pass it around to strangers on the street in need of a pick-me-up. I believe that everyone deserves that kind of everlasting and unconditional love and I know we all bloom like the magnificent flowers we are when we feel loved, supported, and acknowledged.
3. Everything will fall into place
I think it’s natural to hope that our weddings are beautiful and perfect- but I also noticed that from this comes a hyper-focus on attention to detail, perfection, and rigid ideas about how the day will go. I worried about following the schedule, being on time, and whether the wind would blow our centerpieces away. I worried about whether our moccasins matched the dresses, if the color scheme matched our vision, and whether or not our food would arrive. But life is always teaching and reteaching me that when I loosen my attachment to expectations of how a situation will play out and focus on being open to the experience, everything unfolds in the most breathtaking way. I’m still learning that when we turn ordinary situations into emergencies, we get in our own way of the experience. And I’m still being mindful of the tendency to rob ourselves of the happiness and beauty of the moment by infusing it with our stress or worry.
I practiced allowing the day to unfold and fall into place the most on our wedding day and I smile when I realize how perfect it all was. The interrupted dances, rain on our rehearsal practice, the missing aisle runner, sneaky moonshine, and dipping too soon during our first dance. And as in life, we may not know it at the time but each moment is what we need, exactly in the way we need it.
4. Focus on what matters
Although countless numbers of hours were spent on creating the most serene venue – from the wooden benches to the handmade wood cut slabs and centerpieces- what I’ll remember most is my dad pointing out family members as we walked down the aisle and my two little cousins carrying the train of my wedding dress behind us. I’ll remember my mom dancing the night away with us under the star filled sky, sneaking kisses with my groom, and overlooking the mountains at an incredible view. I’ll replay moments of my bridesmaids sniffling as they heard us share our vows and remember us singing a made-up song to our photographer and watching them sway their hands as my dad and I danced to “My Girl.”
It was easy to get caught up in all of the details- perfecting every last centerpiece and debating over every single hair option, napkin color, and table arrangement. I’m glad I took the time to consider them and create an enchanting atmosphere, but the day would have been perfect without all of that. Don’t lose perspective on the love that brought you to this moment and the love that will sustain your marriage. Don’t get so focused on creating the perfect wedding that you forget to enjoy time with the family and friends that came to share it with you.
There are so many things competing for our attention and so many societal norms demanding our time and money, and in this all, it is our responsibility to choose to spend our energy on enriching our lives. Be unfaltering in your decision to focus on the things that can’t be easily captured or defined and commit to spending your life using up all of the love that you possess. And my dear friend, dance- on your wedding day, in your kitchen, and during salsa lessons- even if you don’t know how to. Promise yourself that you won’t leave the dance floor until you’ve convinced yourself that you have all the moves.
I can’t think about our wedding day and the months, weeks, and days leading up to it without crying. I attribute the constant flow of tears to my heart being so full with appreciation. Never have I experienced people showing up in the most beautiful and thoughtful ways to make us feel so loved and I will always remember this day as a blessing and a privilege.
Live a life of gratitude, of knowing that you have enough, and let the abundance of it all sustain you during difficult times. And in moments of frustration and differing of opinions, take yourself back to the richness of your relationships, the laughter you have shared, and all of the happiness that has colored your life. Take a step back from the push towards consumerism and material pleasures and know that these things will never fulfill our greatest needs. Take a deep breath in and fill yourself with deep gratitude of all that is yours; of all the hands that you’ve held, the scars that have healed, the hugs you’ve received, and the knowledge you have gained.
I still stay up late at night thinking about the kindness received from strangers and new friends in support of our wedding and the people in our lives who continue to teach me what it means to be selfless, flexible, and compassionate. I’m endlessly grateful for a husband who continues to be the best person I know and who always responds in the exact way I need. I’ll always go back to the conversation we had at 3am on the Thursday before the wedding in which he reminded me to hold on to every moment because they would be so fleeting, where we talked about the intentionality of happiness, and choosing to respond to whatever comes our way with love. I’m so grateful for every moment, misstep, and wrong turn that became our love story.
Today was meaningful because sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and sometimes when it is, you decide to make it last a lifetime by saying ‘I Do.’
i have this belief that within all of us is untapped potential.
and because i am a characteristically anxious person, i find that i’m constantly playing the what if game. and if you know this game, you know that the background conversation playing in your mind goes something like “what if they don’t like me? what if i’m not good enough? what if i don’t get the job? what if i don’t pass the test? what if i never get married? what if it doesn’t work out? what if the worst case scenario happens? what if i’m not a good enough parent.friend.person.employee.student.writer.artist? what if i fail?”
if you know yourself or are in the process of getting to know yourself, you might find the what if game comes from a place of insecurity or a belief that we are not enough… and if it doesn’t consciously start from that place it often takes us there. and for me, this kind of thinking is always about working against myself. i don’t always realize it, but somehow insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, and anxiety start surfacing. when i engage myself in this way, i encourage negative thoughts, energy, emotions, and worry by creating worst case-scenarios, catastrophizing events, and imagining all the ways in which something will fall apart. and usually my what if games lead to believing that the challenges ahead of me are more difficult than my ability to master them- that the challenge surpasses my capabilities. we sell ourselves short in this incessant stream of thinking and believing that we are less capable than we truly are.
i’m trying to play a different what if game with myself; one that encourages thinking about possibilities rather than limitations. one that fosters imagination, breaks down walls, and involves expanding ourselves to be more than we have ever considered. this what if game is about believing in ourselves, it’s about coming from a place where we are enough. this game is about knowing that we can do the work and that we can get to that place within ourselves and in the world that we never thought we’d see. this reverse kind of thinking acknowledges that we have the ability to grow, to develop, and to improve. its about creativity, experimenting, and playfulness. it’s about imagining all of the possibilities. and knowing that they are out there for us to grasp.
and so here’s mine:
what if i devoted this year to working on my goals in a way i have not done before?
what if i woke up every morning and set an intention for the day?
what if i stayed focused on each intention and worked diligently on my goals until i accomplished them all?
what if i was consistent in my efforts?
what if i slowed down and stopped frequently to breathe?
what if i acknowledged that i have enough time?
what if i stopped listening to negative self-talk?
what if i softened into my efforts?
what if i tried harder each time that i failed?
what if i gave myself permission to fail?
what if i each action and behavior was chosen from love?
what if i spent less time on my cell phone and more time investing in my relationships? in myself? in my community?
what if i wrote every day?
what if i expanded my mind every day?
what if i took risks? what if i got uncomfortable?
what if i started today? right now?
what if i was limitless?
do you feel the difference?
when we open ourselves up to the possibilities we begin to pave the pathway for our goals to unfold. train your mind to look within yourself in a new way, and train your inner voice to build you up to your capabilities instead of breaking you apart through your insecurities.
i have this belief that it is our responsibility and gift to use ourselves up. to grow into our weaknesses and to give to the world the talents that are within each of us that only we as individuals have. i have this belief that we are all incredible. that if we sat down and took the time to look within ourselves, to get to know ourselves, and committed to the process of achieving our heart’s purpose, that we would astound ourselves and one another in what we could accomplish.
i have this belief that the world would become even more beautiful.
we carry collected pain from so many moments. like the time during high school when you were first made fun of or when you didn’t get a high enough score to be placed in advanced classes. maybe you lost yourself in the transition to adulthood, parenthood, or somewhere else along the way. or perhaps you are experiencing pain from the present moment as life is unfolding in a way that is different from what you had planned. we all have these moments. some we continue to know because the wounds remain scabbed, fresh, and open; others are faint scars that have healed over the years. and i believe that like the outside of our bodies that serve as life maps covered with scars from a fishing trip, the first fall on a bike, or stretch-marks after a growth spurt or having your first child; the inside of our bodies carry memories of the experiences we have endured and the emotions we have attached to these moments.
we hold on to the words that hurt us and the disappointments we experienced when the outcome didn’t match our expectations. some people might carry pain, discomfort, insecurities and challenging emotions that come from enduring significant trauma in their life. others might carry the heaviness that accompanies feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, loneliness, or a lost sense of purpose. perhaps you are familiar with the sting of shame that presents itself in a wave of heat that takes over your body or knots in your stomach from feeling unworthy or never enough. and we all carry the pain from the heartache of lost love- whether that loss be from an imagined life dream, intimate relationship, friendship, goal, pet, or family member. our bodies store the emotions we experience and our minds collect all of the words that we consciously or unconsciously think. the sum of all of these experiences equate into who we are in this moment.
and sometimes the present moment is messy. sometimes we have mascara running down our face or we push back tears of frustration that we’ve been fighting with for far too long. and while the present moment can feel like too much to endure, endless, or unbearable, we often feel forced to pull it all together with a smile on our face because showing up honestly and openly feels too revealing and uncomfortable. so we show up in altered versions of ourselves and we act in ways that we do not fully understand; perhaps through increased alcohol consumption, restrictive eating habits, self-harming behaviors, or spending time with people who only pull you farther from your goals. we cover up insecurities through mistaken gestures of love or lose ourselves in misguided attempts to find happiness through busyness, people pleasing, productivity, or materialism. we search for reassurance, validation, and self-worth through other people’s approval, the numbers on a scale, or they way our clothes fit us. and still, something remains missing.
whether it be in large or small ways, these little bits of darkness that accumulate along the way begin to cloud our hearts and chip away at our self-worth, self-love, and inner light.
but the truth is, the world needs your brightness.
you need your brightness.
i know this because i know what it feels like when we go dim. our insides start to feel like a deserted, musty old attic room that aches for a little sunlight and fresh air. you start closing doors and boxing yourself in. you begin to feel like you’re living in a way that’s smaller than you actually are. maybe you’ve heard the little whisper in your heart or ringing softly in your ears reminding you that you are so much more than the present moment. that your life, your deepest radiance, is one of greatness and eternal love.
and if any of this holds true for you, you haven’t lost who you are, you’re just finding your way.
there is a deep calling to self-love within each of us, if only we would get quiet enough to listen, patient enough to try, and enduring enough to persevere. self-love is a fluid process that ebb and flows and because it is ever changing, it’s something we must work on daily. if you aren’t familiar with the shift from inner criticism to celebrating your worth, there are many ways to start:
1.. you can start by honoring who and where you are. begin to learn about the messages you tell yourself and gently consider where it is you find your worth- perhaps it comes from the attention you receive from the people around you, in your productivity, accomplishments, or ability to please others. get curious about your sadness, internal pressures, or constant worrying and perfectionism. maybe it is about making a decision to stop allowing your past to dictate your future while still honoring where it is you come from. you can start by allowing yourself to be exactly who you are in this moment without calling for a need to change or be anything different than you are. and begin to know that who you are is enough and that you have everything within you to become everything you aspire to be.
2.. you get curious about who you are and who you pretend to be in order to meet other people’s expectations. you start observing the comparisons you make or the put-downs you mutter about yourself or others. you watch your unkind judgments and assumptions of strangers and recognize that your perception of others is often a reflection of yourself and the way you are feeling. and during this process, you give yourself permission to gently exit people from your life and make peace with the fact that some relationships and people are not meant for you. you recognize that perhaps inner growth will take place in the letting go, the moving on. it means you lean into the guilt you experience when saying no to others so that you can start to say yes to yourself.
3. you improve yourself through kindness. kindness towards your body and love to your soul. self-love is a practice that includes the way you view yourself when you look into the mirror, the way you talk to yourself in the secrecy of your mind, and the way you nourish yourself throughout your days. the movement towards self love is showing yourself the same compassion, understanding, and kindness that you would treat your dearest friend. its a process of forgiving flaws and owning up to mistakes. so maybe you are kind to yourself by taking a nap in the middle of a sunday afternoon when the sun is shining into your window just right even though you have a million other things that need to be done. or for you, it might be about increasing your awareness of the background noise of anxiety that attempts to drown out your sense of enjoyment and play. it’s recognizing that you are worthy and deserving of the happiness that comes your way and not allowing your mind to rob you of the joy, gratitude, and contentment of the present moment out of fear of future what-if’s, anxieties, and catastrophes.
4. you practice things that bring you joy, calmness, and energy. you start listening to the quiet inner voice that knows your heart and the sweetness that you need. maybe you need a day full of pajamas and blankets or an afternoon of laughter with friends. you begin prioritizing your well-being and understand that you’re most capable of offering the purest love to others when you develop that same love for yourself. i journal. drink tea. read. exercise. i practice yoga and meditate, and sometimes i eat five chewy chocolate chip cookies in a row. i honor my need for personal time and get curious about times when i feel anxious, incompetent, or upset. i share my insecurities and ease in to vulnerability. and when you practice self-love you become selective of the way you spend and give of your time. you stop collecting other people’s negativity and make a decision to be soft and patient with yourself.
5. you allow yourself to heal. and healing can be uncomfortable. our individual experiences of healing will take different paths and different amounts of time, and all of it is necessary for our journey. you welcome the raw and truthful expression of emotion and you promise to be gentle with yourself as you grow. there is no time limit on healing and you allow yourself to take as long you need. it will be a long and windy road filled with detours of disappointments or a return to old behaviors, but you continue to try. sometimes self-love is about allowing yourself to face your sadness, to speak your hurts, and to sit with your feelings. sometimes self-love is recognizing all that you have endured. its looking for those little glimmers of hope that present themselves to us in the darkest of moments.
so i support you to grow in love towards yourself. i challenge you to ask yourself where it is that you hurt and why. talk if you need to or write if the words flow more easily that way. and if the tears come, let them. i encourage you to be a little more gentle, patient, and accepting of your best effort as you try.