Many people confuse self-love with self-care. It’s possible to practice physical self-care without practising self-love. Self-love, on the other hand, encompasses self-care and goes deeper to include mind, body and spirit. It’s all about nurturing yourself and making a deeply emotional and intuitive connection with the core of who you are.

Additionally, many people think that self-love is selfish. This is more so if you’re used to putting everyone first. Self-love is not selfish and neither is it self-centred. It’s not about having a “me, me, me” mentality. Instead, it’s about loving yourself for who you are and taking care of yourself, unconditionally.

It’s easy to overlook how important it is to not only love yourself but also make this a regular part of your self-care routine.

This post is the second in a series of 4 posts on self-care and self-love as we work through the 28 Days of Loving Yourself Challenge. The 4 posts in this series are:

  1. 10 strategies that you can use to clear physical clutter in your home.
  2. 5 ways to make self-love a part of your self-care.
  3. 3 keys to more success and fulfilment in your life.
  4. 5 ways to stay focused on your goals this year.

Let’s take a look at today’s topic which is…

5 Ways to Make Self-Love a Part of Your Self-Care

#1. Forgive yourself

We all have mistakes in our past.

  • Things we did and now wish we hadn’t done.
  • Things we didn’t do and now wish we had done.
  • Opportunities missed and lost.
  • Money made and lost.
  • People we’ve hurt or whom we’ve allowed to hurt us, knowingly or unknowingly.
  • Poor parenting skills that we’re afraid will negatively affect our children in the future.
  • Breakups we wish never happened.
  • Relationships we stayed in way past the use-by date.
  • …and a lot of other mistakes.

I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t have regrets from their past. The challenge is that it gets easy to focus on regrets and keep beating yourself up.

For example, for many years I used to beat myself up about the kind of mother I was when my children were younger. When I was in full-time employment, I had no time for my children. I left home very early in the morning and came back at night.

My children on the other hand would be so happy to see me and all I wanted to do was just to relax and sleep before the next day’s round of commute and having to deal with workplace politics.

Then there was my marriage that was breaking apart and I had no clue what to do. There were many times when I lost my temper and spanked my children just to get them out of my hair.

When I left employment and started a business, I worked Monday to Saturday. I was so tired most evenings and my mind wouldn’t stop working even on Sundays when I was supposedly relaxing with my family.

Years later, I made a conscious effort to become a better mum. Things shifted and today, I have an amazing relationship with my children.

That, however, didn’t stop me from beating myself up each time I remembered just how bad a parent I was in the past. It took a lot of inner work to forgive myself and appreciate that the person I was then is not who I am now.

I also worked with a coach who helped me immensely by teaching me that I was doing my best to survive with the knowledge and experience I had then. I had simply replicated the system I grew up with and it just didn’t work for me.

We need to remember that forgiveness is not a one-off practice. It takes time and consistent effort. And sometimes you may have to make amends, apologize or even confront people.

On the other hand, the results of forgiveness are amazing and you’ll feel free and lighter on the inside once you release the negative emotions that you’ve been holding in.

#2. Enforce your boundaries

Self-respect is a critical aspect of self-love and self-care. It helps you set high standards, which in turn strengthens your boundaries. This also protects you from toxic people and toxic relationships.

Of course, having high standards and strong boundaries will make some people drop from your life. That’s OK especially if these are the kinds of people who don’t respect your boundaries and also take advantage of you.

One way of enforcing your boundaries is to become very good at saying No. This is not easy for many people especially if you’re surrounded by energy vampires – people who literally suck your energy from you!

No is a complete sentence!

To get started, practise saying No three times a week. Then move to say No three times a day. Make No a complete sentence. No explanations, justifications, elaborations or apologies. Simply say No and move on.

I once had a client whose friend used to borrow her stuff all the time. My client got very stressed about it and didn’t know how to decline because this friend knew her so well that she was able to ask for things like even my client’s car when she knew that my client wouldn’t be using these things.

One day the friend casually mentioned that she wanted to borrow the car to go for a long trip…right out of the country! This stressed my client so much that she was losing sleep over it. Luckily the incident happened as we were working on her boundaries so this was an opportunity to practise in real-time!

When she brought the challenge into our coaching session, we practised her saying No to the friend…just “No, I can’t give you my car.”

I guess there was a very heavy emotional attachment to the car because she was able to stick to her guns. The friend tried all manner of manipulative tactics to guilt my client into backing down. None worked. And that friendship ended soon after!

No is a very powerful statement. And it makes an even more powerful boundary-enhancer when used as a complete sentence. Practice it constantly as you work on strengthening your personal and professional boundaries.

#3. Affirm yourself

Speak more kind and loving words to yourself. Tell yourself, “I love me!” multiple times a day. Look in the mirror and say, “I love you, <and insert your name>!” Like I would say, “I love you, Caroline!” Then smile at yourself.

To make this even stronger, look into the mirror at least once a day and tell yourself 3 things you love about yourself and 3 things you’re grateful for on that day.

Even your quirks can be loved if you choose to see them differently. Other people may try to dictate how you should be, but this is not always the best for you.

Of course, if you have truly negative qualities that make you toxic, then you need to make changes and do this fast. Otherwise, celebrate the unique person that you are, because you are a superstar!

Another way of affirming yourself is to reward yourself for small and big milestones, or “…just because” to quote my niece who is one of the most self-loving people I’ve ever met.

  • Give yourself a high five when you’re on time for the first time in many days.
  • Congratulate yourself for eating healthy or completing a workout.
  • Treat yourself to a gourmet meal when you hit a goal or milestone.
  • Take a holiday or buy something to commemorate achieving your annual, career or business goals.

Do what it takes to remind yourself that you too matter. Affirm yourself!

Giving yourself the gift of unconditional love each day is one of the most powerful self-care practices you can ever adopt. And it pays back over and over as you start feeling great about yourself and accepting yourself more, flaws and all!

#4. Fill your cup first

It goes without saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to fill your cup first. If this is so clear, then why do so many of us run on empty? Why do we allow ourselves to get drained as we continue to sort out or take care of other people and situations?

I first learnt of this self-love practice from my Life Coach Shilpa Shah when during a coaching session, she recommended that I start filling my cup first before emptying it.

At that time I was very stressed. Business wasn’t working as expected. I was getting clients who drained me physically and emotionally and life was generally a drag. While I was able to still coach with amazing results, things weren’t working so well for me behind the scenes.

When I talked to Shilpa that day, I expected us to map out a new strategy. Instead, I walked away feeling powerful and in control. So I’ve made filling my cup the first part of my self-care routine.

What exactly does filling your cup first mean?

It simply means recharging your emotional, mental and physical energies. You actually prioritize these then you stop and recharge your batteries.

Imagine that you’re a cup that contains water. Only this is not normal water, it’s your personal supply of emotional, physical and mental energies. Now imagine that your cup has holes. So you’re draining your energies into other people’s cups.

Your cup will never be full no matter how hard you try because it’s getting drained as soon as you put more energy into it. With time, you’ll get overwhelmed and even disillusioned and stop trying to replenish your cup.

Now imagine instead that your cup is whole. It’s complete and has no holes. As you fill it, it overflows gently and the overflow streams into other people’s cups.

At the same time, you have other cups that overflow into your cup. They’re feeding you as you’re feeding other people. So you’re not just overflowing. Instead, you’re filling your cup, you’re having help filling your cup, and you’re gently releasing the excess to other people’s cups.

Just how powerful do you think this would be?

Even just thinking about it right now, just thinking about it happening, makes me feel stronger and more empowered!

How do you fill your cup?

There are many ways of doing this and I’ll mention a few below:

  1. Have a day when you sleep in. No agendas, no appointments…just letting yourself get more sleep.
  2. Schedule regular me-time…alone. Do something you really love or nothing at all. Again, there’s no agenda other than just being.
  3. Go for a walk.
  4. Take time to eat your meal. Enjoy every bite instead of rushing through the meal.
  5. Have a relaxing bath.
  6. Treat yourself to a spa day.
  7. Watch a movie.
  8. Read a novel.
  9. Read or listen to something inspirational.
  10. Learn a new skill.
  11. Reactivate a hobby that you let go of.
  12. Meditate for 15 minutes.
  13. Do a random act of kindness to a stranger.
  14. Watch a sunrise or sunset.
  15. Take a few deep breaths.

You can add a few more of your own. Just identify what makes your heart sing and do more of that as part of your self-care.

#5. Prioritize yourself

One day as my children and I were shopping for their shoes, my son made a comment that gave me a real kick. He asked, “Mum, how come you never buy anything for yourself?”

I responded that I do buy things for myself and he responded, “No. You always take us shopping for clothes, shoes and stuff, but I’ve never seen you buy things for yourself as much as you do for us.”

My son was only 15 when he made this observation, an observation that literally woke me up. I had stopped prioritizing myself and focused on everyone else except me. It was actually as if I didn’t exist other than to serve other people.

It’s not that I didn’t buy myself clothes, shoes and accessories. It’s that I only did it when needed, just when it was necessary.

My son’s comment was a wake-up call. How could I expect my children and other people to prioritize me if I didn’t prioritize myself first? And what kind of example was I setting for my children about how they would treat themselves, their families and even me in the future? Let me just say that there was a turnaround that day in my mindset!

Back to you…Do you prioritize yourself financially, physically and emotionally? And let’s look at financially…do you set aside a part of your income just for you? I call this blow money – money that you can blow without worry. Do you have savings for the things you want to be, do or have – beyond your family or personal goals?

The $12,000 account

I once worked with a coach who recommended that every woman should have at least $12,000 dollars (Kshs. 1.2 million) saved just for herself. This is money for you to spend on yourself.

You can use this money for travel or holidays with your girlfriends (take a mumcation or a girlcation). It can be used for learning or to even hire a coach for yourself if need be.

You can start or re-start a hobby that you used to love but have given up on because you don’t have the money…or so you think. And you can keep some of this money for a rainy day if that’s what’s most important to you.

You may not be in a position to set aside all this money today, but you can start small. Or you can even decide the total amount that you want to have for yourself.

It doesn’t have to be 1.2 million shillings or 12,000 dollars. Decide what feels right for you. Then start setting aside a percentage of your income in an account that you can’t access easily. Start small. Let the money grow. And replenish the account each time you withdraw.

Note that this money is beyond your savings and investments. It’s actually a reward for the hard work you put in your job or business. It’s money for you to be, do or have whatever you want…totally without apologies!

Way forward for your self-care

Looking at this list may feel overwhelming so I recommend that you pick one strategy and use it until it becomes a regular part of your life. Then add a second one and a third one…and so on.

Whatever is going on in your life, know that you’re doing the best that you can with the knowledge, experience and resources that you have today.

Go easy on yourself. You can do better tomorrow and even better the day after. It all starts today. So take the first step and keep building on these steps until self-love and self-care are no longer strange terms for you.

Loving yourself is the best gift you can give yourself.

  • Forgive yourself and heal from regrets.
  • Create and enforce your boundaries.
  • Remind yourself that you’re a great and awesome person each day.
  • Fill your cup and keep replenishing it as it overflows and blesses other people.
  • And remember to make yourself a priority in your life physically, emotionally and financially.

And if you happen to fail or forget to do these things consistently, don’t beat yourself up. Go back to the first tip mentioned here. Forgive yourself. Give yourself a break and then move on.

(Photo by Content Pixie Unsplash)

    2 replies to "5 Ways to Make Self-Love a Part of Your Self-Care"

    • Hellene

      Great great self care tips

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