I was eighteen. I had dropped out of high school. I wasn’t going to college. I was fresh off two sexual assaults and had retaliated with promiscuity, hoping that would claim my power back. My bipolar and PTSD diagnoses left with the label "mental illness" and felt like they were consuming my life.
I wasn’t doing well.
So, I decided to journal. In an 8x11 pink hardcover that read “LOVE,” I sat down everyday to write five positive things about the day. I wouldn't call this a gratitude journal; I was not ready to say thank you for the life I’d been living. Just a list of five positive things.
Some days, this could look like, “I got out of bed this morning,” or, “I brushed my teeth,” or, “I ate one packet of peanut butter cups instead of the party-size bag.” Some days, it was a big struggle to come up with anything at all.
Still, I committed to showing up, and every few months, I would add something new to the practice. "Okay," I said. "Now I’ll add a thank you." "Okay," I added. "Now I'll add 'You Are Enough' to end of each entry.
Fast forward: It's 2020, I'm 27 years old, I’m accomplishing my goals, I'm thriving, I'm living my dreams, and I love myself SO FUCKING MUCH!
Literally, guys, I struggled with mental health, trauma recovery, suicidal ideation, chronic pain, for over a decade. You can build a life of self-love and thriving, too. I know you love yourself so deeply - because that’s why you’re here.
Shall we dive in?
Most journeys don’t happen overnight. Let’s say you aim to run a 5k, and right now you don’t run. Would you expect yourself to be able to sprint the full course tomorrow? No! First, you'd just have to start.
Meet yourself where you're at. Start by thanking yourself for all the steps you've taken to get to where you are now. Without those steps, you wouldn't have become the version of you who is stepping even more deeply into self love. Your past self deserves thanks for that!
Now, choose one step each day that gets you closer to your goal. Maybe today you jog for one minute, and maybe tomorrow it’s two. Instead of looking at the end result and saying, “Ugh, but I’m not there yet,” you’re meeting yourself where you are. You're giving yourself the space to say, “Yes, I can do this, because I already got this far.”
What's one thing you can do today to move you toward your goals?
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When I first started journaling, I could hardly get myself to write out a gratitude statement, let alone full entries to myself.
Here are a few options to meet you where you’re at: (See? Number one coming back into play again!)
Everyday, remind yourself why you love yourself so much. Write it out and affirm it!
Write out 3-10 thank you’s for the day.
You can list thank you's for things you already have, like your family, your job, or your beautiful hair.
You can also list thank you's for things you don’t have yet, like that doctorate you’re working toward or the million dollar home you’ll have in L.A. Expressing gratitude for the amazing future things you're attracting affirms your belief that they're happening!
Prompt: 5 Positive Things About Today
These can be bigger things (“The date I went on went really well!”), smaller things (“I got a coffee today.”), or any win that comes to mind (“I got out if bed today.”). This exercise provides a boost to help shift perspective on hard days.
You attract what you put out. If you tell yourself, “Everything always goes wrong,” you’re going to look for evidence to support that.
Affirmations are one of the best self-care-dream-life-building tools out there. Take some time to daydream: What does your dream life look like? What does the life that makes you happy look like? Turn those ideas into present-tense statements.
“I am worthy of love, friendships, and healthy relationships that bring me joy.”
“I feel freedom in sharing my truth.”
“I love and celebrate my body.”
Affirmations can provide clarity on what you want, guidance on action steps to move forward, and reinforcement that the life you dream of is yours to live! You can check out my free Affirmations Guide for more on how they work, how to write your own, and 70+ affirmations to help you along the way.
Self-care doesn’t always have to be a big practice or gesture. Notice the day-to-day things - brushing your teeth, washing your face, making your smoothie in the morning - and give yourself credit for that!
Bonus: Add in a couple of extra gestures. Maybe you do yoga outside today; maybe you put flowers in a vase; maybe you put up the laundry. It all deserves recognition, and it’s all an act of self-care.
We gravitate toward comfort and familiarity. Adding in these new self-care practices can feel unfamiliar, and the parts of us attached to that comfort and familiarity may meet us with resistance as we make these changes.
Hold space for those parts of you. Every part of us comes from a place of wanting to protect us - they just don't always know the best way to do that and can turn to fear. Instead of engaging in that, take a step back. Remind yourself that you love every part of you. Remind yourself that you love you.
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