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?
When I first started journaling, I couldn’t write out gratitude statements, 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 (or however many you want) thank you’s for the day. You can say thank you for things you already have (your family, your job, your beautiful hair) and thank you 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! Send out all the gratitude you can think of.
Write “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.”).
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! FULL GUIDE HURRR - make sure to describe, list of affirmations AND how to write/create your own!
Self-care doesn’t always have to be a big practice or gesture. Self-care is recognizing the day to do things we do to show ourselves and our bodies the love and respect they deserve.
Notice the day-to-day things - brushing teeth, washing face, making your smoothie in the morning - and give yourself credit for that! Then add in a couple of bonus gestures of self-love: Maybe you do yoga outside today (or do stretches at all!); maybe you put flowers in a vase; maybe you put up laundry. It all deserves recognition, and it’s all an act of self-care.
Every part of us has intention behind what they do, whether or not we understand it. The parts of us that say, “No, I don’t wanna take care of myself in this way today,” have a reason for saying that, and it comes from a space of trying to protect us. It just doesn’t always have that effect.
We gravitate toward comfort and familiarity. Adding in new ways of showing up for and taking care of yourself is going to feel unfamiliar to those parts of you, and in all likelihood, that means you’ll meet some resistance.
Instead of engaging in that, hold space for it. Take a step back and remind yourself that you love every part of you, even if you don’t understand their intention. Remind yourself that you love you.