Last week, I shared a daily gratitude on IG about becoming my own loudest cheerleader and how this wasn’t always the case (quite the opposite in fact). A few people messaged me and asked how I got to where I am now. Sharing my story and the things I do (80-90% of the time) to love myself more.
I grew up in a middle class family in Pawtucket, RI. My parents immigrated to the US about a year before I was born. I’m the oldest daughter and have one younger sister.
On all accounts, I had a normal childhood. Not an easy one by any means, but a ‘normal’ one. Of course, we experienced the majority of things South Asian immigrant children experience, but my parents (especially my mom) were more modern in their thinking. I had lots of friends growing up, I did well in school, etc.
And honestly, looking back, I had a lot of self-love as a young girl. I didn’t care that my tummy was rounder than most girls or that I wasn’t the prettiest. I had a pretty high level of self-esteem regardless. I owe a lot of this to my mom. While she was definitely a tough cookie, she infused a lot of love into us.
I’m not sure when things changed, but somewhere along the way, I left self-love in the dust and picked up lots of people pleasing tendencies. I cared a lot about what other people thought of me and the decisions I made. This went on for years. I even had some disordered habits and thinking around food and exercise for a while.
Over the past few years, and especially after having kids, I started putting more intentional effort into my self-love journey. I knew that if my goal’s to raise kids who love themselves first and foremost, I needed to start walking the talk.
The first thing I had to reckon with is that it’s not anyone else’s job to love me but mine. What I mean by that is that it’s so easy to start taking in the love you do or don’t get from others and attaching that to your self-worth. Yes, your partner and children and parents and siblings and friends love you. BUT, the love you cultivate for yourself trumps every other. And even more than that, the word you say to yourself, the judgements you cast on yourself, the way you look at yourself…all of that plays a part in how deeply you will love yourself.
Remember – loving yourself is not a destination but a journey, one that requires patience, self-reflection, and a commitment to understanding how your mind works.
Here are a few ways I’ve learned to love myself more and be my loudest cheerleader…
- Acknowledging my imperfections: Self-love starts with accepting ourselves as imperfect beings. We all have flaws, and we all make mistakes—it’s part of being human. I wok on not only embracing my imperfections but trying to learn from them. Remember, it’s the lessons we take away from our mistakes that shape us into better versions of ourselves.
- Nurturing Self-Care: Caring for yourself is not selfish; it’s actually the most essential thing you can do. I have worked really hard to cultivate a habit of self-care, both physically (working out and general movement) and emotionally (talking out what I’m feeling, journaling). I try to take time to engage in activities that bring me joy and relaxation (being outside with my kids, reading, spending phone-free time with my husband). I prioritize my well-being by nourishing my body, mind, and spirit. Remember – when you prioritize self-care, you send a powerful message back to yourself that you are deserving of love and attention.
- Practicing Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself (easier said than done, I know!). Treat yourself with the same level of compassion and understanding that you would offer to your best friend. When faced with setbacks or failures, instead of criticizing yourself, practice self-compassion by offering words of encouragement, forgiving yourself, and reminding yourself that you are worthy of love and forgiveness. We (I) are so quick to be compassionate towards others, but when it comes to pouring some of that into our own cups, we resist. We tell ourselves we don’t deserve it. If you don’t start, you’ll never get a chance to see just how much you deserve your own compassion. It starts here!
- Setting Boundaries: This is something I only recently learned more about, and it’s still a work-in-progress. Establishing healthy boundaries is a crucial aspect of self-love. It’s critical to learn to say no to things that drain your energy or compromise your well-being. Respect your own limits and prioritize your needs. By setting boundaries, you demonstrate self-respect and establish an environment that nurtures self-love. Think of this is as the JOY of missing out (versus the fear). You don’t need to be everything to everyone. You don’t need to be everywhere. Especially if you don’t want to be. Life is waaaay too short!
- Celebrating Achievements: Take the time to acknowledge, reflect on, and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small. Celebrating milestones and personal victories turbo boosts your self-esteem and reinforces your belief in your abilities. By taking time to do this, you start to recognize just how capable you are of achieving great things and that your efforts deserve recognition.
- Surrounding Yourself with Positivity: THIS ONE IS KEY! Even though our ability to cultivate starts and ends with us, we should be extra careful to craft an inner circle that uplifts and inspires you. Over the past few years especially, I’ve spent time building a support system of individuals who genuinely care about my well-being. And I can tell you from experience that surrounding yourself with positive influences can help you create a nurturing environment that promotes self-love (for you and those in your circle).
- Embracing Gratitude: Gratitude has a profound impact on our overall well-being, including self-love. Cultivate a daily gratitude practice, where you reflect on the things you appreciate about yourself and your life. Even if you just pick one thing to be thankful for. Name it, focus on it, and watch the magic unfold. Gratitude is amazing because it shifts your focus from what is lacking in your life to what you have, fostering a sense of abundance and self-acceptance. And remember, what we give thanks for tends to grow in so many ways.
All of this said, the journey to self-love is a lifelong endeavor, filled with ups and downs, challenges and lots of little wins. It requires patience, self-compassion, a commitment to personal growth, and most importantly, a ‘can do’ attitude. As you move along this journey, remember that you are deserving of love, happiness, and fulfillment. Embrace your imperfections, practice self-care, and surround yourself with positivity and good people. Through consistent effort and self-reflection, you will grow to love yourself more deeply.