10 Jun How to treat yourself better in 7 steps
I would wonder why things didn’t work out for me, why certain people would treat me badly, why I often felt taken advantage of in work situations, and why I struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression throughout my teenage years. I constantly looked outward for the answers without stopping to notice how I was treating myself – neglectfully at best, abusively at worst. No one was ever as hard on me as I was on myself, and still am at times.
When I treat myself better, things in my life get better too. It’s always been that way. But actually recognising that was life changing. Although I have the same insecurities and struggles as anyone else, they don’t break me down like they used to. I have learned to keep a healthy level of separation from my problems and have built a secure home within myself, that I can return to when things get hard. I wanted to share with you some of the tips that got me to a place where I no longer live in fear of outside forces hurting me, to the extent that I used to.
As always, these messages are for anyone out there that may need it to hear them, but they are also reminders to myself, for the next time I put myself last. 🙂
Watch how you speak to yourself.
The first step towards self-love is self-awareness. Our feelings often come from thoughts and it’s very difficult to change how you feel without first recognising the thoughts behind it. I used to constantly berate myself and agonize over every ‘wrong’ thing I said or did throughout the day. When you start to become aware of how you speak to yourself internally, stop and ask yourself: Is this thought really serving me? Is this in my best interest? Is this thought going to build me up, or tear me down? No matter how embarrassing or negative you believe your thoughts or behaviours to be, there is never a need for shaming or blaming yourself. There is only an opportunity for you to learn from mistakes and become an even better version of yourself in the future.
Cut the comparison.
Comparing yourself to others is one sure fire way to trigger the ‘I’m not good enough’ narrative that can take a hold of you and drag you down. Comparing is something I still struggle with at times, which is frustrating because I know it’s such a waste of time and energy. When I find myself comparing, I try to remember that we all start from different places in life, we all have different measures of success and we are all ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ at some stage, in some area. You may perceive someone to be ahead of you in one area of their life but if you look at the bigger picture you may judge them as being ‘behind’ you in another. As tempting as it is, it’s senseless to compare yourself to anyone other than the person you were yesterday.
Set boundaries and learn to say no.
Boundary setting is hugely important in establishing your value and worth. In the past, I was a people pleaser to a painful extent. I lacked any boundaries because I was terrified that if I wasn’t everything to everyone, they would abandon me like I had subconsciously done to myself: Then I would really be alone. I’ve recently learned how important it is to have the same high standards for myself, that I would expect for the people I love. If you feel like doing something comes at the expense of your well-being or happiness, or compromises your values in any way, then politely refuse. The world won’t stop and no one will abandon you. In fact, others will probably respect you more for setting your standard. Above all, it will teach you to respect and value yourself now and in the future.
Do things that make you happy.
Life is about having fun and its essential to do things that are purely for you, regardless of the opinions of others. Whether it’s taking a class you love, buying yourself a treat, or watching your favourite movie that everyone else hates, carving out time to make yourself happy is so so important. Not only does it feel good, but it sends a message to your subconscious that you deserve all of the things that make you smile.
Set goals and push your comfort zone.
Goals hold us accountable and help to give us focus when thing seem uncertain and out of control. But they are also an important self-care tool, as they represent a commitment to our growth. And what could be more loving than that? I constantly try to do things that scare me and the more I do, the more my comfort zone expands. Taking healthy risks that you know will benefit you, is a great way to recognise that the voice in your head that’s telling you can’t do something, is actually talking crap. It can be a huge confidence boost to know that you are capable of so much more than your insecurities and doubts would lead you to believe.
Celebrate big and small wins.
It’s soo tempting to reach a certain goal and straight away look to the next step, or even more damaging, to decide that when you reach that stage you’ll be happy, confident, enough. I’ve been here many times and it’s an endless cycle of waiting to be happy while giving your power away to the next guy, job title or dress size. It’s important to take a moment to reflect on what you’ve achieved so far and to celebrate any small thing you did to improve your life. A big win for you may be getting a promotion, while for someone else it may just be getting out of bed in the morning. It’s all relative, but it’s all significant and worthy of your positive attention.
Fulfil your own needs first.
Sometimes the best way to practice self-care is to give yourself guilt-free space to do absolutely nothing. This past week I felt really run down and burned out from not having enough down time. I told myself I didn’t have time to relax because I had too many things to do for myself and others. When I allowed myself an evening off to just rest and refuel, everything I needed to do got done in half the time the next day. When we put our own health and happiness first, it not only benefits us, but everyone around us. Taking care of our own physical and emotional needs first, means that we no longer need to put that enormous responsibility on the people we love. We can enjoy our relationships for what they are, and naturally have more to give as a friend, daughter or girlfriend.
It took me a long time to come around to the idea that self-care is in no way a selfish or narcissistic act. Now I try to see it this way:
Many of us, myself included, have picked up beliefs from somewhere along the way that tell us that we are not good enough. We then go through life subconsciously trying to prove to ourselves and others that that belief is false (by over-working, seeking validation in relationships etc.), while losing it when events show up that we perceive as ‘proof’ that this is in fact true (break ups, being fired, minor rejections).
By taking better care of ourselves and granting ourselves the same compassion we so freely give to others, we eradicate the people-pleasing and insecurities that hold us back. Through this lens, self-care can only ever elevate us to the healthy level of confidence needed to achieve all of the happiness and success that we were born deserving.
Thank you so much for all your positive feedback on my blog so far. I would love to hear your thoughts or comments below or any ideas you would like me to expand on in future posts.
Lots of Love,