“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.” – BJ Neblett
Here’s what I’ve learned about self-love. It is a continual journey of evolution and intentional growth with a key focus on improving and nurturing the self. One of the most significant parts of self-love is learning and understanding who you are.
The challenge is that people tell you that you need to do it but rarely help you to understand “how,” what that may “look like,” and how it changes throughout the course of your journey. A quick online search or even some books will give a general and, at best, repetitious steps to improving self-love. Generally, you will receive insight into releasing control and expressing gratitude. You may also be encouraged to become more active, eat a healthier and balanced diet, recognize and release toxic relationships, manage stress, and give up on your need for acceptance from others. These are all amazing tips for practicing Self-Love. But how…
An essential element of self-care that will challenge your character and comfort is knowing who you are.
When we are not firmly grounded in who we are, we leave space for others to determine that for us. We are vulnerable to influence, whether good or bad, control and manipulation. We diminish our self-esteem (
When we are not firmly grounded in who we are, we leave space for others to determine that for us. We are vulnerable to influence, whether good or bad, control and manipulation. We diminish our self-esteem (overall opinion of self, your abilities, and limitations), self-image (perception of self both internally and externally), self-worth (an internal sense that you are good enough and worthy of good things), and self-efficacy (belief about our coping behaviors when met with stress and challenges).
The greatest exercise in self-love that requires the most effort is learning and knowing the self. Consistent introspection with intentional effort will challenge your character and your comfort.
101.Journaling. Journaling is a tangible means to an intangible concept. By journaling, you can bring attention to three of the most critical commodities in self-love: how you talk to yourself, how you treat yourself, and how you think of yourself.
Following the most incredible thing about bringing attention to something is the choice to acknowledge it. Acknowledging behaviors you would like to change increases the likelihood that you will change them. Denying the existence of behaviors you would like to change will delay your ability to reform.
202.Determine your convictions. A conviction is a firmly held persuasion or belief. The state of mind of a person who is sure that what they believe or say is true. Convictions are attitudes that have ownership over the self; they drive your behaviors, actions, and decisions. As you encounter life experiences, your convictions will be tested each time, and with every decision, your true character begins to show. Solidify your non-negotiable values.
Questions you could consider are:
- How will I choose to spend my time?
- What kind of relationships will I allow to influence me?
- How will I allow media / social media to influence me?
- How will I influence my environment to align with my purpose?
Photo Credit: Bowen Dryden
303.Define your essence and come into alignment.
303.Define your essence and come into alignment.Decide who you want to be, and then choose actions and behaviors that align you only to that vision that you seek. We are generally aware of what is considered “good” or “bad. Sometimes, when the choice is not so easy, it may be helpful to refer to the old adage, “Treat others how you would want to be treated.”
Remember, energy begets energy. If you want to foster good and positive in your life, it is in your best interest to be fair, positive, and kind in your behaviors and decisions. As you start to come into alignment with your purpose and continue to do the work of understanding more about who you are, you will attract situations and experiences that will allow you to do just that. As you make conscious choices to align with who you are and who you want to be, you will find your voice and master the art of knowing the self.
404.Set boundaries.Boundaries are essential for strong and healthy relationships. Having boundaries looks like establishing your limits and expressing them clearly. Boundaries are only established when another person knows they exist. Sometimes, they can be hard to establish, and you will know it’s hard because it will feel uncomfortable being in conflict with what you want and another person wants. You will feel more inclined to compromise what is not to be compromised. Stand firm in your boundary; they are not to be compromised.
When we allow our boundaries to be disregarded, it builds resentment, changes the dynamic of the relationship, and usually results in a lack of mutual respect between both individuals. Compromising your boundaries encourages other behavior patterns within the relationship and weakens our confidence. It is within this dance we will likely be exposed to manipulation and control. A person who respects you will respect your boundaries.
505.Meet your own standards.
505.Meet your own standards.Standards are behaviors and expectations you have for yourself that are tied to your values and your goals. Positive standards include loyalty, pragmatism, appearance and hygiene, honesty, being virtuous, humility, and gratitude. The greatest benefit of having good standards is that you will attract people like you who can meet you exactly where you are.
606.Trust Yourself.As you begin to define your standards, your convictions, and boundaries end with trusting that you have made the best decision for your highest good. Stand firm in how you feel about yourself and who you are so that others cannot define it for you. Be confident in how you treat yourself so you can recognize when others may treat you in ways that you would not treat yourself. Know your limits and boundaries so others cannot impose on your life. Your convictions, standards, and boundaries will change and become stronger over time. What takes you to new levels will require you to change in preparation for different phases in your life.
We are all on a journey with a lot to accomplish in such a short time. There is power in knowing who you are. There is power in deciding to take the journey of learning who you are, and the benefits know no bounds. When you know who you are, others cannot define your standards for you, and their criticisms will hold no value. When you know who you are, others cannot convince you that who you are is not enough, and you will know your self-worth is not determined by their approval of you.
Do the work.