Struggling with Self-Love? : 10 Must-Read Reminders


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To live your most positive and present life, it's essential that you love who you are. But loving who you are can be quite a challenge at times. Truly conquering self-love is incredibly complex. It’s not just about positive affirmations or breaking up with that guy who treats you like garbage (though those are great starts!). It’s about investigating and assessing every aspect of your life — and continuing to do it all the time, for the rest of your life.

When it comes to self-love, we're all works in progress, so I've rounded up some of my favorite reminders about self-love to keep in mind. If you're struggling to embrace who you are, check these out for some inspiration (or bookmark them for a time you might need them!). 

 

YOUR FEELINGS, NO MATTER WHAT THE REASON, IS VALID. 

You might have it pretty good (and if you're alive and reading this, you probably have it better than a lot of people), but just because you're not suffering from the worst thing in the world doesn't mean that your pain isn't valid. Loving yourself means allowing yourself to experience pain without judging yourself. Sure, other people might have it worse, but self-love means giving yourself permission to feel what you feel. (This doesn't mean you should necessarily act on these feelings, but allowing yourself to feel them is an act of self-love). 

 

YOU WILL MAKE BAD CHOICES, AND THAT'S OKAY. 

We all make good choices and bad choices — that's just part of life. Refusing to accept the bad choices you've made (either through denial or by beating yourself for having made them) isn't a great way to show yourself love. Acceptance of yourself and others is one of the most vital aspects of self-love, and that acceptance includes embrace both the good and the bad choices you've made. The point of making a bad decision isn't to serve as a painful reminder you return to again and again; it's an opportunity to learn and make more positive choices in the future. 

 

YOU CAN CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON BEST-CASE SCENARIOS. 

When was the last time you imagined the best thing that could happen? Most of us imagine worst-case scenarios, which is totally human nature. We imagine these things so we can prepare for (and hopefully avoid!) them. But what would it be like if you chose to focus on best-case scenarios? Would you really be less prepared or is that just something you tell yourself? At the very least, you can choose to focus on the best-case scenario in addition to the worst-case possibilities. Your attitude, whether it's positive or negative, impacts the way you think and act, and embracing optimism is a self-loving act.

 

YOU'LL NEVER 100% KNOW WHAT OTHERS THINK.

One thing that all-too-often gets in the way of self-love is making assumptions about what other people are thinking. Even if you know someone else extremely well, you can never know with 100% certainty what s/he is thinking, and making assumptions about what others' intentions are can actually sabotage your own self-love. Assumptions get in the way of relationships with others and those relationships impact the one you have with yourself. Whenever you find yourself assuming what others are thinking, remind yourself that you only know for sure what's in your own head. Creating clear communication with others will make it easier for you to love yourself.  

 

YOUR ANGER IS A SIGN OF FEAR OR PAIN. 

Everyone gets angry from time to time, and that's perfectly okay (see #1!), but it's so important to keep in mind that your anger stems from a place of fear or pain. Anger is a symptom, not a disease. Knowing this can help you better understand what you're truly feeling. Your knee-jerk reaction if you feel angry is probably to think, "I'm mad!" but a great way to show yourself self-love is to dig a little deeper and find out where that anger stems from. When you do this, you not only gain a better understanding of the current issue you're dealing with, but you also gain a better understanding of yourself. 

 

YOU DON'T HAVE TO ANTICIPATE WHAT WILL HAPPEN. 

Did you know that you can just let things happen? You don't have to analyze everything or worry about what's coming next or anticipate what other people are going to do. In fact, spending too much time prepping for the future (or dwelling on the past...) stands in opposition to self-love. Being present is a challenge, but when you give yourself the freedom to stay in the moment, you're showing yourself a true kindness. It's not easy to shut down a worrying mind, but keep in mind: it's not your job to imagine the future. You deserve to be here, and enjoying, now.  

 

YOU AREN'T OBLIGATED TO LIKE EVERYONE. 

This probably isn't news to you, but you're not going to like everyone (and not everyone is going to like you). Once you embrace that fact, you release yourself from a lot of unnecessary stress and heartache. So many people spend time trying to like or be liked, instead of realizing that not everyone is meant to be linked to one another. This isn't to say, of course, that you shouldn't treat everyone with kindness and respect, but doing so doesn't mean you have to be BFF with every person you meet. Show yourself self-love by reserving your time and energy for those you care about most. 

 

YOU'RE ALLOWED TO SAY "NO" WITHOUT AN EXCUSE. 

"No" isn't a four letter word, contrary to what many people think. Learning that is one of the absolute best acts of self-love. We've all given only so much time here on Earth, and you reserve the right to use that time how you see fit. Every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else. And the same goes for the reverse. Every time you say no to something you don't want to do (particularly if it's something that's not good for you!), you're saying yes to yourself. Be mindful of when (and why!) you say yes, and use that self-awareness to make more self-loving choices. 

 

YOU CAN'T RUN FOREVER FROM WHAT HURTS. 

If you've ever tried to run from your pain, you're probably well aware that this is true. You might be able to run, but if you don't deal with your pain, heartbreak, frustration, anger, or whatever other emotion you're experiencing, it'll come back later (and often in an unexpected and unpleasant way). Dealing with what hurts is one of the most difficult aspects of being human, but facing difficulties head-on is an excellent way to treat yourself with the love you deserve. It'll be painful, for sure, but avoiding it will only amplify the pain. 

 

YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF THE STORY YOU TELL YOURSELF. 

You can't control everything that happens to you, but you can control the story you tell yourself about what happens. Everything we experience gets filtered through our minds into a story we tell ourselves. The story is often more important than the actual experience, because it stays with us and impacts future experiences. Our minds are imperfect — memories can be inaccurate, emotions can be heightened, and the facts can be distorted — but we can choose to make the most of whatever information we have, taking lessons from the hard times and embracing the good times. Choosing the story you tell yourself is one of the ways you can show yourself love.  

 

Self-love doesn't always come easy, no matter how much you strive to make it a priority in your life. If you need some additional inspiration or motivation, check out some of the resources below! 

 

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A Reminder : Your Happy Ending's Up to You

 

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Last week Kesha's Learn to Let Go video debuted, and I've had it on repeat for days. The song deals with a topic I used to write about a lot, but haven't touched on lately: learning to let go. We all have things in our pasts that we wish weren't part of our stories. There are things we've done; there are things that've been done to us. When we experience things, especially negative things, it's difficult to let them go. It's human nature to hang on to and remember the bad times — an act of self-preservation to avoid the repetition of such experiences — but when we dwell on these experiences, when they take away from the present moment, hanging on to the past stops serving us and starts hurting us. Like Kesha sings in her song, 

 

Been a prisoner of the past
Had a bitterness when I looked back
Was telling everyone it's not that bad
'Til all my shit hit the fan

 

I, too, have been in the position of being imprisoned by the past. I've told myself stories for years about who I was, who the people around me were, and, as you might know, memory is a funny thing. It's not always as accurate as we'd like it to be, and, accuracy aside, it's not always as useful as it might seem. In fact, often it's our own memories and rumination of the past that hold us prisoner more than than the actual experiences do. We dwell and dwell and, angered by the time and emotional energy we waste, we add even more negative fuel to the fire of our experience. 

All of this makes it difficult to make the most of the present moment. When you're experiencing bitterness and anger, you're becoming a victim in the present for something that happened in the past. I talk a big talk about staying in the present, but lately I've found myself allowing resentment to seep into my heart. As the song goes,  

I know I'm always like
Telling everybody you don't gotta be a victim
Life ain't always fair, but hell is living in resentment
Choose redemption, your happy ending's up to you

 

It's interesting, writing about my personal experiences, trying to help others be more mindful, positive, and self-loving, when these are all things I struggle with myself. I started Positively Present as a way to learn how to help myself and share what I'm learning with others, but it puts me (and anyone else who does what I do) in a unique position. I'm not an expert, a trained psychologist or scholar, but, in sharing my experiences, I'm giving advice. The trouble is, I'm not always taking my own advice, which is why these words hit hard for me: 

 

I think it's time to practice what I preach
Exorcise the demons inside me
Whoa, gotta learn to let it go
The past can't haunt me if I don't let it
Live and learn and never forget it
Whoa, gotta learn to let it go 

 

The past might influence who we are, but it doesn't have to define us indefinitely. And, when caught up in ruminating about the past, it can be hard to remember that the future's past is happening right now. The choices we're making now — including the choices about how we think about and react to the past — are soon going to be the past that's influencing us. Which is why it's so essential to pay attention to what's going on in and around you. While I think Kesha might be referring to a certain someone in this part of the song, 


Had a boogieman under my bed
Putting crazy thoughts inside my head
Always whispering, "It's all your fault"
He was telling me "No, you're not that strong"

 

we all have a boogieman not under our beds, but in our heads. We all have a voice that whispers (or shouts...) negative things to us. It's those ideas — that we're completely to blame for the past or that we're not strong enough to overcome it — that often hold us back from moving forward more than the actual experience itself. We don't have to continue living as victims of the past. We might not be able to control what parts of our stories have been written already, but we have the power to create a happy ending. Of course, doing so is rarely easy. It starts, I believe, with actively deciding to move forward, to say to ourselves: 

 

I'm done reliving my bad decisions
I see now maybe there's a reason
Why, I been through hell and back
Honestly, it's what made me who I am
Holding on to wasted time
Gotta learn to let go in life

When you've spent a lot of time dwelling on what's happened, it can be difficult to choose to stop reliving it. Particularly if it's something that's had a major impact on your life, it's challenging to even choose to let it go because it's often become a part of who you think you are. But who you are is completely up to you right now. Yes, the past has impacted and influenced you, but it isn't you. As Kesha wrote here, "Your past only has as much effect on your future as you want it to." It's tempting to brush these words off, to consider them an overly simplistic take on letting go, but there's a deep truth in them. 

So much of letting go of the past comes down to actually choosing to do it, which, by itself, is a very simple act. The hard part is getting to the point where you're ready to make that choice. Letting the past go leads to liberation, to the release of a part how you've come to identify yourself. Even if you know it would be best for your mental and emotional health to move forward, actively making choices that help you do that is hard, especially true if the past plays a large role in your self-identity. 

Your happy ending's up to you, and you have to decide if you want it. You know, deep down, what you'd be better off without. You know what you should let go of. You know. Knowledge is power, but action is what matters. It's not easy; there's no doubt about that. But in every moment, every thought, you have the chance to choose redemption. You cannot change the past, but you learn to let go, giving yourself a chance for live the life you deserve now. Because, really, it's never too late to have a happy ending. 

 

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Self-Love + Sobriety: The Perks of Being Sober

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Last week I celebrated seven years sober, which is pretty crazy since it seems like just yesterday that I wrote this post: Pick the Weeds, Keep the Flowers: My Year of Sobriety. It's easier now than it was then, but as the Kelly Clarkson sings in the song,"Sober," that inspired that post, "Picked all my weeds, but kept the flowers / But I know it's never really over." As anyone who's sober knows, it's never as easy as it might appear to others. But, even when it's hard, it's worth it. 

Like most of us, I'm still a self-love work-in-progress, but removing alcohol from my life is one of the best things I've ever done for myself. It's hard to even list the benefits I've received since I gave up drinking. When you're newly sober, these things are wondrous gifts, things you never imagined you could experience. But when you've been sober for awhile, you start to take them for granted, the negative memories of the past becoming hazier, and I've found it really helpful to remind myself each year of why I'm doing this, why my life is better because of it. 

Sobriety is one of the ultimate acts of self-love because the positive repercussions of that single choice — not to drink — reverberates throughout your life in ways you might not expect. Sobriety isn't necessary for everyone, but if you've wondered if it's something you should do, here are some of the (many!) perks I've experienced from seven years of sobriety. 

 

NO MORE HANGOVERS

This is probably one of the most obvious ones, but, for me, it's been one of the greatest benefits. I'm typing this post right now at 8:30am on a Saturday morning, a time of day I used to miss out on completely (and if I was awake to see it, I was so plagued by a hangover that my mind was mush). Hangovers used to rob me of entire days of my life. This isn't to say that I still don't have (a lot...) of lazy days where I waste my time now, but when I waste time now, I do so in a more productive way, and I feel a lot less ill while doing it. 

 

MORE FREE TIME

Hand-in-hand in with hangover-free mornings comes more free time. Not only do I wake up earlier and feel well enough to get things done on the weekends, but I also have a lot more free time to do things I actually want to be doing. Without hangovers, my weekends start earlier and, as a result, feel longer. Plus, I spend less time going out, which saves even more time. I still go out, but it's not my priority in the way it once was, leaving more time for things I truly enjoy. 

 

PERSONAL GROWTH

Giving up a big part of your life is hard. Like, really hard. But it's amazing for personal growth. Getting sober has taught me that I can do hard things if I really want to do them. It's shown me how strong I can be, even when I don't feel very strong. It's taught me that, even when you don't do what everyone else is doing. you can still be okay. It's opened my eyes to what matters to me, and helped me re-prioritize my life in so many ways. 

 

EASIER TO SAY NO

When you get sober, you have to say no a lot. I've never been much of a people-pleaser so, while I wasn't one of those people who struggles with the word no, I was the type of person who had a lot of trouble saying no to myself. I still struggle with this a lot. My desire for instant gratification still gets in my way much too often, but practicing the art of saying no to myself — turning drinks I really wanted to indulge in — has helped me get better at saying no to other things I want but shouldn't have. 

 

MOTIVATIONAL MANTRAS

It's no surprise that I love motivation and inspiration, but getting sober opened my eyes to a whole new category of inspiration. Sobriety is a unique experience, and unless you've been through it, you're probably not aware of how truly powerful the right words can be. There have been days when I've read something that made me feel stronger, reminders to keep going that came when I needed them them most. This phenomenon of seeing something at the exact moment you need it most isn't unique to sobriety, but sobriety's made me more aware of it. 

 

SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY

Sometimes it feels a little silly celebrating an anniversary of sobriety (especially seven years in!), but then I'm reminded of all the mistakes not made, all the mornings I woke clear-headed and certain of what I did the night before, all the stress-inducing words I didn't say, all the times I didn't break my own heart, and I can't help but think that all of that deserves a celebration. Plus, who doesn't love a special anniversary to celebrate? 

 

TONS OF LIFE LESSONS

I've learned so much about life just from getting sober. I could write an entire post just on these lessons (some of which I touched on last year's 6 Lessons I Learned from 6 Years Sober), but some of the most important ones I've uncovered since getting sober include: learning who my true friends are, discovering that who I am is more than what I do, and recognizing that avoiding problems doesn't work. (As Frida Kahlo put it: "I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim.")

 

MORE MONEY

Seven years in, this one has faded from my mind a bit, but I used to spend so much money on drinks, on getting ready to go drinking, on late-night snacks, on cab rides to and from the bar (no Uber back then!), on hungover breakfasts. With those items removed from my budget (among other spending changes), I was able to save enough to leave my job and pursue my life-long dream. That, alone, is a pretty amazing benefit of sobriety. 

 

FRESH PERSPECTIVE

For me, drinking and going out was a big part of my life. I spent a lot of my time thinking about and preparing for the next opportunity I'd have to go out, and while I do still enjoy going out from time to time, it's not my life's focus. Removing such a big part of my life gave me an opportunity to explore what I really wanted to spend my time on, which is what lead to all of the amazing things I've been able to do with Positively Present.  

 

When I write these sobriety-related posts, it's my hope that someone out there will read it and it will inspire him or her to choose a sober path. It's not the path for everyone, but if you're considering it, I highly recommend it. It's hard as hell sometimes, but benefits outweigh the hardships tenfold. If you want to know more about my journey, here are some things to check out: 

6 Lessons I Learned from 6 Years Sober

Sublime Sobriety (Pinterest Board)

Pick the Weeds, Keep the Flowers: My Year of Sobriety

Sobriety Playlist (YouTube)

Staying Sober Playlist (Spotify)

Positively Present Sobriety Section


If you have questions about my personal experience or want advice on how to get or stay sober, leave a comment below and I'll do my best to reply ASAP! 

 

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