Hello, February! It's the month of love, which, to me, means it's a great time to focus on self-love, a topic that often gets lost amidst the romance and roses that come along with this month. Loving who you are is one of the most important aspects of living a positive and present life. It's a major theme in my upcoming book (coming out January 2015! Yay!), and as I've been writing about it, I've been thinking a lot about positive words and how we use them (or don't use them) when it comes to talking about ourselves.
Most of us don't want to come off as arrogant, so we play down our positive attributes and traits by either hedging them (like saying, "Oh, I'm alright..." when you're really an expert) or by challenging them (like saying, "Oh, but I'm really bad at math!" when someone tells you what a wonderful wordsmith you are). It's not a bad thing not to be a braggart, but more people are more in danger of not thinking of positively about themselves than they are in danger of being too full of themselves.
With that in mind, I wanted to create a little challenge for the month of February. The challenge sounds simple, but it's not as easy it would seem: speak and thinking positively about yourself. Below are four steps to take for using positive words to promote self-love.
STEP ONE: BE MINDFUL OF YOUR WORDS
Think about the words you use when thinking or speaking about yourself. Are the words often negative? Do you think of yourself in a positive light? And do you speak positively about yourself to others? Thinking and speaking of yourself positively is more difficult than it sounds. Most of us tend to be critical of ourselves or the situations we're in, skewing toward the negative when it comes to our word choices. Pay attention to the words you use and, whenever possible, try to replace them with more positive descriptors, even if that means completely countering your current thoughts.
For example, when you find yourself saying, "I feel tired," swap out tired and say, "I feel energized." Just imagining the opposite, more positive, state can help push you toward it and might make you realize that you're not, in fact, that tired after all. Likewise, if you find yourself in front of the mirror thinking, "I look frumpy today," switch your thinking to, "I look fabulous today." Transforming your thoughts might make you see the good in the way you look, making you realize that maybe you're not looking so bad after all.
STEP TWO: WATCH OUT FOR MIRRORING
Also pay close attention to what you're saying when you're around others. Sometimes we mirror others feelings or word choices to feel more connected to them, even if they are really true for us. An example of this would be when your friend says, "Ugh, I feel so fat today," and you reply with, "Me too. I really need to hit the gym." Do you really feel fat? You might after mimicking your friend's comment, but before she said it, how were you feeling? Probably feeling perfectly fine about yourself, just going about your business not thinking negatively about your body.
It makes sense that we do this sort of mirroring of one another—it helps us bond, it makes others feel as if we understand them, and it shows empathy—but it's not healthy when it comes to creating a positive frame of mind. The next time a friend says something negative, respond with a more positive thought, such as, "You aren't fat at all! In fact, we both look great!"
STEP THREE: CHOOSE A WORD OF THE DAY
We have enough pressures to deal with when it comes to cultivating self-love—the picture perfect images in the media, the advertisements urging us to change how we look, and the sometimes negative words from those around us—and the last thing we should be doing is adding to that by talking to ourselves negatively. One way to focus on the more positive aspects of you is to choose a (positive!) word of the day.
Sometimes it's hard to come up with good things to say about yourself, so I've created a list you can print out and place on your mirror. Every morning, if you can, choose a word that embodies how you feel (or want to feel) that day and try to keep in mind the whole day through. After choosing your word, you might even want to look up the definition to get an even more precise idea of what it means (and maybe even some additional insight on how to embrace it).
Bonus idea: Print out and frame the list of words. Place it somewhere you'll see it every morning (in the bathroom or by the front door). Each day, use a dry erase marker to circle your word of the day. If there are multiple people in your house that want to participate, choose different color markers for each person.
STEP FOUR : STAY POSITIVELY INSPIRED
If you want to keep up with thinking about yourself positively, it's important to surround yourself with people, situations, and influences that encourage you to focus on the good within in you. One place to seek some additional inspiration might be the Self-Love Archives here on PositivelyPresent. Or you could check out this week's playlist on YouTube, featuring empowering, self-love songs! Whatever it is, find something that keeps you focused on loving who you are. 'Cause, whether or not you realize it, you're awesome and you deserve to love yourself every single day of the year.