Updated: Feb 10
The month of February probably brings out a lot of different feelings for different people and of course for different reasons. The leap year babies anxiously await the year when February 29th shows up on the calendar. African-Americans proudly celebrate Black History Month and all the adversity they've overcome. Last but not least are all the romantics, the ones celebrating their lover, friends or themselves on Valentine's Day. Celebrating yourself and practicing self-care are 2 of the best ways you can show yourself some love this year. But what the influencers and self-care experts forget to mention is that self-love, a lot like real love, takes so much work.
So in this post, let's do a deeper discovery of what it means to love ourselves. I won't even act like an expert on it because it's been one of my greatest challenges in life. I mean, I really like myself, but LOVE? That's a strong word. However, it's a word that each of us deserves to know. So how do we get there? Is it always putting ourselves first no matter what? Is it cutting off anybody or anything that makes us uncomfortable? I can't say I know, but I've been doing 3 things the past year and as unorthodox as they seem, each has helped me love myself a little more.
1. Focusing on how I've hurt others, not how others have hurt me.
I used to think loving myself was cutting people off the moment they disrupted my peace but when we constantly judge and point out the flaws of others, we grow a disingenuous and toxic love for ourselves. I threw a party a few weeks ago and a friend that I invited didn't receive my text. Even though I sent the party details a few days before on Instagram, she said I left her hanging and was really upset that I didn't reach out to remind her or follow up. It reminded me of a time in college when I thought I wasn't invited to a party. I blew up on my friends, accusing them of not really liking me when in reality they invited me. Unfortunately, it was in a group text that I decided to delete because it was blowing up my phone. My bad again for that y'all.
On both occasions, people were accused of doing something maliciously on purpose when in reality they were both innocent sitcom situations. In my younger days, hell even 3 years ago, I would have been on a first class flight to Victim-ville listing all the ways people hurt me. In other words I'd be defensive AF. But today, I choose my peace and think, "well I've been like that before." So now when people get all riled up and start making judgements about me, I have to remind myself that I was once them. I have to remind myself that I can still occasionally make assumptions, judgements and criticize others when I don't know them or the whole story. These stories could be the truth, but most of the time they are fictional tales told in our head. Owning our mistakes means less chance of them happening again. It also allows you to see a bit of yourself and the human in everyone. So when my friend got upset with me, I didn't cut her off or judge her behavior - I apologized, owned where I screwed up and tried to relate with her feelings from my college experience. She has yet to reply or reach out but I am okay with it. I learned that loving myself doesn't mean forcing others to see why I'm right. Loving myself means treating others as if they were another version of myself.
2. Taking breaks from social media
Use tip #1, and try not to judge people too hard for desperately trying to capture a photo or for mindlessly scrolling all day because I was there once too. Here's the problem with social media teaching self-love, most of it's fake. Even though we all know this, it doesn't stop us from creating destructive thoughts in our head. Things ended things amicably, I like to believe, with a girl I recently dated but it was hard to remain friends so I ultimately cut ties. We both deserved better and we both deserved to heal. Neither of us was perfect and we both had our shortcomings but I still to this day will always mention how wonderful of a person she was, I only hoped she felt the same. When you engage with someone a lot on socials, the algorithm works against you. It was hard enough walking away from someone I absolutely adored but it was even harder to have reminders of my mistakes. On my feed, I would get suggested posts about "leaving a toxic relationship" or "never settle for less than you deserve." Another one literally gave advice about "how to know you're dating a narcissistic asshole" and when I saw that she liked this and many photos alike, I of course made it about me and it nearly destroyed me. All I could think was how could I cause so much pain to someone else? Especially someone I loved so much. I started going down rabbit holes and would overthink every mistake I'd ever made. The more I scrolled, the more pain I caused myself. Some days I'd lay in bed for hours just thinking I didn't deserve to exist because I was such a piece of sh**.
So I took breaks from social media, sometimes for weeks and other times for months. It was not a place that was conducive to my healing or growth because in one dimension I had influencers shoving their "perfect" lives in my face. The other dimension was toxic posts that reminded me how terrible of a person I was, or posts trying to influence me to think someone else was terrible. Don't get me wrong, some of these quotes can help us reflect, but 9 times out of 10, they are just passive-aggressive things that give us a brief moment of validation. And if you engage with enough of these types of posts, you start becoming immune to your own bullsh** and toxic behaviors. Taking a break from social media eliminated those negative aspects off my radar and gave me a chance to really reflect on who I was as a person. I was able to see my mistakes and genuinely apologize without feeling like crap. It also gave me an opportunity to really connect with loved ones who reminded me of my best qualities. I'm blessed that it helped me build my business and make some really great connections, but truthfully I'm good without social media. After 6 years of working my ass off, I have a full schedule of clients that don't require me to constantly promote myself. My closest friends always know what's going on with me because we call each other and engage in more personal ways instead of just liking each other's photos. I've chosen to only follow people who I know I will be proud of & those who will be proud of me. If getting on Instagram annoys or depresses you, delete your account. Wait 30 days to just get a nice reset. Then start fresh and be mindful of all the posts you engage with, set limits, and don't follow anybody or anything that doesn't add to your growth. Finally, when you do get back on after a detox, you're going to laugh your ass off, because you'll realize it's really just one giant sh*t show.
3. Embracing things I suck at
Everyone is talented and even in things we're not, it doesn't mean one day we can't be. This year, I started doing a bunch of extracurriculars including painting, gardening, and I even joined a men's basketball league. I'm no Picasso, Dr. Greenthumb or Lebron but these particular activities have made me feel so good about myself. I've met great people along the way too that remind me not to be so competitive or hard on myself. One thing about Aries you should know is that we are so competitive, most of the time with ourselves. It wasn't on purpose that these 3 things bring out my happy hormones and I just happen to suck at all of them. Learning to detach from the competition and trying to be the best led me to enjoy these activities more and start translating that into other aspects of my life. It helped me love myself more for just trying and putting myself out there. So anything that makes you feel good about yourself, don't make it a competition or business. Don't worry how "good" you are at it, if it's calling you - just do it!