With the New Year coming and the ball about to drop, it’s that time of year when lots of folks start thinking about New Years Resolutions. While many people are partaking in the typical “New Year New Me” mantra, starting a diet, envisioning a new career path, there’s one thing we often forget about when planning for the New Year, and that’s radical self-love.
So put away that scale, screw that “diet;” it’s time to love yourself this year! Here’s 7 ways you can do just that.
1- Reclaim your body/life.
Working to reclaim your body -and your life as a whole- is a great place to start. This is your year, your body, your life. Sure, doing this all can be easier said than done, especially if you’re a trauma survivor and/or dealing with a mental illness, but it’s not impossible. This will take time, and that’s okay. Learning about different institutional structures, and starting to unlearn the harmful things we’ve internalized from them is a big step. Learning the fear and unreachable standards they’ve instilled in us can help you begin healing. Love your body the way you’d want someone else to love it. Nourish your body, feed it what it wants, give it the light it needs, allow yourself to rest when you need to. Sow the seeds of the beautiful tree that you are into the beautiful earth that you come from. Love on yourself, give yourself hugs, practice self-care — because you deserve it. There are so many ways to reclaim your body and your life, find the things that work best for you. It isn’t wrong or selfish to care about yourself, to need affirmations, or to be vulnerable. You’re worth it! You deserve to tailor a life that’s best for you. Radical self-love is all about “welcoming yourself- the raw, real, organically unfolding, self… loving yourself despite your perceived flaws, your momentary hesitations, and the experiences you wish had never happened. It’s about exploring your depths, with play and openness, while trusting your own evolution.” It’s okay to move forward; it’s okay to heal.
2- Adorn your body.
Your body belongs to you. Own that beautiful body with all of its curves, valleys, rolls, or small ridges. Love your melanin, love your hair, love your skin. Adorn your body in a way that’s most fulfilling to you. From your body hair, to your fashion sense, your body is your canvas. Everyday is a new day waiting for a new creation, or your signature statement. Adorn your body with the clothes, makeup, jewelry, hair, body modifications that you love. Whether you’re taking things away or adding them on, every day is full of new possibilities and endless potential. Throw the Eurocentric beauty standards out the window, and forget what those ignorant, fatphobic media tells you. Shape your physical being into what affirms you and makes you feel confident!
3- Surround yourself with the support you need.
Surround yourself with folks who compliment you. These are the people who see you and hear you fully, they are the people who have earned your trust and didn’t just assume it would be readily available to them. Surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally, the ones who hear you and witness your pain and lift you when you need it the most and hold space for you. They can be blood relatives, best friends or secondary family members. Either way, you deserve to be surrounded by folks who see you in your most stripped down form, and are still honored to love you fiercely and fully.
4- Get rid of toxic people.
It’s important to remember that you deserve healthy and happy relationships. If there are people in your life that don’t treat you with the love and respect that you deserve, it’s time to let them go. People who center their own narratives when you need them for advice and affirmations, people who don’t respect your boundaries, put you down, are systemically oppressive, or engage in abusive behaviors shouldn’t have any place in your life. There’s nothing wrong with cutting out relationships and people that aren’t emotionally or spiritually healing, healthy, or beneficial to you. You deserve to have folks in your life who bring you healing, companionship, love, etc. Even if they’re your blood relatives, if they aren’t meeting your emotional needs or harmful to you in any way, they don’t deserve to witness your beauty. They don’t deserve access to your vulnerability or your spirit/soul. Remember– cutting ties can bring you some of the greatest, most needed, healing.
5- Allowing yourself to feel emotions.
Feeling emotions can be difficult, especially when you’re mentally ill. Sometimes you’re feeling emotions all at once, or not at all, and that’s okay. If you’re happy, sad, angry, indifferent, or in the process of recovering from trauma, it’s important to remind yourself that whatever you’re feeling is totally valid (yes even negative emotions like jealousy and hate!) Try your best to move slowly, spend time with each emotion. Keep in mind, there’s no right or wrong way to feel about something; we all process and feel emotions differently.
6- Remind yourself what there is to love.
Make a list of 50-100 things that you love about yourself. This doesn’t have to be done all at once. Add 10-20 things that you don’t like yet, but you want to learn how to love. This will be your starting point to fully loving yourself. Go back to this list when you’re feeling vulnerable to remind yourself of the beauty and wonder that you hold. Accept these things and learn to love them because you deserve to see the beauty in yourself. There’s so much grace just waiting to be discovered, don’t be afraid to see it.
7- Forgive and let go.
The most revolutionary acts of self-love out there is forgiveness. It’s okay to forgive yourself for all the times you’ve mistreated yourself. Having mental illnesses, and recovering from trauma can be hard as hell, and can induce self-destructive behaviors. Whether it’s self-loathing, self-harm, or anything in between, it’s time to begin unpacking it all. This won’t happen overnight, but it’s a start.
Begin to recognize the ways that you’ve mistreated yourself, and acknowledge that whatever you were feeling at that time was completely valid. It doesn’t matter if you did it out of fear, rage, impulse, or from a trigger — you deserve forgiveness and healing! Nurse yourself back to health as an athlete would nurse a sprained ankle. Be gentle with yourself and take your time. Process and unpack the trauma and the things that you might have done/said to yourself. It’s okay to heal and let go.
Taking those first steps can be hard, and that’s valid. Trust your journey, and lean on your support system and the people you trust.
You’re amazing and worthy of self-love. The things you’ve internalized, your trauma, and your mental illnesses aren’t your fault. It’s time to love yourself and discover your authenticity. You’re an unstoppable force! This will take time, and that’s okay. Learn to love yourself one day at a time; take all the time you need– you can do it!
Featured Image: Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski via Creative Commons