I shared a little bit about this on insta, but I knew I had a little more to say, and this is my attempt at hopefully helping someone out there find a least one way to love themselves a little more.
How do you talk to middle school girls about self-love? Most of the women I know (myself included much of the time) can’t even answer this question. But girls? They have such little agency over their lives, right? They aren’t at Whole Foods deciding what to cook for the week. They’re not at Lush buying bath bombs or getting manicures and massages.
And then I thought, OH SH*T! ARE WE BUYING SELF-LOVE INSTEAD OF CULTIVATING IT FROM WITHIN?!
Omg. This is bad.
I’m most likely being a modified version of a Debbie Downer, but hear me out! When my students complain about the politics of school- heartless teachers, bullies, boys, girls, drugs, lack of funding, too much homework, not enough sleep, no classes focused on anything practical… I say 3 things:
1. I confirm that yes, most of what you’re learning you will never use again. Sorry, but facts are facts and I haven’t used Pythagorean Theorem since… I don’t even know. Surprised I can even spell it, tbh.
2. You must learn how to manage your time because as you get older, you have even less of it. So if nothing else, school is teaching you that.
3. The drama, the bs, the mean girls, the immature boys- it doesn’t go away. People don’t change, it just manifests differently as we get older.
And I think that #3 is true because we’re never taught what it means to love ourselves. To practice self-love, self-respect, self-compassion, the inner stuff, would likely manifest in an outward practice of kindness, empathy, and collaboration. How can we give it to others if we can’t give it to ourselves? How can we teach our children if we’re not able to model what that looks like?
** As I’m writing this, Mark thought the teachers out there might be offended. I’m not anti-school, however, there’s no part of my education that taught me how to love myself. In fact, it has always did the opposite.
I think we deserve to be in a loving relationship with the person we see in the mirror every day. Periodt. And I wanted to share these 10 tips because, well, maybe it’ll be helpful to you. But also, the more I read them and say them aloud, the better chance I have at making sure they “stick”.
Know the difference between self-love and self-care.
My friend Erinn and I run a girls group in an elementary school, and we talked about this together with our 7th and 8th graders. To me, self-care is outward. Its the stuff I spend money on to make myself feel better. Feel cared for. Self-love is the inner work. The kindness and compassion for the woman in the mirror. I need both in order to show up and be my best self.
Trust your gut.
If something or someone doesn’t feel right, that’s because it ain’t. You don’t need to question yourself, phone a friend, or fret over what you know to be true.
Demand excellence for yourself.
My biggest fear? Mediocrity. Staying the same. Fear-induced paralyzation.
If there’s anything I learned from my father’s passing, it’s that we don’t have the time to be afraid. Go, and go big, and go TODAY.
Sleep and move your body.
Let’s stop glorifying little rest and multiple workouts a day, shall we?
Ask for help.
It’s not shameful. It doesn’t mean you are less-than, unintelligent, or incapable. Don’t let your ego rob you of leveling up.
Be responsible for your energy.
What you put out in the world is what you will get back from the world. Read that again.
Your diet is more than what you eat.
Social media, TV, toxic relationships, a job you hate, what you read, beauty ads, FOMO… Sometimes what we consume is what kills our spirit and dims our light. FYI- These are the only cleanses and detoxes I approve of.
Transform your fears.
Fear is a gift. It can alert you to danger and save your life.
Anxiety and worry are the killers to all joy and personal mobility. They will rob you of a life. And they are bound in fear!
So, are you actually afraid or are you anxious and need to buck up a little bit? There’s no special formula other than practicing courage. You have to do it with the small stuff so that it becomes easier with the bigger stuff. It’s a muscle you flex. The more you work on it, the stronger it becomes.
Transform your thoughts.
Just like you have to make the choice to be courageous, you have to make the choice to re-write your inner narrative. You have to choose new thoughts. You have to stop yourself from being destructive to yourself and others around you. You have to come to terms with the fact that you are creating your own personal hell in your very own brain. And yes, you have to change because it’s not helping you grow, give or receive love, or live your life anywhere near your potential.
Oddly enough, one of my favorite Oprah podcasts is when she talks with Joel Osteen. They say “Whatever follows I AM is going to come looking for you.” How you feel about yourself dictates how you show up. If you believe you are fat, lazy, and tired- guess what? You are. Change the way you speak about yourself.
With love and courage,
Ash (& Mark) <3