I often see my 93-year-old neighbor outside picking up her daily newspaper and stopping to take in her lush and lovely flowers. I’d like to think that this daily ritual is something my neighbor does to welcome and celebrate the day. Something she does to be good to herself.
When I was growing up, I heard “Be good to others” and “Be kind to strangers.” But the message about self-love was light, if not missing. Eventually, I learned to be good to myself, and honestly, it wasn’t easy; it required me to reframe “indulgence” or “pampering” as self-care, or simply, “being good to myself.” Wherever you are on your journey to “being good to yourself,” know this: it is never too late to send a healthy dose of love inward. Here are a few ideas on how to keep your inner well full:
Think of yourself as your own best friend
How you treat your BFF is how you can learn to treat yourself. You are kind, forgiving, compassionate, and generous to her, right? Well then? Start sending all of that good stuff inward.
Write down the things about yourself that make you awesome!
If you find yourself stuck in a long pause, consider what the people who love and care about you would say. Or pretend that you are on the outside, observing this person, you. Come up with at least ten qualities or characteristics that you can appreciate about yourself.
Identify ten things that bring you joy and include several each day
I am not talking about a ten-day Hawaiian hiatus. I mean simple joys or pleasures that bring a smile to your face, appeal to your senses, or make you feel good about your day. I recently purchased two diffusers that I fill with essential oils. One resides in my office – where I do my writing – and the other, in my sunroom – where I kick up my feet and indulge in my reading. Simple and joyful? Yes!
Forgive, forgive, forgive
This one is heavy, I know. But here’s the thing: we all have regrets, some large, many small. When we can make our peace with the things we did and didn’t do, we release pain and create an opening for learning from our regrets and mistakes. The same is true of the grudges we may hold toward others. By letting go, we free ourselves.
Laugh at yourself…but do it with love
As a recovering perfectionist, I also know that this can be very hard to do. We see our shortcomings and errors as fatal flaws, deficiencies we should be ashamed of. That framing is the opposite of what it means to be good to ourselves. Look around you: no one is perfect. No one. When you can laugh at your quirks and foibles, you take a major step forward in being good to yourself.
Cut out the negativity
Start by re-reading the paragraph above, then take a good, honest look at what’s fueling the negativity in your life. Certain people, media, situations? Make a conscious effort to skinny-back on what brings you down. And when you are the source, catch yourself, forgive yourself, laugh at yourself…and move on. You’ve got this!
Surround yourself with caring people
People who are positive and loving toward us reinforce that we are worthy of love and respect. They act as a mirror that reflects what’s good about us. And by doing so, they remind us that it’s never, ever too late to be good to ourselves.
Let’s teach the next generation this important lesson.