It’s not unusual for us to have a guest admit that they felt a little apprehensive about ‘fitting in’ or ‘feeling comfortable’ on retreat. Of course, once they arrive, they discover that these initial fears were entirely unfounded and that the retreat space is primarily one of love, acceptance, inclusion and non-judgement. Of course, as women, these fears or thoughts are entirely natural and very common. We all want to fit in and feel comfortable in our environment- right?! Some days, this feels easier than others. As women, we can also be incredibly hard on ourselves and our own self-judgement can be our greatest stepping stone to discovering real self-love and self-worth.
Human beings are habitual by nature. Sometimes this can work in our favour, other times, this can be detrimental. For example, if you already have positive habits such as eating well, having an exercise routine you enjoy and routinely spending time with people that light you up and support you- these are great habits to maintain! On the other hand, if you find yourself frequently talking to yourself in a negative tone, reprimanding yourself for any traits you consider to be ‘not good enough’ or opting out on self-care routines because you lack motivation, time or energy, then these are habits that would be wonderful to let go of.
A great question to ask yourself is- am I in a healthy relationship with myself? Maybe even the idea of that question makes you a little uncomfortable! For many women, it is far easier to put the needs of others first, and while circumstances do require us to care and support the people in our lives, this doesn’t mean entirely negating our own needs and desires. Do you enjoy your own company? Do you routinely do things that fill you with joy? Do you enjoy simple pleasures like reading, taking a bath, getting out into nature? Do you enjoy these things without any guilt?! Do you tell yourself you look lovely? Do you pat yourself on the back when you achieve something? Do you take time to make nourishing meals for yourself?
We live in a society where the common ‘tall poppy syndrome’ asks us to shrink, to make ourselves blend in, and not to stand tall and acknowledge or celebrate ourselves or our wins in fear of looking overly confident or flamboyant. This means we all too often sweep our success under the carpet, wave off kind words and gestures that others offer, and shy away from positive self-talk. There is a huge difference between positive self-talk and being conceited or self-aggrandising! Unfortunately, we often see them as going hand in hand. Being able to step into our light, accept compliments, speak kindly to ourselves and be one hundred percent confident in who we are and what we have to offer the world isn’t easy. Yet taking time to develop these skills is incredibly rewarding and ultimately sets you up to stride courageously towards your dreams.
So, how can you work on building and strengthening your self-worth muscle?!
Here are 10 simple tips:
Watch Your Self-Talk
The words we tell ourselves are incredibly powerful. Especially when we repeat them over and over again. Some of our self-talk may have even stemmed from a very long time ago. If you were constantly told as a child that you were loud, shy, naughty, or that you weren’t good at something, chances are that is still a story you tell yourself today. We are constantly changing and evolving. Take stock of the stories you hold today and the words you tell yourself- are they really true?! Can you replace the old stories and negative words with new stories and positive words instead? Small changes can make a huge difference- try it out and see.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Promotion? New house? New relationship? Made it out of bed before your alarm? Got to that yoga class you had planned? Aced a presentation at work? Got the kids to bed on time? Achievements come in all shapes and sizes and they are all worthy of celebration! Don’t wave off these moments in life. Learn to get comfortable with accepting praise from others, and most of all, learn to get comfortable with giving yourself that pat on the back when you deserve it.
Put That Phone Down!
Our 24/7 connection to social media can do greater harm to our self-worth and self-love than we may realise. Social media can not only cause us to fall into a dangerous trap of comparison and self-judgement, it can even lead to more serious issues such as anxiety and depression. Comparing where we are in life to the highlight reel of complete strangers is downright crazy! Yet we all do it! Start to monitor your social media usage and if you find it instigating negative emotions as opposed to inspiring or uplifting you, start unfollowing accounts, delete your apps, and lower your time on devices. This tip alone will immediately change how you feel about yourself.
Embrace All the Feels
As women, we are often taught or encouraged to hold back on our emotions and feelings. This only leads us to repress emotions which over time, fester within us and hold us back from living and loving fully. Allowing yourself the time and space to really embrace and even enjoy the highs and lows and the rollercoaster that life entails is incredibly liberating! Try keeping a journal if you feel like that is a helpful way to navigate and release emotions on a daily or weekly basis. Confide in a friend that will listen without judgement. Spend time in nature, watch a sad girly flick, try a Yin yoga class- allow yourself time and space to feel and process your emotions without judging them.
If you need a little extra help in flexing your self-worth muscle, trying leaving love notes to yourself in visible places that help to remind you of the things that you adore or appreciate about yourself. Try writing a daily affirmation on your mirror, set reminders on your phone that make you smile, or paste post-it notes on your refrigerator. These can say whatever you like them to say, as long as they are positive. We all know that the power of advertising works! Switch your attention from billboards that make you feel less than fabulous, to notes that remind you that you are perfect just the way you are.
Make a list of small treats that you can reward yourself with. Perhaps it is a massage at your local spa or a Sunday brunch at your favourite cafe. Maybe its a cup of your favourite tea before your household awakes, or a beach walk at the end of the day. Perhaps it is a favourite meal you like to make for yourself, a bubble bath, or a little healthy retail therapy! Think of a few ways that you like to reward yourself when you accomplish something you are proud of. Equate these treats with self-care and know you are worthy of them.
There are few things more rewarding than helping others. There is a great quote that says ‘when you feel like you have nothing left to give, give more.’ There is a power and energy if giving. If you find it incredibly hard to give to yourself, sometimes giving to others can be a great first step. You don’t need to take a month sabbatical at an orphanage in India (although good on you if you can!) Small ways to give to others may include helping a neighbour, baking a cake for a coworkers birthday, helping out a local organisation, sponsoring an international charity, giving a stray dog a little love, smiling to a stranger on the street- even little things go a long way in lighting up the world and making it a better place. Making others feel good is a great way to start feeling fabulous about yourself too.
Embrace Your Inner Child
How good does it feel to do cartwheels on the beach? To turn up some music and dance around the living room? To eat spaghetti with your fingers? To build a pillow fort and watch a movie with popcorn? Ah, life as a child was easy, wasn’t it?! Make time to embrace your inner child and be silly. Adulthood is often so serious and we forget to let ourselves have fun. Take a swing on your local playground, unleash your creative side with some painting, go bowling or skating- do things for the sole purpose of having fun without worrying about being productive or worrying about what others think.
Yep, self-worth takes work! Like any other muscle in the body, we need to constantly work on our self-worth and self-love. The good news is it does get easier! The even better news is that working on your self worth isn’t like working on your glutes- it is actually fun and pretty painless too! Keep your self-talk in check, set goals and reward yourself when you achieve them, allow time to do the things you love, challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone, play, laugh, give, express- be unashamedly you. This is why you’re here. Let your light shine.