Self Love: Why We Need to Be Kind to Ourselves
Fact: We are our own worst critics. Our millennial culture has an overarching do better, work harder, don't stop stigma that can create a sense of shame if we don't do what we are "supposed" to do, look a certain way or even act a certain way. Popular sayings like 'YOLO,' 'Work hard, play hard,' and 'Nobody cares, work harder,' force us to submit to that status quo. There's always so much pressure. But here's the question I've been asking myself: does this actually do more good than harm?
It's only human to feel self pity when we go through tough times or when things don't play out exactly how we want them to. It happens, and that's life. I've been through a couple things that made me really question life and why I do what I'm doing. What's my purpose here? Why aren't I doing more to better my friends, family, the world, myself?
These questions used to come up frequently, and I'm sure that some of you might relate. But here's the thing, focusing on what we think we should do and what we could have done better and not what we've accomplished and what we're good at creates a path un-wandered that may possibly turn into a dark road. Why do we do that? Why do we constantly beat ourselves up for 'failing' when in reality, maybe it was just a sharp turn in the road that's going to drive us to reach our goals in the long run?
For example, I sit here writing this post in bed at 8 a.m. after hitting snooze a million times. I was 'supposed' to get up and workout at 6 a.m. I was frustrated with myself for not waking up and sweating off last night's Cookie Butter Ice Cream, but then I thought, maybe my body just doesn't want it right now. Nobody will notice unless I make it an issue. I needed that extra two hours of sleep. There's always later to sweat, or tomorrow. Tomorrow is always a new day. Getting into a habit of self love begins in the mind and the heart. It's all about being present and doing what you feel in the moment. Not what anyone else wants or what you think society expects of you. What you want and what you feel.
Being kinder to myself is something that I try to work on every day, and like previously stated, it starts with relaxing the mind. Practicing yoga has helped a TON. If you haven't tried yoga, please don't knock it until you try it. It works. It teaches you to let go of everything and just focus on making yourself feel good in the present moment.
And let me tell you, being present works wonders. Focusing on what you have accomplished and what you're working on now instead of what you could be doing is a great starting point to being kinder to yourself. I'm usually a 'live in the moment' kind of person but lately I've been falling into a trap of being a lot harder on myself than I need to be. As I look for jobs and will be graduating soon, I have so many questions about where I'll be in the next five years. Sure, I have direction and I have goals, but the only thing set in stone right now is how I am living today to my fullest potential. I have been putting so much effort and time into my future life that I'm letting the here and now slip away.
I realized this yesterday after I taught my group fitness class. I only have one more month teaching here at UF and it's been such an amazing time. I've met some people who have stuck with me since I taught my first class two years ago (you know who you are.) I had a moment driving home where I almost got emotional because I was thinking just how much I am going to miss it! And everything about my time here for that matter. And then I started thinking about everything that I've accomplished here in college, the people I've met and my impact. I felt proud of myself and at peace. I was present.
My point here is that although we need to have goals and look toward the future, there's only so much energy that we can put toward the future because it's not here yet. Be proud of what you've accomplished. Be proud of the person that you are. Invest your energy in making yourself and others around you feel happy today. When you start to get into those dark places and thinking about what you haven't done or what you think you need to do, always remember that you are here for a reason and if you just let yourself be present for a moment, I guarantee you will appreciate how far you've come and all that you've done.
I feel strongly about this, but the main thing I want you to take away here is this: When things don't work out the way you want them to, take a step back and enjoy the journey. Give yourself a pat on the back and a reminder that when one door closes, another one will open. You have one life, one body and one soul. Be kind to yourself.