4 realistic self-love practices to make daily life a little easier
Channel your inner Kareena Kapoor and be your own favourite
Self-love is an intentional process. In the The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, the author says that when we’re young, our bodies naturally grow, becoming taller, stronger and more capable every year. A lot of people believe that the same applies to our emotional and mental growth. But it doesn’t happen automatically. It needs to be improved on, intentionally, using self-love practices.
From a young age, we hold on to what other people believe is good about us. Our achievements determine our self-esteem. But when failure comes, self love tumbles faster than Sisyphus’s rock.
“Self-love is an active journey, not a destination,” says Urvashi Bhatia, Delhi-based psychologist and counsellor. As glee-inducing as public validation is, the ‘self’ here is key.
Start with recognising behaviour patterns, being aware of moments when you’re being unkind, and actively adopting the self-care practices you’ve been bookmarking on your browser.
Bhatia shares simple behaviour modifications and self-love practices we can adopt to aid our journey.
Self-love practices to incorporate daily, according to an expert
1. Self-care is a self-love practice.
We give a lot of ourselves to other people, convinced it’s a sign of being a good person. But between keeping up with work, home, kids and life, self-care gets relegated to the bottom of the list.
“Self-care simply means taking time out, focusing on and looking after your mental, emotional and physical health. And that’s not only when you’re ill,” says Bhatia.
It doesn’t have to be an extravagant 3-hour long massage — cooking yourself a nutritious meal, getting in those 8 hours of sleep and indulging in a multi-step skincare routine could relax those frenzied nerves.
2. Turn off the negative inner dialogue.
Criticism isn’t the same as negative thinking. Nothing breaks us down more than our inner dialogue of derogation.
“Positive affirmations work, but aren’t always practical in real life. So, instead of thinking ‘I’m going to do ABC and it’s going to be a bit hit’, then beating yourself up if you haven’t achieved it, tweak it into ‘I will put in every effort, do my best and try to achieve XYZ’.”
Somethings are beyond our control, so identify what can be worked on and concentrate on that, especially when it comes to your physical appearance.
Here, Bhatia puts a twist on the classic ‘Yes, And’ technique of improv comedy when it comes to talking to/about ourselves with kindness. “Yes, I have a small stubby nose that I hate, AND I have beautiful thick, long hair that’s to die for.”
She recommends a visualisation exercise too – “Imagine sitting across a 7-year-old version of yourself and tell them every horrible name you call yourself. Or imagine saying these things to a good friend feeling the same way. If you can’t do it to someone else, why do it to yourself?”
3. Know and set your limits.
“Differentiate when you can and can’t do something. It’s OK to say no,” says Bhatia. I get it, it’s not always easy to do when you’re in a tricky position. Bhatia offers ‘No, but’ technique. “Here, you’re saying no and offering an alternative.”
For example, your boss asks you to take on a big project that you don’t feel equipped to handle. You can say ‘No, this isn’t for me, but why not ask XYZ instead?”
Or you could offer up a skill you know you’re good at.
4. When in doubt, write it down.
When we have too much going on in our heads, it’s easiest to just put it all down on paper. A good idea for daily self-love practices is making a list. Note down what makes you who you are – the good and the bad, starting the sentence with ‘I am…’. First, go through what you view as positives and pat yourself on the back. Now, look through the ‘negative’ list.
For example, ‘I am too talkative, I put people off.’ Now, assess the ‘bad’ qualities you’ve written and question its source. Is it something someone else said about you? How true is it, how much of it was their projection/shortcomings?
Bhatia says, “Change its connotations. You’re not ‘too talkative’, you could be friendly, good at conversation and easy to talk to. Pride yourself on that.”