When I used to think about what loving myself looked like it was quite surface.  Focused on the immaterial, material things. Know what I mean?

I used to think it was getting a manicure.  Buying that extravagant purse. Taking multiple vacations.

Don’t get me wrong - I still appreciate those things.  And treating yourself can absolutely be a way to show yourself love - especially if you typically deny yourself any pampering.

But I’ve come to learn that for me personally, pursuing them as a form of self love was actually a form of escapism.  Escaping from the feeling of how much I DIDN’T love myself.

I’d distract myself with pretty things and beautiful experiences to avoid sitting with the truth.  To avoid sitting in the emotion. And the truth is loving myself - moving away from self-loathing - is hard.

It’s hard to not allow the brokenness of the past colour the way I view myself.

It’s hard to break free of people pleasing and people avoiding (two sides of the same coin) to avoid the rejection I think is inevitable.

It’s hard to be gracious and loving to myself in the practical, daily ways we all need it.

Recognizing this “hard-ness” has led me to realize that truly loving ourselves starts with doing the hard stuff that doesn’t feel all that comfortable in the moment.

Sure - massages, bubble baths, girls nights out are all great self care expressions. But I believe to live a life full of honest, deep love and appreciation for ourselves we’ve got to tackle the deep stuff first.

With that context in mind, here’s what I think loving yourself actually looks like:

Ending Toxic Associations

Yes, we need relationships, but we don’t need every relationship—especially ones that bring us more pain than support.  The more selective you are about what energy you allow around yourself, the more successful you'll be. The more time you spend away from toxic people, the more time you have for yourself and the people that are positive, uplifting, and important to you.

Setting Clear Boundaries

Creating boundaries for yourself and others is proven to improve our self-esteem. If you’re not used to setting boundaries you might feel guilty or selfish at first, but setting boundaries is necessary for mental health and well-being. It's important to set them in all aspects of one’s life.

Saying NO

Have you ever heard the expression “the disease to please”? It’s called a disease because it’s detrimental to our well-being, leading to burnout and resentment. Learn to say no to things that rob you of your energy and peace.  Without apologies and without explanation.

Saying YES

Yes to adventure. Yes to your dreams. Yes to the call over your life. Yes to stepping out of your comfort zone.  It’s in these moments of yes that our confidence and competence SOARS and we have an opportunity to fall in love with ourselves and our courage in fresh new ways.

Forgiving Yourself

I did say this was going to be hard.  But loving yourself looks like pouring grace over your past decisions and mistakes.  Forgiving yourself for hurting others and hurting the girl inside you. It’s saying no to guilt and condemnation and yes to freedom and fresh starts.

Honouring Your Body

What you eat and how often you move intentionally matters. Treating ourselves with love in this way - even though it’s hard - is one of the first steps in aligning our behaviours and beliefs - that we are lovable and deserving to be treated with love.

So in this season of love, I want to encourage you to do the hard work at truly demonstrating love for yourself.  To start the behaviours that show love.

To birth a new belief system about who you are and what you deserve.

To stop hustling for your worth in ways that rob you of your spirit and energy and start understanding that you are already worthy.

And it’s time you start treating yourself that way.