In my early years, deeply rooted in the norms and values of Roman Catholic teachings, I was often reminded to “Carry my cross and follow Christ.” This meant embracing life’s burdens with humility, mirroring the resilience of Jesus Christ.
Fast forward to my life in Denmark, where the stark reality hit me—letting people destroy me in the name of humility would lead to a path of unhappiness and potential mental health struggles. I faced a choice: succumb to the weight of societal expectations, carrying a metaphorical cross, or redefine my approach to life. Allowing others to dictate my worth could have left me confined to a mental hospital, struggling with daily life, and dependent on antidepressants.
It was in this struggle for survival that I discovered an alternative path—one guided by self-love. Survival, I realized, wasn’t about shouldering an insurmountable burden. It was about learning to love myself fully and treat myself with kindness. I questioned the notion that enduring suffering silently would bring divine intervention. Instead, I found strength in prioritizing my well-being.
Self-love became my lifeline, a force that propelled me towards a more fulfilling existence. Here are some tangible examples of how I embraced self-love:
1. Dressing Well:
Recognizing that looking good wasn’t just about appearances but was a tangible expression of self-love, I made an effort to take pride in my appearance daily. It became a powerful affirmation of my worth.
2. Solo Dinner Dates:
Introducing “a date with myself” through indulging in good dinners wasn’t just about savoring delicious meals. It became a ritual of self-care, treating myself with the same care and attention I might extend to a loved one. It evolved into a celebration of my own company.
3. Healthy Lifestyle:
Prioritizing physical health became a cornerstone of self-love. Regular exercise, nutritious meals, and sufficient rest became intentional acts of self-care, expressing gratitude for my body’s capabilities.
4. Hobbies and Passion Pursuits:
Dedication to activities I loved, be it painting, writing, graphic designing, making songs or exploring new interests, became a daily practice. These moments allowed me to connect with my true self, finding joy in simple pleasures and fostering a sense of fulfillment.
5. Mindful Practices:
Incorporating mindfulness, including meditation and deep breathing exercises, became essential for mental well-being. These practices enabled me to stay present, manage stress, and cultivate a positive mindset.
6. Setting Boundaries:
Learning to say no and establishing boundaries in both personal and professional relationships became an empowering act of self-love, preserving my energy for things that truly mattered.
7. Nature Retreats:
Taking occasional retreats into nature provided a rejuvenating escape. Whether it was a simple walk in the park or a weekend getaway, these moments allowed me to reconnect with myself and find solace in nature.
8. Writing My Thoughts:
Journaling became a therapeutic practice, providing a safe space to express my thoughts and emotions. Writing allowed me to process experiences and gain valuable insights into my own mind.
9. Digital Detox:
Regular breaks from digital devices, 1-2 times a week, became a crucial aspect of self-care. Unplugging helped me recalibrate, reduce stress, and foster a deeper connection with the world around me.
10. Gratitude Journaling:
Cultivating a habit of expressing gratitude daily allowed me to focus on the positive aspects of my life, reinforcing self-love by acknowledging the good.
Through these practices, I not only survived but thrived, understanding that self-love is not a luxury but a necessity for a truly fulfilling life. It’s an ongoing journey of discovering what brings joy and actively incorporating those elements into my daily routine—a journey that reflects the love and care I deserve.