Are You Worthy Of Love?

The Quote

You are worthy of love

You are worthy of love.

Someone recently asked me what this quote means to me. Why do I believe these words are true? Although the question surprised me, I thought it was a really good one. I gave them an answer after some consideration, but I really wanted to expand on those thoughts further here.

The Question

Why are we worthy of love? What makes me agree that love isn’t something we should need to earn? To me, when a child is born, they deserve love. We would never think to withhold love from them until they earned it. So, why do we think there is some arbitrary age that we suddenly do need to earn love?

flawed, & (still) worthy

The Science

Studies prove that love is as much a necessity as food, water, and oxygen. While we can all agree that it is wrong to withhold these life essentials, we tend to think that we don’t deserve love unless we prove ourselves. Love really is essential to our lives though. Of course it starts in infant-hood, and can make a big difference in how the child thrives or doesn’t. The idea is further pointed out in this blog:

As infants and small children, our first task is to get at least one of our parents to love us enough to meet our needs for sustenance, but also touch. With rare exception, the love and safety hormone, oxytocin, is released into our mother’s body, concentrating the focus of her attention on us … and this loving attention releases the same hormone in our body, ensuring we survive. As critical as food, shelter, sustenance are to our survival, they do not suffice in the early months and first years. Babies do not physically survive without love.

As studies of attachment show, infants and small children actively seek a love bonding with their caregivers. To live, newborns must form some type of bond, regardless whether it feels relatively secure or insecure, with their mother or a “mothering” person, at least one.

Later on, love is still very important. This article points out how our brains actually prioritize it over sex.

While many women may be convinced men’s brains are wired more powerfully for sex, Fisher says there’s evidence men are also powerfully wired for romance.

“Men fall in love faster than women do, because men are so visual,” she notes. “And three out of four people who kill themselves over love are men, not women.”

Fisher adds: “You know, this is a powerful drive, and an essential part of humanity. … It would be very unadaptive if men didn’t fall in love just as powerfully as women.”

You are worthy of love.

This quote puts the responsibility of you on you. It does not say you are responsible for proving love to others. Instead, you are responsible for searching out love for yourself and surrounding yourself with people who are able to provide it.

In other words, while all people do deserve love, this quote is not saying you have to provide it. If someone is a toxic presence in your life, it is okay to love them from a distance. It is their responsibility to find someone who can give them the love they deserve, and there is nothing wrong with that person not being you.

Self-Love

This is where self-love comes in to play. Knowing that you are lovable and worth taking care of will allow you to regulate who you have in your life. It is much easier to release negative people, who you may still love, from your life when you know that it is ok to take care of yourself first. Re-evaluate people in your life who do not add positivity and support. Give serious thought to either cutting them out, or at least scaling way back on how much they are allowed to have influence in your life. I’ve written more on self-love here and here.

Humans are social animals, and can not thrive without outside interaction. In fact, studies have been done showing how damaging solitary confinement is to humans.  We are also wired to need to belong as mentioned in this post of mine. How can anyone think that love is not also wired in as a need and therefore something we do not need to earn or deserve? No, I’m sure you are worthy of love.

If you have any additional thoughts on this subject, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email. I’d love to hear from you!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

6 Ways to Show Love to Yourself During Recovery

6 Ways to Show Love to Yourself During Recovery

Note: I want to thank the writers from the Westwind Recovery blog for guest posting today. I hope you enjoy their informative post on self-love during recovery.

Learning to love yourself after dealing with addiction is a slow but critical process that allows you to grow as a person. During treatment, you worked through difficult issues that led to your substance abuse, and you have conquered many painful events from your past. Now, it is time to show yourself a little love for all that hard work, and these six ideas will jump-start your efforts at self-improvement.

Spend Time with Your Pet

There is nothing like an animal for teaching you how to love unconditionally. Whether you own a dog, cat or fish, they do not care about the things you might have done in your past. All that they care about is enjoying your love in the present. Make sure that your new sober living arrangements allow pets so that you can bring your pooch or kitten along with you. Spending time stroking your pet’s fur helps to alleviate stress, and you will learn valuable lessons about what it means to have a companion who is willing to stick by your side.

Surround Yourself with Understanding Friends

Letting go of your friends from the past might have been necessary as part of your recovery. While it might be tempting to just live life alone, you should remember that loneliness can be a trigger for relapse. Find people who understand what it means to live with an addiction, and begin putting together a support network that includes a variety of types of people. Whether you meet with a mental health counselor once a week or enjoy chatting with your sober housemate, giving yourself people to open up to is a wonderful way to show yourself that you are valued by others.

Challenge Yourself Physically

Learning how to manage stress is one of the biggest gifts that you can give yourself. Make sure to treat your body with the respect that it deserves by making exercise a regular part of your routine. You can also turn your exercise routines into a mental boost by incorporating challenges into your workouts. For instance, you may choose to master surfboarding for the summer, or you could set reaching a new distance for your hikes as a goal. Hitting your goals will give you more confidence, and your body will quickly respond to your self-love by getting stronger and healthier.

Nurture Your Body with Healthy Food

Recovery is hard on your body, and you might have ignored your nutritional needs while you were dealing with addiction. Start exploring new ways to prepare healthy ingredients that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Consider pairing up with a housemate who loves gourmet cooking, or you could take a class from a nearby chef. Providing your body with the fuel that it needs to function at peak capacity is an important part of loving yourself, and enjoying a tasty meal is just a great way to start and end each day.

Learn Your Favorite Ways to Relax

Indulging in a few pampering sessions is warranted when you have gone so long fighting to get sober. While you can do your best to minimize stress, the truth is that life still goes on. Make sure to have a few tools in your plans for handling times when it feels impossible to relax. Jump in the hot tub, soak up the sun at the beach or just gather around the fire pit for some laughs with your friends. Your mental outlook will change once you discover that it’s possible to relax while you are living a sober life! Once you have a few favorite tricks up your sleeve, make sure to indulge in a pampering session at least once a week. You can even plan five-minute relaxation breaks such as rubbing lotion on your hands or inhaling an essential oil such as lavender so that you can fit little mini-breaks throughout your day.

Keep a Journal of Your Progress

During times of discouragement, remember that you can be your own best friend. Start a journal now that documents your progress, and don’t be shy about listing your achievements. From jotting down a quick note about that random act of kindness you performed at the store to creating a list of the times you made it through a craving, reading back through your shining moments gives you a light to use during times of darkness.

At first, it may seem selfish to show yourself love. Yet, you must nurture your body and spirit if you want to be a better person who can also help others. Use these six ideas as a guide to get started, but keep adding to it as you find out more about what makes you feel best. Then, be sure to share your strategies with others who may need a little boost along the way to a strong recovery.

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Whole Self-Care: Are You Guilty Of Neglect?

I’ve written about the basics of self-care before. (See posts here, and here, and here) I’d like to dig a bit deeper today. Self-care in the media tends to be spas, baths, and face masks. There is much more to it. We need to make sure to care for our whole selves. This means we need to make sure we have our physical, mental, and emotional needs met. Whole self-care can make sure no part is neglected.

Neglecting any of these parts will leave you feeling off, drained, or like something is missing. It can be hard to track down just what is wrong when you are applying self-care, just not covering all the bases.

Whole Self-Care: Are You Guilty Of Neglect?

What type of things do you do for self-care already? Write them all down, in the above categories if you can. Look them over. Do you seem to have a shortage of any category? Is there a larger focus on another?

If you are unsure how to define some of your activities, or just short on actions in one or more groups, check below for ideas:

Physical

  • Daily, enjoyable activity
  • Basic hygiene: shower, wash hair, skin care, etc
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat enough and a variety
  • See doctor as needed
  • Take medication as needed
  • Stay hydrated
  • Hug someone
  • Play with a pet

Mental

  • Have quiet time daily – use it to pray, meditate, or what ever quiets your mind
  • Read
  • Learn something new
  • Cultivate your own hobbies
  • Turn of phone notifications for a time period
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Listen to music
  • Do a craft

Emotional

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Have time out with a friend
  • Go on a date
  • Journal
  • Keep a gratitude list
  • Do extra self-care activities that pamper you: spa days, face masks, flowers for yourself, etc
  • Call a family member or friend to talk
  • Cuddle a pet

Of course this is just a small list of suggestions. There are hundreds of different ways to do self-care, and many can go in more than one category.

I hope you have 3-5 ideas written down under each type now. You don’t want to have too many and get overwhelmed. If you already have a routine for some, it won’t be hard to add a few more though.

Whole Self-Care Plan

Now you are going to want to plan a week. Under each day, make sure you have at least one thing from physical, mental and emotional written down.

For example:

Monday- go on a walk, go to painting class, call mom

Tuesday- dance to music, get coffee with BFF (notice the “dance to music” can cover both physical and mental)

By making sure you have at least one out of each category, you are never going to totally neglect any part of your self-care. When you look over your plan for the week, pay attention to the overall balance. Do you tend to focus more on one area over the others? Is it just one kind of self-care that gets left out? If so, try to add a few more activities from that group into your week.

Overtime, practicing whole self-care, or using a more balanced approach, is sure to make you feel better over all. You will notice it isn’t just the area that was neglected that will improve, but every part of your life will feel more balanced and cared for.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments or feel free to email me at leighbryant@flawedmessylife.com . Also, please join us over at Growing in Self-Acceptance! We are a growing Facebook group forming a community meant to support each other as we grow in our acceptance of ourselves.

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

What The Heck Is Body Acceptance, And Why Do I Need It?

A popular “buzzword” lately has been “body positivity”. Not everyone feels ready to have positive thoughts toward their body. In that case, it may be easier to try for body acceptance.

What is body acceptance?

Simply put, body acceptance is just accepting your body as it is with no judgement. It is a step toward body positivity and loving yourself without requiring any change. Another way to look at it is body neutrality. This article covers it well. Just not hating their body can be a huge step for some people.

I’ve talked before about acceptance. Self-acceptance is recognizing and accepting all parts of yourself with no judgement. You can read more here and here. Body acceptance is similar. It is being aware of your body with no judgement. It’s seeing your body as neither good nor bad, but simply a body. If you aren’t ready yet to jump into body positivity, acceptance is a wonderful place to start.

Why body acceptance?

Why be accepting of your body? Well, basically, you are living in the body you have right now, and it does you no good to hate on it. Even if you are sure that, no matter what, you want to change something about your body, you are still living in this body currently, and being negative toward yourself will help nothing. Real change can only come from a place of love, and that is what body acceptance (and body positivity) can give you.

You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself, and see what happens. - Louise L. Hay

No matter what you may find to be flaws with your body, it is important to find peace with it now as it is. Your body doesn’t have to earn your respect and care. It deserves to be treated well just as it is. It is taking care of you daily, the best it can.  You can return the favor by keeping up with your self-care and being gentle with yourself.

How to start working on it.

There are a few exercises you can use to work on your body acceptance. One of the simplest, though not the easiest, is to spend time each day in front of a mirror (naked if possible). Find at least one thing nice to say about your body each time. If you find yourself having negative thoughts about your body use my method of Beating Negative Thoughts to interrupt yourself, and start turning them around. The goal may be body positivity, but it is fine to shoot for neutrality or acceptance at first.

My body is my home, and I will not tear it down.

Now make a list of things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your body. Shoot for 5-10 to start. It helps to remind yourself how much more there is to you other than your body. You have a lot to offer the world, and you should be proud of that.

Another helpful activity is to start a body gratitude journal. Spend time each day writing down things about your body you can be grateful about. Perhaps it is the way your legs allow you to go on walks, or the way your hands help you to do your hobbies. Maybe you are grateful for the hugs your arms can give, or the great food you get to taste with your mouth. Before long you will have an amazing list to read back though, and see all your body does for you.

If you would like some more ideas, Buzz Feed has a nice list of activities suggested by readers here.

Body acceptance is not an instant thing. There isn’t a quick fix. It is very worth working on though, and I hope you will be willing to take steps in that direction. Everyone deserves to be comfortable in their body.

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10 Self Date Ideas

You don’t need to wait for a partner to go on a date. Treat yourself, and try some of these ideas for a self date.

1) Go to a bookstore and roam around. Buy yourself a book or a nice journal to write in.

2) Visit an animal shelter and spend time with the critters. Adopt one if you connect, and have the means to provide a good home.

3) Take a favorite book to a coffee shop and hang out. Time with a choice drink, great book and maybe a treat feels very special to me.

4) Take a class. Search your local area for one day classes. You may find classes for art, cooking, spirituality, career help and more. Google is a great place to start. An adult education program, community college, museum, or county park may have something to offer, or be able to tell you where to look.

5) Join a wine and painting night. Similar to the last one, these give you a chance to drink wine while they lead you in painting a pretty picture. These are pretty popular around the country. This is a great self date for someone who doesn’t necessarily want to be alone, or maybe wants to find a new friend.

6) Have dinner and a movie at home. Treat yourself however you want. That might include ordering take out, cooking an old favorite, or learning a new recipe. Top it off with a yummy dessert and a great movie, and you have a fabulous night.

7) See a live performance. Nobody with the same taste as you? No problem! You will see lots of people there who share it! This is a great chance to go to that concert you heard about, or see a play you’ve been dying to catch.

8) Check something off your bucket list. Do something you have always wanted to do. Get your adrenaline fix and go sky diving, bungee jumping, drive a go cart, do a zip line, learn to rock climb, etc.

9) Have a spa day. Book yourself a full day of indulgence, or just get your nails done or a massage. Either way, pamper yourself like you deserve.

If you don’t feel like going out, or want to save some money, have a spa day at home! A nice soak in the tub or taking extra care with your nails can have an uplifting effect on your mood.

10) Get dressed up and take yourself out to a nice restaurant. There is no reason you can’t enjoy the fun of getting all beautiful and eating delicious food on your own. I know it is common to worry about what people might think, but most people won’t give you a second thought. Believe me, people are more worried about themselves than you.

I hope these suggestions inspire you to spend some time with yourself either this Valentine’s Day or sometime soon. There are various other ways to date yourself. I hope this post was able to give you some great starting points, and show you self dates can be fun! Please share this with your friends and spread the self love.

Do you have any other suggestions to add? Please leave them in the comments below! I’d love to see them!

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