Dedicated to my parents. Self-love is the greatest healer. Love, your daughter, Ashu.
A special thank you to my friend, Liz Giddens for capturing my vision in this photograph. You’ve inspired me in countless ways & I couldn’t have brought this idea to life without you.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the universe, deserve your love and affection.” Buddha
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! As I sit here staring away at my computer screen in my comfy pajamas I’m thinking of ways I want to share this message of self-love with you. Every year around this month I cringe, like many other people walking past aisles filled with heart-shaped stuffed animals, chocolate boxes and grandiose flower arrangements. Everyone’s rushing to buy their significant other a gift, and I quietly observe from afar how we’ve bought into this materialization of love. Ask yourself, is it really necessary to participate in these boastful gestures? What about February 13th or February 15th? Are we not loved then? Don’t we deserve to be treated with utmost kindness on any other day?
YES! We do. But there’s a caveat to it. Rather than seeking that kindness from others, how come nobody teaches us how to show it to ourselves? Take a second to let that sink in. Growing up, we’ve all been conditioned to think that love is something we receive outside of ourselves. Our parents show us love as we grow and then at a certain age we start seeking love from a significant other. What happens when these external love providers aren’t part of the picture anymore? Some food for thought.
I want to be completely honest with you all. It would be much easier for me to join the singles club this valentine’s day and participate in the self-loathing, chocolate bingeing, alcohol drowning and tear-shedding mantra we’ve accepted as the norm. Instead of taking the easy route, I’ve decided to share some tips on how we can kickstart our journey towards ultimate self-love.
On the best of days, you are your soul companion, cheerleader and confidante. And even on your worst days, you are your sole healer, care-taker and motivator. Friends, I want you all to feel a sense of bliss knowing that you are enough. You are good enough, worthy of love and are complete just by being yourself.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” Oscar Wilde
Are you ready to be your own valentine? Come, let me show you the path…
*cue Who You Are by Jessie J*
Tip 1: Own Your Truth
Choose to live your life in a way that aligns with your personal beliefs. The time for people pleasing, following beaten paths and moving at a similar pace as the masses is over. Self-love is a choice you make not only when taking care of your basic needs but also when its time to make tough life decisions. Ask yourself this, when you grow old and are near the end of your journey do you want to look back on a life full of regrets or a life full of choices that expanded your horizons? Personally, I’d choose the latter. Senior year of college was a time in my life when I truly understood and practiced this tip. All of my peers were applying to graduate school and I decided to take a year off. I said no to the idea of going to physical therapy school & chose to give myself time to figure out my next move. Owning my truth in all its entirety has strengthened the foundation of a life I want to live. I can say for a fact that all those anxious nights laying awake and tear-filled conversations about explaining my decision to my parents were worth it in the end. Choose to be you! Your authenticity is perfection enough.
Tip 2: Cleanse your Surroundings – room, office, car, etc…
Your surroundings are a reflection of your inner state. When you take a look around, is your space an extension of what you want to attract in life? Tidying up your room, donating old clothes that you keep telling yourself you’re going to fit into some-day, letting go of items that don’t serve their purpose anymore and even re-arranging furniture can promote an environment in which you can thrive. After losing over 50 pounds in the last 5 years, every time I opened my closet I felt drained. Why? Because there were reminders hanging everywhere of the person I once used to be. I no longer was the plus-sized Ashna that wore those size 16 jeans or the girl who hid behind the XL t-shirts. In order to make room for the new me and honor my journey I decided to tidy up. On a bright summer morning back in August of 2017 I cracked open my closet doors, took every piece of plus-sized clothing, organized it in neat piles and gave my wardrobe a much-needed detox. Friends, you have no idea how much lighter & happier I felt after I was finished. Dedicate an hour on your day off, sort through your belongings and take an honest account of what items bring you joy and what items you’re ready to let go of.
Tip 3: Honor your Health- eat to nourish & move to increase longevity
Granted that greasy pizza chips and alcohol seems like an ideal menu while sulking on Valentine’s night, but why not change it up a bit? I’m not saying you should cut these foods out completely but it wouldn’t hurt to detox with some lemon water or even make yourself a balanced home-cooked meal. Self-love begins from the inside out which includes your overall health. Have you noticed that when you eat mindfully and get your daily exercise in your mood and energy levels improve significantly? Sometimes letting go of the FOMO of grabbing brunch with friends on a Sunday morning or drinks after work is the answer. And that’s okay. Give meal prepping a try. Create a “going out” fund to help you save up for a night out with friends. Honor your health & it will give you the freedom to enjoy every aspect of your life. Your insides deserve a little TLC too.
Tip 4: Monitor Self-Talk – “talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” Brené Brown
Probably the toughest topic to write about is how to monitor your self-talk. We fall into negative traps on a daily and judgement has become our second nature. We judge others for what they have and we judge ourselves for what we lack. It’s a vicious cycle on repeat. How do we stop it? Be a bodyguard for your thoughts. Observe the quality of your thoughts and ask yourself, is my current state of thinking aligning with the kind of person I’d like to be? If the answer is no you’ve got some work cut out for ya. Write down positive affirmations and stick them on your bathroom mirror, computer monitor or anywhere that you’ll constantly visualize them. If you slip up one day, just take a breath and work through the situation gently. Don’t keep replaying failed scenarios or spiral into a thought pattern that you’ll never be able to change. Learning how to set aside negative self talk is a slow process. A daily investment is required.
Tip 5: Prioritize Growth
We all have to-do lists. However, how many times have we made ourselves #1 on that list? Growth and change are essential components of practicing self-love. I’m not talking in terms of growing your bank account or the number of followers on Instagram. Lets swim away from the surface and talk about ways to grow your mind & develop your character. Read one chapter out of your favorite book each night. Meditate for 5-10 minutes every morning. Shout out loud 3 things you’re grateful for when you’re stuck in traffic. Journal. Listen to an inspiring or informative podcast. Sign up for that new group exercise class. Take a workshop on a subject you know nothing about. Learn a new skill or find ways to perfect old ones. Practice your passions daily! Whatever it may be that you want to work on, make room for it in your life. “Work on you, for you.”
Tip 6: Empower Yourself & Set Boundaries
We all carry baggage. We’ve all dealt with unfavorable situations and circumstances. What determines our strength is our resiliency to rise in tough times. Our ability to speak with a voice of conviction and say enough is enough. That is the first step towards setting healthy limits and protecting our peace. Someone did you wrong. An opportunity slipped through your hands. You experienced failure, heartbreak or a loss. Whatever the cause may be, how you react to it is your greatest power. On my worst days when I feel like the weight of the world pushes me further into the ground, I sit in solitude, acknowledge how I’m feeling and give myself a pep talk. Be your own motivator! Speak to yourself gently and celebrate how far you’ve come. Perfection isn’t the goal and it never has been. The fact that you’re alive after all that you’ve been through is a sign of greatness. To my readers, I want you to know how incredible I think you are. Set the caliber of how you want to be treated at the highest marking. How you treat yourself and the behavior you tolerate from others sets the tone for your relationships.
“you are your own soul mate” Rupi Kaur, Milk & Honey
Thank you for stopping by. May you realize that the love you desire from others is abundantly available within yourself. Give yourself a chance. You’re WORTH IT!
With light & gratitude,