What does it mean to practice self-love?

Love

From the very first day that each of us came into this world, we’ve been repeatedly fed the message, through bedtime stories, books, movies, music and the wisdom of our loved ones, that love is a powerful thing.

So cliché, right? Because it’s obvious. It goes without saying. We’ve all felt the impact that love can have, the difference it can make in our lives, and we’ve seen what it’s done throughout history.

Look at the Chinese couple, Liu Guojiang and the Xu Chaoquing that chose to live in a cave because the world didn’t want them to be together. Or the Prince, Shah Jahan, that spent 22 years building one of the most stunning pieces of architecture, the Taj Mahal, in memory and out of love for his dead wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

These are beautiful stories, though have you ever contemplated why individual stories of self-love are so readily swept under the carpet? Of course, self-love in its concentrated form, narcissism, is far from a desirable quality. But what about the kind of devotion that enables someone to knuckle down in the privacy of their bedroom to push themselves through Medical school? Or the kind that fuels a girl to practice their arabesques day-after-day to give themselves the best chances of passing their ballet exams? These forms are equally as powerful and important, and yet scarcely given acknowledgement.

Investing time, energy and attention in yourself is integral if you want to make personal progress and move further in the world. It’s a way of showing the world that you value who you are and the person you’re becoming.

Unsure about what approaches you can take to take better care of your mind, body and spirit? Perhaps you can start by practising the following.

Saying no.

Whether that no is directed towards the thought of eating the cheesecake in the freezer that you know won’t do you any favours, or to spending time outside of work with colleagues you don’t even like, put your health and your happiness first by only saying yes to the things that you know will be good for you. Don’t let serving your immediate desires or becoming a slave to guilt, throw you into an unhealthy and miserable rut. It’s not worth it.                                                         

Accepting your flaws.

We all have those little things about ourselves, whether it’s concerning our weaknesses or appearance, that we wish we could tweak or change. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with striving to be your best self, which may involve aiming to reduce your weaknesses or enhance your appearance. I’m saying that, in the midst of striving for self-improvement, you should love who you are and where you are now. Simultaneously, appreciate yourself as you are, as well as the process of yourself moving towards the person you want to be.

Ending friendships that prevent you from growing.

Especially if you’re a loyal person, parting ways with old friends can be a hurtful prospect. You’ve invested so much time, energy, love and attention into this person, it’s hardly an appealing thought to swiftly cut your ties. In spite of the high regard it’s given, sometimes loyalty can be problematic as a trait. It can cause us to blindly cling to a deteriorating relationship that’s steadily beginning to poison us. It’ll be hard at first, but walking away from those that are stunting your growth in some way, whether that’s in the form of negativity or failing to provide the encouragement that you need in a support system, will force you to find friends that don’t.

Recognising your gifts, and using them.

Do you have a special talent that you wish you’d nurtured more? Maybe when you were younger everyone used to compliment your knack for words, your ability to draw impressive portraits or the way you could act out a movie scenario so accurately. Whatever it is, stop neglecting it. You know that, later down the line, you’ll be thinking of the progress you could’ve made and the paths you could have pursued, if you’d only just given them a little dedication.

Not deriving your self-worth from your work.

This is one that I’ve particularly struggled with from a young age. Whenever I got a 10/10 on a spelling test, or an A on a piece of coursework that I’d worked really hard on, I couldn’t help but feel myself glow a little on the inside. Continuing through the school system, and as a competitive individual, it’s hardly surprising that I came to value myself and my abilities accordingly with the grades I saw on my transcript. It’s great to aspire for top marks and performance, but don’t beat yourself on the occasions when you fall short. You are more than the force of your daily grind and productivity. Don’t forget that.

Educating yourself.

Finally, what field do you want to excel in? Journalism? Teaching? Law? Go out of your way to gain additional subject knowledge, meet people in, and participate in related activities, your field, to give yourself an edge that’ll make you stand out from other candidates. Educating yourself goes far beyond doing so in the blatant subject sense. It also means pushing yourself, training yourself, to be the best you can be, whether that’s in a physical or intellectual sense. A desire to strengthen your abilities is a loving investment, in that it will benefit your career and your health further down the line.

 

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Why we need to stop glorifying “busy”.

Busyness.jpeg

You can’t deny that when you finish a day in which you feel like you’ve made the most of every minute, you get a great sense of satisfaction.

And, why wouldn’t you?

With the amount of distractions we encounter on a day-to-day basis, to end the day in the knowledge that our focus has been sustained enough to smash our to-do list can feel like quite an accomplishment. Strong productivity will always play an integral role in helping you to take bigger strides towards your target destination.

Nevertheless, becoming too insistent in acquiring these daily “wins” can result in a loss of perspective. If you’re not careful, becoming addicted to being “busy”, so to speak, can lead you to neglecting and overlooking the most important aspects of life, like building meaningful relationships and finding ways to give back to the wider community.

It’s essential that, in order to live with integrity and be truly fulfilled, you critique the destination before you begin the journey. Is the end goal aligned with your core values? Will the journey facilitate your ideal lifestyle, or, at least, take you to a circumstance that will place you within reach of your innermost desires?

If the answer is no to all of these, then your busyness is not productivity, and your completed to-do list has done little to support you in making any real progress. Are you in a job that you feel has very little impact? That isn’t helping you to grow? This might be okay temporarily, if you recognise it as a means to an end. But if that job, say, doesn’t even pay enough to put you in an economic position that’ll serve as a launch-pad for your future endeavours, it’s probably a waste of your time.

You need to value the process as well as the end result.

Perhaps you’re investing your time in working on a business that you believe will have optimal financial prospects? While this is not a terrible idea, ask yourself: Besides monetary gain, will this project, in it’s process, help me to get what I want out of life? It sounds bleak, but with business success-rate statistics revealing that 20% of businesses fail in their first year, 30% after two, and 70% after 10, you’ve got to want to be in it for the long-haul, regardless of whether or not you end up ballin’.

To put it simply, a passion project is very rarely a mistake.

When the thing you’re investing yourself in is meaningful to you on a deeper level, the end result is of little importance, because you care greatly about what you’re doing in the present. If, as with most businesses, it’s a side-hustle in its early days, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time and energy because it could count as being a past-time. If you’re getting pleasure and fulfilment from the doing, then you’re never going to see it as a waste of time.

Rather than perceiving it as a risk, a loss of resources, you’ll simply deem it as a necessary distraction from the mundane day-to-day tasks. It’s the equivalent of, say, someone buying art materials or paying for dance classes, to bring more joy into their life.

Make it a rule for yourself to make your work a labour of love, at every possible opportunity, and you’ll have very few regrets. “Busy” will finally be serving to fulfil a greater, more meaningful, purpose to your life.  And realise deeply that, to be still, to not be preoccupied, does not necessarily equate to laziness or to being idle.

We need stillness to gain greater perspective, greater awareness about ourselves, our values, and what we want in life.

Are you guilty of placing “busy” on a pedestal, irregardless of the content of that busyness? If you are, or have been in the past, then share your experience below, and what you’re doing, or have done, to remove the habit from your life.

How to stay motivated after university

 

Filling yourself up

Learning how to stay motivated after university was a process. I would say I ended university on a high. I was left exhausted from perhaps the most strenuous year of my life, but nevertheless, innately, I was on cloud 9. I had reached my goal after three long years of slaving away at my desk. I’d made it.

Starting over

The last thing that I was expecting was the withdrawal symptoms that I would face from moving back home and starting over, away from all of my closest and dearest friends.

What you forget when you first get immersed into university life, is the power that community gives you. I remember how ridiculously excited I was when I first started university, and how keen I was to get involved in as many fresher’s events as I could. It was the friendships that I began, that I started making from these early days that really helped to sustain me. That got me through the toughest parts of the academic years. Even if I wasn’t going out much during deadline season, just knowing that people I cared about were all around me, were in the same boat, was enough to push me through.

What’s problematic about life post-university, what’s truly heart-breaking (which no one is talking about), is that your closely-knit network, that holds you accountable, that helps motivate you, is dispersed. I guess you could say it’s like having lovingly built a life for yourself, only for it to be swiftly and brutally tugged from beneath your feet. If you’ve recently graduated, then know that you’re not alone, and that it’s completely natural to feel this way. I’ve been there, and, if I’m honest, it has been over a year now since I finished University and I’m still missing the sense of community it comes with.

Looking forward

But it’s okay, you have to keep looking forward.

A part of moving on, moving forward with your life, involves acknowledging and accepting the way you feel. Trying to block those feelings out won’t work. Face any sadness that you have inside you and come to peace with it. With time, you’re gonna get your groove back.

So. Your social circle has rapidly dwindled, but do you know what’s so great about this? You’re left with the good ones.

That’s right, the ones that actually, that truly care about you.

This has happened to me and, right now, my heart feels full.

Invest in your close friendships and value their loyalty. They will do far more for you than the 100+ acquaintances that you had at uni.

Motivational speaking

Speaking Life Pexels

So, I have finally started a proper blog and, like so many individuals that practice motivational speaking that I admire, this is something that I have wanted to do in years. I had stopped myself before due to varying commitments. University had been a big one of these, and I’m sure that many of you out there will feel my pain and resonate with this. Thus far, I have had various highs and lows in my life and other than reaching out to close loved ones for support and guidance, to fill myself up it has been my internal monologue, and rather interestingly, internet testimonies that has sustained me at my weakest points.

Types of motivation

Words are a type of motivation that has helped get me through some of the toughest trials in my life. Words. words are so powerful, which is why I am willing myself to start this blog and speak truths and words of encouragement that I so wanted and needed to hear during these trials in my life.

Best motivational speakers

The best motivational speakers I have come across have been individuals that lifted my spirits when I needed it most. Have you ever heard the quote along the lines of, “Be the person you needed when you were younger”? Well, I feel like that is the vision I have for this blog, and I’m not going to, (and neither should you, if you are thinking of starting your own blog) underestimate the impact that words can have, and the lives that words can touch. I hope that your experience of this blog will serve to enrich some facet of your life in some way, and through motivational speaking, help you to become, to be, the person you were meant to be.