Jenna Banks is a podcast host, self-love advocate and the author of I Love Me More: How to Find Happiness and Success Through Self-Love. In a season that’s all about relationships, we asked Jenna to nudge us further along the path of self-acceptance — the foundation to any successful relationship and a key to happiness itself. Here are self-love habits designed to fuel you on your way…
Women are forces of nature. We are the resilient backbones of our families, communities, and cultures. We lead, innovate, problem-solve, decide, and act. We nurture, cheerlead, create, and inspire. We perform acts of magic, acts of service, acts of love. We nourish others, literally and figuratively.
Yet we often forget to nourish ourselves. Could Wonder Woman vanquish supervillains if she was exhausted, burnt out, or plagued with self-doubt? Like her, we also need to operate on full batteries – mentally, physically, and spiritually – to be our best selves. We must proactively protect our well-being.
I am lucky to have survived my trauma-filled childhood. For years, my actions starved my well-being. My path from self-loathing to self-love enabled me to overcome this past to find happiness and success in my life. I want all women to reach their potential; this is possible when we love ourselves more. Here are seven ways to practice self-love that boost our well-being.
7 Powerful Self-Love Habits to Nourish Your Well-Being
1. Prioritize your needs first. As young girls, many of us were taught to self-sacrifice. To place the needs and feelings of others before our own. When we allow this outdated and limiting gender norm to guide our actions, we deplete ourselves, leaving little energy for what we want. When we prioritize our needs, we strengthen ourselves with energy, positivity, and love.
Caring for ourselves first is empowering and allows us to perform at our peak effectiveness, benefitting all others around us.
2. Speak kindly to yourself. When words with a friend head in a negative direction, what do we do? We change or exit the conversation. When our inner voice criticizes us, we must also change or exit the conversation. If we allow negative internal chatter, we magnify our flaws and minimize our self-worth. We ultimately enable that voice to hinder our happiness and success. Conversely, when we speak positively to ourselves, we grow our self-compassion, resilience, and confidence.
3. Protect your time, energy, and money. As our time, energy, and financial resources are not unlimited, we must plan (by setting goals) and protect (by setting boundaries) how we spend these resources.
When we define what is most important to us, we can better protect our resources. We say yes when we want to, and we learn to unapologetically say no to invitations, activities, and favors that drain us. We take on projects aligned with our interests, strengths, and values. We live within our means financially, creating a worry-free present and an opportunity-filled future. We invest and protect our resources without worrying what others think.
4. Release yourself from perfectionism. Perfectionism is often rooted in feelings of unworthiness. We feel an overwhelming need to avoid failure or judgment by others. This compulsion can immobilize us, manifesting as procrastination and avoidance. We free ourselves from its harmful grip by setting realistic expectations for ourselves, celebrating our achievements, forgiving ourselves when we miss the mark, and finding validation from within instead of seeking it from others.
5. Free yourself from guilt. Guilt is a powerful driver of behavior, especially for women. Guilt sometimes alerts us to breaches of our moral code. But, from the gender programming we received as young girls, guilt also stalks us when we place our needs above the needs of others. When we let guilt guide us, we can suffocate in self-sacrifice. When we break this programmed pattern – going against what we’ve been conditioned to believe we “should” do – we become comfortable with prioritizing our needs and acting in our own best interests.
6. Own your story. We all have events, mistakes, and even failures in our past that we keep secret because of regret, shame, and fear of what others might think. Things we did, things we didn’t do, things that were done to us. When we forgive ourselves, forgive others, and let go of what happened, we prevent our pasts from defining our futures.
While we can’t change past events, we can change how we think about them. When we own our stories – a powerful form of self-acceptance – we allow ourselves to create a new, more positive narrative about who we are.
7. Connect with yourself daily. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship of your life. Nurturing this relationship takes effort.
Make time to connect with yourself daily through practices like journaling, gratitude, meditation, visualization, exercise, and being in nature. Ask yourself the same deep questions you would ask your best friend. How do you feel? What is making you happy? What is making you anxious? When we tune in daily to what is going on inside, we create an open pathway for our reflection and intuition to guide us.