The ABCs of Self Love
Ever since I started this Self Love Movement, this is the quote that I keep coming back to:
"So many years of education yet nobody ever taught us how to love ourselves and why it's so important."
What I would do to go back and substitute even one semester of chemistry for calculus for a semester of self love. So much of the work we do as women is healing the wounds of our childhoods, because loving ourselves is something we simply we weren’t taught to do. Thankfully, together we are changing that, and I’m excited for our collective daughters to come into the world with the wholeness we’re now cultivating in this space.
Which brings me to this: I’m excited to begin sharing the ABC’s of Self Love, something we’re exclusively sharing with you, my beautiful tribe and newsletter subscribers. Because it’s never too late to learn how to love yourself. Never.
Authenticity & Abandon
To love yourself, you must first know yourself, which is why authenticity is so key. When we’re born, we are the truest version of ourselves. As we grow up, we accumulate a layer of dust: the dust of expectations, of responsibilities, of conformity, of trauma, of pain. This dust dulls our essence, our most authentic selves. How are we to love ourselves, when we don’t even know ourselves?
Today, take a moment to think back to your childhood self. That authentic, dust-free version that made choices from a place of love instead of fear, and instinct instead of learned behaviors. And once you discover that authentic self, imagine abandoning the dust, the stories, the self-imposed limiting behaviors and thoughts that have kept your magical, authentic self at bay.
Use it as your home screen image on your phone as a reminder of your most authentic self.
Write down all the things that represent your "dust" on strips of paper.
Burn them away (safely of course!).
Boundaries & Balance
Boundaries aren't just about drawing a line. They are about knowing yourself enough to know where the line should be drawn, and having the confidence and self worth to share and honor the line. No two people have the same needs. A boundary ensures that both you, and the people in your life, know what your needs are, and don't trample on them.
The thing about boundaries though, is that in order for them to really work, they must be in balance with two thing: flexibility and vulnerability (more on those when we get to F and V). Because your needs are constantly evolving, no line is ever absolute, and that's okay. When setting and revisiting boundaries, you'll know the line is in the right place if you feel in balance, rather than in flux.
Practice setting boundaries. Take a piece of paper, draw five red boundary lines, and for each category, set a boundary: friends, family, lover, work, play (because yes - even with play there are boundaries).
Friends: No therapy sessions for friends before 11am
Family: No attending events purely out of obligation
Lover: No silent treatment - if something’s wrong, we talk about it
Work: No checking work emails at home while the kids want to play
Play: No more than 2 drinks in one night… (hello thirties)
Now that you've set your boundaries, share them with the people in your life. Tell your friends they can't call you with their problems first thing in the morning. Say no to attending events you don't want to attend. You get the gist of it. Each time you honor your boundaries, your authentic self (remember letter A?) will applaud and thank you.
Clarity, Commitment, Creation, & Community
The first step is to know yourself, and to gain clarity about who you are.
The second step is to practice commitment through daily practices that honor your true self (think self care!).
The third step is to enjoy the sparks of creation (magic!) that manifest when you choose yourself daily.
And the fourth step is to create a community around you that supports your self love and commitment (hello self love sisterhood/tribe!).
Remember: Self love isn’t a destination. It’s a continual cycle of self exploration, love, care and connection. Wherever you are on your journey, let the four C’s guide you.
Clarity: spend 15 minutes first thing in the morning and 15 minutes before bed journaling in response to these prompts:
Commitment: Commit to one free act of self care for each day the rest of the week (stretching, dancing, meditation, cooking, face mask, digital detox...)
Creation: enjoy yourself today by investing time in something that feeds your soul.
Community: plan a girls night and make vision boards to honor your self love journey.
Begin the cycle again!
The Daily Dream
On any given day, chances are you have a To Do list, whether it’s written down in a notebook, exists digitally on your phone and computer, or is simply a mental load you struggle to keep up with. The question is, when you review that list, what percentage of it relates to transactional, oftentimes mundane aspects of your every day (pay bills often tops mine), as opposed to soul-filling dreaming?
Until recently, dreaming wasn’t on my list. And as a result, my spirit was slowly succumbing to the responsibilities of my everyday life. That’s where the Daily Dream comes in. A friend and I set a calendar alert for 5 pm every day. When it goes off, we are tasked with carving out 15 minutes to simply dream, and then we text each other what we’ve come up with.
Here’s some of what we shared about: an en suite washer and dryer, the desire to have sex daily (and actually have it), careers we love. Here’s the thing: once we started creating space to dream, our dreams started coming true. Not all, and not all at once, but once we aligned ourselves away from simply existing, we were able to transform our lives into lives worth dreaming about.
Set a calendar alert that repeats daily called THE DAILY DREAM. Invite your bestie to dream with you daily. Text each other your dreams, and celebrate each other for dreaming, and celebrate again when your dreams come true.
Two of the phrases we hear most often as babies and children are, “Don’t cry,” and “It’s okay.” And so, we’re raised to believe that painful feelings shouldn’t be expressed or felt. We all know what follows - a lifetime of buried feelings, like shame, guilt, pain, anger, frustration and sadness, that isolate us and debilitate us. Instead of feeling our “unapproved” feelings, and allowing them to show us the root causes of our discomfort, we do everything we can to avoid them, and as a result, carry them around like our shadows.
Emotional empowerment is about feeling all of our emotions, and leveraging them to create transformation in our lives. It is about practicing complete self acceptance, so that no feeling is off limits. Once we feel what needs to be felt, we can decide how we want to think and act next. Think of your feelings as a teacher, instead of a burden, and let feeling them become as natural as breathing. Because once you feel, you can breathe, and that is the root of life, growth, and of course, self love.
Spend the day feeling your feelings. As emotions come up, create space for them (instead of burying or judging them), and then ask yourself, “How come?” Follow the how comes until you get to the root issue, and then see if there’s anything you can do to change it.
If not, see how you can shift your perspective to create peace of mind and acceptance. Continue to track your feelings and practice “How Come?” and see if you are feeling more empowered by the end of the week!
Want to feel truly free? Forgive, forgive forgive. The root of “forgive” comes from the Latin word, “perdonare,” which means “to give completely, without reservation.” This is the kind of forgiveness you owe not just to those who have hurt you, but also to yourself. What makes forgiveness unique is that it is a gift both to the recipient and to the giver. Until you forgive, you remain stuck in the wrongdoing that harmed you (which only escalates your pain). Forgiveness is what allows you to unshackle yourself from the past so you can live in the present and dream into the future. While your ego may push you to carry a grudge, remember that your ego isn’t your true self. While your ego cares about right and wrong, blame and shame, your true self craves magic, lightness and peace. Which is why to honor your true self, it’s important not just to forgive others, but to forgive yourself as well, freely, fully, quickly, completely, and without reservation. Because once you do, you’ll free your authentic self to create, to love, to heal, and to live, unencumbered by the mistakes of the past.
Write a forgiveness letter to someone who has wronged you, and write another one to yourself. Stamp them, mail them, and as you send them into the world, relish the freedom of letting go.
Gratitude over Guilt
Gratitude is a word you hear quite a bit once you start exploring self love, positivity and mindfulness. While the traditional definition - being thankful - is important, I’m going to challenge you to think of gratitude a little differently. For me, gratitude isn’t just about being thankful, it is about being truly present in the moment you’re experiencing, instead of feeling guilty about something outside of your current experience. Let me explain. If you’re a working mother like me, you spend a lot of time feeling guilty that you’re not with your kids, instead of feeling grateful that you’re at work. The moment I flipped my internal switch from guilt to gratitude, my happiness increased exponentially. And this doesn’t just apply to real-time conflicts. Oftentimes it’s the guilt from the past, or guilt about something in the future, that takes the joy out of a present experience. When we focus on the moment we’re in, and practice gratitude instead of guilt, we ground ourselves (and especially our runaway thoughts) in joy. And once we do that, self love becomes second nature.
Throughout the day, clock your thoughts and keep a gratitude vs. guilt tally. At the end of the day, see how many times you caught yourself in a moment of guilt, as opposed to a moment of gratitude, and challenge yourself to see those guilty moments through a new, more grateful lens. Continue your tally throughout the week and see if by the end of five days your gratitude thoughts/feelings outweigh your guilty ones.
It took me reaching an emotional rock bottom to finally seek the help of a therapist. And while we worked together weekly for over a year, one thing she taught me has had the most transformative impact: I can choose my thoughts. As someone who naturally fears and assumes the worst, learning that I could bend my thoughts to my will changed my life.
She gave me a key visual to illustrate the point: imagine you’re in a subway station. A car pulls up that is negative. In that moment, you can choose: do I want to get on this car, or do I want to wait for the next one? Now, when something happens and I feel my instinctual negative reaction coming on, I pause, and remind myself to let that car pass me by and instead take the happy car instead.
I’ll give you an example: I send my friend a text and she doesn’t respond. My immediate fearful self assumes, “Oh no. I said something wrong. She’s mad at me. She doesn’t like me.” Now, when that thought presents itself, I plant the seed of a happy thought instead. “Oh, she is busy. She’ll get back to me later.” And that happy thought is the right one, 99.9% of the time.
Regardless of the circumstances you’re facing, how you think about them is truly 100% up to you. Choose a positive perspective, choose the happy thoughts, get on the happy car, and enjoy the ride.
Adopt a happy thought mantra. When negative thoughts come into the station, repeat your mantra a few times to slow your mind down, and challenge yourself to see the situation you’re facing from a different, happier perspective.
Intuition & Intention
You know that funny, “knowing,” feeling you get sometimes about things, the one deep down in the pit of your stomach or on the edges of your mind? The one that signals something to you, without you knowing exactly how or why? Meet your intuition. The advocate you didn’t know you had.
The beauty of intuition is that it is inherent, not learned, and doesn’t need any facts or justification to make its case. It’s there for you, watching out for you, all the time. The problem is that in most cases, we’re simply too busy, distracted, or skeptical to recognize or listen to her. Your intuition is the voice of your true, authentic self, the part of you that is tapped into the divine feminine and thus the universe. Once you start listening for her, your intuition will be impossible to miss. She’ll reach for you through your other senses as well, so pay attention to bodily cues as well.
Once you feel connected to your intuition, the second piece comes in: intention. Use your intuition guidance to become intentional in how you live your life. Make choices that align with and honor your authentic self. Because once your intention is aligned with your intuition, your life will transform into one that resonates with you on a mind, body and soul level.
Create quiet time so your intuition can speak up. Allocate 15 minutes each morning, and 15 minutes before bed for your mind to be free from any and all distractions. Find a comfortable spot, sit in a resting position, and let your mind and body slowly relax into a place of being, instead of doing. Now listen, not just in your mind, but also in your body, for cues. Another place you can listen for your intuition is in your dreams. Keep a dream diary and search for hidden themes and messages, because while you can distract yourself from your intuition during waking life, she’s harder to hide from when you’re asleep.
While the terms happiness and joy are oftentimes used interchangeably, they are actually two distinct pieces of the self love equation that work together. Whereas happiness is a state of mind that comes in response to external experiences, joy is a more constant, internal state of being.
For example, happiness is when your favorite website invites you to become a contributor. Joy is knowing your voice is worthy of an audience. One is externally triggered, the other is deeply connected to your internal sense of worth, peace and wellness. While happiness is important (see H in our ABCs!) joy is critical, as only joy will sustain you through whatever highs and lows life has in store for you.
When it comes to self love, we talk a lot about embracing and experiencing your darkest feelings. But according to Brené Brown, it takes just as much courage (if not more!) to experience your joy, as it does to embrace your sorrow. “Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience,” Brown says. “And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is you start dress rehearsing tragedy.”
Dress rehearsing tragedy is when you disclaim your joy by preparing yourself for the worst (which is sure to follow… or is it?). Joy is a capacity that requires nurture through gratitude and trust. It requires that you get comfortable with uncertainty, because the circumstances both within you and external to you that cultivated your joy could change. So when you feel the warm glow of joy radiate from within, feel it. Hard stop.
Sometimes the joy within us becomes dormant due to the weight of our routines. To wake up your joy, shake up your rituals. Commit to one week of new everything: a new shampoo or soap to change the scent in your shower, a new breakfast, a new route to work, new music, new workout class, new bar/restaurant/museum for after work. Make plans with a new friend. Change up your going-to-bed ritual. Shop for a little something new for yourself. At the end of the week, all the newness should wake up the spark of joy within you. From there, use gratitude to nurture it, and make the new things that worked part of your weekly rituals.
Know Your Narrative
To love yourself, you must first know yourself. That is why knowing your narrative is so critical. Your narrative is your story. It is your essence. It is the unique blend of inherent magic and earned experience that makes you, uniquely you. It is what allows you to leave an imprint on the world the way no one else in the world can.
Once we realize the power that comes with being ourselves, we start knowing and owning our narratives, instead of disclaiming them. What once was a source of shame, is now a source of strength. What was once a series of disconnected events and feelings, is now the one in seven billion formula that belongs only to you. Instead of seeing yourself as a series of circumstantial events and characteristics, see the throughline: the you, that connects it all. Know your narrative, and embrace it with pride. Because yours is the story of a lifetime.
Get a journal and challenge yourself to write one page for every year of your life. Write the year in big block letters and the top of the page, and dive into your mental and emotional memory. Write about what happened, and how you felt.
Once you’re done, see if you can identify some themes with regard to your core characteristics that you are most proud of. Also, use this as an opportunity to revisit and heal old wounds, and forgive yourself and others for any events that caused you to lose sight of how magnificent you truly are.
The definition of the word light is one of my favorites. The word encompasses so many unique definitions, and yet they play into each other so gracefully. Light is what stimulates sight and makes things visible. Light is brilliance. Illumination. To see the light is to become enlightened - to unravel a mystery. A light is the flame. To light is to burn. To be a light is to be a leader, a luminary, an expert. Lightness is simplicity. Ease. Gentleness. Weightlessness. Freedom from worry. Freedom itself.
When practicing self love, be light. In its myriad of definitions. Be the light that illuminates the world. Shed the weight of uncertainty, risk, anger, resentment, doubt, guilt and shame and be light. Unravel the mystery of yourself and set your soul on fire. Be light, be light, be light.
Use the power of a flame as your symbol of self-illumination and empowerment. Light a candle every night for a week and as you watch the flame, imagine it is your own inner light flickering. Go within yourself and discover what your light needs so you can feel light, give light, be light.
Magic is what happens when your thoughts, actions and feelings are in alignment with your authentic self, something we like to call your ME. What is your ME? It’s the part of you that is, and always was. Before the guilt. The trauma. The pain. The doubt. The responsibility. Even when you ignore your ME, she is there. Patient. Hopeful. Resilient. All she wants is your nurture, your love, your attention, your care. And what she’ll give you in return for those things, is everything. Peace of mind. Wholeness. The energy, passion, creativity and motivation you’ve been missing. In a word, magic. What does it mean to manifest magic? It means that you let your ME start leading your life (playing offense) instead of letting life happen to you (playing defense). It means you create the world around you by deliberately choosing your thoughts and actions instead of constantly being in a reactive, negative space where you assume the worst and make sure you’re right. Because you are a creator, whether you’ve realized it yet or not, and your magic is inherent, not earned. Let your ME lead you to it. And once your magic is clear and within grasp, use it to make the contribution to the world that only you can. Because your ME, your magic, and your ability to manifest, are all uniquely yours.
Gather ten items that embody elements of your most authentic self and use them to craft a magic spell, and/or potion (whichever your inner witch prefers). Light some candles, take some deep breaths, and invite your ME to come out and play. Write down each element and what it represents), and then conduct your magic ceremony by reciting these words:
I welcome my authentic self to come to the surface.
I am ready to let her lead.
I trust her, I love her, I am her.
Here’s my (Melody’s) example:
A spritz of orange (the scent that embodies the tree outside my childhood window where I would do most of my dreaming)
A cassette tape of the song I recorded at 13 (my most meaningful act of creation during adolescence)
A page from my childhood diary (where I explored and captured my deepest feelings)
Something red (my favorite color, forever)
A copy of anything by Toni Morrison (she embodies my love for reading and for visual prose)
Tanning oil (to evoke the spirit of my favorite place to getaway, palm springs)
A souvenir from Italy (where I learned how much I love to explore culture)
A string of beads (because making jewelry has been my thing since childhood)
Dark chocolate (the taste of pure pleasure)
John Mayer playing (the music that has carried me through the last two decades)
This list was easy to write because since founding Fred and Far, I’ve been more in alignment with my authentic self than at any other point in my adult life. I hope creating your list of things will help you reconnect with your true self, so that you can experience life from this space of self awareness, self acceptance, self care, and self love. The magic I have manifested is you. Each and every one of you. And I am grateful. <3.