Today I am committed to caring for myself. I can look in the mirror and smile in gratitude for who I am and how far I’ve come. I can truly say, “I love myself.” But it hasn’t always been this way. I spent more than three decades at war with myself. I hated my body; it was to blame for everything in my life. The failed relationships, the missed opportunities, the rejection, and ridicule—it was my body’s entire fault, or so I thought.
For years I would pinch my extra skin, cry out into the dark night, praying for a thinner body, a different frame, a smaller stomach. I hated myself because I despised the way I looked. The majority of my thoughts were obsessive about how large, ugly, or unworthy I was. I couldn’t look into mirrors without saying hateful words about how I felt. I thought my life would be better when I was “not me” but smaller, thinner, not so chubby, not thick or round. I wanted to change so badly, but every failed diet resulted in lower self-esteem, more guilt, and even more self-sabotage.
Here I was, living my dream life, but it still felt like a dream.
Even when the diets worked (for a short period), when I lost all the weight, I still hated me. I thought I needed my body to change in order for me to have a happy life. But when it changed, my inner critic never did. I’d lose ten pounds and gain twenty. This continued for two full decades until I found myself almost a hundred pounds overweight and experiencing a complete disappearing act of self-esteem.
I found myself crying in a hotel bathroom, ashamed to look in the mirror. I was hours away from going on a Seattle morning television show to talk about my first book and share tips on how to be happy. I was teaching others how to be happy, but I couldn’t find one good thing to say about myself. That was the moment when I realized something needed to change.
Sure, I was happier than I had ever been. A few years prior, I had just barely made it through some major life changes. I left my corporate job in advertising, moved across the country, left a man who wanted to marry me, and overcame eating disorders, drug addiction, and clinical depression to follow my heart and become a writer.
Here I was, living my dream life, but it still felt like a dream. I didn’t recognize my body, or who I was. I wasn’t fully in love with my life because I didn’t love all of me; I didn’t think I mattered. I spent so many years trying to help and be there for other people that I had sacrificed myself. My needs were never met. I wasn’t living to my fullest because I still hated my body.
It was at that moment, when looking into the hotel mirror, that I made a promise to myself. I said, “Shannon, your full-time mission is to find self-love. It’s time to become your own best friend.”
Once you discover self-love your life starts to flow more.
Over the next few years I went on a deep inward journey, what I call the Self-Love Experiment (which turned into a book by the same name) and I discovered the most beautiful thing in the world: Me Matters.
Me Matters is an acceptance of self and knowing that you are perfect as you are, for the imperfections are what make us beautiful.
Creating a “Self-Love Experiment,” or practice is essential for our happiness. It is the foundation for everything we truly want in life. Once you discover self-love your life starts to flow more.
These are some surprising benefits of becoming your own best friend:
You realize you get what you focus on.
Our time is the most important form of currency we have. When you cherish yourself you spend your time wisely. In my coaching and live workshops, people often ask, “How do I find time to do what I love when I am so exhausted at the end of the day?” Maybe you can relate. Many people don’t love what they do, which actually pulls more energy and time because it is draining on the mind and body. But we will find time and energy for what is most important to us. When you spend time on what you value you are more connected to your best self and you will have more energy. When you love yourself, it’s easier to make your dreams come true.
You let go of thinking you are off track or behind.
In order to get what you want you need to let go of what you don’t want. People who are on a self-love journey often focus on wellbeing. Focusing on the good is a key component to being happy. Focus on what brings you joy instead of holding on to things that make you feel frustrated or overwhelmed. When you appreciate who you are you also accept where you are in life, which makes it easier to let go of the belief that you are off track or behind.
You show up for your dreams.
What passion have you been putting on the back burner? Put this passion first and watch how you have more energy and time available to you. When you focus on what is important to you, you can help you get back on track with your own goals. Because the bottom line is: when we show up for ourselves, we show up for the world. And the more you show up, the more you feel seen and appreciated. Essentially it all comes back to self-acceptance, as this is a strong foundation for self-love.
You show up for joy.
We can approach pleasure with more passion. I invite you to think about what brings you pleasure. Is it wonderful food? Then maybe cook yourself a meal from a new cookbook. Do you enjoy being creative? Then maybe pull out your paints and start to create more art or sign up for an art class. Maybe you have a vision board with loads of travel photos. Then start researching your next trip and actually put a deposit down toward that goal. Pleasure is a key part of living a balanced life.
You learn the magic of self-trust.
You may notice that the more in tune you become with your own desires the less guilt you will feel. Because you will see they are signatures to your life fulfillment. The more you trust yourself the easier it is to accept yourself. When we can honor our natural tendencies, we allow ourselves to be who we really are. We honor our truth. And in honoring our true self we show up more fully.
You appreciate what you have to offer.
When you love yourself, others can’t bring you down. When you love yourself enough, others’ opinions won’t hurt you because you will be so comfortable and confident with your own self.
There are many tools I use in my own life and in workshops and coaching sessions with my clients to help them access self-love. I’m committed to doing all I can to support you on your self-love journey, which is why I have created extra resources to help you feel more joy and self-love.
FREE “ME MATTERS” AUDIO MEDITATION
I created a powerful audio meditation that you can download for free to help you align with your best self daily. This meditation will help you feel more balanced and loved. Download the free self-love audio meditation here: www.playwiththeworld.com/theselfloveexperiment/mematters.
Get sweet music for your ears by listening to the free soundtrack I created of uplifting songs I use in my Self-Love workshops and in-person events. You can access the free playlist on www.playwiththeworld.com/theselfloveexperiment.
I’ve created a tight-knit, collaborative community on my Facebook author page at @ShannonKaiserWrites. This is a community where I post tools, resources, and daily inspiration. This is a safe place for readers to connect. Share your reflections, your questions, and your brilliant “aha” moments. Post your images and stories with #TheSelfLoveExperiment so others may be encouraged.
Shannon Kaiser is an international life coach and bestselling author. These tips are from her new book the #1 Amazon bestseller, The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself.