Ahh, February- the month of love. The time of year when stores are brimmed with chocolate kisses and candy hearts, and floral shops advertise love gestures in shades of pinks and reds for that “special someone”.
Some people have fun with it, while others consider it another “Hallmark holiday” they could do without. No matter where you stand, this post is for you.
Because this February, we want you to be thinking about more than bouquets of roses and fancy dinner reservations. We want you to be thinking about the single most important person in your life – you.
You read that right – you are the most important person in your life.
Of course your loved ones matter – your partner, your friendships, your pets…we aren’t discrediting their ranking in your life. But in order to give the very best version of yourself to everyone you hold near and dear to your heart, you need to be putting yourself first.
And what better time to hone in on this than during the month of love?
The True Meaning Of Self-Love
What runs through your mind when you hear the term “self-love”?
Do you think of the many forms of self-care you simply can’t find the time for? Or maybe you’ve seen it used as a hashtag in an influencer’s social media post or plastered on the cover of a health magazine.
To be honest, it’s a term that’s used loosely among the wellness world.
So we’ll tell you what it’s not.
Self-love is not materialistic.
It’s not perfection.
It’s not linear.
And it’s certainly not selfish.
True self-love embodies so much more than taking a day at the spa or treating yourself to a coffee. It’s not about marking off every item on your to-do list and stacking up accomplishments. It’s not a journey that happens overnight, and it’s not a quantity you can measure.
It’s quite the opposite, actually.
Self-love is an embodiment free from ties to anything in the physical sense. It’s like that of the love you have for someone close to you – a feeling you wholeheartedly know to be true, despite all odds.
It’s trusting yourself.
It’s recognizing that you’re an imperfect human with strengths and weaknesses and embracing those imperfections.
It’s giving yourself grace and allowing (even welcoming) mistakes for needed growth.
It’s being patient with yourself and validating your emotions. It’s prioritizing and speaking out your needs.
More importantly, it’s selfless and it’s necessary.
But it doesn’t always come naturally.
Think back to your earlier years. You likely hold memories of being expected to show utmost kindness and respect to everyone around you, but very seldom (if ever) were you told to hold yourself in the same regard.
Many of us were simply never taught how to show ourselves the love we deserve, and as time goes on, the gap between self and love grows wide enough that self-defeating thoughts and actions begin to creep in and take up space.
At Livable Spaces, we help to bridge that gap by challenging any self-sabotaging belief systems, and we help our clients to build up and nurture their self-love to live a life where they can truly thrive.
With a little time and patience, we teach them to SHiFTⓇ from problem-focused behaviors to limitless possibilities that will move them to new heights, and in today’s post, we’ve incorporated some of the meaning behind that protocol into a 28-day challenge that maps out the small, yet effective, first steps on the road to embodying self-love.
So grab some paper or your favorite journal, and let’s get started.
The 28-Day Challenge To Self-Love
Woo hoo! You’re here. You’re reading this, you’re taking it in, and we’re giving you one big virtual hug.
You deserve this.
Now we know committing to something for an entire month can feel daunting, so we’ve broken this challenge down week by week. This also gives you time to practice one aspect of the challenge over the course of several days rather than doing something new each day.
Each week you will find a positive affirmation. At the start of each day, set aside 15 seconds (really, that’s all it takes) to write out the phrase on a piece of paper. Take a few more moments and repeat that phrase to yourself. Feel it. Own it. And keep it close to you throughout the day. Feel free to change up the phrase or add to it – whatever calls to your heart in the moment. Just keep it concise so you can recite it to yourself as your own mantra throughout the day. By the end of the week, you will have this phrase etched into your mind and be able to carry it with you every day moving forward.
Note: As you move through this challenge, we recommend recording your thoughts in a journal or calendar. Do what feels best for you and the flow of your daily routine, and most of all, find enjoyment in this!
Days 1-7: Practice self-kindness – reframe your thoughts
Positive affirmation: “I am deserving, and I am worthy”
Self-love is defined by Psychology Today as being in a state of appreciation for who you are in all facets of life – physical, psychological and spiritual, and true appreciation grows from habits of self-kindness, so that’s where we chose to start off with this challenge.
DAYTIME: This week, pay close attention to moments throughout the day where you say things to yourself that you would never say to someone you love. Hurtful things. Things that put you down. As soon as you catch your mind running away with those thoughts, gently say “stop”, and reframe it. Ask yourself if that statement was true, and then find an empowering way to rephrase it.
See the example below:
Self-defeating thought: “I can’t ever do anything right”.
Truth: “I often do many things well. Today I have been met with “XYZ”, and I’m proud of myself for doing the best I can”
Each time that you rephrase a negative thought, make a tally mark in your journal. Count them up at the end of the day and be PROUD of having stuck up for yourself as much as you did. Make this a habit throughout the week, and you’ll be well on your way to re-wiring your mind for self-compassion.
EVENING: Each night before bed, write out 2 things that went well during your day, and recite to yourself that you were worthy and deserving of those things.
Days 8-14: Protect your heart & energy – set healthy boundaries
Positive affirmation: “Trust yourself, and listen to your gut”
Setting boundaries where needed is treating yourself with the utmost respect.
This can be done in many ways such as:
- saying no to friends or family or certain expectations that don’t serve you
- creating a network that supports you and meets you where you’re at
- taking a break from social media
DAYTIME: This week, choose an area of your life where better boundaries could be set. Maybe it’s setting a timer for the amount of time you scroll through social media, or assessing your weekly calendar and choosing something to say “no” to if your week is already overbooked.
Whatever you choose, make a point to check in with it every day. If it’s something that doesn’t happen daily, like saying no to an obligation, write a small letter to yourself each day explaining how proud you are for trusting yourself and listening to what you need.
EVENING: Each night before bed, build on last week’s evening exercise. Write out 2 things that went well and include 2 things you’re grateful for. Even spending 5-10 minutes on this will shift your perspective of the entire day and set you up for a restful night of sleep.
Days 15-22: Joyful movement
Positive affirmation: “I am the most important person”
When you’re feeling down, moving your body is one of the best things you can do. It opens up your mind and invites clarity, and healing, and pumps those endorphins up for a feel-good flow.
It also goes right in line with you being the most important person. Your health matters. Your mind matters. You matter. And finding a way to move joyfully is a great way to honor the one and only body you get in this life.
DAYTIME: Each day this week, choose an activity that moves your body and fills you with joy. Now we’re not talking about your daily workout routine (unless of course this is what fills you with joy!) If you don’t enjoy working out, then we want you to choose something else – focusing on joy is a main component of this! So get creative with it.
Take a look at some of these examples:
- During a day of cleaning your house, put on your favorite music and dance around from task to task. Revel in the joy that you feel with each little dance move.
- Have a love for animals and free time during your day? Contact your local animal shelter and see if you can volunteer your time as a dog walker.
Pressed for time during a busy week? Keep it simple. Have a dance party while getting ready in the morning or making your breakfast. Whatever it is, shoot for 20 minutes of joyful movement.
EVENING: Every night this week before bed, sit with a cup of tea and truly rest. No distractions! If you’re unwinding with a TV show, that’s fine, but put your phone away. Bonus points for journaling something you’re proud of yourself for that day.
Days 23-28 Practice mindfulness & live intentionally
Positive affirmation: “I trust myself & I am enough. I am just as I need to be, right here, right now”
What does it mean to practice mindfulness and live intentionally?
It means to find your “why” as it relates to your personal values and beliefs, and live in pursuit of that. It means living for you, and staying true to yourself while remaining in the moment. It means trusting that you are right where you need to be. It’s also one of the single most important aspects of what makes up self-love.
DAYTIME: This last week will be focused on living intentionally. Start by making a list and deciding on one thing that is of great importance to you. You don’t need to have a crystal clear vision or goal here – just a general idea of what you want for yourself and your life in the next several months. It can be as simple as “be a present mom” or “simplify and organize my home”.
Once you’ve made your decision, write it out on a piece of paper and write out 2 actions that will help you live out that intention each day.
Intention: Keep my home simplified and organized
Daily actions: 1. I will set a timer for 20 minutes at the end of the day where I focus on finishing the dishes and clearing the kitchen counter 2. Schedule the week with ONE cleaning task per day and stick to only that task until it’s completed.
EVENING: Take a few minutes to reflect on your day. Set a timer for 10 minutes and practice a breathing technique such as box breathing – take a deep breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, release for 4 counts, and repeat. Once you have completed your breathing, take a moment to notice everything around you – the sensations you feel in your body, the sounds you hear, the feeling of the floor beneath you, and take in that moment of mindfulness. Record how you feel after this, and make a note of how proud you are of being present for yourself.
And that’s all there is to it! Well, mostly. Our hope is that you use this challenge to kick-start habits for building your foundation of self-love, and continue practicing these techniques as a new way of life moving forward.
Because you’re so worthy of living a life where you feel deserving. You’re so worthy of making the SHiFTⓇ toward positive change.
So get to it! And have fun with this. Remember – one of the biggest aspects of self-love is the enjoyment of simply living.
P.S. We want to hear about how this went for you (really!). Share your comments below, or reach out to me personally.
Can’t wait to hear from you ☺️