Do you know what I really want for Christmas? I mean, besides the obvious *cough* baby *cough*…
For Christmas I’d really like to love myself more completely.
Yup, that’s it! It’s small and it doesn’t cost much but it’s incredibly powerful. If I could wake up Christmas morning and be filled with self-love just IMAGINE how fulfilling the next year would be! Self-love and self-care are incredibly important for everyone to do. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, loving yourself is important and transformative. The thing is, it’s not always easy. Sometimes, things in life have a way of making it really, really challenging. Lately, I have really been struggling with this, more than I have in a long time – thanks, infertility.
I know infertility’s a medical condition. I know it’s not my fault but it still impacts the way I see myself.
The awesome shrink I’m seeing says this feeling, of self-loathing, is very common in patients battling infertility. It makes sense, it’s so hard not to feel like your body is failing you month after month. And while I’m sure it’s common to feel hatred at yourself during infertility, I don’t think it’s a good thing.
So, as we enter the holiday season, it’s my goal to focus on loving myself and respecting myself from this point on. It’s bound to be difficult. I have many years of negative self-talk to undo and bad habits to break. But difficult is not the same as impossible. Nor does it mean that it’s not worth it! Usually things that are the most worth it can be the most challenging to achieve. Like having a baby! We all want happier holidays and this seems like a good place to start. Here are the four steps I’ll be focusing on this holiday season, feel free to join me:
Step One: Gratitude Jar
This is something that my awesome shrink suggested. Get a jar, and some strips of paper. Every day write down one thing you love about yourself or that you are grateful about in your life. Since infertility doesn’t only affect you this is a good one to involve your partner in as well! Use it as a bonding moment. Each day you put a positive affirmation or happy gratitude into the jar. When it reaches a pre-determined amount of strips take them out and read them aloud to each other. Then tack them up somewhere where you can see them and reward your selves for all the positive growth you’re doing! See a movie, grab an ice cream, take a bubble bath. Be proud of all the work you are doing to love yourselves better!
Step Two: Be Your Own Best Friend
So often we unconsciously mutter horrid things to ourselves. Or let others say things to us that cut us down. It’s time to treat yourself with the respect you would give a treasured friend. Love yourself! Be your own best advocate. If someone says something cutting to you don’t accept it! Feel free to tell them that their words are powerful and hurtful and that you disagree with their statement. Or when you are getting ready for a holiday party and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror smile like you would at a friend who is looking fine and compliment yourself! Even if it’s not the first thing that comes to mind. Even if you have to think for a second about why you are fabulous and fine that night. Remember, you’re learning… find that something then pause, take a breath, smile and say the compliment out loud. Because damn it you ARE pretty awesome tonight!
Step Three: Practice Self-Care
It is important to feed your body good nourishing foods every day and work out at least four times a week. That’s what shrink says will set you up for an endorphin releasing bliss-space for the whole week. Over the holidays it’s OK to indulge: have that hot chocolate with whipped cream, nom like four or five holiday cookies that your aunt lovingly baked, go ahead and pour gravy over your whole plate at dinner. Just remember that these things are fun indulgences and make sure to eat an apple, too. Allow yourself to really savour the experience of indulging and then move on knowing that you’re a bad ass and those cookies were worth it! Even on days when you’re busy find time to go for a walk. Throw a dog a ball. Enjoy moving your body! When you take care of yourself physically it’s a lot easier to feel positive about who you are. You are showing through your actions that you really think you’re worth it.
Step Four: Practice Loving Patience
While you work to love yourself more every day be patient with the process! Even though you’ve taken the commitment to practice self-love there will be times when you feel yourself slipping into old ways. You may catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and cringe. You may suck in and pull way when your partner caresses your stomach. You may believe a nasty comment you hear about yourself and let it get you down. It’s OK… Rome wasn’t built in a day! When you notice this happening relax, don’t let it turn into a self-loathing spiral about how you’re not loving yourself right. Instead pause, smile and think a positive gratitude to counterbalance the yucky feeling. Remember that you’re imperfect and that’s great! Meet yourself where you’re at.
There are obviously more things you could do to practice loving self-acceptance over the holidays so take these suggestions and run with them! It’s an ongoing process. Here’s hoping this holiday season is the start of a new mindset that lets us appreciate the fierce and incredible woman we are. With or without children!