Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of our Shed Light series collection. We invite women to tell their LYFF stories to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action. The questions are meant to “shed light” on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.
This week’s motivated and courageous Phoenix is Aisha:
How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?
Learning to love myself has evolved into a continuous process of practicing self-preservation. Self-preservation for me has come to mean holding myself accountable and really putting myself, and my needs, first.
What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practices, etc)
The actions that demonstrate the self-care I provide to my mind, body, and soul include checking in with myself on a regular basis, doing mindfulness meditation exercises, and seeking out therapy regularly.
Is there an obstacle or challenge that you’ve overcome that led you to a deeper love for who you are?
My journey toward loving myself first has been met with several challenges. First, I am a nurturer. I’ve had to learn that I cannot put other people’s needs before mine all of the time. This has been very difficult because in the past when people would call on me for help I very rarely said no. I often found myself showing up for other people – but not being left with enough energy to show up for myself. Once I realized I began working closely with a mentor who taught me the beauty of saying no. Learning to say no became not only something that sounds nice when I write for The Phoenix Rising Collective, but it became an act of self-preservation.
My second largest challenge came when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I went through a long period of time where I was struggling with not sleeping and began to feel very anxious about doing everyday tasks. Things that used to be easy or enjoyable for me like driving, going out, or planning my outfit for the day became anxiety ridden, unnerving, and sometimes terrifying. I sought out help from a counselor and was shortly after diagnosed with bipolar disorder. To be honest, the diagnosis itself seemed scary when I first heard it. I wanted to reject it because I was afraid of what other people would think about me: would other people think that I was broken or somehow incapable of doing all of the things I enjoyed doing (at school, work, in the community)? But after I sat with the diagnosis for a while I realized that it didn’t change me, that it didn’t make me a different or less capable person. I realized that I needed to face this obstacle as just that – something to overcome. With the help of my therapist I started medication and have been doing extraordinarily well. I have been the happiest I have felt in a long time. Dealing with this has left my mind free to focus on doing things that make me happy. I am happy.
What have you learned from self-love?
From self-love I have learned that I am more than what I think that I am. I have learned that I am capable of doing things that I have only dreamed of. I have learned that I am able to look at challenges and see around them.
Above all else, I think that self-love has taught me that I can put myself first without feeling guilty about it. I have learned that I am worthy of saving, that I can save myself, and saving myself feels damn good. I am often reminded of a quote from Alice Sebold’s memoir Lucky, “No one can pull anyone back from anywhere. You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” I’ve never been more sure that this quote is true than right now in my life.
Aisha’s LYFF Collage:
We asked Aisha to also submit and explain photos demonstrating self-love in action or even photos that radiate the feeling of loving who she is. We created a collage (shown above) of the inspiring images she wanted to share. Below she expresses why these photos are so special to her:
The pictures of me smiling make me think about how I am the happiest I’ve been in a really long time! The plane ticket made me think of how traveling previously caused me a lot of anxiety; for example, I went places but I felt really heavy when I did. This summer I was able to travel so much. I felt so free. The last time I had gone to the beach I didn’t enjoy myself because I was so anxious, but the picture of the beach reminds that I felt free. It was beautiful.
Thank you for sharing your self-love story, Aisha. You are definitely a Phoenix rising!
If you’d like to share your self-love story with The Collective contact us here.
Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women tell stories of triumph, share personal affirmations, and declare love for their lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.