Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s 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 Phoenix is Stephanie:
How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?
I love myself first in a number of ways, some more tangible than others. The most important thing I can do that demonstrates self-love is to do simply that: love myself. I do not accept negativity from others about me or my body, and as such I will not accept that from me. It is easy to pick apart all the parts of me that may not fit into a perfectly compartmentalized ideal, but I choose to instead love me in the most basic way.
Loving myself does not mean that I must act selfishly or put my wants above the needs of everyone else. Instead, I prefer to think of it as fulfilling my most basic needs in order to be the best possible version of me so that I may help others.
What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc)
In addition to the care I take with myself mentally, I demonstrate self-care through running and eating a diet high in protein and healthy fats. I also cut out soda, preferring to have it as a treat. When I run, I am able to push my body to do something I never thought it could and that makes me proud. Running, however, has become more than just miles to me. When I am out on a run I can clear my mind of all the rubbish that can build up – the day-to-day stress of life. It is easy to think during the hour or so I am running that I could instead be spending that time doing work or playing with my children. I find that it is important to think of running as an insurance policy that I will be able to experience a full life with my children in the future. It insures that I have an outlet for me personally, and thus I am better able to handle what is thrown at me. Most importantly, perhaps, is that when I take time to show my children that I am a person and am allowed to take care of me, too, I am providing them with a model that they should also treat their own minds and bodies with respect.
Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?
I live in a culture that frequently equates self-worth to a number on a scale, and I was not immune. I grew up very much obsessed with those numbers. I was always different than the other girls, taller or more developed at a younger age so it was very hard for me. As I grew, the same insecurities I had grew with me and compounded. However, when I found out I would be a mother that really changed. I learned to love my body and realized what it could do. After my first son was born, and I struggled at first to breastfeed him, I never once doubted my body’s ability to do what I knew it could. The thought occurred to me that I should feel like that about all aspects of my body. I figured that if I had brought a nearly ten-pound person into this world and fed him from my body, I was a rock star.
When the time came for the birth of my second son, I knew what I was capable of and chose to have him naturally. With his birth I was hit with even more love for my family, but also for me. I knew then that I was capable of so much more. After his birth, I promised myself I would not speak negatively of myself. I didn’t want my children to grow up thinking it was normal to belittle oneself, and from there the rest fell in place. I learned that self-love starts from within. Once I started to love me, really and truly, I wanted to show my body the love it deserved. I started running, which led to want to fuel myself properly. The numbers on the scale occasionally change, but I am not defined by them, and for that I am grateful.
What have you learned from self-love?
I have learned through the ongoing process of self-love that my personal self-worth is not contingent upon the thoughts or opinions of anyone else. What matters is that when I look in the mirror I am happy with what I see. I have learned that what I say has value, and I am learning to speak up more often because I am a strong, loving, educated woman. Finally, I have learned that growth is an ongoing process. I am growing every day. I learn every day.
Share your self-love story! Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.
Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.