It’s crazy to think that 2017 marks my tenth year of actively pursuing self-love. Ten years of working every day to accept my flaws, to take the word “crazy” out of my self-talk vocabulary and those are just the ones that I spend the most time on. That’s also ten years of confidence, doing it afraid, redefining words and working on my mindset. Ten years of actively searching for a way to minimize my anxiety and live my best life.

Ten years.

A lot can happen in ten years. When I first started I was a senior in high school with the determination to stay myself in any relationship. “Take Me As I Am” from Rent was basically my soundtrack. I was reading Why Men Love Bitches, embracing my inner bitch and forging a path with my best friends that would somehow turn into a crazy movement and my life goal.

Ten years of ups and downs; multiple panic attacks a day; heartbreak and heartmending; falling apart to fall back together.

Like I said, ten years is a long time. But I have learned so much along the way. Maybe you’ve learned all of my lessons in your first year or maybe it has taken you twenty. But here we are, 10 years into my self-love journey and these are my lessons I’ve learned.

I can’t serve others if I’m not taking care of myself.

We’ve all heard the adage “You can’t pour from an empty cup” but how many of us truly take this to heart? I am guilty of believing that I have a bottomless cup – which I do. We all do. But only when we are remembering to fill our own cups.

When I fill my cup with the things that make me happy, the gratitude I feel and the relationships that build me up, I have so much more capacity to be understanding, loving and supportive.

Self-love is not a journey I will take alone.

This is the biggest misconception I hear. Yes, loving yourself is a decision you have to make on your own and something you have to do for yourself, but you are not alone. You need that tribe of people around you who can talk about their own journeys or offer tips and tricks.

If you didn’t have a role model or someone to show you how to love yourself, are you going to do it wrong?

To put it bluntly, most likely. You’re not going to be coming from that pure and positive place within yourself because you don’t know that that place exists. Instead, you feel the negativity of society and the things that others say. If you don’t have someone supporting you, you’re going to think that self-love is selfish and self-serving and a negative trait.

Accepting my flaws is more than acknowledging them.

I always thought that self-awareness was the key to self-love. In a way it is, but it isn’t the only key. It’s like unlocking the top lock, but the door handle is still locked. You can’t get into the house without unlocking both.

In high school, I knew I suffered from anxiety. I knew that I was weird and that I might be crazy because I was definitely not normal. So I started saying that I am “good crazy” not “bad crazy.” That qualifier was kind of silly, now that I look back on it. Everyone is “crazy” if your definition of crazy is different or outside of the norm merely because the norm does not exist.

Saying that I am good crazy, was still calling myself crazy. I was still believing that the thoughts I had were not acceptable or worthy. I was telling myself that someone would have to stoop to my level to love me because I really wasn’t loving me. Accepting my flaws means acknowledging them, working on my mindset about them and making them unconditional.

Someone might say that I am crazy, but I know that my thoughts and feelings are valid. That my ideas are accepted by myself and others and that I don’t need to fit into this box to love myself.

I’m not going to be fully in love with myself every day.

It’s pretty naive to think that you are going to be fully happy and in love with yourself every day. It’s actually ridiculous to think about it. The range of emotions are natural and there is no end journey when it comes to self-love. You cannot ever stop working on how you feel about yourself because the world is never going to  stop telling you who or what you are. You are always going to have something trying to influence you.

Being in love with myself does not take away from my capacity to love others.

This is a big one. If I am spending all of this time loving myself and taking care of myself, there must be less time for me to love my family, my husband, my friends, my daughter…right? I mean, we all only have 24 hours in the day.

Well, yes, but there isn’t a limit on the amount of love that you have to give. You aren’t born with X amount of love and as you give it out you will lose it and be continuously losing love.

Your heart is ever growing. Ask any mom who worries about how she could possibly love her second child. Ask anyone who has suffered heartbreak and thought they could never love again. Love is renewing and when we make room to love ourselves, we create more room to love others.

Loving myself means I am constantly looking to better who I am.

It might seem like you can’t accept your flaws and better your flaws at the same time. Like, hello, doesn’t acceptance mean you’ve reached the goal?

Nope! Acceptance is not the same as complacency, nor is contentment the ultimate goal. Change is the one constant in life. To be content with change and where life takes you is to live accidentally. 

I don’t have to have a perfectly put together life for it to be wonderful.

I’m just going to leave this truth bomb here: perfectly put together is an illusion. We’re all hot messes here.

Unconditional really means without any qualifiers.

When you truly love unconditionally there is no “I love you but..” “I am happy but…” There are no buts.

Unconditionally means no matter what happens you can have that love for yourself. No matter what happens in my life, I’m the person I’ve got to live with until the end. I have control of my own choices and my own reactions but not those of others. If I am always coming from that pure and uncondtional part of myself, then I don’t need a qualifier.

Taking care of myself means listening to my body, my soul and my mind.

I have to pay attention to myself. I have to be aware and listen. I learned this one when I was in therapy in 2009. I was having more than 20 panic attacks a day and I was no longer willing to live like that. So, I started talking to my therapist and she introduced me to EFT – emotional freedom technique. You have to listen to and acknowledge what is going on.

This was very hard for me with my emotions. I never really saw a point in being angry. The negativity was something that I didn’t want in my life so I told myself that I didn’t need it in my life. I really misnuderstood mindset and manifestation.

You can’t just say something that you are feeling doesn’t exist. That is the same as sweeping it under the rug. It is still there. I was having all of these panic attacks because I wasn’t giving my soul and my mind the space to process those emotions. Their energy was still inside of me, it just had to find another way to leave my body.

I can inspire others on their self-love journeys.

This is my favorite lesson I learned. I love inspiring others to join me and I love that a-ha moment they have when they realize that it is actually so easy and so wonderful to be on your journey!

When I began the Be a Warrior Queen movement, I knew that I wanted to build a community of women supporting each other and saying “Yo, girl, I’ve been there!” but I didn’t really know how I wanted to go about it. For all of the years that my blog and movement existed, it wasn’t until the past year that I have really felt like THIS is how I want to do it.

So in addition to all of the fun stuff we’ve been doing with Shield Sisters Initiative and Be a Warrior Queen, we want to announce our #LovingMyselfMeans self-love challenge in partnership with Hodge Podge Moments!

For the month of February, we will be sharing self-love and self-care tips and inspiration, including weekly and daily challenges and ways to share how you can inspire others around you. The challenges will be posted and shared through a combination of the Hodge Podge Moments Facebook community, the Shield Sister Sanctuary, The Love This Journal | and Yourself revamped e-course (coming soon!) and with the hashtag #LovingMyselfMeans on different social media!

We would love it if you would join us for this amazing opportunity!

What have you learned on your self-love journey?