A Monthly Wellness Column
By Amie Mignatti
Self-love. A hot topic these days. It seems everywhere I turn there is something about “loving yourself” or “the importance of self-care.” In a world where we can have everything at the snap of our fingers, it seems that self-love should also be easy. However, and unfortunately, it’s not.
Self-love is a journey that we take ourselves on our entire lives. During our teenage years, most of us struggle to fit in, to be liked, to conform to others’ values so as to not stand out, and we silence ourselves due to insecurity about who we are. I’ve observed that these patterns often do not change; they continue into college and later into our professional lives. Women want to fit in more than anything else, and many are afraid to stand up and be different, or do what they feel if it goes against the norm. This makes them exposed and vulnerable, and no one wants to feel that way. It’s much easier to stay in the shadows and be quiet (and safe).
What then happens is that many women do not learn to love themselves, because they are too worried about what others think about them. They are more concerned about fitting in than about who they truly are. This is where women lose themselves: they throw themselves into different roles, like those of a wife or mother, or they define themselves through their work, where they are so busy doing everything for everyone that they don’t have time to look within. The outcome of this behaviour is an even more insecure and lonely woman, who now worries if she’s “good enough” as a wife/mother/worker, because she is constantly comparing herself to others.
Each and every one of us has been there, at some stage of our lives, when we’ve felt lost, trapped, unworthy, insecure, vulnerable, disconnected, scared and sad. No one wants to talk about this, though, because it’s extremely uncomfortable. So, instead, we put on a happy face and continue down the same path we’ve been on, because it’s what we know- but it’s not getting us anywhere.
If we were to stop the cycle right there, stop the judgement, condescension, negative self talk, comparisons, worry, guilt and shame, and take the time to really assess our priorities by asking ourselves a few questions, the story would and could play out differently.
I would encourage you to take some time and really look within. Ask yourself the following questions (and answer them honestly, regardless of how silly they may sound to you), to see where you are at and what you can do to change, so that you feel happy, safe, loved and fulfilled.
- What are my passions? What is it that I really love doing? What makes me come alive?
- What are my responsibilities?
- When I look at the life I lead now, what makes me unhappy/stressed out/angry?
- Am I fulfilling any of the things I really want to do?
- If I were to do what I love and what lights me up, where can I create the space for it in my life? (It IS there- it may mean a BIG shift, but the space can be there.)
- What am I willing to give up in order to live from my heart?
With everything we choose, there is a price to pay. We have only a limited number of hours in a day, and to fill them the way we want means that we will have to give something up in order to add something else instead. This is a very important part of the story: what are you willing to let go of in order to create the life you wish? It’s a sacrifice, and it shows what you truly value and prioritize.
I’ll give an example from my own life. I recently started a regular meditation practice, which is super challenging for me on many levels, but very necessary. The only time that I have to do it is between 5:30-6:00 in the morning. Getting up then is the last thing I want to do, as I have a full schedule and need to make sure I get enough sleep. However, if I want to commit to myself and a practice that I know will benefit me, I have to go to bed earlier, which means giving up time in the evening with my partner, friends, myself, etc. But in exchange, meditation has given me more focus, more clarity; I’m calmer, more grounded, have a better connection to myself, I actually feel more rested (I had no idea this would happen), and things in my life have begun to shift in subtle but important ways.
You must remember that you create your own reality. You are not a victim, you are the driver. You have a responsibility for how you live, what you think, with whom you spend your time and how you spend your time. It’s never too late to make changes or to take steps to create a life that you love living! Wishing you all the best on your journey, wherever you may be in it!
Amie Mignatti is committed to bringing children and adults into the outdoors, so that they can learn new skills, feel at home in nature, and be in a space where they can connect more deeply with themselves. She is confident that more time spent outdoors can lead to a healthier and calmer life, a more positive attitude and a never ending sense of wonder. She is happiest when she and her family are in the forest around the campfire with good friends. She leads courses and retreats for all ages.