Thriving Together Series

Thriving Together Series: DIY Self-Love

By: Terra Eidinger, MS, Marine Corps Civilian Analyst 

“Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” – Veronica A. Shoffstall

Negativity barrages us every day – from bad news in our media to discouraging messages from people in our lives. We can either let that negativity harm us, or we can rise above it by loving ourselves even when others neglect to do so. Enjoying well-being is only possible when we recognize our own value and choose to love ourselves. These do-it-yourself (DIY) self-love well-being strategies can help you live a positive life even when negativity surrounds you.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “self-love” as an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue. What is your perspective on yourself? I derive mine from my faith, and agree with what Joel Osteen writes in his book, Empty Out the Negative: Make Room For More Joy, Greater Confidence and New Levels of Influence: “Every person is made in the image of God.” We tend to rely on limited cognitive perspectives to make sense of intrapersonal battles within ourselves. But each human being has inherent value. If you don’t treasure yourself yet, dare to raise the bar on your perspective. You are valuable simply because you’re human. Moreover, you have distinctive personal strengths, and valuable contributions to make to the world.

Find Activities that Help You Thrive

Research from the American Psychological Association highlights the importance of balancing self-care with work to prevent burnout. Consider what types of healthy activities you enjoy most, and prioritize them in your schedule so you can pursue them on a regular basis. Do you enjoy praying, meditating, reading, gardening, cooking, traveling, mentoring, exercising, or other activities that strengthen your well-being? Find what works best for you. While you’re at it, intentionally replace mind-numbing activities (such as excessive time watching TV or scrolling through social media) with activities that awaken your mind. You can use the Socratic Method as a guide to assess your current activities with critical thinking and questioning, and help you discover helpful changes to make.

Commit to Consistency

When stressful issues or situations threaten to discourage you, remind yourself that you’re worthy of love and adjust your response accordingly. Commit to consistently practicing the activities that contribute the most to your well-being, while avoiding pressuring yourself. If you notice that you’ve been neglecting well-being practices, gently remind yourself to prioritize them again so you can keep building momentum to thrive. According to Ryan Holiday in his book, Ego is the Enemy “… the Greek word euthymia is one we should think of often: It is the sense of our own path and how to stay on it without getting distracted by all the others that intersect it. In other words, it’s not about beating the other guy. It’s not about having more than the others. It’s about being what you are, and being as good as possible at it, without succumbing to all the things that draw you away from it. It’s about going where you set out to go.”

Enjoy More Humor

Far too often, we believe we must be serious to be taken seriously. That’s a myth. Actually, many people appreciate humor, this Scientific American article shows. Enjoying humor offers many well-being benefits, as this Thriving Together article highlights. So, don’t hesitate to laugh! A word of caution, however: Be mindful to avoid mean-spirited humor that doesn’t respect people. This Psychology Today article explores what’s healthy humor and what’s not. You can give yourself a diagnostic humor styles questionnaire from the American Psychological Association to help you add some humor into your life. It’s good for the soul.

Diagnose Your Dreams

What are you dreaming of achieving in life? Seek to understand your dreams so you can set the best goals and work toward accomplishing them. Remain flexible and consider what you may be hoping for that you’re not currently investing in through your current actions. According to Joyce Meyer in her book, I Dare You – Embrace Life with Passion: “A hope, vision, dream, or plan is like a seed. It is a small thing leading to something big. Everything starts with a seed. We can never harvest without a seed and it’s the same way with our dreams.”

Practice Forgiveness

Above all else, keep forgiving yourself and others. When you make mistakes, remember that you are worthy of grace because you are worthy of love. Rather than reacting to mistakes with shame, realize that mistakes are valuable opportunities to learn and grow. Refuse a victim mindset and instead see yourself as a lifelong learner. Be honest, yet graceful, when you and others fall short of goals. Joyce Meyer points out in her book, Start Your New Life Today: An Exciting New Beginning with God: “One thing that is important for stable emotional health is honesty – with yourself and with others.” When you need to change your behavior, do so. When you need to forgive others who have hurt you, do so as well. According to Tony Evans and Jonathan Evans in their book, Kingdom Family Devotional – 52 Weeks of Growing Together, “What most people don’t understand is that unforgiveness holds them hostage to the hurt they’ve experienced.” Sacred religious texts offer valuable guidance on forgiveness. For example, the Bible presents numerous ways to forgive and renew your mind.

French philosopher Rene Descartes famously stated, “I think, therefore I am.” Think of self-love as a valuable expression of love at all times – during the good, bad, and indifferent moments in our days. Sustain a growth mindset and renew your mind daily.

As the poem “You Can If You Think You Can” by C.W. Longenecker says, “You’ve got to think high to rise/You’ve got to be sure of yourself before you can ever win a prize.”

Additional Resources

  • This TED Talk from Jeanette Winterson explores the question “Is Humanity Smart Enough to Survive Itself?”.
  • In this TEDx Talk, Lily Zhao discusses “Say Yes to You: A Guide to Self-Love”.
  • This TEDx Talk from Sarah Montana explores “Why Forgiveness is Worth It”.

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