Guest blog by Yogasteya member Laura Moreno-Hill
Any person of faith knows that at the very core of bible teachings or commandments, the greatest one boils down to L-O-V-E. All throughout the bible it reminds us over and over…and over again to LOVE God, our neighbors, our spouses, our parents, our children, strangers…and yes, our enemies too! Oddly enough, I don’t have a probably with any of those…well most of them. But, the one person I’ve struggled with loving for most of my life is ME. WHY is that?
Oh, I’ve spent too much time “dressing up” the outside of me with fashionable, trendy clothes, collecting stylish shoes, manicures, pedicures, trendy hair styling…and doing my BESTest (yes, I spelled that wrong) to stay somewhat in shape. If you knew me anytime between middle school and my mid-thirties you would have sworn that I was already pretty good at loving myself! I exuded confidence and what looked like self-esteem to others for days! But, what people did not know was that I never thought I was “pretty” or even “beautiful” when I looked in the mirror. I always compared myself to others and knit picked my physical features to death…wishing I was taller, had bigger boobs and a bigger booty, different colored eyes. To this day, I still hate mirrors and I detest taking pictures even more.
Since I never thought I was any of those things that boys/men would like, I worked with one thing I did have – my ethnicity. I had played the “sexy Latina” angle from a very young age and you know it worked! For almost three decades my “exotic” Hispanic features – naturally long hair, almond eyes, olive skin – and the ability to speak a foreign language would attract enough attention from the opposite sex and keep them lined up. I used to think that’s what I needed – the attention, affection, affirmation and adoration of men.
And then in 2007 I lost the one man who I never knew meant so much to me…my daddy. The bottom fell out from my world and I was completely lost. We didn’t have the typical “daddy-daughter” relationship perhaps when we should have. But after my first divorce, we made up for lost time in our own ways. I knew I was his “favorite” daughter (BUT Shhhhhh! DON’T tell my other step-sisters). We had a very close, special relationship. I loved my father with all my heart and I wished that we could have had more time to create more “daddy-daughter” memories.
I will spare you the long, gory story of what a hot mess I was for several years after losing my dad and the decisions I made (some of which I regret every day). If you’ve ever lost a parent, then you KNOW what I was going through and it lasted for a several years afterwards! But, what I will share with you is that seven years later, two awesome therapists, a second marriage that has NOT always the “healthiest” relationship to be in, a few bouts of unemployment, and an ocean’s worth of blood, sweat and tears…I can FINALLY say I LIKE MYSELF. And if I can go “Iyanla Vanzant” or “Oprah” on you for just a minute, “I finally did THE WORK on myself!”
Live in YOUR TRUTH. Own YOUR STORY.
Yes, the one thing I finally had to do over the past couple of years was to tear down all my walls and admit once and for all that I didn’t LOVE myself. I have spent a lifetime chasing after all the wrong things to “fill the void” because deep down I have always felt unworthy, unloved, and unwanted…among other things. I mean I knew I was book smart (straight ‘A’ student, valedictorian, BS in Business Administration & Management, an MBA, AND a 20-year career in marketing, branding & communications). I also know I’m street smart because I can “read” people with remarkable accuracy. But “my truth” goes as far back to when I was a little girl—probably around the age of 8 or 9. That’s the first time I remember feeling like I wasn’t enough.
My “self-hate” started way back then and it took two different, very intense rounds of therapy that helped me dig deep to uncover what was at the base of all of that. (I’m going to also spare you from all those details or this would turn into an 800-page book!) For many of us, it all starts from childhood and many times because of one or both of our parents—or their absence in our lives. It’s amazing to me how deep and lasting the effects of our parents’ words and actions have on their children’s lives…the scars and insecurities they unknowingly create which then in turn take us our entire lives to recognize, admit and undo.
I’m so happy to say in my journey to heal those wounds I’m finally on the “other side” and starting to not only like, but LOVE myself. I have a joy and peace of mind that I’ve never experienced before. I can look back at my life and see decisions and old relationships in an entirely different light. I understand the “WHY” now and know that my past no longer defines me. I absolutely have regrets (who doesn’t!), but I’m committed and determined to spend the next however many years it takes to LOVE ME (in a healthy, non-egotistical way).
Self-Love: WHAT & HOW?
So where does this concept of “self-love” come from? What types of things can I do to show me some LOVE you may ask? Self-love is defined as “the regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.” [NOTE: This is not to be confused with being narcissism.] According to an article entitled “A Seven Step Prescription for Self-Love” in Psychology Today, “Self-love is vital to living well and it influences your choice in marriage mates, the image you project at work, and how you cope with problems in life. Self-love is NOT simply a state of “feeling good” about yourself. Self-love IS a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions which support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth.” The article goes on to say that self-love is dynamic and it grows by actions that mature us. The “Seven-Step Prescription” includes:
- Become mindful
- Act on what you need rather than what you want
- Practice good self-care
- Set boundaries
- Protect yourself
- Forgive yourself
- Live intentionally
I have a couple of these down pat and have a lot more work to do on the others. Another online article listed “10 Wonderful Ways to Practice Self-Love” and there were several I personally practice in my own life. If you Google “self-love” you come up with a ton of articles some of which have lists of ways to “self-love” yourself. To that I say…FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. It’s not “cookie cutter” but the concepts and ideas in those articles are pretty much on point.
Learn to Self-Affirm
My most recent therapist decided that in order to get me to the point of even “liking” myself she had me do an exercise. I had to look up affirmations and find those the resonated with me the most. I think she only asked me for 3-5, but the “Type A” overachiever in me came to the next session with a list of about 20 of them. She had me read them all out loud and then she selected half dozen that she wanted me to focus on. My assignment was then to stand in the mirror and say these affirmations aloud to myself three times a day. I must admit it’s still a challenge, but I’ve written them on an index card and framed it. I keep it on my bathroom vanity right next to me and while I’m putting on my makeup in the morning or getting ready for bed I try to do the assignment. I also keep an index card in my wallet and a copy of them in my phone. I do look at them quite often and have started believing them which I can tell has boosted my self-confidence. I’ll share just a few of them (along with some links) because if they can help me then they can help you!
- I choose to take responsibility for my own happiness. I will not let anyone make me angry today. I AM IN CONTROL!
- I am brave enough to embrace my true power. I have FULL CONTROL over my life.
- release my desire to be “perfect” or something/someone other than who I am. I AM WORTHY JUST AS I AM!
- 21 Self-Esteem Affirmations for Building Self Worth
- 10 Daily Affirmations for Self-Love
Last year I was going through a very difficult time and I can remember being asked on numerous occasions what makes me happy. At that time and in that moment, I honestly had NO CLUE. I had to do a lot of honest self-reflection to identify those things that brought me deep, heartfelt joy. I made a list of all the things in my life that made me feel good when I did them…and I try to do them as often as possible. Here’s my list:
- YOGA makes me happy!
- Zumba or this other hip hop dance class also makes me happy
- Spending time with my closest girlfriends makes me happy
- Shopping in resale or thrift stores (finding an amazing deal on something) makes me happy
- Helping others and giving back make me happy
- Having “ME TIME” away from my household makes me really happy
- Reading a good book makes me happy
- Getting a manicure, pedicure or my hair done makes me happy
- Taking cool pictures makes me happy
- ANYTHING pink, green, or sparkly makes me happy
- Pineapple anything makes me happy
- Writing my heart out makes me happy
What makes YOU happy? Find whatever those things are in life that bring you joy and make you smile.
So forget looking to someone else to show you love this Valentine’s Day! Be committed from this day forward to LOVE YOU more than you do today. Show yourself UNCONDITIONAL love, grace and forgiveness for whatever it is you’re still holding on to that’s holding you back from reaching your greatest potential…and from being HAPPY!
Laura is a devoted “yogi” who would do it 24/7/365 if she could. In her professional life, she’s an accomplished strategic marketing, branding and communications manager and a talented business writer. Her natural talent or “calling” is her writing and creative storytelling whether at work or personally. Laura is not only passionate about her career field, but she also loves to journal/write, read, travel, resale/thrift shop, dance, and do YOGA or Zumba as often as possible. Laura’s crazy life at home and work…and chronic back pain are all made better with yoga. She loves being around and helping people, creatively solving problems, and making a difference to those around her. Her favorite colors are PINK, green and purple. She loves ALL things that sparkle and “bling”! Although she lives in the Baltimore/DC area, her favorite city is her hometown of Chicago, IL (GO Bears | Blackhawks | Bulls)!