My Radical Realization About Self-Love

selflove

Growing up is difficult, especially with a single parent who only wants the best for his or her child. Yet, that comes with its own stresses. Unfortunately, parents sometimes take out these stresses on the child.

Children with this repeated experience, especially females, are prone to dating distant and emotionally manipulative individuals as adults. To many people, who look at just appearances, emotional abuse is not abuse. Yet, the weight of the negative words from these relationships is heavy. I know that I carried my own baggage for years until I read more about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from emotional abuse.

Though life continued happening to me, I was not an active participant. I’d lost the concept of what unconditional love meant. That’s where self-love became important—doing little things for myself. My radical realization about self-love was the fact that I existed and self-love resided within me. To exist means to be, and my journey to self-love focused on reinforcing that fact.

3 steps on my journey to self-love.

1.Feel Present In Your Body

One of the biggest things that helped me was developing a yoga practice. Yoga helped me feel the power and fluidity of my body, to feel present within my body. My yoga practice reduced my anxiety and lowered my blood pressure. My mind had always seemed fixated on someone else’s problems, and in my body I felt like I was floating through life. Yoga changed that for me.

2.Do More Than Just Survive

Those who recognize the powerful but sometimes subtle effects of abuse call you a survivor. While that should be a powerful word, it reflected the fact that I was letting myself barely scrape by. Where was my ambition and belief in myself?

It took time to find out what I was really interested in and to pursue those goals. Picking up hobbies and taking classes was a start. Acting classes empowered me to express myself by taking on the personalities of different characters. Yelling across a stage showed me the power of my voice. I kept track of my financial records and felt like a proper adult. The key is to stop living in survival mode. I look forward to the future, and I haven’t looked back with regret.

3.Get Your Sleep

I decided to do whatever it took to get a good night’s sleep, as I had no real sleep schedule. I wasn’t a night owl or early riser, sleeping for a few hours at a time.

Honestly, anxiety kept me up, and conquering anxiety is going to be a lifetime, uphill battle. Fortunately, this battle only reinforces the knowledge of my inner strength—how I experience emotion so very vividly and am able to empathize with others. Yet, that empathy and anxiety still keep me awake sometimes.

Yoga and meditation before bedtime is my evening ritual. For the last few years, I have kept a consistent bedtime. It’s important for me to spend at least five minutes writing down the complaints and “gunk” in my head. I write down at least one positive thing from the day, and go to bed thinking about that.

When my sleep wasn’t restful, the dreams I had were often disturbing. Fortunately, that changed when I learned better sleep habits to ease my anxiety. Dreams of literal battles or of showing up naked to class ceased; instead, they became dreams involving long hikes and finding myself in a beautiful location that no one else appeared to have disturbed.

It’s easy to be there for others. Why is it so hard to be there for yourself? You’re told so often that love means sacrifice. Does that sacrifice have to come at the expense of your individuality?

When you are so used to questioning your own personal power and validity, self-love seems like a fairy-tale you read as a child. It’s difficult to know and remember that self-love has been with you all the while, which is truly the most radical realization. Seeing it and owning it is self-kindness and self-awareness.

Channel this seedling of self-love positively, in all the little ways at first. If it’s yoga, do it. If it’s a passion that others have always trivialized, pursue it. Live!

Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective.  Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. She writes an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. You can also find her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.