Martha Graham, the celebrated twentieth-century American dancer and choreographer, once said, “I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practising living, the principles are the same.”
Here are seven ways to practise honouring yourself in big ways and small. You can use the following statements as affirmations. Say them silently or aloud to remind yourself to focus on moving beyond the myths to the magic of honouring yourself.
1. I get in touch with how I feel
You may not be stating your needs or taking steps to meet them simply because you aren’t in touch with how you feel and what you want and need. Practise asking yourself throughout the day: How do I feel right now? What do I need most right now? What will make me feel more joyful and at peace? It’s the small things that make the most difference when you do them each day. Every action you take to honour yourself also sends a signal to others about what you think you deserve and therefore how you expect to be.
2. I eliminate either/ or thinking
Catch yourself when you are sinking into either/or thinking. You may hear yourself saying things like “I have to take care of this situation immediately, so I don’t have time for myself right now. I have to choose between him and me, and I can’t abandon him.” Unfortunately, when we fall into thinking “it’s either this or that,” it’s usually our own needs that fall by the wayside. If you feel the either/or tug of war coming on, tell yourself: I have a right and a duty to give to myself. When I am in need, I must also receive.
3. I take preventative measures
Take action before you get caught in a lopsided approach to giving and receiving. For instance, if you know that you have a tendency to develop a headache, a backache, or a shoulder ache once a week, be proactive in caring for yourself. Make sure you get away from your desk and stretch, take a break, exercise, or schedule a regular massage. Take time to check in with yourself on a regular basis. Schedule that reminder on your daily planner so you won’t forget.
4. I celebrate my victories
If you have accomplished a certain amount of work or met a goal, even a small one, reward yourself by doing something fun and rejuvenating. Even little rewards—watching a favourite movie, buying yourself some flowers, attending a play or musical event—will help you value yourself. It will also train you to give back to yourself and replenish your inner reservoir of strength.
5. I check in with my whole self
We have needs on all four levels of our life—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. When you’re checking in with yourself, assess each of these and ask, “Which part of me needs attention right now?” If you are feeling emotionally fragile, get support by talking to a friend. If you’re tired, you may need more rest. If you’re mentally bored, seek simulation and challenge, maybe by attending a new event or cultivating a hobby. If you’re feeling a spiritual void and are missing meaning in your life, do something that helps you get back in touch with your spirit. Figure out what part of you needs energizing and commit to nurturing it back to health.
6. I take simple steps
If it’s difficult for you to let yourself receive, start with baby steps. Earlier, I was very stingy with myself, only allowing myself to buy absolute necessities. The world around me seemed to reflect my rigid ways. When I began to let myself buy something as simple as a yummy snack, more money started flowing into my life. What was really changing was my own attitude. By depriving myself I had been affirming that this was how I wanted to be treated and the kind of world I expected to live in. By giving to myself, I was changing what I wanted that world to look like. What small step can you take that looks like the kind of world you want to live in?
7. I accept compliments
Do you have a habit of telling people who compliment you, “Oh, it was nothing,” or of saying to someone who unexpectedly gives you a gift, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that.” If you can’t receive compliments or gifts from others, you are communicating—to them and to yourself—that you don’t think you are worthy of receiving. And if you can’t easily accept those compliments or gifts, how are you going to react to the abundance, gifts, and great relationships the universe wants to bring you? Will you say, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that”? Or will you say, “Thank you! I’m grateful, I appreciate it, and I’m open to more!”
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