I do a lot of work on self-love, awareness and openness. My number one tool for developing these traits is journaling. I write journal entries every morning and night. Initially, I wrote on a very personal level about how I was feeling, what was going on and why I could be feeling that way. I found that forced reflection achieved through writing to be very powerful for developing self-awareness. One day, I let a friend read my words and she suggested that I start a blog, pointing out, “Imagine if this could help someone going through the same thing!” The idea was intimidating, but it seemed like a great opportunity to develop further the openness I’d been working on through journaling in the hope that it would benefit both me and others. I now realise fully the power of sharing feelings. Not only does it seem to make a difference for others, but openly expressing my feelings also helps me stay well and gives me purpose. Even if it helps one person, then it’s worth my while.
I got so accustomed to writing about my feelings, that it led me to be able to talk about them too. When I'm going through struggles, I speak up to my loved ones so they know what I’m going through and can help me through it. I find that when I talk openly with loved ones about my feelings and my struggles, they are actually fully accepting of it. My family has a history of mental health issues. This has been a blessing because it means that they are really open to the idea of discussing mental health - both good and bad. I am lucky to have such a supportive family I can openly talk with.
I now know that it's okay to ask for help. I don’t have to fight anything alone. I find counsellors another great option for expressing my thoughts and feelings. Even now, I seek help before I get overwhelmed. It’s empowering to have that strength. It can be hard but I believe asking for help is a sign of strength and is far from weakness.
My journaling is a big part of me, I now set myself questions. In the morning I ask, “How am I feeling mentally? What am I feeling physically? What am I excited about today? How am I going to show myself love today?” And I list five things I’m grateful for. If I start my day feeling grateful for what I have, then I’ve already excelled in the day. An example is, “I am grateful for my body, because it can take me places.” I think it’s important to get specific regarding the why. If I put a reason behind what I’m grateful for, then it has a deeper level of meaning.
My night journaling again includes the things that I am grateful for, and also what I learnt that day, which could be anything about myself, the world, or other people.
I learn lots from journaling and blogging. Getting everything out of my head is great in itself but also when I read back over it, I can fully see and understand the ‘why’ behind my feelings. It’s also easier to see traits or things that have been going on in my life that become patterns which I can learn from.
I have three core values on how I live my life, and strive for them every day: compassion, strength and gratitude.
Compassion goes toward others, and toward me. I think it’s easy to forget the self-compassion. Like most, I got taught to be kind to others, but I think it’s more rare to see lessons on showing kindness towards ourselves. The more I fill my own, cup then the more I can pour it into others.
Strength means being resilient. When I’m going through mental or physical struggles I find the strength to get myself back up. Telling myself that I am strong can really help me throughout my days.
Gratitude is simple but effective: it is being appreciative for everything that I have.
I joined a community of women called Body Love NZ, and another one called Soulfull Sisters, who come together to learn how to love ourselves right to our inner cores. The workshops are not about what you look like physically but more in line with how you feel. I also attended their self-love workshops which dove deeper into the mental side of things, learning about my inner critic and my inner mentor, which are essentially, the demon and the angel.
We learnt about intuition and the way we perceive ourselves and others, along with discovering self-worth and purpose. Being open and honest about myself and sharing experiences with other women who have all gone through similar things creates such a positive environment. No one is perfect but we can always be aware and work on ourselves to be the best version of ourselves. “You can be a work of art and a work in progress at the same time.”
If you could send a note back to yourself when you needed the most help, what would it say?