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How to Practice Radical Self-Love

Erin Wathen is a holistic health coach and author of Why Can’t I Stick to My Diet?: How to End the Food Drama. We’ll have her on our podcast as a guest soon, but in the meantime, she’s doing a special guest post for us today on how to practice radical self-love. With it being Valentine’s Day soon, we figured the timing couldn’t be better, whether you’re in a relationship or not …

How to Practice Radical Self-Love by Erin Wathen

Like many of us, I am a product of the media I absorb.

When I was dating, Sex and The City was everything. My friends and I would figure out who was the Charlotte of the group and Cosmos were a must-have drink.

Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, said a few profound things on her show, and one of them has stuck with me ever since I first heard it: “In New York, they say you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend, or an apartment. So, let’s say you have two out of three and they’re fabulous. Why do we let the thing we don’t have affect how we feel about all the things we do have? Why does one minus a plus-one feel like it adds up to zero?”

Now, I once lived in New York City and I can attest to how the housing situation can be quite abysmal, especially if one is on a budget. But, Carrie is on to something here: Why do we let the things we don’t have affect how we feel about the things we do have?

So what if you aren’t in a relationship this Valentine’s Day?

Does everyone in a relationship seem happy to you?

I have been on both sides of the relationship fence– and things often looked better on the other side.

The key to not letting our relationship or job or apartment status define us is, well, us. We get to decide how we feel about us. No one else gets to let us feel bad about ourselves. We can be our own valentine — every darn day of the year.

The Galantines movement — going out with our girlfriends on February 14 — is a great idea if that will fill you up emotionally, but if the current energy of your friends is reminiscent of the Bachelor cast-off tell-all episodes, you might want to stay in and watch your go-to feel-good movie, order your favorite food, and get some extra sleep because you love how that makes you feel.

Remember when self-care was all about bubble baths and mani/pedis and posting #selfcareSunday? That is the tip of the self-love iceberg, my friend. Self-care is the physical part of self-love, so, yes, having my toenail polish in check in February does make me happy, but it is not everything.

Radical self-love is my everything.

My take on life, staying out of toxic situations, making health decisions based on what is best for my long-term well being, treating myself as my own best friend — that is self-love. Sometimes this means I get a 90-minute hot stone massage. Other times it means I stay away from things I know do not serve me, or that I lovingly walk away from a long-term friendship that has run its course.

It does not mean I hibernate, binge chocolate, beat myself up for eating the chocolate, watch Netflix for a month, and call it self-care after a disagreement with a friend.

Running myself into the ground with too many commitments because I think that’s what a good wife/mother/author/life coach does is not radical self-love.

To the client or friend who is trying to start self-love, I go back to my working definition: “The way I look at life, staying out of toxic situations, making health decisions based on what is best for my long-term well being, and treating myself as my own best friend.”

This is the framework that enables me to go to bed early when I know I need it, to eat the healthiest food possible, to surround myself with like-minded people and to say NO to bringing the brownies to the school fundraiser when it would complicate my life.

What makes it radical is how I give zero Fs when the PTA moms give me stink eye at back-to-school night about the brownies, or knowing that going to the health food store is going to take an extra 10 minutes with traffic but worth it, or spending the money to get on a plane to visit a dear friend who truly gets me.

Here are the technical aspects to creating a radical self-love routine:

  • Prioritize sleep, a healthy diet, and stress-management every day.
  • Exercise and work on your own personal development most days.
  • Clean house of all energy vampires, such as your friend that only comes around when she has a crisis. (You need to make room for the amazing new people in your life!)
  • Donate clothes and shoes that don’t fit.
  • Make all of your regular doctors appointments, hair cuts, salon visits, massages when you are leaving your last. (It’s a gift for your future self and makes it a pre-scheduled priority!)
  • Be the friend, sister, partner you want to have first.

Know that you are doing all you can to be the best version of yourself, no matter what your dating status is on Valentine’s Day. Love yourself enough that being in a relationship is a bonus.

How will you show yourself radical self-love today? And tomorrow? And the day after that? —Erin Wathen

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