I made a commitment to practice self-care, no matter what I weighed, and I began by doing things like wearing fabulous clothes and buying myself flowers.
Only I soon discovered those things weren’t enough.
Whilst I’d finally convinced myself I deserved self-care, regardless of the number on the scale, it soon became obvious it was going to take more to actually make me feel worthy when putting typical self-care strategies into practice.
I can only share my experience, but it didn’t matter that I was starting to take actions that looked like self-care. I was still feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and stress and experiencing a ton of shame as I began to unravel my disordered eating habits and history.
There’s not much point having a luxurious bath if you’re sobbing into the bubbles, feeling like you’re worthless.
However, it’s only through trying these things I became aware I needed something more if I were ever going to feel better about myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but pretty dresses and flowers put me on the path of a much deeper journey.
Attending to the outside made me realize what I really needed to do was turn inwards. And when I looked inwards, I realized I’d been telling myself a false story through my actions and words. I didn’t believe I was worthy because I was constantly sending myself messages telling myself I wasn’t.
It made me aware that self-worth isn’t something we’re given. It’s something that must be claimed.
Claiming your self-worth takes time, effort and commitment. But if you’re expending energy feeling bad about yourself, what have you got to lose expending energy learning to feel good about yourself instead?
Here are some ways I claimed my self-worth:
- Questioned old stories others had told me about who I am and wrote a new story for myself. Released the shame and shared my stories with others.
- Stopped calling myself cruel names in my head and started to use words of compassion instead.
- Constantly examined what I was thinking and made a conscious effort to change negative thoughts to positive ones. Each time a negative story started playing in my head, I’d question it and replace it with a positive affirmation I could believe. In other words, nothing contrived.
- Learned to sit and actually feel all of my feelings rather than numbing the uncomfortable ones away. It took time, but now I understand some feelings are just part of the human experience. Sometimes they’re trying to alert me to something important.
- Started a daily journaling practice which led me to re-write my story from being a victim to someone who takes ownership – and responsibility for – every piece of my life, the good and the bad.
- Stopped looking for answers online, in self-help books, at events and workshops and from various self-proclaimed “experts” and finally began to trust in myself.
- Sought help from people who were actually qualified to give it, such as coaches and therapists.
- Learned to create space in my life, set boundaries and say no.
- Focused on changing one habit at a time and created a sense of confidence in my ability to make holistic and sustainable changes.
There’s so much more I could share, but if you’ve struggled to claim your self-worth, and you’re not finding solace in the usual self-care strategies – there’s nothing wrong with you. You just might need more than any bubble bath can give.