Love yourself, love your writing. Seems like a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it? Do you have to love yourself in order to love your writing? What does loving yourself even mean? And how on earth is it related to loving your writing?
Do you remember Stuart Smalley? Al Franken’s Life Coach character on Saturday Night Live. The sketches would end with Stuart sitting in front of the mirror with affirmations, concluding with, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.”
Am I totally dating myself here? I am. I know.
It seems that a lot of us, when we think of loving ourselves, picture Stuart Smalley or some similar scenario, where we’re standing in front of a mirror, telling ourselves how amazing and beautiful and smart we are. We’re telling ourselves how much we love ourselves, even as we’re seeing all our physical flaws and wishing we looked differently and were smarter, and we’re not even sure that gosh darn it, people like us.
I used to think that’s what self-love was. And maybe that’s a part of it. But for me, it has very little to do with how I look.
What I am learning, is that self-love is about honouring myself, respecting myself, and looking after myself. The result, is that I feel confident, capable, and able to write. My writing itself, shows improvement.
To honour yourself is to honour your dreams, your intentions, and to follow-through.
If, on a Sunday night, you set out the plan for the coming week that you’re going to write a certain number of days, you’re going to do cardio three days this week and strength training two days, and you follow through, you do your writing, you do your exercising, you’re honouring yourself.
You’re telling yourself, that your goals, dreams, and intentions, are valid and important.
Is there a voice inside you right now saying, “um, I’m not sure they are. I’m not sure I am.”? If your friend said that, what would you tell them? You would tell them that they are, their needs, their dreams, are as important as anyone else’s.
My friend, your dreams and goals and intentions are as important as anyone’s.
Honour yourself. Lift yourself up.
Isn’t respecting yourself the same as honouring yourself? Probably.
But for our purposes, I’m suggesting that respecting yourself means to respect your boundaries, and respect your capabilities and your limitations.
So often we feel like we need to do everything. We need to be on every social media platform, we need to be blogging and building a YouTube Channel. We need to be writing and speaking, and raising our families, all with a day job.
No. No we don’t. We don’t have to do it all. Know which social media platforms you enjoy and focus on those. If you love doing video, great, do YouTube.
The point is to respect what you can do, what you’re good at, and to respect yourself enough to know what you don’t enjoy and therefore know you don’t have to put energy into it.
Respecting yourself also means that there are times that you are simply not physically or mentally able to sit down to write, and to not force it. If you need a day of reading to replenish your creative well, do it. Going for a long walk what you need? Take it.
Looking after Yourself
Which leads me to looking after yourself.
I am far from the expert in this area. What I do know, is that eating healthier foods more often than not, is better for my body. So is exercising regularly, even if it is only thirty to sixty minutes a day.
This isn’t about being on a certain diet, or any diet, or fitness plan. This isn’t about losing weight to look a certain way.
Looking after yourself is about making sure your body is physically capable, strong, functional, to get you through the day. For you to be healthy and able to run after the kids or grand-kids, or to play with your dog.
If you have a chronic illness and/or mental health issues, it is even more important to look after yourself. I know that what I’m saying isn’t easy. As someone with depression, I will never, ever, suggest you go for a walk and you’ll feel better.
All I am saying here, is that when we do our best to eat healthy, we put in some exercise, we shower every now and then, we go to the dentist when possible, we are looking after ourselves.
Love Your Writing
When we honour, respect, and look after ourselves, in time, we feel better. We are physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger.
Getting up to face the day becomes easier.
The day-job becomes less stressful.
We get home from a long day and we are still able to sit at the computer to write for an hour or two.
When we are stronger, we are able to have greater focus during our writing time. That means we aren’t as distracted, we get into the writing flow and the words come easier, and we are able to improve what we’re writing.
It is when we are in the zone, when we are growing and improving as writers, that we can feel confident in what we are doing, and we can once again, love our writing.