We hear a lot about self-care these days. But I don't think you can really do self-care unless you start with self-love.
Unconditional love for ourselves helps us give ourselves permission to take time for all sorts of self-care activities that we'd otherwise convince ourselves we don't need or don't deserve.
No matter how old we are, each of us has an inner child that is not yet done growing. A less developed part of ourselves that needs our love and forgiveness.
The goal of this monthly challenge is to accept that although we will always be less than perfect, we are works in progress that deserve to be loved. And that starts with loving ourselves.
For those of you based in the U.S., there's no better time to start this challenge — In the words of Wikipedia, Labor Day "honors the the contributions that workers have made to the development, growth, endurance, strength, security, prosperity, productivity, laws, sustainability, persistence, structure, and well-being of the country."
So let's get started - we've got 7 kinds of challenges. You need to complete one of them each day. You can work through them Sunday to Monday, or you can simply pick your favorites and repeat them as much as you like.
And of course, you can add some of your own as well — if you do, let us know what you added in the comments section or by tweeting us @PowerToFly and using #SelfLoveSeptember.
1) Forgive yourself.
Identify something that's been eating at you. Big or small. A birthday party you didn't attend, a thank you note you forgot to send, an email you never replied to. Decide whether or not you'd like take an action (e.g. making amends if you haven't already). Take the action if desired. And then forgive yourself.
2) Stand up for yourself.
There are a lot of ways to do this, big and small. Thinking big? Try asking for a raise, or having a tough conversation with a loved one about your needs. Want to go smaller? When a friend asks you where you want to go for dinner/what you want to do, be honest! Don't say, "Oh, wherever," for the sake of going with the flow.
3) Protect your time.
Set your schedule for the day — when you'll arrive at work and when you'll leave, and stick to it. You can also block off time during the day for lunch, a quick workout, or a productive, interruptions-free work session.
You can protect your time in your personal life, too — try saying no when a friend tries to guilt you into doing something you'd rather not.
4) Write down 3 of your favorite qualities about yourself.
No need to go overboard, just jot down 3 of the things you've always liked about yourself. Sense of humor, intelligence, work ethic, compassion... whatever it is. If you repeat this exercise, try to make sure you always write in the same place so that at the end you have a complete list of all the things you like about yourself, and not multiple scattered lists.
5) Identify one thing you did really well during the day.
And then congratulate yourself for it. If you're corny, you can literally pat yourself on the back.
6) Do something you love by yourself.
Do something just for you, by yourself. Remind yourself that you don't need others to make you happy.
You deserve this time to focus on your interests and prioritize time with yourself. Go for a run, catch a movie, get a pedicure, sneak off for an hour to read.... whatever it is you love.
7) Ask someone else what they like about you.
Sure, we all know that "self-love comes from within," but validation from a close friend or family member can help pull us up when we're down.
It might seem awkward literally asking for compliments, but if you approach it as a joint exercise, a close friend or family member should have no problem sharing what they like most about you and hearing what you like most about them.