Don’t know how to love yourself? You’re not alone.
Today I’m known as the Self Love Philosopher. But back in 2015, I was an overworked twin mom who felt completely lost and disconnected from myself. I was running my own business, trying to salvage my marriage, and chasing after my two-year-old daughters. I was—in short—living in service to everything and everyone around me, except myself. Self love? Hadn’t heard of it. But even though I didn’t know the phrase, I desperately needed it. And so for the past seven years, I’ve devoted my life to understanding it, embodying it, and sharing it. If you want to love yourself but aren’t sure where to start, I’m here for you.
“So many years of education yet nobody taught us how to love ourselves and why it’s so important.” No one knows who originated this quote, but it has played a central role in my desire to unlock the mystery of self love and make it something we can all understand and practice in our daily lives. Here is some of what I’ve learned so far.
A is for Authenticity
The starting point for self love is authenticity. We all have an authentic self—the version of us that existed before life happened to us; before the regret; before the self-doubt; before we picked the safe road or started to compromise ourselves to fit in with friends or partners. That authentic self—the true you—is one of a kind without a single replica on the planet, past, present, or future. You are one of one—intentionally. If self love is a journey, which it is, you start by choosing yourself, your true self, and showing up every morning from a place of truth. I know what you’re thinking: Okay, that sounds great, but how? For me, back in 2015 when I hit my breaking point, I reclaimed my true self slowly, but consistently. I put a picture of my childhood self on my phone’s lock screen. I started re-engaging in the activities I knew had brought me the most joy in my adolescent years (writing poetry, listening to music, going to museums). I also started making more time for myself that wasn’t about playing a role; time where I could cast off the mother, the worker, the wife… and simply be me.
Claiming my authentic self was also an exercise in letting go of all the things that had covered my true self in dust: shame, guilt, doubt, regret, fear. The more I grounded myself in gratitude and joy, the more I found myself showing up as me. Once I invited my true self back to the table, everything started to change. I had a North Star to guide me: does this decision honor me? And so I started setting some boundaries and getting clear about what I wanted my life to look and feel like.
B is for Boundaries
When I was a budding entrepreneur and new mother, there were no boundaries. Days blended into nights, emails were received and sent at all hours. There was no “me time” on the schedule. I was always on call. Always. And I was validated for it. People called me superwoman. My clients loved that they could reach me at any time. The more I took on, the more people applauded me. Which felt good, until it didn’t. Because external validation only feeds the ego, not the body or soul. Both my body and soul were in disrepair. I completely neglected my body after carrying twins, having a C-section, and breastfeeding preemie twins (no small feat, I assure you). My soul I had neglected much longer, having gone to law school instead of pursuing the arts like I should have simply because I thought that was the right, safe, thing to do. The beauty of reaching your breaking point like I did back in 2015 is just that—something breaks. For me, the old way was no longer tenable. I started setting boundaries and reclaiming space for myself. Loving myself meant having the courage to choose myself and put myself first. I said yes, just like I had thousands of times in the past… but this time it was to myself. With all this new space for myself, it was time to decide what I would do with it.
C is for Clarity, Commitment, Creation, and Community
Since one of my entrepreneurial endeavors involved jewelry, I am very familiar with the four C’s of buying a diamond (cut, clarity, carats, and color). When it comes to self love, I’ve found that there are four C’s as well: clarity, commitment, creation, and community. It’s only when you’re clear about who you are, what you need, and what you want that you can commit daily and start creating. For me, being an author and poet is what I was born to do. Self love allowed me to make space for myself and achieve this clarity. But this clarity alone didn’t change anything. I committed to writing every day, and from that two books were born: Self Love Poetry and The ABCs of Self Love. The last C is my favorite, though: community. Once you’ve achieved clarity and commitment, and as a result you’ve created your singular impact on the world, the next step is cultivating community. Creating a self love sisterhood on Instagram is what really allowed my writing and true self to thrive.
D is for Daily Dream
Before I made the decision to love and honor myself daily, I didn’t spend any time dreaming. I wasn’t worthy of it. There was so much that needed to be done! My to-do list was a mile long, and it only ever got longer. I was hiding behind productivity and acts of service because both made me feel accomplished (sound familiar?). I set a reminder on my phone and shared it with a friend. Every day, we would spend 15 minutes dreaming and sharing our dreams with each other via text. And then it happened. Our dreams started coming true. On May 21, 2018, this was my daily dream: “I dream of being on a beach. Warm water. White sand. Music. My favorite people. A cold drink. No Internet.” By 2021, I had forgotten about my dream. But it hadn’t forgotten about me: On May 21, 2021, I landed in Miami, and soon found myself on the beach, living the precise moment I dreamed about. The best part? My dream partner’s May 21, 2018, dream came true at exactly the same time as mine: she finally moved to a new home that included her very own washer and dryer. Three years later, our dreams came true—together.
The ABCs of Self Love
The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past seven years is that self love isn’t a destination—it’s a journey. It’s a commitment you make every day. I wrote The ABCs of Self Love to make self love an actionable part of your life. There are 26 chapters devoted to foundational self love concepts like forgiveness, gratitude, joy, light, movement, rest, surrender, and trust. Each letter in the book includes poetry, prose, some memoir, action items, and journaling prompts to bring your self love journey to life. I can’t wait to celebrate you every step of the way.
Check out Melody Godfred’s The ABCs of Self Love when it hits bookstores everywhere on January 4, 2022.