“Honor thyself,” huh? I feel like this a lesson I have learned and had to constantly relearn over time. You know that saying “old habits die hard”? They weren’t lying, or maybe that is just true for me although I highly doubt it. I know this to be a universal truth especially amongst women, empaths, and bleeding hearts alike; the fact that I fit all three of these categories means that this lesson hits me harder and harder every time. WTF does “honor thyself” even mean?
I’m in my thirties now, and I would like to believe that in this time of life that I have truly learned what it means to “honor thyself” and how to really do this — or I could be totally full of it as life has repeatedly retaught me this lesson. While the latter is probably more so the case, in my thirty plus something years on the planet, “honor thyself” means deliberately acting and behaving in a way that aligns with my values and beliefs as well as honoring my spirit by doing what feels right and good for me.
Before someone calls the notion selfish (please cue a GIF eyeroll), “honoring thyself” is about self-care, self-respect, and self-love. And in order to understand how we give care, respect, and love to others in a healthy way, then we have to develop that healthy relationship with the self. There is nothing wrong with that, and self-love queen and future Grammy winner, Lizzo, calls it survival, and I am inclined to agree.
So ladies and gents, how do we “honor thyself”? While I am sure that this is not an exhaustive list on how to do this; these are my top 5 lessons I have had to learn to honor myself.
- Trust your instincts and listen to your gut. : I think in a lot of situations that I instinctively knew that things weren’t right. There would be a tug at my heart, a gnaw in my stomach, and a back and forth in my brain. My body, or my gut, always felt like it knew way before I was ever willing to admit that something was wrong but it was usually pride and stubbornness that got me outright defy what my body knew. The hurt I would have been spared had I listened to my body is too great to recount but I can’t live in a world of “what ifs.” All I can do is learn from this, and move forward in wisdom. Listen to your gut; look for those cues because if something feels wrong, it probably is.
- Learn to say “no.”: I am a recovering people pleaser. I have a tendency to say yes to helping others and giving to others even at the expense of inconveniencing myself. In the drama triangle (that’s another post for another day but if you are so desperate to know what that is click: https://lindagraham-mft.net/triangle-victim-rescuer-persecutor-get/ ), I am the “hero”or “rescuer” which sounds awesome but in reality, sucks because I essentially enable others’ bad behavior, encourage people to take advantage of my giving nature, and give to the point of depletion. It has literally taken me till now to say “no” to things and understanding the necessity of setting those boundaries so I don’t become bitter or resentful. It takes a lot of self-awareness and trust in your gut to understand how much I realistically can give without taking away from myself and at what point I need to put the hand up and say “boy/ girl bye.”
- Practice self-care EVERYDAY.: It is so important to do at minimum one act of self-care a day whether that is setting aside 10 minutes to meditate, working out, listening to a podcast you love in the car, whatever. There was a season of my life where I took care of everyone and everything else but myself in my personal and professional life, and de-prioritizing myself took its toll. I became bitter, burnt out, and felt like a shell of myself. What self-care means and how much self-care everyone needs varies from person to person; however, I do believe everyone is entitled to do a little something for themselves every day to keep their sanity. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money which I think is a big misconception of self-care or require a crazy amount of time but I believe that you have to be aware of your needs and your feelings to really assess that. I personally require a lot of self-care, and I like my various forms of self-care to cover my emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical self; however, I know that is what works for me to make me feel balanced and everyone might not need as much as I do.
- Quit talking shit to and about yourself: I have made a concerted effort to stop talking shit about myself – a habit that I do consciously & unconsciously. Derived from the thoughts that support the idea that I either “not enough” where I overcompensate or I am “too much” where I make myself shrink to accommodate others, I have a tendency to mentally beat myself up over my imperfections. But I have noticed how beating myself and talking crap about myself was beginning to affect how I see myself and consequently my relationships. When you play the broken record of bad thoughts in your head, you’re going to believe it at some point so if you are constantly shaming yourself then that is how you are going to see yourself. Too skinny; too fat; too poor; too unqualified; blah, blah, blah. No one is immune to the self-shame game. How we talk to and about ourselves is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. It is okay to want to change things but do so lovingly and with a little patience while also showing yourself grace for being beautifully imperfect. I am a firm believer that we are the narrator of our own life and have the power to change our circumstances with a little gumption and effort. But what do we think telling ourselves all that is wrong with ourselves is going to do? There have been studies that show that negative self-talk is not an effective motivator and often it becomes our excuses. You do not “honor thyself” by becoming the victim of your own life.
- Surround yourself with people whose visions, goals, and values align with yours but also give you something to strive to be like: I am a big believer that the people you choose to surround yourself reveals a lot about the current condition of your character and the potential trajectory with your life. Because of this, I have become increasingly selective of who I spend my time with and who I allow in my inner circle. No longer caring about being well-liked, I have acknowledged that not all people are meant to be active participants or participate at all in every season of your life; it has become easier to cut out those who no longer provide value and whose lifestyles do not align with mine. This is not to be mean and I am exceedingly grateful for people in my past who I no longer have a relationship with but it helps me protect my energy and my visions by letting go of what no longer serves me. Rather, I choose to surround myself with loving people and energy that helps me honor myself, allows me to be my most authentic self, supports and pushes for growth and the future I see for myself.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. ”