The Loved T was inspired by a former middle school teacher who noticed that I, a foster child, needed a little lesson on how to love myself. She saw the emptiness in my adolescent eyes and the quiet void in my spirit. Sitting down next to me one day as I sat alone at a table in her classroom, she spoke very softly and said, "You must learn how to love yourself child. Run you a nice hot bubble bath. Do your nails. Look in the mirror and practice. Practice reminding you that you must love you first. It is ok."
As the years progressed and I grew into the woman I am today, I was determined to learn how to overcome the emptiness I often felt as a foster child who longed to be loved unconditionally. I researched, studied, and researched some more! Soon, I realized that in order for love to come to fruition in my life, I had to accept that love was a complex idea that required me to be present and intentional about how I existed. I learned that one of the main reasons I kept struggling to find love was because I thought it could only come to fruition based on the recognition and validation of others. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Love does not have to be dominated by others. It can be accomplished by embracing the essence of self-love. Meaning we must first learn to love ourselves beyond measure if we ever expect to capture healthy love from others.
This does not mean we should walk around being self-consumed pompous royal diasticutis! (That last word was influenced by the lovely Zora Neale Hurston!) It means that on a daily basis we make intentional moves to practice mental and physical self-care behaviors that reflect self-love. What this looks like may vary because loving oneself looks different for everyone.
As a result of my research and journey to self-love, I developed some strategies to improve what I like to call the LOVED MINDSET. In my deepest, darkest, and most insecure moments, when I almost allowed some wayward man, fair weather friend, or shiesty passerby to define what love should look like in my life, I used these strategies and they worked!
I would like to share them with you just as my former teacher shared her strategies with me. It is with great hopes that the next time you wonder if anyone loves you, you will be sure to remember it is you who needs to love you first--intentionally, patiently, willingly, and unapologetically.
- The first strategy is to remember we all have negative thoughts about ourselves from time to time. It is inevitable. Learning to manage and mitigate those thoughts are key essential skill sets needed to master a LOVED MINDSET.
- One way to manage such thoughts is to create visual spaces that make you feel loved every time you look at them. The space could be a collection of keepsakes or memorable photos that make you feel special, an image saved as your screensaver on your phone, or a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that simply reads, “I am loved.” Go to the spaces every chance you get for a quick visual reminder. Place them in your desk at work, in your car, or in a special room at home.
- A second strategy is to practice calming any negative thoughts about yourself by stopping for just a brief second to take a deep breath and boldly speak life into your thoughts by saying aloud or thinking quietly “I give myself permission to love all of me-- from my head to my toes-- the most unsure and intimate parts of me are loved. I deserve to be loved and will not accept anything less. I am loved.” Breath and repeat whenever you feel it is necessary.
- A third strategy is to TREAT YOURSELF WELL. Exercise. Laugh. Eat healthfully. Don’t do things that may hurt you and avoid hurtful people. At least once a day, do something tangible that makes you feel happy and brings you joy. It doesn't have to be extravagant. It could be as simple as taking a hot bubble bath, going for a walk, painting your nails, reading a chapter from a great book, taking a nap, stretching, meditating, practicing yoga, sipping on your favorite cup of tea, drinking a glass of wine, or making a fun mixed drink. Mix it up or keep it simple. It is your choice.
- A fourth strategy is to PAY IT FORWARD without expecting anything in return. Do something kind or considerate to make someone else feel loved.
Know that there will be interference! Meaning there will be people and things that will tempt you to do the complete opposite. When this happens, you must fight for your ability to love yourself like your life depends on it. And, forgive yourself for the moments when you cannot.
Remember the strategies listed above won't master the LOVED MINDSET in one fell swoop. Repetition and time is key because the human brain needs constant mental stimulation to control our fleeting thoughts. Hence, capturing the LOVED MINDSET is a journey that requires a ton of small steps that may include an array of tears, devastation, unexpected setbacks, inspiration, recognition, insight, hope, confidence, awareness, pride, and forgiveness.
The more you practice the LOVED MINDSET the easier it will become. Your tolerance for anything less than love will become so low that others will begin to witness how you prioritize your ability to practice self-love. As a result, the laws of attraction will set forth a domino effect creating spaces for others to embrace the grace of your love. And, most importantly, it will give you more power to resist the temptation to allow others to determine your value.
You will find that the more you practice the LOVED MINDSET your path to happiness and peace will become unapologetically priceless!
Join the movement and share your LOVED MINDSET journey, tips, and strategies in the comments section below!
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All the best,
L Apparel & Print Creations CEO, Dr. Lisa Pickett, Ed.D.