I recently wrote an article on self-love/self-care and with my birthday recently this week and Valentine’s Day coming up tomorrow (and based on my #repost on Instagram from last night) I think it’s time we discuss something very important: It is time for folks to start loving their damn selves!
I set the intentions for the month of February to not include any negative self-talk into my vocabulary. Which, for someone with a long history of having a type-A personality with a touch (or more) of perfectionism and self-esteem issues is a hard thing to do.
So buckle up folks, and you can do that by inserting the metal end into the buckle and pull the strap to tighten because this might be a long ride.
Whether we believe it or not, the world is a beautiful and loving place; love has shown its way to me over and over through 2019 in many different ways.
So let’s get real, raw, and discuss self-love. We have got to love ourselves. We can get started by letting go of what no longer serves us, setting boundaries, and making subtle improvements.
In 2016 a close friend kept telling me “you have got to start taking care of #1.” We would often have this conversation on my 30-minute drive back from my night job because my day job (which required a masters degree and consistently exceeding 6+ revenue lines -without bonuses I might add) didn’t pay the bills. I wrestled with the meaning of that phrase for almost a year while at the same time while the Universe consistently showing me the theme “Let. It. Go.” over and over again. So that’s what I started doing; I started getting clear on what let it go actually meant. Throughout the last 7 years I’ve started letting go of toxic relationships and friendships that no longer serve me, I let go of jobs that caused me more stress and anxiety than what they were worth, and I slowly begin letting go of the thoughts that I’m not good enough, not worthy, and whatever other stories I was telling myself.
We are very creative people. Most of us fabricate stories (as Brene Brown so eloquently calls them our shitty first drafts). I live an entrepreneur lifestyle. For the longest time when people would ask me questions (even before the entrepreneur lifestyle), I would hear something totally different.
Here are a few examples to get your brain working:
Someone would ask “What do you do with Roxy when you travel so much?” What I would hear is “What are you doing with a pet? You are always gone and you’re a terrible dog dad”…. Now I hear something totally different. I hear the question itself. When someone asks that, my response is “Well I’m actually very lucky, my parents are in good health and they only live 3 hours away so she will go visit them or she will go to daycare. Any more questions?”
When I first moved back to Wilmington, I went to young professionals networking events (and I am very lucky to have met both my accountant and financial advisor there because they keep me in line) and people would ask me “Wait, why do you travel so much and why are you gone all the time?” I stopped fabricating the question and I would simply respond “Well, you know how you get in a car to drive to work? I do that 2 days a week and the remaining time I get on planes to fly to work because I have clients all over the world. Any more questions?”
Another question I get asked often is: “wow, I can’t imagine all the things you do. How and when do you sleep?” My response now is “very well actually. I’m usually in bed by 10 and up by 6. Sometimes it’s in my bed and sometimes it’s in a Marriott somewhere. Any more questions?”
My point is that no one will ever criticize us the way we criticize ourselves. As many of you reading this, I’ve spent my entire life telling myself things that I would never say to someone else…yet why do we treat ourselves this way?
Throughout my life, I have had obesity and I have had disordered eating patterns with a touch of exercise addiction (and possibly a mild addiction to ephedra when that was on the market - jeez those were the days amirite?). I know that sometimes I do not appear to look like the Hollywood version of a fitness “professional.” I put quotes around the word “professional” because it’s a fake word that we don’t have time to get into right now.
A little over a year ago, I received a phone call from the owner of a high-end boutique fitness studio frantically asking me to come to help them open because they didn’t have enough staff. I went and met with the regional fitness manager and to her dismay, she said I didn’t “look” like “their" coach material. Years ago I might have let that break me but now I have a different response. Don’t get me wrong, no matter watch position you are in, negative comments will never completely go away and will always sting at least a little. I quickly reminded her that they are the ones that called me and I didn’t call them; I have a job and I do not need one. I also let her know that if we did engage in any type of working relationship that I would not be signing any NDA or non-compete agreements; I wished them a successful studio opening and said if they needed any consulting services to give me a call but I won’t be an employee.
I decided to start setting boundaries on what’s acceptable and what’s not.
#SetBoundaries AKA #NoTimeForTheBullshit
Setting boundaries and getting clear on expectations can be a scary thing to do. Some people fear that setting boundaries might appear as if they are burning bridges. Well, if you think setting boundaries and burning bridges are the same things, then I tell you “may the bridges you burn light your way.”
Setting boundaries is about determining what is acceptable and unacceptable.
In my example above about having a night job to bring in extra cash... I also used my moonlighting at local colleges and gyms as a boundary. Having a night job and a “side-hustle” guaranteed that I was going to leave my office at a specific time. It helped me create a boundary so that I didn’t become so married to a job to the point where I would stay until some un-Godly hour when the work still wouldn’t be done and would still be waiting for me the next day. In salaried positions, it doesn’t matter how late you stay; your paycheck isn’t going to go up.
Setting boundaries can mean determining how and when you will communicate with others. Sending out internal office emails in the middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning is unacceptable. Actually, if you want me to be completely honest with you...using email as a means of communication inside your organization should be completely unacceptable altogether. If you are curious why that is and what is the solution to that, I would be happy to give anyone a FREE 30-minute consultation call. If our call is scheduled to start at 2pm and you call in 5 minutes late, our call still ends at 2:30 pm. After 2:30 pm I bill by the minute as those are billable hours; those are my boundaries.
Over time I’d say I’ve improved about setting boundaries. I try to be clear with people about what is acceptable and what is not; topics we will discuss and topics we won’t discuss, and so forth. After leaving my full-time job and the safety net of a steady paycheck, I had to get extremely clear on setting boundaries. Time is money and you cannot manage time but you can manage priorities. As an entrepreneur, priority management is essential to me. I strategically plan my schedule so I can maximize my priorities. I will not waste energy going back and forth via email with leads or clients trying to find a time to schedule a call; I simply give them a booking link to my calendar where they can find a time that is convenient to them and book directly. Automatic reminders occur to remind both of us when is our call and what method we will use to achieve that call. I weigh everything on my schedule. Real life example, I had to spend the day at the car dealership and was also scheduled to teach a fitness class that morning. I chose to get a sub for my class because paying $30 for a day car rental or taking an uber across town and back to teach a class for $20 wasn’t in the cards. I set boundaries.
If you are having trouble figuring out where to set boundaries. Make a list with 3 columns - Non-Negotiable, Give In, and Give Up. In the non-negotiable column, list the things that are so important to you that you will not budge on. In the “give in” column, list the things that are important but you can compromise on. In the “give up” column, list the things that you would exchange for something of equal or more value. More people should take this approach in job searches (both the employer and the candidate).
Each and every day we make subtle improvements to get better. It is so easy to get stuck in the vicious cycle of trying to prove ourselves and because of that, we operate from a place of shame and then we end up withdrawing. Let’s strive to get better. Let’s strive to be better. When we show up already approved, we operate from a place of no shame and therefore we are able to be present.
Self-love isn’t something you can immediately change your mindset into. It takes time. It’s about making small changes every day. Just because the boarding door of the 9am flight to self-care is closing, it doesn’t mean you can’t hop on the next flight out.
So this year, buy yourself flowers or candy. It’s time for us to love our damn selves.
Happy Valentine’s Day friends!
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