self-care / part 8 : forgiving yourself

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self-care series
((part eight of eight))


i'm not sure how long the term 'self-care' has been around. some people might hear it and cringe because they believe it's something millennials came up with as an excuse to take long baths every night and prioritize laziness over responsibilities. some people might write it off as being overly sensitive and wasting valuable time. or maybe it just scares some because they've never taken the time to even think about what it would look like to take care of themselves. 

i think i can relate to the last example. this eight week journey has truly been an enlightening one. if you're just stopping by now, i'll give you the highlights. 

part one taking the time

some might argue that time is the most valuable currency. recognize that your contentment is worth an immeasurable amount. you deserve self-care.


each soul is as unique as a fingerprint. the better you know yourself, the better you can know your strengths and weaknesses, as well as gifts that you give in relationships, and what you need from others. knowing yourself is loving yourself.


pushing your limits and doing the things you are afraid of will build incredible strength and confidence. even if you fail, it is worth the wisdom gained from experience. 

part four accepting love

it can be difficult to take a compliment or really let someone into your heart. it's scary to be this vulnerable. but there are people that want to love you where you are, you just have to let them.


no one is perfect. we all have flaws, some we can change and some we cannot. recognizing the difference between the two is so important. once you determine the weaknesses you can strengthen on your own, set realistic goals to overcome these challenges. 

part six knowing your worth

you are more than a number. you are not your instagram followers, your grades, your weight, your age. you are a sparkling spirit that makes the world better. 

part sevenforgiving someone

if i haven't said it enough, we are all flawed. we hurt others out of our own brokenness. recognizing that your wounds were given by wounded people can be freeing. forgiveness (even if it's not asked for) is an incredible weight lifted off of you.


and now this brings us to the final part of our self-care season. personally, i saved the worst for last. or more accurately, the most difficult. so we've established that we're all flawed, broken, but incredibly special and wonderful at the same time. we've taken the time to bring light to our dark places and and realize that no one is free from insecurity and pain. we've maybe even taken small steps to let go of a hurt that we've been holding onto.

even through all of this, it may still be difficult to look in the mirror. maybe when you close your eyes at night there are painful visions of moments you wish you could change. maybe your grip isn't as tight as you wish it was. what i want you to know is that everyone experiences this. everyone falls and fails and cracks around the edges. 

i recently had a conversation with a friend about how everyone is 'weird' in their own way, just some people hide it more than others. 'normal' is relative. normal can change on a daily basis, or it can change after a traumatic experience. it's okay to shift and adjust your normal. it's okay to take five steps forward and then two steps back. this is the dance with life that we are all learning and will never truly master. 

the point is that you're trying. and the fact that you're still reading this means that you care about your happiness. you care about your mental health and clarity. maybe it's buried beneath layers of shame and guilt and uncertainty, but hope is there.

self-care is not just repeating phrases about loving yourself and maybe getting an occasional massage or pedicure. self-care is a life-long journey. it is a practice. take your time with it. breathe it in and let it make a home in your heart. you'll fail because we all fail. you'll get hurt because you're human. 

self-care is fighting for your joy through the pain. it's finding peace and contentment in any situation. it's being patient with yourself while you grow.

please never forget that you deserve it.


xo,

Ashley


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self-care / part 7: forgiving someone

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self-care series
((part seven of eight))



words can cut like the sharpest knife. abandonment hollows you. neglect and selfishness are a toxic poison we've all drank. we're all victims in some form. no one is spared from emotional abuse, it's the root of our humanity. survival of the fittest. save yourself.

i still remember harsh words spoken to me when i was a child. i remember being very young, and a girl in my neighborhood pointing and laughing at me with her friends. she was taunting me for my (pre-braces) crooked teeth. i was horrified, but also very aware of one thing... this girl's teeth were more crooked than mine. 

it was a lesson i learned early in life which shaped my worldview. the one that hurt you has been hurt before. bullies are the most broken. hatred is a weed that grows when love isn't there to pluck it out. 

so while there's no excuse for treating another person poorly, knowing that the cold heart is a broken heart can give us a powerful tool to carry throughout our entire lives. 

the first step is recognizing the darkness in the person that hurt us. we're all broken, we're all bleeding. but it's up to you to rise above the injustices of life. it's up to you to fight for your happiness. 

i've been told that holding a grudge is like drinking poison in an attempt to hurt someone else. we only hurt ourselves. somehow it's easier to hold onto the hurt. we can cling to it and control it. maybe we think that if we let it go it will grow. that holding it tight keeps it at bay. but this is simply not true. it is a shackle at our feet for which we have the key. 

forgive him for you. forgive her for you. only you can set yourself free from bitterness and the heavy weight of anger.

there is one thing i'd like to clarify. forgiveness does not mean approval. it doesn't mean that you're saying that what they did to you was okay. you're merely accepting it as a part of your story. a coal in the fire of the kiln that shapes you. you're making peace with the fact that the person that broke you is more broken than you. it's wishing healing and wholeness for them, despite what it seems they deserve. 

we are all on a journey. as humans we will hurt people, despite our best efforts not to. if you are holding tight to pain in your palm, releasing it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. it can be a process, take your time. you deserve to be free. 


xo,

Ashley


Listening to:


self-care / part 6: knowing your worth

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self-care series
((part six of eight))

- your worth is beyond numbers -

each night i lay in the dark, desperate for sleep and instead of counting sheep i count calories. as the tally racks up, i berate myself for being born as a living creature who needs food for survival. 

each morning i carry my corpse to the scale, barefoot on the cold glass i watch the numbers spin. it's gone up .2 and suddenly its harder to hold myself up, as though the weight is added to a bag on my back. 

i unlock my phone and open each social media app one by one. i've dropped a follower and my photo likes are nothing compared to hers.

subconsciously i add up these numbers and feel the punch of a stamp on my chest. the total number labels me and everyone can see it glowing in the dark. 

hi i'm 325, nice to meet you. 

i catch myself, repeat the number, trying to correct myself until i'm finally able to say my name. 

this is a problem that i believe plagues every person at some time in their life. from age to weight to net worth we're surrounded by numbers. it's easy to find your worth in them. 

this is something i've struggled with ever since i can remember. as i've been working to shift my focus from self-hatred to self-care, i've become increasingly aware of my daily struggle with self-esteem. i've let the voices of the media make themselves at home in my heart. they tell me that no one will like me if i'm not thin enough, if i'm not pretty enough, if i'm not wealthy enough. and the expectation is practically unmeetable. 

as i work to capture these negative thoughts as they happen, i am trying to replace them with positive ones. i must believe in my heart that i am worth loving. and it's not easy. 

i imagine that i'm not alone in this struggle. that i'm not the only person out there who has tried to find my self-worth in these temporary things. if you're with me in this, i hope you know how wonderful you are. i hope you know that your spirit is so strong and your life holds so much more meaning than the shapes and numbers that you hold onto. you can leave a legacy of love and acceptance, but this starts with you. 

you must dig out the hurtful thoughts by the roots. don't let them back in. look in the mirror and say 'i love you.' tell yourself that you're worth is found in the lives you touch, the joy you bring to those around you, the warmth you give. these things can't be measured in numbers. tell yourself that there are galaxies within you, a unique beauty that only you can give.

it may not be easy. it may be something that we fight for every day, but i know that it'll be worth the fight.

we're in this together. 



  xo,

Ashley 


Listening to:

self-care / part 5: accepting your flaws & setting goals for change

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self-care series
((part five of eight))

i've always considered myself to be self-aware, which for me also includes being incredibly insecure. i have memories of being very young, looking in the mirror, and only seeing things i wished i could change. 

still not a day goes by that i don't think about the smallest details of me that i wish were different. but what good can come from just sitting around thinking these thoughts? really, i'm only slowly sipping at poison.

so while i'm working on taking care of myself, i thought about how i could grab onto these thoughts as though they're balloons, let some go, and take others and shape them into something beautiful. 

while these words are so often thrown around, they hold a life changing amount of truth: nobody's perfect. a human is a human, we all struggle and suffer and cry and wish we could change. 

so let's take that desire for change and let it fuel a fire of love and passion within us. let's find what we have the power to change and set realistic goals to change them. emphasis on realistic. 


if you wish had a different sleep schedule, that you could wake up earlier than noon on your days off, maybe don't set your alarm for 6am and expect a change overnight. or if you are wanting to cut back on sugar, it doesn't always work to eliminate it completely the next day. for some people the extreme change can be what they need. in my experience, i try and make these big changes and when i don't see results right away, i give up. most often, i think gradually easing into change can be the best thing. 

sometimes the first step is asking for help. it's hard to make changes alone. this can be as simple as going to a dermatologist for your acne, or as big as asking help for an addiction. accountability is so important. 

if you look in the mirror and wish your teeth were whiter, allow yourself to budget in whitestrips from the grocery store. you deserve it. it can be little things like this that we constantly think about being different, but don't take the step to change them, maybe because we don't feel that we deserve that extra care. i'm telling you now that you do. 

so we've identified some things that we have control over in our lives. what about the things that we don't? this is the bane of existence, but it's an eternal truth. we'll never have full control. there are some things about ourselves that, realistically, aren't in our control to change. these things are mostly appearance-related for me. 

so maybe there are things about the way you look that could be fixed by plastic surgery or extreme measures, but this isn't entirely realistic for you. i don't love my nose, but i don't plan to go under the knife any time soon, so instead of dwelling on it, the healthiest thing for me to do is accept that it's the face i was given, and focus on parts of it that i love. i do love my eyes, so when i start to think about what i don't like, switch gears in my mind to what i do. 

nobody's perfect. we all have things about ourselves that we wish were different. it can be easy to think that everyone is looking at you and only seeing flaws. maybe you do struggle with comparison and looking at people around you with a critical eye. i've found a practice that helps with this: if i'm in line at a grocery store or sitting in a busy mall, i'll look at each person near me and think about the lovely things about them. i notice the woman in front of me has beautiful hair, and the young girl walking by has a warm and lovely smile. this can be a way to train your brain to notice the beauty first. as you're doing that with others, you can start doing it with yourself. and if you get a chance, tell the person what you think is beautiful. compliments can truly make someone's day and possibly help with their own insecurities. 

know that your soul is so special and so valuable and so much more than the skin surrounding it. you are strong and have the power to make peoples' lives better, and what is more beautiful than that? 



xo,
Ashley


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