When’s the last time you did something bold? The last time you said “yes” to something despite insecurity, said “no” despite pressure? When’s the last time you showed up for yourself by taking a risk?
Do you have a comfort zone when it comes to how you show up for yourself?
I’ve been thinking about this question so much lately. After years of trial and error, learning how to take care of myself, and practicing kinder thoughts, I’ve become very comfortable in how I love myself. This is a great thing in some respects—I’ve been able to make some acts of self-care habitual. Going to the gym. Drinking enough water. Speaking mostly kindly to myself. But I realized that I was no longer challenging myself in my self-care. I’d tackled the basics, so I had convinced myself that I mastered self-care. Underneath the surface was a different story. I was using my now habitual, “easy” self-care as justification for ignoring the parts of my life that I really needed to address. Maybe I wasn’t being open and honest with my loved ones, but at least I was working out. Maybe I was letting perfectionism rule my life, but at least I was prioritizing sleep. I got so used to doing what I’ve always done in terms of self-care that I stopped looking for new parts of my life that needed a little more attention and compassion.
It doesn’t mean that the self-care we’re already practicing doesn’t matter. It just means that as we grow and change, the way we love ourselves has to grow and change too. Stepping out of our self-love comfort zones is a bold investment in personal growth.
Self-care shouldn’t be a quota that we meet with whatever comes most naturally. It’s about embracing what comes naturally, but prioritizing what most serves us. Sometimes, practicing the most important types of self-love requires us to confront and conquer fear.
This realization that self-care might not always be comfortable is an important one to reflect on. It’s about finding a way to gently call yourself out for ignoring whatever is inhibiting your joy out of fear or insecurity. I’ve written about limiting beliefs before and how we tell ourselves these stories about who we are. We all have a narrative about our flaws and insecurities… about what we just can’t do. These limiting beliefs create the walls of our self-care comfort zone. We designate certain things as objective facts, “just the way things are”, and quietly decide that no amount of self-care or self-love could change them. “I can’t tell anyone about this because they won’t understand.” “I can’t wear this outfit because it wasn’t made for people that look like me.” “My best can’t be a B+ because I have to be perfect.” “I’ll never be in a loving relationship because no one could love the real me.” These are all examples of limiting beliefs that we internalize and believe to be true so deeply that we pretend they cannot be confronted with self-love.
Identifying and confronting these narratives is a revolutionary act of self-love.
We live in a society that often profits from our limiting beliefs. Premium dating apps, the diet industry, shallow measurements of intelligence like the ACT, and more. Society places crippling pressure on us to not only fit into these perfect boxes, but to take selfies in these boxes and edit them perfectly for Instagram. It is next to impossible to live in the social media world and not feel inadequate about some part of who you are. These images of false perfection infiltrate our lives and bolster those limiting beliefs, turning our self-care comfort zone into a self-care fortress. If you were already telling yourself that hating your body is just a part of who you are that fierce self-love couldn’t change, society’s representation of beauty will cement that narrative. If you decide that it’s something self-care can’t impact, you will continue to take bubble baths and do face masks but live with this unresolved self-loathing. You will continue to hit your “self-care quota” but never address what is truly causing you the most pain.
Whoever you are and whatever your limiting beliefs are, I know how scary it can be to decide that self-love can change them. Because once you decide that those limiting beliefs are not a part of who you are, that they are ferocious displays of fear and insecurity, the walls of your self-care comfort zone start to blur. Once you decide that fierce self-care could change the narrative, you realize that true self-love means confronting and rejecting something you’ve gotten comfortable believing.
I know in my past, even thought it was painful to believe that I wasn’t worthy, I got really comfortable carrying that weight around every single day. It became second nature to feel insecure, unlovable. To hate my body. To question myself. To believe that I had to be perfect so I would receive validation from others. For a long time, I didn’t think self-love could change these narratives. I thought they were just objective facts about who I was, character flaws. Social media reinforced these limiting beliefs every single day. Recognizing that I did not have to feel that way forever, that there was a version of me out there that loved myself fiercely was hard to believe for a long time. But by confronting my limiting beliefs and focusing my self-care on the most painful parts of my life, I was able to slowly rewrite those narratives.
If you’re reading this and you think this change isn’t possible for you, I hear you. I see you. I was you. It took brutal honesty with myself, vulnerability with others, and hard work. It took taking risks. Showing up for myself in ways that scared the hell out of me. Something as small as wearing shorts to the gym. Something as big as showing up believing that I am capable of building the career of my dreams. At this stage of my life, I try to welcome opportunities to step out of my self-care comfort zone. I will never forfeit journaling, meditation, bubble baths, and face masks. My self-care comfort zone will always be such an important part of how I create peace and joy in my life. But finding bold new ways to love myself is exciting.
I invite you to join me in confronting these limiting beliefs and being bold in your self-love. Ask yourself when you feel powerless, when you feel that fear wins, what you wish you could do but don’t have the confidence to do. Ask yourself when you feel like you have to make yourself small to be accepted. Ask yourself what thoughts stop you from being the most vibrant version of who you are. Pick one insecurity or self-loathing thought that you’ve convinced yourself is a part of who you are and call it out. Take one small step to confront it. There was a time in my life when I would cry in dressing rooms and refuse to wear anything other than sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. I believed so deeply that I would never feel confident in my own skin. Small steps, big risks, unfollowing unhealthy social media accounts, talking about it, practicing kind thoughts every day. Bold self-love. Today I wore the boldest possible outfit I could find and felt more fierce than I ever have in my life.
So choose bold. Take a risk in your self-love. Take a chance on yourself.
I’m betting on you.
Choose radiance. Choose fearlessness. Choose you.
With light and love,