When we think of self-love, we think of it as an inner journey. In our last blog, we focused on ways to love yourself daily through mindsets of gratitude, exploration, love notes, and more. What we now need to focus on is how to get ourselves in the right place in order to get in the right mindset…
Us humans are social creatures. Our happiness is heavily affected by our surroundings; our “culture”. Although we know that self-love is an internal process, we need to understand that our surrounding cultures need to be in harmony with our self-love journey.
Who are you for most of your days? At work, are you the employee always providing extra help to others? At school, are you the quiet student in the lecture hall listening but not often speaking up? At home, are you the roommate or sibling constantly cleaning up after everyone?
These roles are easy for everyone to see. But…
It is not just the role you play in these places. It is the culture of these places that has a huge impact on your happiness and self-worth.
How do you figure out your work culture, school culture, or home culture? The most visible parts are the practices—how people look, talk, and act. But the more defining parts of culture are its underlying values: the principles people say are important, but more importantly, the principles people show are important.
Below are strategies to intervene on toxic cultures at all stages: understanding why you left past surroundings, surroundings you are currently in, and avoiding particular surroundings in the future…
Not sure of your values and where you draw the line? Think of the biggest conflicts of your life.
While these memories can be painful, think about these moments critically. Did you quit your job because you found out that leaders were taking from the company? Perhaps you place high value on honesty. Did you leave a past home situation because a roommate or family member became cold or reclusive? Perhaps you value openness. Did a friend use you for a personal gain? Maybe you value generosity or loyalty.
Often, our breakdowns lead to breakthroughs. These were all moments when you realized the person or place in your life was not in harmony with your values. When you can find where you have drawn the line in the past, it will be immensely helpful in your self-love journey ahead.
When you are on the self-love journey: consider the values currently in place at work, school, or home.
Often, when we are in the wrong surroundings, we start to feel that something is missing within us. The fact is, the culture you have been stuck in may have caused you to stubbornly hide the love you have for yourself under a layer of false admiration for a toxic person or place.
Make a list of the “cultures” in your life: the surroundings you are in every day. In these surroundings, list what is wrong in them, who is draining you, and what of you is being taken advantage of. Start by cutting the list in half, and literally cut the negative influences out of your surroundings as often as possible.
Here’s a mantra for this practice of self-love:
If it does not bring me good, it is not worth my effort.
Remember that there lies a beauty and bravery in the act of a woman putting herself first that inspires others to do the same.
Start the “love affair” with yourself in the right place.
It is always tempting to look for a great culture: a top university, a workplace with pets and a ping-pong table, an apartment in the city. These can all look amazing on the surface, the role in these new places may seem exciting and perfect. But inside could be toxic behaviours, which cause more harm than positive behaviours breed joy. Even though you may be at a top university in a competitive program, you may value a smaller group to share your ideas more openly than in that big lecture hall. At work, you may enjoy that ping pong table at lunch and bringing your pet is convenient, but does sitting at a desk on a computer make you miserable? At that new apartment in the city, is your roommate anti-social and messy, leaving you feeling alone and burnt out?
To allow your happiness and self-love to flourish, ask for the stories first.
Ask people about their unique experience at the top university you want to attend, or the new city you want to be in, or the workplace you’re applying for—and find the themes: Was it fun? Innovative? Safe? Fair? When stories suggest immobility, corruption, or other values that go against who you are, cross the place off your list.
How do you envision that love affair with yourself? Where is it happening? Who is supporting you? Remember, we all have our breakdowns, but our self-love journey is about our breakthroughs. It is not only about the mindset you are in, it is the place you are in, too!