For the month of October, which is, amongst many other things, #selfcaremonth, I’m talking all about relationship care. But before you can look after any of your relationships, you have to be looking after yourself. As I used to love to say at the end of my yoga classes, “Thank yourself for taking the time today to put on your own oxygen mask first, so you can be a better friend, partner, boss, parent, and human.”
Self care is such a popular topic, you probably already have loads of ideas about how to practice it... And if you’re like most people, you also probably ignore it most days. This month, I’m committing to practicing my standard daily self care habits – like drinking lots of water and moving my body away from this desk – and at least one “bonus” thing each day. But the one act of self care that is the key to every other good thing I’ll do for myself is my self love practice.
Self care flows naturally from self love. All of the little kindnesses you bestow on your fiancé flow from your love for them, so naturally, if you love yourself, you'll take care of yourself, too.
It all became very clear to me a few years ago when I was watching one of my favourite shows, The Mindy Project. (If you read my blog on getting married with the body you have, you have heard this story before!) In Season 3, when Mindy is pregnant, there’s a scene where she’s looking in the mirror and being particularly hard on herself. Queen Laverne Cox, guest starring, asks her if she would speak to her best friend that way, and of course, Mindy says, “No.” No, you would never say those things to someone you care about even a little bit! In fact, you probably wouldn’t even say those things about, let alone to, someone you loathe.
When I saw that episode, in March 2015, it completely changed my worldview. I started catching myself being super critical of my body, overthinking my decisions, and dismissing my accomplishments. And whenever that happened, I thought of what my best friends would say to me in that moment. Things like:
“I think you look hot and I am obsessed with those earrings.”
“You always have such great ideas! Go for it.”
“I’m so proud of you! Look how much you’ve done in such a short time.”
It takes practice to shut up your inner critic and replace them with a positive person, but over time it will just become natural. And if you need some motivation to do so, then here it is:
It is crucial that you learn to love yourself for the health of your relationship.
Your partner is not responsible for your happiness or your sense of self-worth, and heaping that on them is not fair. Whether you realize you’re doing it or not, when you make disparaging remarks to yourself in front of your partner you are making them an accomplice in your game, leading them to feel a sense of guilt and responsibility.
Stop throwing shade at yourself!
If you don’t get this reference, you need to watch an episode of Drag Race.
The more insecure and anxious you are in a relationship, the less you are truly loving your partner and the more likely it is you will be clingy and obsessive. Obsession does not feel the same as love – one feels heavy, the other feels light and airy. Love leaves lots of room for doing your own thing, but obsession usually means doing things for the other’s approval. And if they don’t respond with approval? Resentment builds.
Don’t worry! I would never leave you high and dry. I am well-versed in pre-marital stress, and I have a few quick wellness tips to make sure you’re taking care of you on this journey:
1. Have a daily gratitude practice for the life you have created.
Bad example: I’m grateful for my home.
Good example: I’m grateful for the home I decorated and made cozy.
2. Make a list of potential big and small wins, put it somewhere you’ll see it all the time, and celebrate yourself when you tick things off.
Do a happy dance, or give yourself a little pat on the back. Anything can count – it can be as simple as watering your plants or as big as finally cleaning out your storage unit. (If you follow me on Instagram, you know my way of keeping track of my daily accomplishments is my habit tracker!)
3. Learn to accept a compliment.
Don’t dismiss people when they tell you you’re amazing! Just say thank you. And then put that in your compliment bank (I recommend keeping a note in your phone!) for a gloomy day, and go back and look at it.
It’s so important for your relationship, and for your marriage, for you to be able to do these things for yourself. RuPaul puts it best:
If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?