Maria Connolly, LPC

Tag: Self’-Love

The Best Self-Care Practices Take Self-Discipline AND Self-Compassion

Here are 30 of my best self care practices, based on discipline and compassion, to help you care for your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical wellness“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” ~ John Steinbeck

It goes against popular thought, but I have to be honest with you — being self-indulgent is not a good basis for self-care practices. In the long run, this course leads to self loathing. Your body gets out of shape, your emotions become unruly and your spirit is stunted. The best self care practices take self-discipline, because you choose what’s good for you, rather than what feels good in the moment.

But getting tough with yourself is only part of the equation. When it’s your sole focus, it’s too easy to go to the extreme of getting down on yourself. That’s not helpful or healthful! We’ve had a lifetime to get where we are today. No doubt you’ve picked up some “baggage” along the way, like I have. It takes time to change your previous patterns, to create new ones that are in harmony with your higher purpose.

If nothing else, please take this away with you: The best self-care practices depend on self-compassion. Encourage yourself, not guilt yourself! Try to see each small step as progress and quit expecting perfection. It’s that negative, harsh self-talk that makes you want to quit, and you don’t deserve that. You wouldn’t talk that way to your best friend, would you?

The best self-care practices are also intentional. They don’t just happen. In your mind, consciously label an activity as self care — that it’s part of your “prescription” for wellness. After all, when a doctor prescribes a medication or course of action, you take it seriously, right? Well then, put your self care practices on that same level of importance and urgency, because your well-being depends on it!

When you truly care for yourself, you’ll have the energy to give of yourself and to live joyfully. As Steve Maraboli puts it so well, “Allow yourself to enjoy each happy moment in your life.” Perhaps the following list will give you some new ideas:

  1. Listen to your body. When you need down time, take it without feeling guilty.
  2. You don’t have to put up with stress triggers and Debbie Downers.
  3. Move, stretch, and breathe deeply often.
  4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and name what you’re feeling, without judgment.
  5. Enjoy at least one hour of intentional silence every day; split it into 15-minute increments if that works best for you.
  6. Completely disconnect from your phone by a set time each day — no surfing the Net, no YouTube, no social media, just peaceful reflection on how this day has made your life richer.
  7. Learn to say no kindly, but firmly.
  8. Quit “making do” with that worn out shirt, broken can opener, or whatever it is you’re putting up with. You deserve something new.
  9. Do a mini-declutter and get rid of what doesn’t “spark joy” as Marie Kondo says.
  10. Dress up and admire yourself more often.
  11. Make a monthly “play date” with yourself and just enjoy your own company at the coffee shop, library, boutique, museum or whatever you fancy.
  12. Reconnect with something that gave you pleasure and filled your soul in the past – hiking and camping, listening to tunes, lighting candles, dancing around the room, a hobby.
  13. Take a blanket outside and do some cloud watching or star gazing.
  14. Create a new personal or family tradition.
  15. Make a new friend.
  16. Expand your mindfulness practice to eventually encompass all aspects of your life, by intentionally adding one new category per month, like driving, brushing your teeth, shopping, eating, breathing, walking, listening, etc.
  17. Read at least one book per month.
  18. Walk 15 more minutes than you usually do.
  19. Sign up for a course you’ve always wanted to take.
  20. Join an exercise class designed for your fitness level, so you don’t injure yourself or become discouraged.
  21. Hire a coach to keep you motivated toward a personal or professional goal. 
  22. Join a community to get you out of your rut and meeting new people.
  23. Intentionally mix things up — lunch in the park, drive a different route to work, buy fresh veggies at a Farmer’s Market, etc.
  24. Reconnect with people who matter.
  25. Feed your inspiration.
  26. Look for five beautiful things each day and fully feel gratitude for them.
  27. Start a Kudos File, collecting and appreciating every compliment you receive.
  28. Do something special to enhance important relationships; within healthy relationships you’ll find that the more you give the more joy you receive.
  29. Do acts of kindness; what goes around comes around.
  30. Play and laugh — keep your inner child alive.

The best self-care practices are whatever you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Do you have any self-care practices you’d add to this list? Please visit my Facebook page and share them. And remember to sign up for my Newsletter. I may be biased, but I think that reading it is one of the best self-care practices you can have.

Leaders and Coaches — Being Genuine Surpasses Being Perfect Every Day!

Older woman is happy being genuine and authentic“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency and integrity.” ~ Janet Louise Stephenson

 Dee wanted more than anything to be a leader at work. She read every personal development book and took night courses to improve her speaking ability. She took weekend seminars to learn coaching techniques. She even did online NLP training, because she knew it would give her a competitive edge. As a team leader, she had all the right moves, but they were too practiced, too polished, too mechanical. In all of her training, she never acquired enough self-confidence to let her own personality shine through, to be vulnerable enough so people could see who she really was. As a result, she wasn’t able to connect with her team. She just hadn’t learned the knack of being genuine.

You and I both know that there’s a huge difference between someone acting like they’re interested and truly being interested. Putting on a show, going through the motions feels manipulative and off-putting. Leaders are far more effective when they are being genuine and can inspire trust and respect through their every-day actions.

If you tend to be defensive or guarded because of past hurts, being genuine can be a real challenge. But you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Take a look at some of the ways being genuine will enhance the quality of your life

Being genuine means you realize not everyone will like or agree with you and that’s okay. Being popular and getting praise isn’t your motivation — doing your best is!

Being genuine means you know your values and ethics. You’re kind and willing to let others live as they want to live, but they’re not going to shake your convictions.

Being genuine means you have the strength to make unpopular decisions. You trust your gut even when the majority are on a different path.

Being genuine means you’re approachable. People can sense that you’re truly interested in them.

Being genuine means you walk your own path, not someone else’s. You don’t have to pretend to be someone that you’re not, just to please others.

Being genuine means you recognize the good in others and see their strengths. You don’t have to hog the limelight, but you support and give generously of your knowledge and resources so they can excel at what they do best.

Being genuine means you treat everyone with respect no matter who they are. It’s important for you to dignify each person you meet, whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, or the stranger in line in front of you who’s taking “hours” to make their coffee selection at your local coffee shop.

Being genuine means you’re living in harmony with your purpose. This grounds you so you’re not swayed by the latest fad or craze.

Being genuine means keeping your word. You don’t tell people what you think they want to hear. Nor do you promise something, knowing full well you never intend on following through.

Being genuine means you see things for what they are. You don’t sensationalize comments or actions, adding meanings where none were intended. You don’t imagine slights where there are none. You give people the benefit of the doubt. And you positively look to learn from any feedback you receive.

Being genuine means you improve yourself, not try to “fix” someone else. You realize you are the only one who can change you; you’re not waiting for someone else to improve a situation.

Being genuine means you don’t hide or hold back. You’re not afraid of intimacy or connecting deeply with people. Yes, some people might disappoint you. But your life is richer for the good connections that you do make. It’s okay for people to see your vulnerabilities.

Being genuine takes a great deal of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I’ve found that a practice of mindfulness really helps. It leads to confidence that can’t be shaken. And it helps you excel at your chosen endeavors. It grounds you in reality. It lets you enjoy life to the full. It speaks to others and draws them to you.

Sometimes we can’t see ourselves clearly. We can either under-value or over-estimate ourselves. If you’d like some impartial and extremely helpful feedback, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you discover hidden strengths you can build upon to achieve the life you desire and deserve.

The Best Self-Care Skills Take Discipline, Not Self-Indulgence

The Best Self-Care Skills Take Discipline, not Self-Indulgence “Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” ~ Roy L. Smith

Do you think of self-care as relaxing in a flower-strewn bath, letting stress melt away? That is certainly one small aspect of it. But the best self-care skills take a lot of commitment, hard work and grit. It’s not glamorous. It’s not pampering. It’s getting tough with yourself as you make choices that nourish your body, mind and spirit.

Some people say that self-care is selfish…that nurturers can’t take the time. However, I’ve found that too often this is an excuse. As leaders in our industries, community and families, we need to create within ourselves the strength to lead. This takes strong self-care skills that are based on discipline. Otherwise, we can’t influence others – our business associates, our romantic partners, our children – to become the best versions of themselves.

Self-care is not indulgence. It’s discipline to do what’s best for YOU and others. Can you really say you’re taking care of yourself if you’re sitting for hours, eating tubs of ice cream? NOT! Real self-care skills require mental toughness and a deep understanding of what really matters.

 

Five essential self-care skills everybody needs:

 

Get plenty of restorative sleep. This means mindfully choosing to quit working or looking at a screen an hour before bedtime, allowing your mind to shut down and peacefully drift off to sleep.

The problem: After a stressful day, it’s easy to mindlessly watch TV or your Facebook feed. Or if you have a deadline, you push to get it done.

The solution: Put the remote in a hard to reach place so you have to think about what you’re doing. Create a special space and time for a relaxing project (like talking with a love one or doing something creative). This should quiet your mind so you can fall asleep quickly. Don’t allow anything to break this appointment with yourself. You’ll accomplish more in the long run.

 

Exercise regularly. Our bodies are designed to move and work. If you don’t, you’ll hurt and become more anxious and stressed.

The problem: People hate discomfort (not the same as pain), exercising in front of others, going to a gym, getting sweaty, etc… What’s you’re current “reason” for not exercising?

The solution: Find something you love. Mindfully focus on the increased energy, mental clarity, stamina and endurance you achieve each time you push yourself.

 

Eat healthful foods and stay hydrated. Throughout history, nations have used starvation as a way to torture and control others. Why would you do that to yourself? Why would you willingly deny your body the fuel it needs? 

Become more aware of how different foods affect YOUR body. For example, you may not be able to eat wheat like other people do. While your taste buds say, “Yum!”, your body cries, “Why are you poisoning me?!”

The problem: People hate to “go to the bother” of fixing healthful meals. They’d rather grab something and run.

The solution: Make healthy eating your passion. The Whole30® program changed my life. Find something that works for you. Take a class. Find a recipe buddy. Make sharing meals with friends and family a regular, pleasant activity you look forward to.

 

Create boundaries. We “take care of others” in the sense that we support them and respect them. In our families, this means providing food, clothing, shelter, open communication and love. But each person is responsible for their own well-being. If an option isn’t right for you, have the mental strength to say “no” despite how others react.

The problem: We have the tendency to either be controlling or be people pleasers.

The solution: Give others respect by letting them take care of themselves. YOU are responsible for YOUR emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

 

Be financially independent. We all have needs. Having MORE doesn’t guarantee more happiness. It’s a trap to compare what you have with what other people have or with what you see in magazines. Gratitude for what you have will help you see the difference between needs and wants.

The problem: Living with credit card debt or paycheck to paycheck is stressful.

The solution: Live within your means. That includes having the discipline to save a certain amount out of every paycheck for an emergency fund and a certain amount for your retirement. Pay off your credit card debts so interest rates don’t eat up your funds.

 

It takes discipline to always do the things that are good for you. Why not reboot your self-care skills by joining us at our Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. You’ll return home with renewed purpose and energy!

Learn How to Love Yourself As You Are Right Now

If you don’t know how to love yourself, you’ll never be able to cultivate wellness and balance or make deep and lasting changes, so try these 50 suggestions“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” ~ Lucille Ball

“Calgon, take me away!” Do you remember that commercial where a stressed-out woman was able to relax and restore her balance by soaking in a warm, sudsy bathtub?

What was outstanding about this ad was that it gave over-worked women permission to indulge in a simple act of self-care.

Isn’t that a sad commentary about the society we live in? That we need permission? We’re driven by the media to do more, be more, have more. Intimating that what we have and who we aren’t isn’t enough.

On the other hand, it’s refreshing to realize that a bit of self-love can begin to change the quality of our lives. In fact, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, in order to make lasting changes we need to start by accepting where and who we are first.

The way you treat yourself informs others as to how they should treat you. Equally how you treat others reflects on how you feel about yourself. When you make a practice of seeing and verbalizing the good you see in others, then oftentimes you can more easily see the good in yourself.

Do you feel the need of more self-love? Then pick one of the following suggestions and implement it today.

How to love yourself:

  1. Look for and put into grateful words (verbally or in a journal) the good you see in yourself every day.
  2. Make a daily practice of complimenting the good you see in others.
  3. Celebrate your gifts. “I make the world more beautiful because of my…”
  4. Point out the gifts you see in others. “You make my life richer because…”
  5. Ask yourself, “Is this kind and is it true?” when self-talk brings you down.
  6. Do an act of kindness every day.
  7. Don’t think in absolutes – “You never…” “You always…”
  8. Look for what you can do rather than focusing on what you can’t.
  9. Be present in each moment and notice how it makes you feel.
  10. Don’t be in a hurry, slow down and really connect with others.
  11. Maintain your optimism and see the good in every situation.
  12. Every day do your best and honor yourself for it.
  13. Practice self-assessment not judgment.
  14. View life as a journey and enjoy the trip.
  15. Recognize that mistakes are opportunities to learn and correct your course.
  16. Don’t impute bad motives to others; see their good intentions.
  17. Reword self-criticism with positive affirmations.
  18. See your progress. “Wow, a year ago I couldn’t have done that!”
  19. Take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, make amends if necessary, and then move on.
  20. Don’t hold grudges but forgive others freely, never letting a grievance fester.
  21. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect, not even you.
  22. Acknowledge and express your feelings without making accusations.
  23. Set boundaries and honor them.
  24. Stand by your convictions.
  25. Don’t be sucked into other people’s drama.
  26. Let go of trying to control every outcome.
  27. Keep in mind the results you want and let it unfold.
  28. Dignify others with their right to decide. It’s not on you.
  29. Cultivate patience, acceptance and courage.
  30. Share yourself with others and be willing to be vulnerable.
  31. Avoid comparing yourself to anyone else.  
  32. Nurture your soul and make time for things that make you happy.
  33. Care for your mind, limit your exposure to bad news, and never stop learning.
  34. Exercise, nourish and respect your body.
  35. Stop self-destructive habits.
  36. Get toxins out of your environment – chemicals or relationships.
  37. Get plenty of sleep.
  38. Schedule time to pamper yourself.
  39. Do more of what fuels your joy in living.
  40. Follow your dreams.
  41. Don’t settle.
  42. Strive for excellence and competence, not perfection.
  43. Surround yourself with people who build you up and inspire you.
  44. Invest in your future and hire a life coach to mentor you.
  45. Keep your inner child alive and foster your sense of wonder and curiosity.
  46. Have fun! 
  47. Find your place of solitude and regularly listen to yourself. 
  48. Be true to who you are. 
  49. Don’t listen to who the world tries to tell you to be.
  50. Keep your sense of humor.

Did you see some areas that could use improvement? The old adage is true, “Practice makes perfect.” So, think about ways to make self-love part of your daily routine. When you learn how to love yourself you will be cultivating wellness on every level and enhancing your efforts to make positive changes.

Please feel free to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation so we can explore your options. I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.

Do You Love Yourself Enough? Here are 25 Signs You Don’t…

Here are 25 signs that you may not love yourself enough, which is foundational for building a happy, successful life filled with close relationships and joyAs a preteen, did you ever use a daisy to predict if a boy liked you? As you plucked a petal you said, “He loves me.” Then, for the next petal, “He loves me not.”

Kind of sweet but silly, wasn’t it?

Looking back, I think it would have served us better to focus on whether, “I love me or I love me not.” That’s the real foundation for how we live our lives. And it’s often something we don’t get entirely right because of what life throws at us.

Self-love is knowing and accepting that you deserve as much love and affection as anyone else on earth. It means taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs with kindness. Sad to say, many people don’t treat themselves very well.

However, it’s vital that you love yourself enough. No it’s not selfish or narcissistic or egotistical! If you don’t love yourself, you won’t respect, value or honor yourself. You won’t be happy. Why? Because if you don’t love yourself, what’s the alternative? Indifference. Self-hate. Self-loathing.

If you don’t love yourself, you won’t take proper care of yourself or be happy. This may manifest itself in the following ways:

  1. You feel bad about taking time for yourself.
  2. You tell yourself you’re not good, pretty or smart enough.
  3. You apologize continually for things that don’t need an apology.
  4. You put everyone else first at the expense of your own needs and wants.
  5. You compare yourself unfavorably to others.
  6. You need permission to make self-care a priority.
  7. You feel guilty about spending money on fun things.
  8. You pack your schedule so full because you can’t stand quiet.
  9. You have no idea what your purpose is or what sets your soul on fire.
  10. You need to know what others decide before you make a decision.
  11. You beat yourself up for past failings.
  12. You think you have no gifts or talents or you play them down.
  13. You’re self-critical, only seeing your flaws and feeling unworthy.
  14. You lack self-confidence, so you never try anything that feels risky.
  15. You find it very difficult to stand up for yourself.
  16. You avoid introspection and soul searching.
  17. You blame circumstances or someone else, never seeing your contribution to a problem.
  18. You often say, “I can’t”.
  19. You need others to validate you – “I’m nothing if he doesn’t approve of me”.
  20. You hide your feelings and thoughts so people don’t know the “real” you.
  21. You feel like you’re just existing and getting by.
  22. You keep punishing yourself over the past.
  23. You neglect your health and appearance.
  24. You quit learning and improving because you think, “What’s the use?”
  25. You can’t trust your gut or intuition as you second-guess yourself.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but you may see the tendency toward viewing yourself negatively. Even well-adjusted persons may experience a twinge or two as they read it. We all have a past that follows us in adulthood. We’re all a work in process.

If you’re not treating yourself with the love you deserve, I’d love to help you discover practical ways for achieving greater self-awareness and self-love. I know how scary this can be, but we can do this together. I’ll be sharing some ways to get started in my next blog post.

Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’m looking forward to speaking with you soon.


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