Choosing love is an act of courage, and choosing to love yourself may be the most courageous act of all. – Judy Clement Wall
One time, I shared a post on my Instagram account:
Then, somebody asked: “How do I love myself?” It made me realize just how many of us are still clueless on how to love ourselves.
It was the same realization that Judy Clement Wall had after committing to a “Year of Fearless Love.” She learned that while many people have no trouble with random acts of kindness toward others, most struggle with redirecting that love back to themselves.
This is what inspired her to create this eye-candy, treat-for-the-soul journal so we can learn to love ourselves. I find this as a perfect companion to The Joy Plan, which also invites us to a 30-day joy-filled experience.
I’d encourage you to get the physical copy of the book so you can fully interact with the various exercises in it. It’s a creative journal, doodling, and adult-coloring book rolled into one.
Begin with You
At the center of every truly important and meaningful thing we do, there is love. It connects us to each other and to our planet. It fuels our best work and bravest art. In the final moments of our lives, how well we loved will be the measure of how well we lived. And all love begins with self-love.
Tell people that you work hard and sacrifice for the welfare of others, and they will sympathize with you approvingly. But tell them that you realized you want to start taking care of yourself and do things for your own good, and they will have this surprised look on their face. Judy jokes it’s as if you just announced you’re marrying a hamster.
In a society where selflessness is heavily adorned, self-love will seem like a rebellious act. In a way, it is, because you are reclaiming your freedom.
Judy justifies that all love begins with self-love. When we learn to love ourselves, our relationship with everyone else changes, because what we bring in our relationships is the fullest, truest, best version of ourselves. Isn’t that, after all, what we’re about? – becoming the best version of ourselves.
Self-love will set you free. By setting yourself free, you also permit others their freedom. Free people, free people.
Reframe Your Perspective
What you focus on expands. If you’re focused on the dread of doing this thing you don’t want to do, it affects everything you do in your life – your perception of the world, your energy level, your feelings about yourself, and even the way others perceive you.
Feel the weight of this phrase: “I should…”
Judy says there are two kinds of should-things: (1) things you do because you should, and (2) things you don’t do, but think you should. The first feels heavy, while the second makes you feel guilty.
She understands our obligations. But it’s not the tasks themselves that we need to get rid of, but the “I should” thoughts around them. It’s about reframing our perspective.
How about “I choose to…,” or “I love to…”?
Can you sense how lighter they feel? They can even make the hard tasks a bit easier because there’s no additional burden that comes from “I should” thoughts.
Try reframing your perspective around things that you used to dread of doing. If reframing still doesn’t make them worthwhile doing, then don’t do them. And don’t feel bad about your choice. The ultimate goal is to find a way to feel good, in any way possible. So, why not just do things you really enjoy?
Tip: If you enjoy music like I do, listen to your favorite music and other feel-good songs while you’re doing stuff. Music can always do magic!
Workout for the Soul
Because it is a form of self-expression, I believe that every act of creation is also an act of self-love. I can’t think of anything more basic and beautiful than our human desire to create, to make something out of nothing, or change something old into something new.
Judy describes creativity like a full-body workout for the soul. When we engage creatively, we honor our time, our intuition, our ideas, and we connect with our truest essence – being a creator.
When we’re creating, we’re actualizing our potential. “Self-actualization.” As Abraham Maslow put it, “What one can be, one must be.”
And the creative process feels oh so good to the soul! It makes you feel alive. While manifestation is awesome, the awesomeness is in the manifest-ing, in the create-ing, in our be-coming.
The trouble with apologizing all the time is that it diminishes you. It’s one of the many ways we make ourselves smaller so that others might feel bigger, and seriously, we need to stop that.
You are worthy, you are awesome, and you do not have to apologize for that.
Being sorry all the time, even for things that you don’t need to be sorry about, is an attribute of the ego. It’s the ego that wants to hold us in a state of guilt, which keeps us from realizing our awesomeness.
Ironically, it requires forgiveness to be unapologetic. Through forgiveness, we learn that who we really are cannot be defined by what we do. A wrongdoing doesn’t make anyone a wrong person. It doesn’t diminish our worth.
It won’t do any good by diminishing yourself so others can feel better. It’s not your fault that others are unhappy because you are not the source of their unhappiness.
So love yourself. Be happy, and never again apologize for it.
Your Personal Manifesto
Think of it as equal parts value statement and call to action. Writing (or doodling, or drawing) a personal manifesto is a fun and creative way to get clear on who you are and what you want.
Put it all down: where you’re going, how you’re getting there, the beliefs and principles that guide you every step of the way.
Judy defines manifesto as mission statements with personality, business plans for the soul.
Here are questions to consider in crafting your personal mission statement:
- What do I stand for?
- What do I believe?
- How do I want to live my life?
- What impact do I want to have?
- What makes me happy, fulfilled, hopeful?
Leave Worry Behind
Worry takes you out of the current moment by hijacking your thoughts and splitting your attention. When you’re worried, there is always the thing you’re worried about, and then there’s whatever is actually happening in your life right this minute… with, or without you.
By definition, you can’t be fully engaged with your life if you’re letting worry and stress have their way with you.
Life happens with or without you. As cited in Make Peace with Your Mind, there’s a study by Harvard Medical School revealing that its participants were not present 46.9% of the day. If that’s how we spend our waking time every day (6 – 8 hours counted for sleeping), we’d be missing half of our lifetime!
What takes up a huge percentage of our time? Our thoughts of the past and the future that worry us. And not only time, but also our energy. Energy flows where attention goes. We give our attention either to the present moment or somewhere else. Either we’re mindful or mind-full – full of other thoughts that cloud our awareness of the present moment.
How do we clear up the mess in our mind? Judy suggests we write them down on our journal. We put our worries out onto our journal and leave them there. We can relax knowing that our worries are taken care of. We go about our day worry-free, fully engaged with what’s happening in every moment.
Be What You Need
One thing I learned during my year of fearless love is that when you’re feeling in need of a little TLC (as we all do sometimes), then “being the love you need” is amazingly effective. It feels good in that way that only giving love can, like sunbeams lighting you up from the inside.
Here’s how reframing our perspective can give us a boost when we’re feeling down, by shifting our mindset from “what can I get” to “what can I give.”
“What can I get” makes us focus on all the things that are missing in our life. “What can I give,” on the other hand, makes us focus on what we already have. It makes us realize we have something to offer.
Little things count big. According to study, receiving a compliment activates the same part of the brain (the striatum) as does receiving money. Why not pay someone a compliment today? It makes you and the other person feel rich. Because in its true essence, giving and receiving are the same.
Practicing pleasure isn’t just about doing what you love; it’s about surrendering to it.
Love that line!
What Judy refers to as pleasure is the intimacy with life. This relates to being present in the moment, mindful of what’s happening, giving our full undivided attention to what we’re doing. All-in.
“Carpe Momentum,” which means seize the moment. You are relishing the experience in every moment. This is how we fully engage with life. When we do, even mundane activities such as cooking or washing dishes become pleasurable. Every act becomes an act of love.
As you forge your path of tenacious self-love, the things you decide not to do are sometimes just as important as the things you decide to start or continue doing.
A quick recap (from Start Right Where You Are): Decide, which has the root Latin word cide, means to cut or to kill. So in deciding what to do, we have to cut off something else – the what-not-to-do.
Judy suggests we come up with our not-to-do list so we can specify what no longer serve us. Here are her tips:
- Create space in your life. Eliminate the obvious time wasters that have nothing to do with your intention or goals. One of the things I put recently on my not-to-do list is checking e-mails every weeknight. I wanted to devote more time for reading books and writing, so I decided to check emails only on weekends.
- Make good health a priority. Your not-to-do list might include late night sleep, binge eating unhealthy snacks, etc.
- Become more productive. List all the things you need to do. Then, circle the top 5. The rest, dump them to your not-to-do list. That’s instant prioritization!
Judy also adds that we need to be specific as possible. Here’s her not-to-do list, for example:
- I won’t leave Facebook on in the background while I work
- I won’t say yes to people who undervalue me
- No to projects that feel more draining than exciting
When we follow through with our not-to-do list, we are able to hone in on what really matters and take action on what needs to get done.
What’s on your not-to-do list?
Pretend you’re writing to your best friend if that helps, and then make a big deal out of yourself. Recognize your leaps; your moments of insight; your fortitude; your intuition; your kindness; your bravery; your big, beautiful, loving heart. You’re an incredible, ever-changing being. Love your evolution.
Let’s add some twist to writing this self-love letter. So pretend you’re already the best version of yourself (your future self), what would you write your current self?
I’m leaving you with Judy’s letter that might give you some spark:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JUDY CLEMENT WALL is a writer-illustrator whose works have been published in numerous literary journals and websites such as the Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and The Good Men Project. She is an illustrator for HCI Book’s popular Inkspirations coloring book series, and her whimsical artwork can be found on everything from greeting cards to lampshades to wine labels. Her mission as an artist is to inspire fearless love, soulful evolution, and wild creativity as a way of life. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and online at judyclementwall.com