We can think of honouring ourselves in many ways. For me, it means living my life around what’s most sacred or important to me, instead of based on “the time on the clock.”
It also means being honest with myself and acknowledging what is true for me. It means treating myself with compassion, understanding, gentleness, acceptance, and love.
For so many of us all of that is hard to do. It may feel foreign. Unnatural. It’s hard to accept all our parts. It’s hard to prioritise what’s important. Do we even know what important is? It’s hard to treat ourselves with compassion and even more so, with love.
Part of this is because we simply haven’t been taught and trained to honour ourselves. Maybe we grew up with parents or caregivers who were struggling with their own wounds and traumas. Maybe you heard a lot of: “Don’t be so selfish. It’s not all about you. Get over it already. That’s ridiculous to feel that way. Enough. You don’t really feel that way! Stop crying now. Can’t you see I’m busy?”
I see many women in my healing space who hold destructive beliefs about staying busy, running themselves ragged and striving. We can be so entrenched in ‘hurry, worry and busy’ that to honour what is most sacred in our everyday lives feels like some fanciful dream. So, we get used to living half alive and believing we have no choice. Thankfully, you do have a choice. Many of them.
While we don’t immediately undo or heal damaging beliefs or wounds, we can ease into honouring ourselves. We can take the below steps every day; what we do every day matters more than what we do occasionally.
Forgive yourself for yelling too much, for arguing with your spouse, for not completing a task on time. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, for being human, for making mistakes. Sometimes, you might say “I forgive myself” aloud. It is easier to change negative habits and live a more peaceful life when we are gentle with ourselves.
practice the “sacred pause”
Honouring ourselves starts with pausing, or getting still. A sacred pause can be a mini retreat we savour every day—no matter how busy we are. It might look like this:
Take a moment to pause.
Maybe you’d like to sit down.
Feel the feet on the floor.
Let the legs relax.
Soften the belly.
Feel the heart slightly lifting to the sky.
Feel the crown of the head lifting to the sky.
Soften your face, eyes, jaw, lips.
Feel the shoulders relax.
Sense your attention deepening and feel your body.
Take a few full breaths, slowly exhaling.
Sense yourself softening, your eyes, shoulders, judgment.
Sense yourself softly smiling.
Feel the heart, from the back of the heart, lifting.
Feel the sensations of your body, maybe tingling in your shoulders, or warmth in your hands.
Feel the body from the inside out.
Allow yourself to rest, just breathing in and out, feel the rise and fall of your breath.
Stay here, still and breathing, for as long as you need.
When you are ready, open your eyes gently and slowly.
Notice how you feel.
Respect your body.
Listen to your body’s different requests. This might mean eating when you’re hungry. It might mean resting when you’re tired or stretching when you’re experiencing tension. If you normally ignore your body, set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour. When your alarm rings, check in with yourself. Notice if you’re feeling any tension. Notice if you’re thirsty or your stomach is growling. You can even start at your toes, and move all the way up to your head, and focus on how each body part is feeling.
be honest with yourself
I’d like to share this powerful quote from Pema Chödrön: “The most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
After I started getting honest with myself, I realised that I regularly talked myself out of what I wanted to say or ask for. I realised that behind my go-to phrase “I’m fine” was a woman who felt empty and exhausted. A woman who had no idea who she really was.
Observe how you’re doing and feeling from a “place of compassionate curiosity.” Acknowledge the feelings and needs that arise without judging, blaming, or shaming yourself. Talk to yourself as you would to a young child. Notice when you want to talk yourself out of getting or doing something. If it’s truly important to you, do it and honour yourself.
pick an activity from your feel-good list
A feel-good list includes anything you enjoy doing. That might be practicing yoga, journaling, reading a book, watching your favourite TV show, cooking, baking, meeting a friend for lunch, music or art lessons, swimming, walking, hot bath and sleeping in. Also include quick options, such as listening to your favourite song or a podcast on your way to work. The most important part of this process is that you are doing something you enjoy every single day.
think of “sacred” in seasons
Consider: “What will I do in this season of my life to honour myself?” The “season” might be Spring. In Spring, I ask what is most sacred is aligning my daily decisions to ‘Spring clean my life” —what I eat, when and how I exercise, my sisterhood and other communities I’m involved in, etc. I also focus on communicating “yes” and “no” more clearly speaking my authentic truth. Winter may be about going within and nurturing.
commit to radical self-compassion
When you really think about it, what does treating yourself with compassion look like for you?
Is it seeing supportive practitioners, such as a Reiki Healer, a massage therapist, a kinesiologist, any type of holistic healer or a psychologist? Begin to see yourself as worth of such an investment financially. Even if you don’t think you deserve it, try these practices, anyway. Lead with the body, and the mind will follow.