An unabridged and improvised approach to self love from someone who has a tremendous amount of difficulty with self love.
I hate myself. This isn’t news, I’ve written extensively about hating myself here and even made a web series about hating myself here. I compare myself to everyone and live in constant fear that I’m not good enough. Sometimes, when my feelings of inadequacy get so bad, I actively distance myself from the people who do love me because I don’t want them to be disappointed when they eventually find out how much I suck. During a recent spell of feeling down and out, I thought about my mom and how much she loves and supports me no matter what I do. I thought “Damn, how great would it be if I could hardwire my brain so that I saw myself the same way my mom sees me. What if I could just be my own mom?”
Okay, hear me out. My real and amazing mom lives thousands of miles away (my fault, not hers) and sometimes I go a couple of days without speaking to her (again, my fault, not hers). Since I don’t have a lot of face-to-face interaction with her on a regular basis, I’ve decided to implement some of her “best mom practices” in my everyday life. Here’s a list of those things in no particular order:
- Ask yourself about your day.
Alright, setting aside the fact that I’m encouraging you to talk to yourself, here is a fact: no one is ever going to be as interested in your day as you are with the exception of your mom. Journaling is a great way to clear your head of all the self-hating gunk that clogs your grey matter every second of every day. It’s also wonderful to reflect back on the day’s events to see what you could have done better and, more importantly, to see what you did really well. Evaluating how you spend your time is a wonderful exercise that can help you make better decisions in the future. If journaling isn’t your thing, I encourage you to talk to yourself out loud, preferably with different accents.
2. Wear comfortable shoes.
First thing, screw everything about women’s fashion. I have really wide feet and, as a result, can never, ever wear cute shoes. For most of my early twenties, I commuted into Manhattan with my mom. While I sported trendy flats from DSW, my mom sported orthopedics. At the time I mocked her and her granny shoes mercilessly, now that I’m older I bow my head in forgiveness and embrace the wisdom I once rebuked. I got allbirds a month ago and they’re the only shoes I ever wear. I don’t care that they look like some weird Ugg/TOMS hybrid — my tootsies are comfy and my attitude has positively increased by, like, 15% precent. Also, it’s much easier to live my life when I’m not MacGyver-ing bandaids for blisters using items one would find in an office supply closet or public restroom (sidebar: in a pinch, cut up maxi-pads can help to cushion the space between a fresh welt and pleather strappy sandals). Wear clothes (and shoes) that not only make you feel good about yourself but also, keep you comfy cozy. The world is going to throw shit at you all day, you might as well be comfortable when dodging that shit.
3. Have a glass of wine (or two).
Life is hard and sometimes you need wine, or chocolate, or weed, or [insert something that mellows you the fuck out without causing a problem here]. If you get tipsy and feel like dancing please, dance like your mom. Give yourself a break and stop worrying that whatever you chose to indulge in isn’t on your Whole 30 diet. Embrace fun mom energy and do a little shimmy as your prance back into the kitchen and exclaim, to no one in particular, that you’re only going to have one more, “Just one more! One more then I’m done!”
4. Make yourself homemade, wholesome and delicious meals.
Question: If you told your Mom you were hungry, would she feed you a pre-packaged Starbucks sandwich or a Luna bar? NO! You know why? Because she loves you!
You’re her baby and you need a nice hot meal, not Soylent (no one ever needs Soylent). I know it’s difficult to make mom-worthy meals when you work a full time job (ha! now I get why my mom hated cooking on weekdays!), but having a hearty, balanced, home cooked meal can can really turn a shit day around. My mom eats yogurt for breakfast, a big ass salad for lunch, then goes ham on dinner. Seriously, she’ll make like baked chicken with mashed potatoes and zucchini and eat, like, 2 portions. Now I know, “mom meals” tend to be a little heavy on butter and carbs, but a general rule I live by is to eat less bread, chill out on the cheese, eat more vegetables and when you don’t, give yourself a friggin break. You’re only human and Cheetos are delicious.
5. Pack notes in your lunch.
Every day from 1st to 10th/11th grade, my Mom packed my lunch. Every day, without fail, next to my turkey and mayo sandwich on a white roll (gross right? but also, not really) there was always a handwritten note from my mom. I use to open up these notes in private, embarrassed that my friends may find out that — gasp — I have a mother who loves me! Looking back, I can’t believe how impossibly sweet this thoughtful gesture was and how I, as a shitty teenager, always took it for granted. Today I cherish the texts I get from my mom (and my dad) and knowing how such a little thing can bring such powerful comfort in the middle of a shit day, I like to send myself little messages too. If I come across a job I want to apply to, I’ll email it to myself with the subject line: ‘Hey! You’re awesome! Apply to this!’ Sometimes I’ll screenshot motivational messages and make them the background on my phone. All I’m saying is, it takes two seconds to ask Siri to remind you that you’re awesome at 3:17pm; do it.
6. Talk on the phone with your friends and family (texting doesn’t count).
Texting, while super convenient, have made us lazy AF. Whenever someone calls me, I audibly groan. Every. Single. Time. It could be anyone: a friend, a co-worker, someone trying to give me a million dollars, it doesn’t matter; my immediate reaction is that I don’t want to talk to them, I’d rather text. Take a minute and realize how fucked up that is, will you? I have a device on my person at practically all times that allows me to communicate with my friends and family across the globe. While it’s not the same as being in the same room as that person, it’s much better than what we use to do which is write and mail letters. Can you imagine how agonizing it must have been to write someone a letter and then wait for them to write back!? That’s like watching someone type in iMessage for a thousand years. By the time your friend received their ‘Happy Birthday and congratulations on avoiding the plague for another year!’ card, they could have died from plague! How could you have known?! Your letter containing the gruesome newsfrom your friend’s now widowed husband hadn’t arrived in time for you to swap our your ‘Happy Birthday’ card for a ‘My Condolences’ card. Anyway, I went way too far with that bit, what I’m trying to get at is, communicating with people over the phone fosters better relationships long term. My mom is usually on the phone most evenings with old friends and relatives and you know what? They all love her. Besides, at the end of the day, I’d rather hear a friend or family member’s real laugh than read ‘lol.’
7. Hang your work on the fridge.
What do you do for work, Software Engineer? Hang your code on the fridge. Marketing Manager? Hang your Google Analytics dashboard on the fridge. Comedian? Hang your most popular tweet on the fridge. Those are really the only jobs I can speak to, but I guarantee that in your line of work there is something great you did that you can hang on the fridge. FUCK BEING HUMBLE! Do you think your mom is humble when she talks about you? Fuck no she isn’t! Celebrate your accomplishments, share them with friends and colleagues. Self depreciation can be fun and helpful (especially when you have comedic self-help articles to write), but make sure to give yourself credit where credit is due.
8. Say no to things you don’t want to do.
As a teenager, my parents encouraged me to ‘blame them’ whenever I didn’t want to do anything I was pressured to do. Initially, I intended to use this excuse when I was inevitably offered drugs and alcohol by my troublemaker friends. As it turned out, I ended up befriending a bunch of nerds in high school so instead, I used this excuse whenever my friends invited me to go do stupid shit. “Hey! We’re going to Dunkin Donuts then we’re going to hang out in the Petco parking lot until sundown. Wanna come?” Um, no thanks, my parent’s don’t want me to. So much of our life is wasted doing lame shit we don’t actually want to do. Instead of living your life to please and placate others, say no to things you don’t want to do and when people ask you why…just lie.
So whether you have a mom who lives thousands of miles away (like mine), or a mom who passed away, or even if you have a mom and she isn’t that great, here are some steps you can take to be your own mom and love yourself like your own mom does/did/should.
What do you do to cheer yourself up during the day? Leave me a note in the comments so I can add it to my bag of self-help tricks! ;)