Hello Sweet Friends:
Do you ever struggle with self-love? Does it ever feel a lot more complicated than it seems? And you begin to wonder if that whole self-love bliss you see all over Instagram is even a real thing?
I feel you! In fact, the idea of self-love used to be so strange to me that it wasn’t even a priority. Until a Graves Disease diagnosis knocked me off my feet.
Autoimmunity gave me a crash course in vulnerability and self-kindness. And I realized that if I wanted to thrive I needed to learn to love and prioritize myself, flaws and all. A lesson I’m incredibly grateful for!
But, guess what! You deserve to thrive too. And that also means loving and prioritizing yourself. Whether or not you have autoimmunity.
It turns out that all of those self-love lessons from Graves, they’re pretty relevant for you too!
So let’s talk about those self-love lessons and how they can help you learn how to love your beautiful self-fiercely:
7 Self-Love Lessons From A Graves Disease Diagnosis
1. Self-Love Is The Foundation Of A Healthy Lifestyle
I know I’ve said this many times before, but it’s so important that it’s worth repeating like a broken record: self-love is the true foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
Practicing self-love is so much more powerful than simply focusing on creating a lovely lifestyle or discovering your healthy, balanced diet. Because without that self-love foundation everything kind of falls apart. It’s the driving force behind any lasting goodness.
When you love yourself fiercely and wholeheartedly you feel inspired to take care of your incredible self. You start having your own back. And you make decisions that benefit your personal needs.
All of which helps you build a healthy, balanced lifestyle that works for you (and helps to make you feel so flipping good). Self-love is the best foundation on which to erect a lifestyle that you adore. Otherwise things kind of crumble apart after a while (and aren’t overly fulfilling).
Plus self-love comes with some rocking health benefits. Check out what self-love does:
- Helps us cope with stress and negative emotions
- Supports our immune health
- Benefits our cardiovascular health
- Lowers health-related anxiety in chronic illness warriors (woohoo!)
- Helps us keep our own best interest at heart
That’s one powerful foundation, isn’t it? Working on self-love is so, so worth it. Graves Disease diagnosis or not. 😉
2. Self-Love Is Not A Destination
While self-love is an awesome lifestyle foundation, it isn’t always easy. And you don’t exactly “get there.”
Some days you may feel wonderful and absolutely adore yourself. Other times you may struggle. It’s 100% normal!
Your relationship with yourself is just like any other relationship. It takes time, effort and care and there will absolutely be good days and bad days. And that’s ok.
It’s not about being perfect or living in total bliss all the time. That’s impossible!
Instead we need to know that self-love isn’t some destination you reach. It’s a continuous journey. A commitment to yourself. There are natural ups and downs. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about how we treat ourselves in our triumphs and our struggles.
3. You Are Not A Burden
I think we’ve all been there before – feeling like a total burden. Autoimmunity certainly made me feel that way!
Dealing with so many mental and physical health symptoms was a lot to take in. And finding out that I couldn’t be cured was heartbreaking. I felt like I had lost some of my value as a person.
Thankfully I had someone who helped to remind me that that simply isn’t the case. A reminder we all need from time to time.
Adrien (my now husband <3) and I had been together for a little over a year when I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. And we had just moved in together.
I was so afraid of being a burden to him that I told him he could leave me…
But he took my hand, wiped away my tears and told me that we were in this together. And we’ve been together ever since, through the ups and downs of autoimmunity and all of life’s surprises.
Adrien taught me that being sick never meant that I was a burden. He showed me that I am whole, worthy of love and deserving of support no matter what shape I’m in.
You, my sweet friend, are also never a burden and are always so worthy of love. No matter what!
I know that there are certain things that make all of us feel like we sometimes aren’t enough, be it mental or physical health struggles, financial difficulties, emotional baggage or more. But that is simply never the case.
Our struggles do not define us. And they never decide our value.
So if you need to hear this and you don’t have someone with you right this second to hold your hand and tell you that you are indeed valuable, worthy of support and love and ridiculously enough just as you are in this very moment, let me do just that. Because you absolutely are! And you deserve to know that.
4. Your Weight Doesn’t Decide Your Value
Hands up if you’ve ever felt the pressure to live up to society’s impossible beauty standards. Me too! And I never realized how much that affected me until my Graves Disease Diagnosis.
You see, Graves causes weight loss. And the treatment causes weight gain. It can be impossible to control. My body went through a ton of changes.
And, if I’m being honest, I struggled a lot with that.
During my first flare up I lost around 30lbs and then gained approximately 65lbs after 6 months of treatment. I felt incredibly insecure and hated what I saw in the mirror.
Today I wish I could go hug myself back then. I wish I could tell her that her beautiful, amazing body is fighting so hard for her. That she doesn’t need to be angry at her body or embarrassed by it. That the medication that’s making her gain weight is also saving her life.
Most importantly, I wish I could tell past me that each pound, each new pants size, ultimately DOESN’T MATTER. She is not defined by her pants size or her weight. All she needs right now is rest, support and love.
But I can’t do that. She’s almost 7 years behind me. So, instead, I want to do this in her honour…
If you’re in a similar boat, angry with your body, embarrassed by your weight, feeling like you’ve lost your value for whatever reason, know that you are still beautiful, amazing and worthy of love.
Your value is not tied to a number on the scale.
Your health is not defined by your pants size. And your amazing body is always fighting for you and deserves your understanding and love. ⠀
Those negative thoughts I experienced are absolutely natural. If you’re experiencing them too, you aren’t strange. But you deserve to find a way to move past them. I can tell you from experience that those thoughts didn’t help me. They were a hindrance. And when I was ready to start working on loving myself I lost absolutely nothing.
Instead I gained relief, comfort and a better relationship with myself and my body. And one less heavy thing on a very full plate. I was finally able to focus on healing without anger or resentment towards the process. That, my sweet friend, was a big win.
Whether therapy, talking with your loved ones, positive affirmations, positive self-talk or something else entirely helps, indulge in it. You deserve a good relationship with yourself. And the scale should never have the power to take that away from you.
5. Purpose Comes From Within
What’s your purpose? Does that question make you cringe? Goodness, I feel ya! But it doesn’t have to.
So many of us are taught that our purpose is all about what we do (typically for moolah). We are led to believe that finding your purpose means seeking something outside of yourself. Whether it be a career path, a volunteer project, a hobby… an external list of accomplishments you need to achieve in order to feel like you have real value.
But the thing is… when your purpose is an external achievement it can easily be taken away. (If it’s ever even found at all).
By a layoff, a health problem, a change of heart…
My Graves Disease diagnosis caused me to take a prolonged sick leave and change career paths. It was heartbreaking! My life plan seemed to crumble around me.
And I’m not alone in that experience! Life is a long, often random and unpredictable adventure. Things are going to change constantly for all of us, which can leave you feeling like you’ve lost your purpose very often.
And that feeling… that soul-crushing pain of “losing your purpose” can really hurt.
Which is a shame, because inevitable changes in life really shouldn’t leave you feeling like you’ve lost your value. Feeling worthless isn’t good for your well-being after all.
Ultimately, your purpose truly has nothing to do with what you do! It’s all about who you are.
And nothing can ever take that goodness away from you. Trust me, it’s so worth it to shift your perspective.
6. Sometimes Self-Love Means Getting Outside Help
While it may seem a little weird to ask for help with self-love, it’s totally ok to seek guidance if you’re feeling lost.
There are tons of people in your life who love you wholeheartedly, as you are right now, flaws and all.
And since your goal is to learn to feel the same way about yourself, seeking their guidance, advice and insight can be so incredibly helpful.
Humans are social creatures. Emotional and social support are necessary for your own mental well-being. And it’s ok to tap into that when you need it.
The people who love you would be happy to help you see all of the wonderful things that make you the incredible being you are. And hey, they might even have some personal tips on practicing self-love to share. How great is that?
Talking to a therapist or counselor is another great option!
Take it from someone who’s been there! Therapy can be life changing. And yes, it’s helped me with self-love (and given me some amazing self-care to tap into when I need it).
Therapists create a safe space free from judgement. Everything is confidential. And the relationship is unique to your needs. Including any help you might need learning to practice self-love.
It’s even possible to find an online psychiatrist.
BetterHelp offers affordable, private online counseling. They provide access to licensed, trained, experienced, accredited psychiatrist and therapists and match you with the right counselor. You could start counseling as early as today!
You never know, it might be one of the best steps in your self-love journey. Sometimes loving yourself means accepting that you need outside help. We all do. And that’s not only ok, it’s awesome!
7. Love Yourself First
Are you guilty of putting yourself last on your priority list? Of loving everyone around you so fiercely and leaving very little room for your lovely self? I’ve absolutely been there too.
I used to be so proud of myself for being selfless. I believed that love was something we mostly gave away. And if we were lucky we’d get some back from those around us.
I learned that I was totally wrong when Graves Disease knocked me on my booty.
Spreading love as thick as peanut butter is pretty marvelous! Don’t get me wrong. But you deserve just as much goodness from yourself as you so freely share with others.
In fact, you need it! Like I said earlier, self-love plays such an important role in our well-being. But it’s about far more than creating a healthy lifestyle.
Self-love affects your relationships and plays a huge role in the people you choose to surround yourself with.
Dr. Bill Swann, a Professor of Social and Personality Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, researches self-verification and the human desire to be known and understood by others. (source)
And he has some pretty cool things to say about the importance of self-love…
Dr. Swann’s Self-Verification Theory shows that it all starts with how you feel about yourself. Once you have a firmly held belief about yourself you typically surround yourself with others who see you in the same way. Even if those beliefs are negative.
A low sense of self-value can lead you to feel drawn towards people who also don’t value you. It can make you feel like you aren’t deserving of happiness or a positive outcome. Even though you are 100% worthy of happiness and a positive outcome. (source)
What can we take away from all of this?
Love really does start with you. It’s so important that you love yourself first. We are all worthy of self-love and self-acceptance. And it’s really important that you prioritize working on that.
Ultimately, learning to value yourself allows you to see that you also deserve to be valued by others. You’re more likely to make sure that your relationships are supportive and loving. You’ll see them in a more positive light. And you won’t force yourself to remain in an unhappy situation because you’ll know that you really do deserve better.
See how all of that goodness came from self-love? How awesome is that?
Self-love has helped me make myself and my health a priority and is a huge reason I’ve been able to thrive in my with Graves Disease. It’s changed my outlook and has completely uplifted me.
And it’s also been a huge help when working through harder times. I think self-love was one of my most powerful weapons (other than modern medicine) during my two relapses. I can’t imagine how that would have gone if I hadn’t built such a powerful relationship with myself.
While I’m not exactly grateful for autoimmunity, I am grateful that my Graves Disease diagnosis taught me to love myself fiercely. It’s a beautiful gift I’ll carry with me.
And it’s something you deserve to carry with you too. You are so, so worthy of self-love.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! What advice on self-love do you have to share? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with us in the comments below.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: You are worthy of the love you so freely give to others.
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