From an early age, people are taught how to read and write, how to solve math problems, and how to be well mannered. We learn how to think critically and reach the next rung on the ladder toward success.
However, what we aren’t so thoroughly taught is how to manage the one part of our lives that matters most: our own self.
Most people wake up one day to the realization that they have neglected themselves for years, opting to pay attention to the skills we learned in school to score well on tests, get into college, and find a good job. There’s a lot of pressure to fit in to society, and often leads to neglecting yourself and your desires in order to fit the mold others have shaped.
If you feel like you have been neglecting your true self, and want to reclaim your own individual power, here are 21 ways to release the self-neglect and give yourself what you deserve – self-respect!
1. Take charge of your own happiness.
When you rely on others as a source of happiness, you diminish the ability to feel happiness from within. You take away your own power and give it to someone else. By counting on anything or anyone outside yourself for fulfillment, you discount your own capability of creating internal happiness. You perpetuate the cycle of self-neglect.
Next time you catch yourself looking elsewhere for happiness, backtrack and realize that you have all the tools you need to be happy, you just need to re-learn how to use them.
2. Eat healthier.
One of the greatest forms of self-neglect comes from how one chooses to eat. If you feed yourself highly processed, low nutrient foods, you might make your taste buds happy, but your mind, body and soul will suffer. Caring about yourself includes giving your cells the nutrition they need to function properly, so replace fattening, packaged snacks with vibrant, fresh foods like fruit and vegetables. Your cells will thank you for feeding them what they really want!
3. Practice positive affirmations.
Another way to promote a healthy relationship with yourself is to think positive thoughts every single day. The moment you wake up, tell yourself something uplifting and inspiring, such as “I accomplish whatever I set my mind to.” This will set the right tone for the day and help you ward off negative thinking patterns that might fuel self-neglect.
4. Have a sacred space in your home.
Everyone needs somewhere to go for some peace and quiet, and you can create a space like this right in your own home! Most people call this an altar, but you can call it whatever you want so long as it brings you tranquility and relaxation. You can fill the area with your favorite paintings or pictures, crystals, incense, candles, tarot or angel cards, or statues of enlightened figures such as Buddha to help you connect to that sacred space within you.
5. Exercise frequently.
Exercise has proven benefits for the mind, body, and soul. Moving your body keeps your blood pumping, releases endorphins, and also promotes weight loss. If you have felt neglected lately, simply get off the couch and get moving! Exercise is one of the best ways to take care of yourself, and it doesn’t have to feel like boot camp, either. You can join an exercise group in your community, take classes at your gym, or even walk along a pretty nature trail near you. Any form of movement that you enjoy can help you develop a daily practice of self-love and care
6. Go outside.
This one can’t be stressed enough – sunlight contains Vitamin D, a vital nutrient for our bodies and minds to function properly. Plus, getting out in nature allows us to connect with the universe directly because no walls, doors, or technology exist to bar us from Earth’s energy when we go outside. Feeling the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the grass beneath your feet is one of the best forms of therapy out there, and the best part is, it’s free!
7. Follow your passions.
In reality, not many people can actually say they follow their dreams. Most people fill any void they might feel with shopping, food, a new job, relationships, more money, or bad habits. If you avoid your passion for too long, the universe will only keep nagging you until you fulfill it.
Neglecting your passion in life will result in continual unhappiness until you decide to fulfill those passions, whatever they might be. Don’t ever question your heart – it knows best.
8. Say no to things that don’t serve you.
Saying no is okay – you don’t have to feel bad for it. Part of caring for yourself is staying true to who you are regardless of the situations you might face. If a work buddy wants to go out for drinks but you gave up drinking years ago, don’t feel pressured to give in just to make others happy. Suggest another activity instead so you both can enjoy the outing.
You deserve to honor yourself and feel comfortable with the way you choose to live.
9. Laugh more often.
Unfortunately, many people don’t laugh enough in today’s world. Life demands a lot more out of us than it used to, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take time each day to have fun and enjoy the little things. There are plentiful opportunities to laugh every day, whether that be from a youtube video, a joke from a coworker, or even at yourself.
Even if you have a lot of obligations or feel overwhelmed by life, laughter can take away the seriousness of it all in a heartbeat and remind you to think positively even when faced with adversity.
10. Pamper yourself.
Take some time out of your day to spoil yourself. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure, get a massage, take a relaxing bath with some bath salts or essential oils, or try out acupuncture or Reiki. All of these will relax you, rejuvenate your spirit, and will get you back in the habit of practicing self-love.
11. “Meditation, not medication.”
If you have been feeling anxious or depressed lately, take at least ten minutes out of your day to sit peacefully and clear your mind. Meditation has been proven to be more effective in many cases than taking anti-depressants or anxiety medications, and can even restore your cells and alter your DNA! Our minds become cluttered with endless mental noise throughout the day, so meditation can provide a reset and allow you to think more clearly.
12. Quit the job you hate.
No matter what the pay, no job is worth it if you don’t enjoy it. Many people let fear, embarrassment, or the opinions of others stand between them and leaving their job, but your happiness matters much more than a paycheck or what others may think of you.
Unfortunately, 76% of people are unsatisfied with their jobs, according to a recent Gallup poll. If you are one of those people, stand up for your own happiness and do what feels right in your own heart.
13. Choose a positive environment.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to stay somewhere that doesn’t make you happy. Go where your heart takes you, and your happiness will naturally increase. A negative environment can lead to all sorts of problems, and does not facilitate growth and self-love. Just like surrounding yourself with positive people, choosing a happy environment can make all the difference between feeling excited about life, or completely miserable.
Don’t let fear stop you from moving if you need to– you deserve happiness, and a fresh start might be just what you need.
14. Pay attention to the shows you watch and the music you listen to.
When you turn on the TV or the radio, do you like what you see and hear? If not, turn these off and tune into something more positive. Most TV programs and songs on the radio today don’t send out a very positive message, and this can greatly affect your mood and outlook on life.
Make sure to nurture your soul and feed it positive information so you can tune into the positive energy and shut out the negative vibes.
15. Spend less time on technology.
A lot of feelings of self-neglect originate from the fact that most of us spend almost all day on our phones or computers, and very little time with ourselves. Social media, especially, puts us in the habit of checking in with people at all hours of the day, and it can become highly addicting.
Give yourself a time limit for technology use each day so you can spend more time cultivating your relationship with yourself and those that matter most to you.
16. Sleep for 7-8 hours a night.
Most people neglect themselves each night by denying their need for sleep. On average, American adults sleep anywhere between four and six hours a night, so it’s no wonder that many of them feel out of touch with themselves and unenthusiastic about life. Sleep allows your cells to regenerate and gives your body the crucial rest that it needs. Make sure you turn off your phone an hour before bed each night, and commit to going to bed at a decent hour.
17. Drink plenty of water.
Water should constitute the majority of the beverages you consume on a daily basis. All sorts of stimulatory, sugary drinks are sold on the market today, none of which can replace water and all its’ healing and restorative properties. Sodas, energy drinks, and coffee only dehydrate the body and fill it with unnecessary chemicals and caffeine. Water will hydrate your cells and regulate your bodily functions, so make sure to drink at least eight glasses a day so you can feel your best.
18. Believe in yourself.
You won’t be able to experience the greatest pleasures of life if you don’t first believe in your own abilities. You can do whatever your heart desires, but you have to believe that first. Love and honor yourself, and everything will fall into place.
19. Embrace the unknown.
No one knows the future, so don’t try to predict it. Instead, follow your heart and ride the waves of uncertainty. Accept whatever may happen, and learn from it. A lot of self-neglect results from staying stagnant and becoming complacent. Take risks and get out of your comfort zone – you will feel a lot better about yourself and life by actively participating in it.
20. Adopt the attitude of gratitude.
Perhaps one of the greatest causes of discontent is not the situation, but your attitude about it. Instead of thinking about everything you don’t have, focus on what you do have and be grateful for it. When you feel grateful about everything you have been blessed with in life, you will naturally have more to be thankful for.
21. Start a journal.
Many people neglect their own feelings, either burying them or lashing out at others because of their own pain. If you have a lot of pent up anger, frustration, or sadness, journal about it. This will allow you to release any feelings you might have and start over fresh each day.