Every time I hear the cliché saying: “treat others how you want to be treated,” I almost want to scream back: “and treat yourself how you need to be treated.” Except, I’d be screaming it to myself.
Because spreading love is not possible without first assuring that our own jars are filled with it. And when it runs low, we need to keep refilling it.
It sounds so simple, right? Love yourself. Fill. Spread. Repeat.
Except, the society we live in conditions us to look at our jars half-empty, which, in turn, causes us to believe that we just don’t have what it takes to carry a full jar. And if we believe that we’re never full, we may also believe that our love is not worth spreading to begin with.
So we fill. Yet always unfulfilled. And our jar begins to break down. We become constantly dissatisfied with the way it looks. The way it’s shaped. How it’s too small or too big anyway. How it doesn’t have enough volume. And the point of filling ourselves becomes elusive. So we stop.
And to avoid spreading what’s left of ourselves too thin, we limit or displace the love that we give to others, our careers, our relationships and most importantly, to ourselves.
It wasn’t until I began the pursuit of my career in the media industry that I realized I was breaking down. I’d stop filling my jar without even realizing it, and the pressures around me had no problem reminding me that I was always “half-empty.”
Before moving to New York City, my ego was a plant that was regularly nourished by the friends and family I had close to me. I was so spoiled and accustomed to the way people made me feel about myself that I had neglected to form a discipline of my own self-nourishment.
So once I got here, every day I’d go throughout my day finding something new to beat myself up about. Whether it was my body image or my work ethic, I was never fully satisfied.
Thankfully, I would put all of that energy into my productivity to distract myself from further self-infliction. But like anything you sweep under the rug, however, the wound was still there, waiting for the world to throw salt on it.
I knew that in order to survive both in life and in this industry, I had to stop retreating, learn to heal and protect myself from future harm.
And though a gradual process, here’s a few of the ways in which I’ve learned to nourish myself on a daily basis back to a full jar of love:
- Every day, I take a moment or two to put the technology aside, take in my surroundings, breath and self-reflect. This has become a crucial part of staying in contact with myself, which has become an important factor in my self-fulfillment. When I make contact with myself, I listen to the wants and needs of my mind and body and I then tend to them accordingly.
Affirmations, Compliments and Self-Conversation
- Turns out that talking to yourself isn’t so crazy, after all. On a daily basis, I make it a point to uplift myself by pointing out the positive things I love about me. I remind myself of my blessings, I compliment any progress I’ve made and I also thank myself when I’m just doing the damn thing. In the mirror, I talk to myself like I would talk to my girlfriends with a sprinkle of a “yassss girl” and “you are everything” to top it off. It has made all the difference.
- You’re probably thinking, “OK, and? We all dance.” But when I say I dance, I mean I really move…alone. I sometimes have a party in my own room. I put on my favorite tunes, maybe pour some wine, and I dance and twirl and move my body in ways that make me feel good. Why? Because when there are other people around, we put too much pressure on ourselves to “look” good as opposed to “feeling” good. And honey, I came to feel great.
I Surround Myself With Positive People
- There’s nothing better than surrounding yourself with people who love and admire you just as much as you want to love and admire you. The kind of people that send you random text messages to tell you how great of a person you are and that they appreciate who you are. The kind that compliments you every time they see you. The people that inspire you to be better. Those are the people I live to fill my jar for.
I Forgive Myself
- It’s unrealistic to think that one could go through life without any failures, mishaps or mistakes. And we all know how much “failure” gets a bad rep, though we could not succeed without having the failures to help stir us in the right direction. Because of this, I make it a point to always acknowledge the error in my ways, learn from them, and then thank myself for being the bigger person within myself, by forgiving and letting be.
Major Key alert: you are always half-full. When you remember that, you’ll remember to treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated and subsequently treat others the same.
Now, can I get a refill?
Tamara Shanice is an actress, writer, lyricist and fashionable hustler who takes pride in entertaining and educating through her art. She’s a wandering spirit who loves to travel the world and marvel at the works of God’s paintbrush.