This is the season of you mattering.
If no one else will remind you of this (including yourself), I’m here to do so now. No matter how bad those bikini tan lines are or how desperately you want to wander, you matter most.
Your heart and your mind love to hear these words. I know mine do.
I also know how apt I am to neglect these crucial reminders. I starve myself of self-mattering more frequently than I starve myself of peanut butter cups (and that’s saying something).
If you can’t quite summon the words for your heart and mind, you can do some other things.
I promise they’re easy. They won’t cost you a penny. You may even find them empowering. (I hope you do.)
1. Lose the “should.”
We are creatures of language. On the days when I don’t feel like a writer, I remind myself that words are steel.
They build our environments. They live in our veins. They propel, hinder, and ignite relationships.
If you ever feel like you don’t have a voice, think about how powerful your self-talk is.
Think about how much weight you place in your own feelings, beliefs, and ideas. Who are you more likely to listen to—yourself or your neighbor?
Now that’s power.
Unfortunately, our dialogue with ourselves can be all too powerful. It can be limiting.
One word, in particular, diminishes your natural, bright inner fire immediately. I know because I used it for many years of my life.
The word should immediately imposes a sense of obligation. Using it means that there are some rules out there that somehow must be followed. It also implies that we’re not doing something, and, as a result, we’re lazy, selfish, inconsiderate, or simply unworthy.
Should is the word of shame. Drop it. Better yet, replace it with something more kind. I like kind words.
Want for example. What sounds better? I should be more responsible or I want to be more responsible?
I personally like want. It gives you the power seat. I’m all about that.
2. Put yourself in that place, please.
It’s so easy to lose the earth beneath our feet. I do it all the time. Work, love, and hunger take me away from my true environment and sense of grounding.
Give your heart and racing thoughts ease by literally stepping into your happy place. It’s a cliché for a reason, but science has even more to say about the benefits of positive visualization.
Close your eyes. Imagine a space in which you feel utterly secure, safe, and validated.
This could be a bedroom. A beach in Tahiti. The backseat of your car. Anything. Be authentic.
Now paint the scene. Put yourself there.
Note the colors of the sky (if there is a sky). Identify the infinite, spreading colors. Find the smells in the grass or the vinyl. Curl up, stand, or sit in this safe space and breathe into it.
Stay here for as long as you like. Use this to quiet negative emotions, find ease in the middle of the workday, or begin a difficult morning.
This place will always be here for you.
3. Step away from technology.
I’ve spent more weeks than I care to admit worrying about the spike and dip in the number of my Instagram followers.
My phone is the centerpiece of any bored moment. I hold onto electronics more than I hold onto a lover’s hand.
Turning your phone off for an hour may breed anxiety. But eventually, it breeds quiet. When I do this, I feel as if I’ve put on noise-canceling headphones and settled into a leisurely nature walk.
Your Instagram followers won’t notice, I promise. But your mind will. Your thumbs will appreciate the break, too. Your heart may even dream up something new.
Better yet, fill that tech silence with something yummy, like a carton of blueberries, or a deep conversation with a coworker, or a nap.
4. Give yourself an Italy moment.
I had a friend in college who consciously indulged every single day. Her indulgences weren’t necessarily a wild shopping spree or a day at the spa. They were small gestures that made her feel good.
She called these her “Italy” moments—the gestures that can feel as luxurious as a vacation in Venice, but for a fraction of the cost.
She’d buy herself a chocolate bar or meditate. She went to her favorite café or read a favorite book. I loved her strategy for guiltless, self-mattering splurging.
Give yourself an Italy moment today (and every day). I’ll go first—I’m getting some bubble tea!
5. Spend time with your dreams.
Your subconscious is the seat of your desires, your authentic and lovable self. The more time you can spend with your subconscious, the greater your awareness.
Tap into what your heart really has to say by spending time with your dreams. Then respond to its message.
You don’t have to try lucid dreaming to get in touch with these nighttime visions (although it can’t hurt, and it can be empowering). All you need is a window of time and maybe a journal.
When you wake up, don’t move until you’ve recalled the entirety of your most recent dream. Then reach for a journal and jot down its narrative in the present-tense. Really flesh out those details and emotions.
As you write, you may already be uncovering meaning. If you’re struggling to parse the images, try replacing some of them with symbols.
For example, I’ve learned that whenever I dream of my yoga teacher, she represents my spiritual, self-seeking, mindful side.
An ex-partner could symbolize anxiety or sadness; a college dorm room may symbolize self-development or freedom.
Sink into what your dreams have to say and truly listen.
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t come up with any answers or “meaning.” Sitting with what your subconscious has to say can be enough. Honor its ideas. Honor your wild intuition.
6. Identify your superpowers.
Yes, you are powerful. Don’t forget it. Take a second and write down what makes you powerful.
Are you a really good listener? Can you scale mountains like a goat? Crunch numbers in your sleep? Get more party invites than you know what to do with?
Write all of these down. When you feel like stopping, keep going. It’s time to celebrate what you can do.
My superpower today? I can stun myself with my own ability to empathize. My heart is as big as a barn (and bigger).
7. Say “no.”
Remember what I said at the beginning about you mattering? Yeah, I’m still on that.
I’m personally guilty of saying “yes” to other people more than I say “yes” to myself. Then I wonder why I’m so exhausted, emotionally depleted, and hungry.
Saying “no” is an art that I’m still studying. So I’m a newbie with you.
But I will say that the times I have honored my own no—backing out of a party, realizing that I really can’t help someone—have given me an adrenaline rush.
Say no today, and say it mindfully. Say yes to you—all day and every day. Your heart will beat its gratitude.