When I started my self-development journey, I stumbled upon so many different themes and ideologies within it. There were broad categories like self-love and then there were concepts that were relevant to my unique journey, like the need to re-parent myself.

And with every category, came 101 different tips and strategies from everyone, from scholars and academics to bloggers and your average Joe.

I was such an enthusiast though, that I ate it all up. To date, I’ve read 100+ books, listened to hours on end of podcasts, gone to seminars and had professional training.

After almost a decade of learning and absorbing, there is one thing that has stuck with me more than anything else: learning how to choose myself every single day.

Four ways I show up for myself, for better or for worse

In short, to choose myself is to do what I know to be best for me. Now, before I start this list, let me first say, this did not come natural to me, at all.

Self-betrayal was my default for many years as a result of conditioning and upbringing. That’s not to say I didn’t know what was in my best interest because any time I posed the question, my mind would have a loud and clear answer. It was that even though I knew it logically- sometimes emotionally too, I found it hard to put it into action.

So, with this list, I’m hoping you’ll have the kind of road map I wish I did when I wanted to turn my self-sabotage into honoring what I knew I was capable of being.

1. I choose myself by learning my happiness equation

My happiness equation is as it sounds–a number of things that I’ve identified that go into making my happiness sustainable. For me, these range from making sure I’m creating (I am an artist and writer by profession and passion, after all), getting outside for a walk or a run, meditating, being in a clean house and drinking lots of water. 

Sure, there are a lot of other things that bring me fleeting moments of joy like eating chocolate or talking to someone I like, but I’ve taken the time to separate those things from the necessities.

This awareness and introspection is like a compass now, always leading me back to myself and the basics when the world can feel like it’s getting too chaotic.

Oh, and I should mention, I need to learn my happiness equation time and time over, because just like me, it’s always changing. That’s why I do things to cultivate mindfulness, like meditation and journaling.

2. I choose myself by being disciplined

This was the hardest part, I had so much resistant to building discipline because I thought it was anti-creativity, anti-freedom. And as someone who was once on the ‘minimal to none’ part of the discipline spectrum, trust me when I say that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Discipline allows me to be the kind of person who does what they say they’re going to do. I get to respect myself and that’s huge. When I have a disciplined day, I have kept promises I made to myself and I have done today what I could have procrastinated until tomorrow.

And what I’ve found to be true about discipline is that the results of it compound. The results of a disciplined week, month or year show so significantly in my mind, body and soul, that it truly feels like a gift to me, from me.

3. I choose myself by acknowledging the past, but always looking forward

Coming from a tough childhood, I learned early on in my 20s that this was something I needed to face head on, otherwise I would be living in an echo of the past. I learned that if I didn’t acknowledge and use my past to my benefit, it would use me to play out old patterns.

But, what was even harder to learn, was exactly how much time to spend on the past. I had done the bulk of my healing, but that didn’t mean that feelings and memories didn’t resurface. So, how long before I was dwelling on it? How long before I wasn’t present anymore? Or worse- how long before I was playing victim?

I’ve experienced that the answer is different every time. I show myself compassion and I’m intuitive on what needs to done in the moment, but I always make sure I’m grounded in the present and moving forward.

4. I choose myself by being steadfast in my identity

Finally, I show up for myself by refusing to base my identity on anything outside of me. I used measure my identity and self-worth on things like how productive I was, whether X person liked me or how my business was going that month.

I’ve learned that while people, places, money, business, etc. all make up my experience in life, they have nothing to do with who I am. I work on my self-assurance every day so that I can be stoic when things outside of me are temporary or short-lived, and bask in the enjoyment of things being great.

And there you have it, how I’ve learned to make choosing myself the highest form of self love. I share this story because it’s made such a positive difference in my life and I wish the same for you, too.

Your friend,

Ivy Gill

This post is a part of a series on my life experiences, written to help others who may relate. Find more of my writing here.

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