I believe that in order to achieve our health goals, we must make ourselves a priority. And when we’re not a priority in our own lives, often it’s because we are lacking a little bit of self-love. When I met Stacy Yardley at a networking event, it became clear that we needed to combine forces because you can’t be fully healthy without loving yourself and you can’t love yourself without feeding yourself right.
Q&A with Stacy Yardley, Empowerment Coach & Self-Love Guide
Why do you think women struggle with self-love?
Well, I think men and women both struggle with self-love, but it’s safe to say that women definitely seem to be the ones who struggle with it the most. I believe there are several factors, such as society’s messages through advertising and social media. The messages we’re receiving are a constant reminder of the belief that we’re not pretty enough, thin enough or smart enough. It all comes down to us feeling like we’re never good enough. There’s a “fix” for everything from cellulite to wrinkles and more. It’s maddening!
I think we also struggle because of the messages we receive while growing up; how we were raised and the “programming” we received. If we didn’t get our needs met or felt insignificant or had trauma of some sort, it can lead to feelings of being unworthy, even in a subconscious way.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle getting in the way of loving ourselves?
Are you ready for this….I think the biggest thing getting in the way of loving ourselves is OURSELVES! We create unrealistic expectations (with the help of social media and everyone’s “highlight reels”) and when we can’t meet them, we crumble. We want to be it all to all people. We’re often the people-pleaser and the ones “holding it all together.” But so often, our Inner Mean Girl is running the show behind the scenes with our internal dialog keeping us from loving ourselves in the best ways possible.
We also hold on to beliefs that aren’t really ours and don’t serve us. These can show up again in the form of feeling unworthy. And just to back up, I did mention that it can be a result of things that happen in childhood but let’s be straight, often times we can act in ways or put ourselves in situations throughout our lifetime that don’t end well and then beat ourselves up or live in constant fear that we’ll mess up again.
As a result, we insult, berate, belittle and torture ourselves via our Inner Mean Girl and continue the crazy cycle. Instead, what we need to do is learn how to love that voice inside of us so that we can silence her better and tap into our inner wisdom.
How do you see empowerment and self-love playing a role in how we eat?
I believe self-love plays a huge role in how we eat. When we approach food from a place of loving ourselves and our bodies, we can then empower ourselves to make choices that are nourishing to our bodies with good, nutrient dense foods, and it changes everything! I often hear or see women say they “deserve” to eat that piece of chocolate cake. Or that they’ve had a long, painful day and “deserve” a glass of wine.
But here’s what I ask: do you really “deserve” it? Or do you deserve health, vitality and energy?
When we make justifications for eating/drinking things that don’t nourish us but can even deplete us, we tear away at the fabric of self-care. Oftentimes, a slight shift in how we perceive reality can change a lot in how we eat.
Struggle comes when we are resisting. When we resist ourselves, it’s a good indicator that we will fail. Eating healthy and working out don’t have to be hard when we shift our perception and the “why” behind the activity. For instance, many women approach dieting and working out from a place of body hate and body shame. What would be different about our diets and workouts if we approached them from a place of love and acceptance for ourselves and our bodies? I’m not saying don’t work out (quite the opposite, really); what I’m saying is ask yourself the “what” behind the behavior – what’s the driving force…self-love or self-hate?
Self-care plays a big role in overall health too – it’s not just about food. I always ask my clients what they do for self-care and I get a lot of blank stares. Some people just don’t know what they like to do for fun or “me time” anymore. How do you think fostering self-love can help us change that?
Well, for starters let me just affirm what you’re saying in that I think you’re right that a lot of women don’t know what self-care looks like because they’ve literally NEVER experienced it. So therefore it makes sense they don’t know what it looks like. I like to encourage women to make themselves a priority and begin exploring what fills them up. What is it that they could do that when they’re done, they feel recharged and ready to take on the world? Then…carve out some time and go do that! If they find they can’t do that, then we work through the block that’s holding them back. Oftentimes, it can be around self-worth or messages they received when they were young.
So many of us are inundated with family, work, chores, and responsibilities. Could you give us a few ideas for how we make ourselves more of a priority?
As women, our society teaches us (usually through role modeling) to be nurturing caretakers and do everything for everyone else first. This often leaves us putting ourselves last. With so many women wearing multiple hats, that’s multiple sectors of “other people” that have to be taken care of first.
Usually, what I find is many women have little to no boundaries and therefore are not able to make space for self-care – they’re just too busy taking care of everyone else. In other words, they don’t know how to say “no” to people because they are riddled with guilt if they do. Or they hear that “Inner Mean Girl” in their head tell them they’re selfish if they take time for themselves. As people-pleasers, this can lead to a life lacking in joy and fulfillment and ultimately resentment creeps in, causing strain and stress in ourselves and in relationships.
I encourage women to begin by taking baby steps in setting boundaries so that they can create the space to explore. This may mean to simply start noticing when they are going against their truth and saying yes when they really want to say no. I ask them to ask themselves, “what’s this costing me if I say yes?” Time is a commodity. Often, we don’t realize how much a lack of boundaries costs us until we’ve reached a pain point so high it can’t be ignored. We might lose a relationship or our health takes a big hit. It’s so much better when we can start before tragedy happens and begin by simply making space to explore what self-care means to us.
Self-care can take shape in many forms but ultimately, one has to decide for oneself. For some, going on a walk in nature might fill them up or taking an hour to themselves to read quietly. For others, a weekly message or grabbing coffee with a friend might help them feel grounded and recharged. Ultimately, we need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we can put it others.
How important is self-love for someone struggling with something like an autoimmune disease?
This is a big one for me and something I’m pretty passionate about because when I learned about these truths, it changed my life! You see, everything is energy. Let’s take it back to elementary science when we learned about positive and negative charges in atoms, ions, and molecules. As science has proven, we are made up of all sorts of molecules which ultimately make up the biology of our cells and organs and us. When you look at the truth that molecules carry atoms which carry a charge, then we can begin to understand that we are energy, even down to the cellular level.
Quantum physics has now proven that our thoughts also carry a charge. Therefore, when you connect the two, it means that our thoughts, beliefs and perceptions can affect us down to the cellular level based on the “charge” they hold. In my work, I talk about this in an index form called the 7 Levels of Energy Leadership. How you lead your life is based on your thoughts, beliefs and perceptions of the world around you and how you show up. This determines the charge, so to speak. That charge can be catabolic or anabolic in nature. Some might think of this as negative versus positive but really it’s about the charge or energetic vibration – there is a low vibrational energy in some thoughts, beliefs and perceptions and in others a higher vibrational energy charge.
We all have the ability to access all levels at any time, however, it’s where we mostly reside on a day-to-day basis that counts. Many of us are operating in patterns of low catabolic energy levels which keeps us in the cycle of feeling sick, tired and worn out and we don’t even know it. It’s difficult to thrive when you’re maintaining low levels of energy within. I have an assessment that I use that helps my clients learn where they’re resonating and how their perceptions of the world are affecting their energy. Awareness is the first step to making changes. Together, we work through the blocks and barriers that are keeping them from maintaining a higher level of energy. And as their level of awareness and consciousness raises, so does their ability to reside in higher levels.
This is where self-love comes in. In my personal opinion, it’s the most important element of the healing process. Love and the emotions that surround it carry a higher vibrational energy. So on a practical level, learning how to set proper boundaries (through self-worth – a component of self-love) to protect your energetic space can help create an environment where healing is your number one priority. How you choose to respond to stimuli in your environment can shift your energy to create an internal environment that is conducive to healing. It’s pretty simple but not always easy. This is where working with a coach can help because they can help you shift in the places you’re getting stuck by uncovering hidden beliefs that are keeping you stuck in catabolic thinking and behavior.
In the end, how we perceive ourselves, our circumstance, and our world determines how we experience our lives, whether we have an autoimmune disorder or not.