Making the decision to get a tattoo took a looooong time. My fear of being judged got in my way for years. [To see my path to actually getting my first tattoo and my tips for getting past the judgment that holds us back, read this: Stop Letting Fear of Being Judged Make You Boring].
When I got my tattoo, I had to get past what my mom thought, what my husband preferred, what my kids said, what other moms in my community might say. I had to get past the fear inside of me that somebody wouldn’t like me or think that I was “acceptable.” I had to stand in my own truth. I did this for me. And I learned something else from this decision.
I learned to love myself more. I learned to show myself that love.
Taking the step to get a tattoo was a sign of self-love. It meant I cared enough to listen to my own voice. It meant that I loved myself enough to be who I am even though it left me feeling vulnerable. And it made me literally, physically take care of myself.
These are the instructions that came with my tattoo:
Wash tattoo with soft with mild soap three times a day.
Pat dry gently.
Repeat for four days.
By the second day, I found myself feeling actual loving feelings towards my tattoo. And towards my leg. This was foreign for me. I was sort of shocked by these feelings welling up inside of me. It opened up the possibility that I could love my body in a new way, that I could love myself in a more tangible way.
This sweet act of self-love towards my tattoo, that loving act that I had to do to take care of this new part of me, inspired me to want to prioritize more ritual self-loving acts towards myself. I wanted to do more simple things like:
- having more intention around taking care of myself when I shower
- turning off my phone and listening for the quiet voice of truth inside me
- noticing what I put in my body (even savoring it!) instead of eating mindlessly
- slowing down and enjoying the feeling of rubbing lotion into my dry hands
- remind myself when I exercise that this is me loving my body as the temple it is
How can you translate each act of self-care into a truly loving act towards yourself?
The thing about taking care of my tattoo for those first few days is that I had to treat myself tenderly, gently—it’s right there in the instructions. I had to make time to take care of my body. I chose to take time to care for this symbol that reminded me on different levels that I was being true to myself, choosing me over pleasing others. I was actively caring for myself—body and spirit.
If self-care keeps leaving you wanting more, you may really be looking for self-love. Self-love is more intentional. It goes deeper. Self-love actually heals us on a cellular and soul level. And while there are no self-love quick fixes, there are ways to start loving yourself more and showing yourself that love every day.