I started my first day of 2017 with a gentle yoga class. Before class, the instructor pulled out a jar of affirmations and suggested we all pick one out of the jar and place it under our mat. The affirmation I selected at random was “Love will always win.” 

At first, I thought about the recent election and the turmoil in our world. However, throughout the class the instructor talked about how we love others by first showing love to ourselves. I thought about my struggle with negative self-talk, self-injury, and suicide ideation. Those things do not fall in the category of showing love to myself. 

In 2016, I had to learn what it meant to show myself compassion. It’s a battle that I still struggle with almost daily. Even though the regular thoughts of harming myself are not as present, I am still very critical of myself. 

In yoga, I’ve learned to smile and laugh as I meet myself where I am today….which often looks like falling flat on my back in boat pose or hanging out in lizard instead of moving into flying splits. And I’m ok with that. In those moments, I smile and cheer on my classmates, knowing that today, that’s just not where my practice is and that’s ok. However, I have a much harder time generalizing that grace and compassion towards myself off of the mat. 

When I’m harshly criticizing myself, and that inner dialog of negativity takes over, love is not present. In 2017, I would like to try to find a more positive “inner critic;” I would like to find a way to show myself love and compassion on the days when I’m struggling the most, instead of always jumping to those dark thoughts. For me, it is so very true that if I am not showing myself love, then I am not able to show love towards others.