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Hollie Azzopardi: Why Self-Love Isn't Just a Buzz Word to Me

Valentine's Day, Refreshed: Why Self-Love Isn't Just a Buzz Word to Me

This feature is dedicated to our #NoChangeNoFuture initiative. From the Women's March, to Australia voting yes to same sex marriage, and the #MeToo movement, 2017 taught us to look beyond ourselves and come together as a collective of powerful women who are writing our own history. Join us as we cancel setting one-dimensional personal resolutions this January and commit to being the change we want to see. Because without change, there is no future.

Three years ago I hit rock bottom.

As someone with generalised anxiety disorder, I am a Type A personality, and people-pleaser extraordinaire. I found myself working a corporate job that was never part of the "plan" for me, pushing myself beyond exhaustion, filling gaps of time with social catch ups I didn't really want to attend, double gym sessions each day because #fitspo, and left with little time for myself — to the point where I was diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue (read: burn out), depression, panic disorder, leaky gut, psoriasis (an autoimmune condition) and parasites.

My body had given up on me, as had my mind. Getting out of bed each morning felt like running a marathon.

And yet, I felt like a fraud. My life on paper was perfect. I had the stable job, the beachside home, a beautiful man who loved me — we lived a picturesque life together: ocean views, bulldog puppy, the clichéd works. He told me I was beautiful every day. Surely that was enough. Surely having his love should have saved me? That's the funny thing about love. Before too long, if we aren't giving it to ourselves first, it actually doesn't matter where else we are getting it.

I learned this the hard way, and am sharing it now in the hope that maybe you won't have to. Because here's the thing: my rock bottom was entirely avoidable. The antidote?

Self-love. Bit of a buzz word, maybe, but the truth nonetheless.

As women, we have been conditioned to believe that to be a "good" partner, mother, daughter, sister, bestie, we should put everyone else before ourselves.

Think of the number one person in your life. The person you would drop everything for if they needed you. Your ultimate priority. Got someone in mind? A partner? Family member? Bestie?

Did you think of yourself?

I ask this question in my workshops and having asked hundreds of women the same thing, I can count on one hand those who actually thought of themselves first. Because isn't that selfish? That's a bit much, putting yourself before everyone else — isn't it?

I bet for most of you, thinking of yourself first didn't even cross your mind. Herein lies the issue. Trust me, I used to feel the same. Three years ago, I would have thought of my dog before myself. As women, we have been conditioned to believe that to be a "good" partner, mother, daughter, sister, bestie, we should put everyone else before ourselves. We have watched our mothers behave in this exact way. Because that's what makes you a good person, right?

I beg to differ. In my experience, that's what makes you burn out, struggle to get out of bed in the morning, rush from A to B without any stopping for rest in between because there's no time for rest, let alone time for anything else that makes you feel good for you. It's what makes you lose your sense of self.

That isn't the way I want to live my life anymore. We will never be the best versions of ourselves unless we start doing things differently. There's a saying that goes, "You cannot give from an empty cup." If we truly want to be the best mother, daughter, sister, partner or bestie we can be, then our self-love cup must be overflowing first, so that we can give from the overflow.

What makes you overflow with love? What makes you feel good just for you?

Book the pottery class. Read the trashy novel. Take yourself to the new restaurant. Luxuriate in the bath, just because.

This Valentine's Day, whether you are taken or single actually doesn't matter but this does: are you loved up?

As in, do you love you?

Hollie is a holistic wellness coach, intuitive, writer and speaker with a focus on mind, body and soul wellbeing. You can get in touch with her here.

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