I love birthday celebrations. Every since I was a kid, I eeked out as much celebration as I could. If my birthday fell on a Monday, I would start celebrating on Saturday. The more celebration, the better as far as I was concerned. My parents always encouraged this celebration of self and did little things throughout the day to make me feel special including allowing me to wear the special “it's my birthday” pin (complete with smiley face), drink from a specially deocrated happy birthday cup (which could only be used once each year), and choose the dinner menu for the evening as well as the dessert. Yes sir, I was queen for the day and each year I would get as much bang for my birthday buck as I could by extending the celebration out a day before and a day after my birthday (although I could only wear the pin and drink from the special decorative cup on my actual birthday).
What's the Big Deal?
As I got older, I caught flack for these seemingly over-the-top-drawn-out birthday celebrations. I remember my partner grumbling, “Your birthday is ONE day, not three. I just don't understand why you have to make it into such a big deal.” Pshaw – this coming from a man who barely acknowledged his own birthday. Still, I thought his question was a good one – why make it such a big deal?
My answer, while sounding a bit self-serving (and at the risk of sounding like an egomaniac), is this – because I AM A BIG DEAL! I'm far from perfect, yes, but I am a unique person and, warts and all, I like myself. I made my birthday a big deal each year because my birthday only came once per year, so I felt like I had to pack all of my celebrating for 365 days of the year into one day (hence the birthday overflow – after all, it's tough to pack a year's worth of celebrating into just one day!). Then it hit me – why do I have to celebrate my fine self only once per year? One day seems darned paltry, if you ask me.
Are You Honoring Yourself or Beating Yourself Up?
That's when I decided to honor myself on a daily basis with a self celebration ritual. Think about it – each day we spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy beating ourselves up mentally, or comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves lacking. Now think about how much time we spend honoring ourselves. I'd bet that we spend more time each day in negative self talk than we do praising ourselves. When I first thought about pummeling myself with negative self talk, I had a “not me” atttitude about it. After all, I liked myself, right? Surely I wasn't being so hard on myself. Just to be sure, I made the commitment to take a few days and be conscious about how I was treating myself. All I can say is – it wasn't pretty. I was putting myself dead last on the priority list and my thoughts were anything but positive and nurturing (in fact, many of them were downright mean).
That's when I realized that I needed to start treating myself better and focus on taking pleasure in myself. Now I celebrate myself every day with a morning ritual. Some days my ritual takes 5 minutes and other times I give myself the gift of more me time and extend it out to 20 minutes or more. Regardless of how long my ritual lasts, I start my day off feeling grounded, happy, and positive – and it makes me feel like it's my birthday every day.
Establishing Your Own Daily Self Celebration Ritual
Don't wait until you have an excuse like a birthday to honor yourself – do it today (and every day). Having a self celebration ritual is taking pleasure in yourself. Let's face it – if you can't take pleasure in yourself, how can you expect others to take pleasure in you? Try it for 40 days and notice the difference that honoring yourself at the start of each day makes. It may feel indulgent and self-centered (and downright silly) at first, but keep at it. Here are some basic guidelines for creating your very own ritual:
Create a sacred space for your celebration. You can create a small altar on which you place some of your favorite things or you can simply put your favorite chair in the corner of a room and declare it your sacred space. If you're short on space, you can even choose your closet (don't laugh – it's awful cozy in my closet and it has a door, which offers privacy)– as long as it offers a small, peaceful space that you can relax in.
Incorporate your favorite things – maybe it's fresh cut flowers or incense or a candle. Just make sure there's one thing in your sacred space that brings you pleasure. My sacred space boasts a Tibetan Singing Bowl, a candle, and my favorite essential oil (for annointing myself, of course)
Choose a picture from your childhood – think back to how you were as a child and find a picture that captures your true spirit. Chances are, even though you're still that same person inside, life has gotten in the way and sapped some of the spirit out of you. Find a picture that captures that spirit and put it in plain sight (the picture above – me at two years old on my first “big girl” bed -- is the picture I use in my daily ritual).
Create space & celebrate yourself – this is your ritual so you can do whatever you like, as long as you spend the time connecting with yourself. You can sit and think about all of the things you like about yourself, you can gaze into your own eyes with the help of a mirror, you can meditate, you can say affirmations, you can meditate on all that your grateful for in your life, you can do conscious breathing – do what feels right to celebrate yourself.
You can be your own source of pleasure. You only have to acknowledge yourself, appreciate yourself, and celebrate yourself. What better way to do that than carving out time for yourself each day and making it sacred? You deserve more than one self celebration a year – you deserve to celebrate yourself on a daily basis!
I'd love to hear about the self celebration ritual you create for yourself. Please share your ritual and let me know how it's affecting your life.
Have a pleasure-filled day,