‘I saw letters scattered on an open shelf. ‘Believe in yourself.’ I had no idea what I’d just discovered.’: Woman shares self-love journey, ‘For the first time in a long time, I’m proud of who I am’

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“I walked into the dollar store last summer and had no idea that I was about to discover one of the most moving messages; a message that would shift my entire focus by pulling on my heart strings.

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

Life is like this. if you quiet the noise in your head, you are able to see and hear the small details this beautiful life whispers. You are able to feel the winds that truly are at your back. As I walked down the dollar store aisle, sitting on an open shelf scattered amongst different wooden cut out messages was this message, ‘Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.’

Just like that. So simple. Not at all fancy or long winded. I know, it seems easy right? But our life truly is simple when we listen and appreciate the fleeting moments, when we silence the critic, get quiet and love our ‘self’ completely. As I type this, I know everything has come full circle, and a new beginning forms once more.

Shedding pieces of my older self and blossoming one that I’ve yearned for; one who sings– I AM PROUD OF WHO I AM. I don’t have to be anyone but me. I am now the one who is not afraid to share her love, her experiences and her idea of SELF LOVE with the world. Simply, for the first time in a long time, I believe in myself.

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

I hear the noise that can easily take over my heart with negativity and doubt, but I choose to raise the volume on positivity by exercising self-love completely. I have trained myself through meditation, daily exercise, slowing down by living one day at a time, eating well, setting boundaries, resting, and most importantly, healing myself first, with no comparison. I also don’t wait around for someone to fill my cup of joy, I do it myself with one foot forward believing in myself whole-heartedly.

I have learned that once you align yourself with self-love in compassion, gentleness and forgiveness toward yourself, everything around you aligns right alongside you, embracing you. I have realized that every day is a gift and an opportunity to make something happen.

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

I am 43 years old as of this past September, and it has taken me this long to come to understand the concept of self-love. That in order to heal the world, you need to begin with yourself first.

I am the eldest of three children. My siblings and I are scattered in age, and my upbringing is something that I have worked very hard to heal and find peace with. My childhood has shaped me, and I also suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety, but I know, as I knew then, that I have always had the key to my state of consciousness.

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

I don’t blame anyone for my disposition or my past, it is my story, and this is my journey. I can see the triumphs in all of my falls and many failures. It has taken me many years to shed the layers that no longer serve me; to speak about them, to admit them out loud and then to let them go. Ultimately, I’ve had to learn to forgive myself and love myself. I continue to work on this today.

I feel that this is the work that we are here to do during this lifetime– we are here to heal ourselves and let go of many generations of pain linked to suffering. I refuse to let the negative mind rule me by repeating negativity from my past by bringing it into my present.

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

Often people speak about being kind and compassionate to others, but if you cannot find that compassion and kindness for yourself first, right now, then time and time again you will find yourself holding an empty cup. That cup becomes full once you decide to love yourself completely; all of your pieces. This love I write of isn’t the ego-based kind of love that says, ‘Look at me and all of my assets, my successes, look at how much I know and how much you don’t know, etc.’ This love I write of is the quiet love that sits in your heart and whispers to you, ‘You are loved. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. You are cared for and can forgive yourself for your pain, your errors and forgive anyone who has hurt you because of their own suffering. Breathe and live in the moment.’

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

You need to remember to let go of the negative voices passed down from generations before you that no longer serve you. To hear them, to honor them, but know the difference between which ones you should listen to, and which ones you should let go of. Ultimately, love yourself and know that what you say to yourself and how you think about yourself, creates a pattern in the brain, a repetitive cycle and then this cycle runs on auto-pilot fueling your entire being with this type of energy spreading into your exterior life.

This is the most vital piece I have discovered, that YOUR BELIEF in yourself: the goodness, the love and the kindness must be shone inward first so you can let it glow outward to allow it to ripple. It all begins with compassion for yourself because if you can love yourself completely, if you can care for yourself wholeheartedly, even on the more difficult days, you can see yourself in others and this is where compassion is born.

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

MY TOP TEN items in my SELF LOVE toolkit to aid SELF-DISCOVERY and HAPPINESS:

1. I practice meditation every day for 5-10 minutes (some days I can only meditate for 2 minutes while other days I can go longer than 10 minutes. It’s all about your own personal practice).
2. I eat well + drink plenty of water. I don’t drink alcohol and/or do recreational drugs.
3. I work out at least 5 out of 7 days a week even if it is for just 25 minutes, it is enough for my body to feel loved.
4. I read inspiring literature that engages me and feeds my soul and heart, even cookbooks!
5. I love to expand my mind by focusing on the things that interest me and by learning new skills.
6. I feed my artist and stay creative, it is a lifestyle for me, I surround myself with colors, textures, music, dancing and love.
7. I have learned to say ‘no’ nicely and to stand up for the things that I believe in, politely. Or walk away when I know my energy can’t change the situation. We are all growing and evolving according to our own pace of awakening.
8. I have created a growing community around me that can see me for me, and even if our views are different, we can share our opinions openly in a loving and safe space. They also push me to be my best me because they are inspiring and believe in themselves. I also ask my community for help when I need it.
9. I always have my heart set on good intentions in all of my actions by living day to day consciously and by trusting that the universe has my back.
10. I have learned to trust my intuition. I know some people are best loved from afar. I now always trust my gut because I believe in myself.

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

It seems, now for the longest time, quotes have motivated me. I always fall upon them when I need to read them the most. It is like the universe’s way of reminding me I am loved, like ‘Don’t forget Jo.’ These quotes continue to just appear. Before I end this ‘belief’ piece, I wanted to share one quote that continually pops up for me and that is framed in my bathroom, one that I look at every morning, ‘You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you know.’ — Winnie The Pooh.

I cherish this message deeply. It is a great reminder especially when doubt may creep in, or if I am feeling alone or misunderstood. Lastly, I found that when I decided to fully believe in myself, the universe seemed to shift and now belief is everywhere.”

Courtesy of Joanne Schwindt

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Joanne Schwindt from Toronto, Ontario.. You can follow her journey on Instagram. You can also visit her website here and view her photography here. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more about body positivity:

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‘My mom would say I was ‘ballooning.’ I was in 4th grade. She’d implement some new weird food rule for my ‘health.’: Woman is ‘blown away’ by body positive community, ‘I learned to love myself, heal my relationship with my body and soul’

‘Curvy women welcome, but ONLY if the curves are in the bust or butt.’ I would wear t-shirts over bathing suits out of fear someone would see my stomach and die of disgust on the spot.’: Mother advocates for body positivity, ‘You are perfectly imperfect’

‘She was uninvited because she is ‘not pretty enough, skinny enough.’ At 9 years old, her heart has already been broken by unkindness.’: Mom urges ‘love yourself the way you want her to love herself’

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