The ‘Love Yourself’ List

By Kate Riley September 20, 2019

Over the weekend, I was a co-captain for a team for the Relay for Life to honor my best friend who died of cancer last year. Our friendship is proof of how one person can enter, then leave, and have a profound impact on your life. Processing that grief was a cosmic smack to the head and woke me up to new truths.

Her death was my first real glimpse at mortality and it forced me to look inward. A year later, I find myself intensely focused on what I want my life to look and feel like everyday. The quest is to find the things that bring me peace, joy, and love, and to do whatever is necessary to eliminate anything that does not.

I’ve become very good at recognizing what empties my cup and what fills it. Naming these things has become a weekly ritual for me and keeps me focused on what needs to be removed from my life, and what I need more of in order to thrive. I’ve discovered that truly loving myself requires me to ask myself some important questions.

It’s a process of elimination, and first I ask the hard questions: What do I need to let go of today? I will trust what I let flow out of my life will allow for new energy to flow in. What situation (or person) is draining me? I will look at ways to create a strong boundary or just say no. What choices are making me play small or holding me back? I will take more risks, be brave, and live up to my full potential. What doesn’t serve my needs anymore? It’s time to eliminate that thing/activity/choice from my life.


The next part of the exercise is the part I actually enjoy, naming the things that help me love myself more: Exercising recharges me. I feel better in my skin when I take a hot bath. My favorite body parts are my muscular shoulders and hazel eyes. Hugging my favorite people brings me comfort. Sitcoms from the 90s, funny memes, and good storytellers make me laugh. Listening to upbeat music improves my mood. Traveling to new places inspires my creativity. I feel calm when I practice stillness or go for long walks with my headphones. I am my most authentic self when I am with my close friends and family, or tapping into my creativity.

In taking time to name all these things, I’ve become so much more self aware. “Midlife is an unraveling,” as Brené Brown so famously wrote, and I’m in the midst of it, struggling with it, but welcoming it too, rolling up my sleeves, and ready for whatever it brings.

To love oneself is a courageous undertaking in a world that tells us with its clever marketing that we’re not worthy. Often that nuisance of a little bully voice creeps in, as we scroll through social media, making us feel unworthy as we compare our lives to others. (Stop doing that.) You ARE enough, you ARE worthy. This belief is found when we come face to face with our pain, heal it, and begin the process of loving ourselves.

September is a season of transition as summer turns to autumn. Why wait until January 1st to make edits in your life? Perhaps we should all take a cue from nature and learn from the trees as they release their leaves, to let certain things go. Like purging your closet, maybe it’s time to get rid of the outdated parts of yourself and the things that don’t fit anymore.

Look inward and identify the people/things/experiences that bring you happiness, peace, and joy, then embrace more of that.

If you’d like to print The List, click on the image below to download the PDF.




  1. Draga Kate,
    A te debarasa de lucruri/activitati care iti consuma energia este binefacator. Referitor la persoane e un pic mai sensibila problema. Cred ca, a nu ii indeparta este o mare calitate, putere sufleteasca si daruire. Ai ajuta sa-si gaseasca echilibru, putin, cate putin este dumnezeiesc. Tu esti excelent exemplu!
    Urmaresc si am vazut ca toamna la tine este foarte frumoasa. Iti doresc zile insorite in continuare si te imbratisez, Mia

  2. Kate,

    Thank you for this list! What a great reminder of things to ask yourself everyday! I honestly feel so depleted sometimes that I don’t even think to ask myself questions like this. But, I realize that it is at these times that I really need to! Printing this out and putting it on my desk!

  3. I particularly appreciate that quote….”midlife is an unraveling”. Boy, if anything describes the midlife experience for me, that says it all. But, it’s a really good thing to be unraveled, painful but good.

    • Painful but GOOD. It’s a beautiful thing to feel both sides, sorrow and love, that’s the delicious thing about this life.
      Midlife is the unraveling, the shedding of all those things projected on to you that aren’t you.
      I love that I’m (finally) embracing who I really am and what I really want.
      much love to you.

  4. thank you so much for this post. I’ve been just feeling the first twinges of mid life and realize I am under prepared to deal with it. But, as you point out, the answer is love! It always is. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

    • the answer is always LOVE.
      those twinges keep nagging at you until you sit up and really listen to them.
      I wish you the best.

  5. This message came to me exactly when I needed to read it. I had just blocked a family member from my Facebook who posts depressing, self indulgent items that I dread seeing. Your message let me know I did the right thing.

    • yes, look out for yourself, do what you must do to preserve your sanity and advance your own wellness. :)

  6. This is one of my favorite posts! I am sorry about your friend. It is sad that (sometime) we need a wake up call to take a deeper look at our life (been there as well) Funny how we think alike. A year ago in the fall I wrote a post on Instagram about how much we are like trees, and that we should take note.. that we are given a chance to shed what doesn’t serve us anymore , I love Brene Brown, and everything you mentioned in this post, Thank you for the reminder.

  7. Lovely and thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing and making me think about things/people that bring me joy or drain me. I appreciate your sharing it with us.

  8. Thank you for this post Kate. All very timely reminders that I needed to hear. The List is a great addition! Thanks

  9. What a great post. And such good questions to ask yourself. I am not always so wise, yet I have gotten better at these things since my loss. I am older than you, but feel I can’t work and do fast enough, to get everything I want to do, done. Like time is slipping away too fast. I’m not sure if it’s my age, or my loss or the combination of the two. I am wondering if you have that feeling as well?

    • I think the trick is to do as much as you can in the time you’re given. We can’t do it all and we must still give ourselves time for rest and self love. I try to show myself compassion every day and just show up as the best version of myself. :)

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