Love Yourself and Love Others: How I Started Recognizing the Support Within and Around Me

By Erin Ard

In honor of the month of #Love, I decided to write about one of the most important forms. #SelfLove!

Embrace every part of you. Your quirkiness, your sense of humor, your shyness, your health (and that sometimes, you CAN take a good picture).

Embrace every part of you. Your quirkiness, your sense of humor, your shyness, your health (and that sometimes, you CAN take a good picture).


You've probably heard the phrase "You can't love anyone else until you love yourself." It's said, with good intent, to almost everyone who is trying to find self-worth in another person's eyes. I am no expert on love, so I can't say this is always true. However, I do know that dealing with chronic disease, especially throughout your teen years, can wreck your self-esteem and ability to love yourself. *Ahem* speaking from experience.

I want to share how I learned to accept the terms of my new life, let go of internalized negativity, and love myself as I am. It took me years to recover emotionally from all the changes I faced because I never fully accepted that I had a #ChronicDisease.

I started to take strides in college when I began thinking mindfully about my experiences, emotions, and actions in every situation I faced. Introspection was my first step towards acceptance and being #mindful was my strategy.

I used mindful meditation to reflect on everything in my past and present. I became aware of my thoughts, emotions, surroundings, and accepted them without judgement. It helped relieve my stress as a busy student and appreciate everything around me while living moment to moment. Before mindfulness, I would often dwell on my flaws and insecurities, to the point that I had lost sight of my worth. Now, whenever my mind wanders or spirals, I accept my thoughts, bring light to them, and move on. The simple act of being mindful restored my self-confidence and helped me find my identity outside of my chronic health issues.

A little surprise from my sweet, forever valentine.

A little surprise from my sweet, forever valentine.

As I sit, writing in my old bedroom from high school, I'm starting to reflect on all the love I had even at my lowest. I now recognize the love I lacked for myself and the support that surrounded me from family and friends. My closest friends and family understood me and how the disease affected me. Because of them, I was able to overcome many trying events.

This month, my #mantra has been to love yourself and love others. I've learned that you're never really alone, even when you think you are. There is always someone thinking about you, worrying about you, or just wondering how you are. You will be surprised by the influence you can have on others. As a cute example, take a look at what my little brother made for Valentine's Day!

Remember to appreciate your own strength and the people who continue to support you.

If you want to learn more about the influence of mindful practice, check out this article on the stages of grief in chronic disease.

With love,

Erin