At Troupe, we believe wellness is about so much more than your skincare routine. While buying a moisturizer can be a cathartic release intended to feel better about the skin you’re in, if that behavior isn’t predicated with a rooted self-love practice, it will inevitably fall incredibly flat (speaking from lots of experience).
Ali Szarko Wants Your Self-Care Practice To Begin With Self-Love
We want everyone in our community to practice the discipline of self-love everyday which is why we’ve partnered with the brilliant, beautiful, and dynamic, Ali Szarko, to bring our community a series of self-love workshops so we may implement simple, easy-to-use, and entirely free practices in our day-to-day lives to do just that.
Read more about this Acceptance and Commitment Therapy powerhouse, and her tips on how to implement self-love in your daily life below.
ALI: Hi, I’m Ali Szarko. I am currently a doctoral student at the University of Nevada Reno working on my degree in Behavioral Science, and I am also a community wellness instructor and have been providing community wellness workshops focused on self-love for the past three years.
CHELSIE: What inspired you to start your self-love workshop series?
ALI: I’ve been studying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Training at UNR with co-founders of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I took a course from Steve Hayes, who is one of those co-founders and I’ve been applying the ACT approach to my personal life for the past seven or eight years now. A big part of the ACT approach is clarifying what your values are and the type of person you want to be in life, and then taking the steps to live in alignment with your values. I started doing the workshops as a form of values-based action for myself and the community, and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from others. They’ve enjoyed the content which motivated me to continue to grow it.
CHELSIE: Will you explain a little more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?
ALI: I consider myself an Acceptance and Commitment trainer rather than a therapist because I’m not a clinical therapist and I’m not having one on one conversations with an individual. I provide more of a class format to train lots of different peoples on the foundations of ACT so they may take what they learned from the workshops. They can then reach out to an ACT therapist if that’s what they need, or they can have the tools that they need to find the self-help resources, books, and podcasts and on the internet that they might need to get them to start to move in alignment with their values and take actions that are in service of self-care.
CHELSIE: I’ve been thinking about self-love as a necessary precursor to self-care, because without finding self-love and empathy for oneself, self-care just becomes about consumerism and buying things to fill a void. Can you talk a little bit about your thoughts on that?
ALI: Yeah. That’s actually why I call the training a self-love workshop, as opposed to calling it an Acceptance and Commitment training workshop. From my perspective, self-love is not about buying products or consuming things to attempt to feel good all the time. I think a lot of people in our generation have started to realize that when you buy a product, it can feel really good at the moment, but it’s not long-lasting. It gets you in this mindset where you feel like you have to continue buying your way to happiness. With these self-love workshops though we’re trying to get to the root of self-love in the absence of buying anything. What do you need to feel good about yourself? How do you identify the actions you can take that make you feel good? How do you use psychological tips and strategies to help you continue to move towards those things in life that you love? It’s really about getting people to identify what is love for them and how do they take actions in service of love?
I never want to promote that anyone has to buy anything, and I don’t feel like it’s my place to tell another person what self-love is for them or what self-care looks like for them. What does it look like for you to be a loving person towards yourself and towards others, which comes in all sorts of forms? My workshop is just trying to get people closer to knowing what it means to be a loving person towards their self, in the absence of any objects or buying anything. What does it look like to love yourself? What does it feel like to love me? What does it look like to love others? What does it feel like to love others? That’s the goal of these workshops.
CHELSIE: Do you have any tips for readers on approaching this work for themselves or ways that they can implement this practice in their day to day life?
ALI: A great starting point would be, Steve Hayes’ book called “The Liberated Mind. It was released about a year ago, and it has a lot of tips and strategies in it. Additionally, here are some real concrete tips that you could start doing right here right now.
I recommend folks learning present moment contact, which is noticing your five sense experiences right here right now. A quick, easy tip to start building that present moment muscle is called the “Notice Five Things” exercise. One thing you can do right now is take a moment as I’m talking to look around your environment, wherever you are, and take notice of five things in your environment right here right now. For instance, me talking to you: I noticed the chain on your neck. I noticed you have a painting behind you. I’m noticing that I have like can of soda on my desk. Whatever it is. Taking the time to notice five things wherever you are. That’s mindfulness, that’s being aware of your present moment experience.
Another activity you could do wherever you are is to firmly press both of your feet against the ground. Notice the sensation of pressing your feet firmly against the ground. That’s it That’s mindfulness.
A third you might consider is related to the concept of acceptance which we talk about in the workshops. This is building the skill of getting more comfortable with the uncomfortable, learning to open up and make space for uncomfortable sensations. One thing with the ACT approach is when you decide to move in the direction of your values, there will be moments of uncomfortableness because change inherently uncomfortable. The process of change can feel uncomfortable in the beginning. This exercise is focused on taking the very abstract concept of acceptance and making it more concrete. And it’s going to sound a little weird, but basically, I encourage you today to take an ice cube from your freezer and hold the ice cube and notice your present moment experience with holding the ice cube. Notice the stinging sensation in your hand, notice any urges your body might have to drop the ice cube to let it go. But rather than letting it go, just really continue to hold the ice cube and notice how the sensations may shift from feeling cold, uncomfortable, and stinging and how those sensations might evolve into a feeling of maybe coolness and refreshing newness. Continue to hold the ice cube as it continues to fully melt. Keep going, knowing that the ice cube can’t actually hurt you. This is acceptance in practice.
The last exercise that I encourage you to practice is related to this notion of values clarification. Try to get in the habit of asking yourself throughout your day, “Does what I’m doing right now feel nourishing or does it feel depleting to my wellbeing?” That is a quick way of identifying whether you are moving in the direction of your values? For instance, does clicking this button and looking at the screen on my phone feel nourishing, or are you feeling depleted by that action? If it makes you feel like closer to your community and it makes you feel good, then, by all means, continue clicking away. If you feel like your eyes are strained and you’re having thoughts of comparison or self-doubt, then I encourage you to step away and move in into a new direction. Take an action step that feels more nourishing for you at that moment.
CHELSIE: I love all of these tips. So amped for the workshop this Thursday.
Interested in participating in our next Self Love Workshop with Ali Szarko? Complete the form below, and we’ll make sure to include you!