Nitika is fierce about self care (you’ll see why in a minute) and last time she was visiting me in San Francisco from New York she walked into my bathroom and screamed, “SARAH! No no no. this isn’t going to work,” she yells as she’s shaking my cheap face wash at me. “As far I can tell, the only alone time you get is washing your face at night, it need to be luxurious. Washing your face needs to be a devotion to your being.” If you want to cultivate your own devotional practice, Nitika created a beautiful guide to crafting your unique morning ritual. You can download it for free here: http://www.nitikachopra.com/offerings/love-morning-night.
That’s what’s so magical about Nitika, she knows that the simplest things can be an act of devotion. I asked Nitika to share her powerful story with you so you can see that it’s not always weight that keeps us from living more, and even the most debilitating circumstances aren’t excuses to stop living.
I was 10 years old when my entire world changed. I remember standing in my bathroom wearing jean shorts and a checkered blue and white button down tied at my waist. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed something dry, white, and flaky on my arm. I had never seen anything like it before so I went into my mom’s room and asked her what she thought it could be. She looked and said, “Oh it’s probably eczema,” which is something her and my father had mildly. So we didn’t think much of it.
Fast forward to a year later, my entire body was covered from the tip of my feet to the tip of my head with a skin condition called psoriasis. By this time, everything I had known to be normal felt like it had been taken from me. I had to quit the soccer team even though I had just made it to the state championship. I was no longer safe sleeping at a friend’s house because itching my skin would sometimes bleed through the sheets. And my favorite place in the world, the beach, suddenly became my worst nightmare for fear of being made fun of because of the way I looked.
To make matter worse, the kids at school had taken to calling me “Spot.” And my self esteem, which had already been shaky as the only chubby Indian kid in my Ohio elementary school was now so low I couldn’t even see it anymore. This carried on for the next 15 years. I fought through having my wounds out in the open for everyone to see on a moment to moment basis—all as I was going through puberty, learning how to date, figuring out my truth, and heading off to college without my parents in close proximity for the first time.
My skin condition became my entire identity for many years because it was all I knew about myself as a kid. By the time I was 19, my psoriasis got worse and I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Before I knew it, opening up a box of cereal in my college dorm or walking down the steps to take the subway had become impossible tasks. I was a newly married woman by the age of 20 (don’t worry, I’ll write about that another time), and instead of coming back from my honeymoon excited about all that laid ahead, I spent the next 5 years of my life primarily in my bed.
My husband was very supportive, but something people don’t talk about often enough when it comes to dealing with our bodies is that health struggles of any kind can be very isolating. I would go to the depths of despair with my body, how could it betray me like this?, and I felt tremendous anger that I was the only person in my family whose skin looked the way mine did. I would sometimes feel heat radiating off my body because I felt intense rage inside.
But my loves, there comes a time when even you get sick of your own anger. You get fed up with feeling miserable all of the time and are desperate for another way. That was me about a year into being bedridden. I felt like everything I did would just crumble to pieces and I could never get ahead. It was the most devastating feeling. So much so that I got sick of it. Instead, I decided to believe that what was happening to my body was not a punishment and that my body has actually been the most profound teacher of my life. She’s always been there, chugging away, fighting the good fight, and carrying the burden for all the pain and despair I felt throughout my life.
So at this breaking point, I had two choices. I could either continue to wallow in my own misery which no one would have blamed me for because, well, my pain was intensely palpable to anyone that laid eyes on me. Or I could choose to love the shit out of myself. I chose the later out of sheer exhaustion from my despair.
Our girl Sarah talks about not waiting on the weight, and we’ve discussed many times how that’s not only true when it comes to weight. When I was lying in bed unable to walk, I made a decision to not wait on my psoriasis to heal. I started looking through magazines and creating a vision board for the life I was determined to manifest even when I was so unwell. I filled my home with beautiful things to look at so that when I was still forced to be in bed, I was able to raise my internal vibration by seeing things of beauty.
I also got real about my anger. Oftentimes, I would feel it and then be ashamed that I had it. Which is a double whammy of toxic emotion. When I decided I wanted to live a life of happiness, joy, and love, I knew the only way to get there was to fully honor that I was angry first. I would spend a lot of time talking to myself in the mirror and just yelling about how unfair this all was. I punched and screamed into pillows, and I cried from the depths of my soul out of pure frustration on a daily basis.
I had rituals throughout my day–like journaling, calling someone I loved multiple times throughout the day just to laugh about something silly, and I started playing around with makeup. I figured if I wasn’t’ going anywhere, I could at least make myself look beautiful just for me. There’s no harm in that, right?
I would paint my nails bright colors, experiment with fun lipstick shades, and practice my fierce cat eye. All in bed. This doesn’t mean that I woke up one day and because I penciled a cat eye on, I was all of a sudden free of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. That’s not what I’m saying. What did happen was that there was a major shift in my heart and the amount of anger and frustration I felt dissipated so that my body could feel true relief.
I also found out that there was a lot more to focus on than my suffering. Daily steps towards self-love transformed me because it literally made my entire world brighter. Instead of focusing on my scaley legs or my aching bones, I would make a conscious effort to focus on beauty, laughter, and love. My life has never been the same since. And while my body is constantly on a healing journey, who I am being in the world is a woman who is completely healed. I am experiencing some of the most delightful and simple pleasures in life that were once impossible. Like riding a bike through the streets of Manhattan, wearing dresses on dates instead of hiding myself and even enjoying a day at the beach in a bikini (I know, I was shocked too!) All while achieving dreams I have had in my heart which I thought I would never be able to achieve. I have my own Talk Show called Naturally Beautiful on the holistic lifestyle channel Z LIving, I host events for 200 influencers and bloggers all in celebration of self-love several times a year, I have the honor of working with some of my favorite brands and was even asked to represent one of them as an on-air guest for the home shopping channel QVC.
I know many of you reading this haven’t gone through this exact same thing, but I promise you we all have our own version. Whether it’s healing your ability to love yourself after a painful divorce (I have one of those under my belt too), or feeling defeated because you just can’t seem to figure out what to do with your life, or you’ve been spending what feels like a lifetime waiting on the weight, we have all been there in our own unique and beautiful way.
I wanted to share all of this with you because I want this to be the moment where you decide to choose the vibration of love for your life. Choose love. It’s so easy to get stuck in cycle of choosing fear, doubt, and worry, but I’m here to tell you that you are worth so much more than that, my beautiful ones. I promise. Even if you think your body or circumstances are telling you otherwise.
Here are 3 ways to choose love over despair.
- Get real about where you’re at. It’s really easy for people in the self-help world to give you a few bandaids for your pain, but something my soul sister Sarah and I believe in deeply is that we are doing all of you a disservice if we do that. The only way to truly transform and heal is to get real. So take out your favorite journal or write an email to yourself and get it all out. What are you so angry about? Why do you feel betrayed? When did this all start? Whatever comes up for you get real about it. And release it once and for all.
- Surround yourself with beauty. This is one of those tips you may be a little skeptical about. But if you’re willing to trust me. I would love for you to give it a try. If we’re committed to raising our vibration towards more love and less despair, then what we look at and what we’re surrounded by is going to be a part of that. You could either look at a blank wall, a piece of art that you don’t love, or a couch that makes you cringe every day. Or you can fill your space with things that bring you insane joy. Go on Etsy and find an inexpensive piece of art, buy yourself a candle that has the most beautiful fragrance, or make a commitment buying yourself fresh flowers every week (I know this is one of Sarah’s favorite things to do). Whatever it is, surround yourself with things that lift you up. It’s not about band aids, it’s about reprogramming your cellular memory towards more happiness and joy over despair. It works if you work it.
- Call on your community. This has always been one of my absolute favorite steps towards more happiness. It wasn’t always the easiest one for me. Mostly because I lost most of my friends after my divorce. So to find a group of girlfriends was a true struggle at that time. But being someone who is more committed to my happiness than my suffering, I made it my mission to find a community when I needed it most. If you’re reading this and don’t have a community, I invite you to be bold in your quest for one. For those of you who feel connected to group of people already, I want to remind you that those who love you feel privileged to support you. I mentioned that isolating feeling earlier and it shows up for me the most when it comes to my health. It’s probably the area of my life that I need the most love around. But it’s also the thing I tend to take on by myself. It has become a conscious practice to call a friend or text someone I love when I’m in the thick of my lowest moments. Sometimes these exchanges can be a request to have someone listen to you because you need to get real about your situation. And other times it’s just getting honest about your need for some freaking fun. Either way don’t forget that your community can’t wait to support you.
I’ve heard from many people that it often helps having certain structures around the beginning and the end of their day. So I’ve created a special guide with daily self-love rituals to set you up for success. You can download that free guide here.
I mean it when I say it’s such a privilege and honor to share my journey with you. I know how carefully and intentionally Sarah has cultivated her relationship with each of you, and I’m so excited to now be a part of your quest towards more self-love.
Lots of love,