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Learning to Love Yourself
Learning to love yourself is a journey, not a destination, and it’s often one filled with many bumps in the road. Don’t spend another decade at war with yourself. Instead, make 2020 the year you do something about it and practice the art of self-love at any size.
I’m the very first person to yell “learn to love yourself!” I’m that girl standing in the bathrooms on a night out, complementing each woman who enters and giving out advice for all to lap up. But at the end of it all, I’m the very last person to taste my own medicine.
The truth is that I can’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore.
There was a time when I would spend minutes to hours staring at myself, pinching my skin, wrapping my fingers around my thighs and praying they could still meet in the middle.
Then I entered into recovery for Anorexia Nervosa. Now, at a few kilos above my lowest weight, I can’t bring myself to look anymore. The worst part is I still have a long way to go in regards to weight restoration.
We have two full-length mirrors in our home both with towels or coats thrown over the top on an almost constant basis. I only really use the bathroom mirror, which stops just at my waist and means I can’t look at my legs unless I stand on the toilet. My legs are clearly my biggest issue so I avoid them at all costs.
Learning to love yourself is a struggle.
I’ve spoken to therapists, read self-help books and even use yoga as a bid to learn to love myself. The only thing I haven’t done is practice what I preach.
In order to make peace with myself, I took time from my busy schedule to plan and finally write an article dedicated to learning to love yourself, body positivity and acceptance.
Join me and we’ll learn more about how we can start to love ourselves just as we are.
Here are 10 tips for learning to love yourself:
1. Practice Daily Affirmations.
Affirmations are often short yet powerful statements designed to instill peace, self-confidence, and gratitude.
They’re positive and spoken in the present tense. For example, “I am good enough.”
Practicing daily affirmations allows us to register these positive thoughts regularly until they eventually become second nature. Instead of ripping holes into every aspect of ourselves and our lives, we spend time building ourselves up with kindness, understanding and positive thinking.
Another great tip I’ve learned for body confidence is to practice affirmations in front of the mirror.
Personally, it’s not something I feel ready for at the moment, but I can see the appeal. Instead of focusing on the negative things we hate about our bodies, we can use affirmations to change them into positives.
2. Remember what people think of you is none of your business.
Say it with me; “What people think of me is their business, not mine.”
It can be daunting to find out that not everyone likes us for various reasons. Some people might find us annoying, preachy, ‘depresso’, high-maintenance, etc. People have any number of things to say about those of us who have mental illnesses and even more to say about those of us who ‘flaunt it.’
If people don’t like what I’m doing in terms of my writing, my advocating, being honest about myself, then they aren’t worth my time.
We can’t live our lives wondering what Joe Bloggs down the road thinks of us. If we live our lives trying to impress and win the affections of others, we risk losing ourselves in the mix. We risk becoming something or someone we’re not.
As long as you’re kind and compassionate to others, who cares what you do or don’t do for a living, or how your hair is worn on a particular day?
If you’re ever worried or struggling with ‘people-pleasing’ syndrome, remember this: “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has them.”
3. Reconsider how you speak to yourself.
It’s almost as if we come programmed with hate speech. Not against anyone else, that’s a different article entirely, but against ourselves.
When I think about some of the things I say to myself, they seem justified, but when I think about them being said to a child, a teenager or even just another person, I feel disgusted.
I would never, ever, speak to my nieces the way I speak to myself. If I did I’d not only be a monster, but I’d be setting them up for low self-esteem, no self-confidence, and leaving them vulnerable to toxic environments in the future.
I’ve spent so long knocking myself down that it seems nearly impossible that I’ll ever get the bricks I need to build myself back up.
So think before you speak to yourself both internally and externally. Would you feel comfortable saying that to your younger self, your son, daughter or even to your best friend? No? Then stop, rewind and try again.
It’s extremely difficult to do this if it’s all you’ve ever known, but with time and practice, I’ve been assured that it works.
4. Love yourself for what your body does and not how it looks.
Speaking from a woman’s point of view, our bodies are amazing. Not only does a woman’s body house the ability to carry a child, but it’s also able to deliver that child and then produce milk for it to live.
The body and mind are beautiful things that are often taken for granted.
Instead of admiring our bodies like a piece of naturally occurring engineering, we chastise them for being ‘fat’ or ‘wobbly.’
We get up each morning with our various organs, muscles, and sinews chugging away silently. If you’ve ever taken the time to watch a documentary about the human body, to research the connection between our minds and various organs, you’d be amazed at what you’d find.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others.
As Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Prior to entering anorexia recovery, I spent hours searching Instagram looking at women and men involved in the Pro-Ana community. I compared every part of myself to them. In my mind I wasn’t sick enough for the help and I didn’t deserve it because I wasn’t as thin like them. Yet I was possibly sicker than most.
Comparison is part of the reason I unfollowed the majority of my ‘friends’ on Facebook and removed over one hundred Instagram accounts.
I was constantly watching everyone I knew get married, buy houses, have babies and move on with their lives. Here I was, sicker than I’d ever been and struggling just to hold my head up.
Although it’s lovely to see others succeed, we tend to get stuck in a loop of comparing our lives to their picture-perfect moments, and then feeling deflated when we’re not seeing the same results.
Since purging my accounts and removing myself from anything I know will trigger comparison, I’ve genuinely felt better. I’ve had time to step away from the rat race and I’m working on convincing myself that everyone moves at different speeds. It’s okay that I’m going slower and taking the path less trod on.
Life is not meant to be experienced at hyper speed, nor is it meant to be the same for everyone. That would be exceptionally boring.
6. Give yourself a break.
Step away from your desk and step outside. Allow yourself five minutes of fresh air or ten minutes of nothing but reading and coffee.
If, like me, you find it difficult to step away from the busyness of life for fear of falling behind or being ‘unproductive’ stop right now. There’s nothing to be gained from pushing yourself to the limit other than illness.
You can also view this point in a different light: don’t be so hard on yourself and cut yourself some slack.
Not everything has to be perfect, we’re allowed to make mistakes and, really, that’s what being human is all about. Chasing perfection is as pointless as an admiral without a ship.
7. Do things that make you feel good.
Exercise because it makes you feel good, not because you are focusing on calories. Practice yoga for relaxation and improvements in flexibility, not because everyone else is doing it. Do you hear what I’m saying?
Do things for you because they make you feel powerful, strong, excited, happy, comforted, healthy, or even sexy.
8. Learn to say no.
NO is not a dirty word. You don’t need to be the YES MAN all the time!
NO is a word I have so much difficulty saying to people. I say yes to everything because I’m afraid of causing offence, or that people will think less of me.
I’ve learned the hard way that NO is just two little letters.
As long as you cause no harm, using this little word should not hold the weight that it seems to have gained.
How the other person takes your response is on them, not you, and if they are offended by your use of the word NO then it’s for them to sit with.
9. Realize and accept that you can’t be happy all the time.
Happiness and positivity aren’t permanent states of mind. Life can get us down. It can push us into a corner and have us thinking ‘What’s the point?’
“It’s a common belief that positive thinking leads to a happier, healthier life. As children, we are told to smile, be cheerful, and put on a happy face. As adults, we are told to look on the bright side, to make lemonade, and see glasses as half full. Sometimes reality can get in the way of our ability to act the happy part though. Your hope can fail, boyfriends can cheat, friends can disappoint. It’s in these moments when you just want to get real, drop the act, and be your true scared unhappy self.” -Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy
I’ve never heard truer words.
And you know what? It’s fine to have bad days, it’s okay to feel like the whole world is against you sometimes.
The important thing is that you keep picking yourself up after each blow and trying again.
Some people are naturally positive, while some have to work at it every day. I still find myself climbing into bed after a bad day and thinking ‘why me?’. It’s all too easy to fall into a funk and stay there, permanently.
But we need to keep getting up every day with new intentions and motivations.
A bad day does not equal a bad life and allowing those emotions or circumstances to have power over us is asking for trouble.
10. Stop letting the number on the scale define you.
You are not the number on the scale. Your weight is not a reflection of who you are, your intelligence, your charm, your opinion, your kindness or your courage.
“Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself. Speak like you love yourself. Act like you love yourself.” -Tara Stiles
Valentine’s day is all about love and loving others. But what about loving ourselves? It’s not empathized to the same level as loving others.
We’re just as important and in need of our love as everyone else is.
What other things have you done to help you learn to love yourself?
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