Learning to love yourself.
Below is a question submitted through the Q&A section of the blog. After receiving multiple emails about "struggling to love myself"... I thought I'd turn this into a full post for more to benefit. I'm by no means a psychologist, just a friend looking to help and dish out my perspective and advice to those asking. If I help one person feel better about themselves, mission accomplished. :)
q u e s t i o n:
"So, friend to friend. I'm having a lot of trouble finding motivation and strength. Ever since I was young, I've always struggled with finding confidence in myself.
When I was little, I was bullied quite a bit for my weight and battled a number of eating disorders over 5 years. Now, I'm 24 years old, and have overcome so much, but I still can't find the motivation or inspiration to love myself or to be happy with myself the way I see so many other girls do it.
There's always the 'one thing' about myself that really bothers me, you know? Like the cellulite on the back of my legs (mind you, I'm 5'5" and 125 lbs, so I'm not exactly fat, but my eating disorders really broke down my body over the years). They are things that, for whatever reason, I can't move past. They're also things that I have found little determination to change. I'm not sure if it's because I don't believe in myself...but that's a huge start.
I guess my question for you is, where do I start?
I know that God loves me, I guess I just struggle with what the rest of the world thinks. How do I learn to love myself?
Thank you so much for offering your advice and support. Women like you are the reason women like me are alive today. <3
Brb as I wipe a tear and let the goosebumps settle... Especially after reading that last line. Heartbreaking. Touching. Thank you.
Loving yourself isn't as easy as 1,2,3 bullet points... but lets break down the different components for the sake of an easier read (because boy can I ramble!)
1. I think real change and perspective comes from the deep realization of how incredibly blessed we already are.
Unfortunately most people don't fully appreciate the life they have until things that actually matter are taken from them (ex: sickness or death of someone close to you).
When something like this shakes your world, everything else that "brings you down", and even those external sources of happiness (money, social status) all suddenly seem so small and insignificant ... because they really are.
For those that have experienced this... do you think they were thinking about the 3 extra lbs on their thighs or that birthmark they hate? Of course not. It puts life and what's important into perspective for you.
Thankfully we don't need tragedy for this realization... just something you should think about and let sink in.
2. Train your mind to see the good in every situation... and learn to flip your negative perspective to a more positive one.
Having a negative thought? Catch it when it happens and start listing off some positives about whatever situation you're in. Especially those negative thoughts about yourself!
For example, when you walk up to a mirror, I'm going to guess that your eyes go directly to the areas you don't like, your "flaws". Next time this happens, stop yourself in that moment and divert your attention to your good qualities.
What do you love? What's good in this moment? Do this every day in as many situations as you can.
3. Let go of what you can't control
This includes your past and your "flaws".
Let go of the past! You've overcome so much and should be proud of yourself. However, don't let that define you or lower your self-worth. The past is over and done with. All we can do is learn from it and move on in a better and brighter direction.
NO-ONE is perfect and we need to accept that. Flaws aren't always a bad thing! They are what make us unique and interesting.
4. Keep reinforcing what you DO love about yourself.
This isn't always physical. Are you kind, loving, genuine? A good student, daughter, friend? I'm certain you have more than you give yourself credit for. Write all your favorite qualities down on a piece of paper. Pin it up in your room, look at it often.
5. Find activities and people that excite your spirit.
What do you enjoy doing!? Look into joining a community based class, team, or charity. If you feel like your health is slacking, then get back on track! Join a soul cycle or yoga class... something that gets you into a healthy rhythm where you can see and feel the benefits. Surround yourself with positive, likeminded people.
6. Don't feel like you're alone- everyone is fighting a battle.
"I still can't find the motivation or inspiration to love myself or to be happy with myself the way I see so many other girls do it."
Most women mask insecurity very well. Most women are very good at putting up a front.
EVERYONE is going through sh*t.
Everyone has their issues and is going through lifes waves at different paces.
Everyone struggles with loving themselves from time to time and that's OK.
We're all in this together, we are ALL a work in progress.
You're not alone!
7. Be patient with yourself.
Healing and learning to love yourself takes time! Tweaking little positive changes into your daily routine will hold more power than you think. It'll take a bit of effort at first, but it'll become more automatic as time passes.
You're here for a reason! You have a purpose. Don't let life slip by without realizing you're already perfect from your core, and things really aren't as bad you think.
Happiness & confidence doesn't stem from what you look like or the number on the scale…. it all comes down to love: love for family, love for friends, love for life and most importantly love for yourself.