How to love yourself: A guide.
Self love is hard. It seems silly that a concept that sounds so easy, is one of the most difficult things to do. It starts off when you’re young, looking at photoshopped women in magazines, runway models who are shadows of their former selves and ‘fat-blasting’ ads splattered across billboards and in between your favourite tv shows.
You begin to question yourself, like you never have before. Why don’t I look like that girl? Why can’t I see my ribs? Should I be restricting what I eat? From there, you’re taken for a rough ride throughout adolescence. With the introduction of social media comes another wave of the body crisis movement.
Suddenly, this information and photos are accessible at the touch of a tap, swipe, like and comment. We’re judged for our photos by our peers and strangers alike, and we do the same to those around us. We forget that people only post the very best online, in magazines, on their social profiles and even photos framed around the house.
For me, I’ve struggled with the concept of self love for many years. I remember growing up thinking I’d never be skinny enough, and that skinny was the only answer. It’s only now that I’ve come to realise that healthy and happy is what we should aspire for, and not a certain dress size or waist measurement.
It sounds silly, but since I moved to London 1.5 years ago, my perception of the entire world has changed. How I view myself, the planet and others around me - it’s so very different. Here are some lessons I’ve learnt on how to love yourself:
Do it for you
Don’t do it for your mum, your boyfriend, your friend. Do it for you. It’s cliche as they come, but self-love comes from within. It’s your mind that you’ll learn to talk to, and no one else can butt in to those conversations except you. At the start of your self love journey, you need to be doing it for the right reason… and that reason is you! No one will reap the rewards from your own self-love like you do, so it must be you that starts this journey yourself.
2. Comparison is the thief of joy
You know, this is the absolute hardest thing to do. Every day, when you open Instagram, a magazine or look around, you’ll instinctively compare yourself to those arounds you. “She has way better legs than me”, or “I wish I was that size”, or “How can she eat that every day and look like that?”. STOP. I know, I know. It’s almost impossible, but you can do it. It’s about flicking a switch in your mind from “I wish” to “Good on her!”. Next time you go to compare yourself to someone and deem yourself inadequate, I want you to instead mentally compliment her, (if you have to). Women need to lift eachother up, and the very core of that movement means not comparing and wishing, but congratulating and complimenting!
3. Accept love from all around you
Look around you, and how lucky you are to have such wonderful people in your life. Think of all the beautiful words they say to you, and how they lift you up. No matter how many lovely things people say to us, we tend to only ever focus on the negative. You could receive 100 kind comments on a photo, but if there is even one negative one, you remember that. It’s how our brains are wired, and you need to get out of that mindset. Focus on the positives, and listen to those around you. You are beautiful, intelligent, passionate, creative and a go-getter. You can achieve anything, and the people around you know it. Next time someone pays you a compliment, rather than brushing it off, listen to them.
4. Get to know yourself better
It might sound blindingly obvious, but most of us truly don’t know who we are. Think of all the normal questions you’d ask in getting to know someone - what is your favourite food, sport, colour, weather? Ask yourself and think deeply. Know what works for you, and what doesn’t. If you know that bright colours make you happy, then stuff what anyone else thinks and wear the rainbow. In order to love yourself, you first need to understand yourself. Your hopes, your dreams, your goals - these all shape who you are. Write down a list of what these are, and you’ll be surprised at how much you learn about yourself.
5. Be grateful
When you’re feeling down or hating on your body, it can be really hard to be grateful. Take it from someone who’s had a few knee surgeries and been unable to walk unassisted for a while - your health is everything. If you can walk, if you can see, if you can talk, be grateful. Every little thing your body does for you, don’t take it for granted. Relish in the fact that you’ve got your health, and how lucky you are to do so. If your biggest problem in life is not loving your thighs or stretch-marks, you’re doing pretty damn well my friend.
6. Don’t like it? Change it.
If you truly cannot find love within yourself because you dislike the way you look - change it. If there is something that really gets to you and you have the means to change it, then do it for you. It’s not about you not loving yourself, it’s about you changing things to love yourself more. Be realistic - self love comes from within, but if you don’t love what you see, then do something about it. Treat your body like a temple (you’ve only got one!) and feed it wholesome food, exercise your mind and body and say kind things to yourself every day.