5 Simple Steps to Self-love
Recently, I talked about my personal journey to self-love. It was a weird, twisted road that started with a medical emergency and ended with me finally figuring out that being happy with my body is so much better than hating it all the time. But it didn’t offer a lot of tangible advice others could implement. I mean, I sincerely hope most people don’t have to have a really scary medical experience and then lose 70 pounds in order to find some self-love and acceptance.
So if you have or are struggling with self-love and body positivity, this list is for you. A few simple steps you implement to start loving yourself more right now. A side note before I dive in. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. None of these things are easy to do, but they aren’t complex or complicated.
The best thing you can do to find self-love is simply choose to love yourself, but that it way harder to do than to say, and hopefully a few of these steps will help make that really hard choice just a little easier.
Ignore the Opinions/Standards of Other People
Someone else is always going to have an opinion. There is always going to be someone telling you how you should look, how you should act, what clothes you should buy to look put together, what skin products to use, what weight loss program works best. People are always willing and ready to offer their opinions. But if you want to truly be happy with yourself you have to stop worrying so much about the opinions of others. You have to stop trying to live up to the standards of people you don’t even know.
Rachel Hollis said it best when she said, “Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.” It seems a bit harsh at first but honestly it is so true. And it is a lot harder to do than you would think. If you have spent your whole life worrying about and trying to live up to other people’s standards, letting go of those feelings is going to be really hard. If you’ve spent your whole life trying to please other people, suddenly ignoring what they have to say is going to seem impossible. But for me, I couldn’t find self-love, if I was constantly trying to live up to standards of the outside world. I couldn’t be happy with who I am if I let the opinions of other people control how I feel about myself.
If you want to truly love yourself, you have to stop looking outside of yourself for validation. You have to stop hoping for love and acceptance from other people to finally make you love yourself. You have to ignore the naysayers and haters, because there will always be someone ready to tell you all the reasons why you’re not good enough, and start looking for acceptance and love from the only person who really matters: you.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Strangers on the Internet
This one goes hand in hand with the first one, but there is always going to be someone on social media who is prettier or skinnier or has the witty sense of humor you’ve always wanted. There is always going to people who seem like they have it all together, when you are struggling just to keep your head above water. Stop comparing yourself to them. Just stop.
The internet and social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s best moments. People are rarely real and open and honest about how bad life sucks sometimes. People rarely share the photos of their messy house and unruly children and makeup-less-pajama-clad selves. People rarely share stories about how they fed their children pizza for dinner three nights this week or are on their second bottle of wine and it’s only Wednesday. People rarely talk about the days they cry three times before 8 a.m. and try on their entire closet before they find something that doesn’t make them feel like garbage. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have those moments too. Nobody has their shit together 100 percent of the time.
For me that means I sometimes have to stay off social media when I’m feeling my worst, because stopping the comparison game can be really hard, so I just avoid it all together. Other times that means I just have to remind myself that those people I am comparing myself to have bad days too.
Take Care of Yourself from a Place of Love
I have tried for years, maybe even decades of my life to hate my body into submission. To force myself to workout and to cut out foods I truly loved and eat things I don’t really love in order to change my body and finally be happy. It didn’t work. No matter how much weight I lost or how close I got to my goal I was never happy with my body. And when I eventually gained the weight back, it only fueled my hatred even more. You can’t love yourself and your body if you are constantly punishing it.
Yes, eating less ice cream and more vegetables is good for me. Sitting on the couch less and moving my body more is good for me. Drinking more water and less coffee is good for me, but doing those things out of self-hatred doesn’t feel good. It only makes me feel like a failure when I mess up. I have found it’s a lot easier to take good care of my body when I do it from a place of love. When I move my body because it feels good and makes me happy, when I eat more vegetables and less cookies because that it what gives me energy.
Exercise should be a celebration of what our bodies can do, not a punishment for not looking like a supermodel. Eating well should be done out of love and respect for our bodies, not from a place of restriction and hate. I found it was a lot easier to love myself and my body when I stopped focusing on all the things I couldn’t do and started appreciating all the things I could do.
Embrace Your Different
No one else is just like you. How cool is that? No really, how cool is it that you are the only person on this entire planet that has all your unique characteristics and personality? Every single person on earth has a unique blend that is just their’s, and if you want to love yourself you have to embrace all your uniqueness. That means that good and the bad. We all have bad habits or traits we wish we didn’t have. We’ve all had bad experiences and things we wished had never happened to us. But those things have shaped who you are today. Without the good and the bad you wouldn’t be the person you are right now.
One thing that really helped me do this was making a list of all the things I liked about myself. It was part of a group health and fitness challenge I did and one of the worksheets was listing 100 things you like about yourself. I never made it to 100, but it did make me think a little harder and dig a little deeper for things I truly love about myself. Sure, I still love my red hair and my competitive nature, but I also thought of things like being organized, my gift for writing, my ability to remain calm under pressure, and my slight obsession with making lists and budgets. I won’t bore with my entire list, but the point is all of those things make me who I am. Sometimes they are good, like when my then-fiance and I were able to save $10,000 for our wedding and sometimes they are bad, like when my OCD makes it hard to accomplish anything until my closet is organized, but they have all helped me and shaped me into the person I am today.
I challenge you to make a list of 100 things you like about yourself, you might be surprised what you think of.
Let Go of Expectations
I have truly come to believe that expectations kill happiness, and probably a lot of relationships. Life rarely, if ever, looks exactly like we imagined it would. And the fastest way to be unhappy with yourself, with your relationships, with your life in general is to compare where you are and what your life looks like now to how you think it is supposed to look or how you thought it would look.
This isn’t to say that you should stop striving to be a better person or stop working toward your goals and making your life the best it can possibly be, but it does mean you have to stop putting yourself down because you aren’t as far along as you thought you would be by now. It does mean you have to let go of the fantasy life you’ve created in your head and start living in and appreciating the life you actually have.
I want to be the kind of person who goes to bed at 10 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m. refreshed and ready for the day. Who does a workout in the morning, makes her kids breakfast and gets ready with no chaos or yelling. Who doesn’t swear at other people on the road, and who doesn’t cave to cravings for chocolate and ice cream every day, and who doesn’t get frustrated with her children in the 45 minutes between dinner and bedtime. I’d also like to be able to make my hair look semi-decent in 5 minutes or less, but my crazy waves make that impossible.
I could beat myself up about all of those things, make myself feel like a terrible person and that I am failing at life, but I’m just human. And when I stop wishing my life was different or better than it was, and start looking for the good in my life I realize it’s a lot more beautiful than I give it credit for. That I am a lot further along than I give myself credit for and that I have a lot to be grateful for.
Self-love isn’t easy, especially in a world that gives us a million and one reason to hate ourselves, but I’ve said it over and over again, figuring out how to love myself has been one of the best things I could’ve done for my happiness. There are plenty of days it is still really, really hard, and there are still times when I beat myself up or let the doubt and hate creep in, but it is easier to keep those feelings at bay when I practice the steps listed above.
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