We’ve all heard it said that in order to maintain healthy relationships you need to love yourself first. Being in love with yourself doesn’t mean being narcissistic or selfish. It doesn’t mean always putting your needs before the needs of others. That kind of self-love is not healthy and only pushes people away. Loving yourself is an active, conscious process. It means respecting your mind and your body and being able to evaluate which people and experiences are good for you, and which you should avoid.
So how do you learn to love yourself? We live in a society where we’re trained to do quite the opposite. We indulge in self-deprecation in order to try to get people to pay us compliments, and when they don’t, we feel even worse. We are flooded by images of unrealistic ‘role models’. We are constantly trying to attain that ever elusive feeling of happiness and contentment through the wrong channels. It is true that money can’t buy happiness, and that is why we hear of rich people engaging in self-destructive behaviour. Happiness comes from within, and there are things you can actively do in order to learn to love yourself.
Accept yourself now
Yes, you. The person reading this. You need to accept yourself right now. You need to tell yourself that you accept yourself and love the person you are in this moment. Now. Not tomorrow. Not when you’re 10kgs lighter. Right now. In your sweat pants, with your make up off. Accept everything. Say it out loud. Tell your hands and feet you accept them. Tell your stomach and thighs you accept them. Tell your mind you accept it, your voice, your eyes, your back, your bottom. If you wait until you’ve lost or gained some weight to love yourself, or if you only feel beautiful with make up on, if you set yourself conditions, you will never be able to fully love yourself. Love yourself unconditionally. Accept any changes that occur within your body. If you feel that you need to lose or gain weight, do it healthily, but love yourself every step of the way.
Wear things that make you feel good
No matter what size you are, how tall you are, how large or small your breasts are, how round or flat your bottom is… you should wear clothes that make you feel beautiful. If sundresses make you feel good, then fill your wardrobe with them. If bright colours make you happy, wear them. If polka dots make you want to dance, make them your signature pattern. Wear clothes that fit well. Throw out any clothes that don’t fit. Don’t keep them in your wardrobe to wear when you’re two sizes smaller. They will only depress you. If you do lose weight, buy new clothes. Don’t hold on to old ones. Make everything in your wardrobe something you want to wear now.
Do something new with your body
You are alive! And your body is the perfect instrument. There are so many things it can do, if you’ll let it. Do something new with it. Take up dance, start yoga classes, go running, paint a picture, learn a new sport, learn how to play an instrument, sing, recite a poem, learn a new language. The possibilities are endless.
Stop weighing yourself
I’m serious. Throw away your weighing scales. Why do you want to do something that makes you feel bad on a regular basis? Unless you need to weigh yourself for health reasons, stop weighing yourself today. Stop making numbers your priority. Start gauging your attractiveness in a different way.
Write a list of things you love about yourself
On a piece of paper, with your favourite pen, write a list of what makes you you. Do you love the shape of your legs? Are you a good listener? Do you have a nice voice? Write them down. Keep the list in your purse. Look at it any time you get a negative thought. I promise it will instantly make you feel better.
Choose a feel-good song
Choose a song that makes you want to get up and shake your booty. Put it on your mp3 player. Listen to it while you exercise. Listen to it while you get dressed for work. Hum it to yourself when you feel a bit down in the dumps. And dance to it when nobody’s watching. No fancy choreography, either. We all do this dance when we’re alone. We all feel joyous doing it. Let yourself dance like that regularly.
Surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally
There are people in your life who will love you no matter what happens. Whatever you do they will continue to love and support you. Make these people central to your life.
And as for those people who make you feel bad…
Those people who give backhanded compliments, who spread nasty rumours and who are always negative – confront them about it. Tell them the way they make you feel. If they are worth hanging on to they will take heed of your comments and will make the effort to be more positive. If they don’t, then dump them. You do not need those people in your life.
Don’t be boastful, but accept the compliments people give you. Accept them politely, with a smile and a ‘thank you’.
I believe we attract the same kind of energy we emit. If you are positive, accepting and kind, you will attract positive, kind people. If you are mean, cruel and negative, you will attract cruel, negative people. Why not try to give everybody you meet just one compliment. Tell your colleague her dress suits her; tell the waitress you like her make up; tell your friend she has a great smile. Do it! I promise you will begin to feel better about life if you always try to find at least one thing to compliment in every person you meet.
Loving yourself means respecting your body and treating it well. This means putting good things into it. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of water. If you eat meat, try to avoid the processed stuff. Try new dishes and flavours. Eat more fibre and less fat. Make yourself salads using the freshest ingredients. Also, allow yourself the occasional chocolate or glass of wine. Even pizza and french fries. Everything in moderation. Treat your body well and it’ll treat you well.
If you are suffering from an eating disorder, or you are feeling down a lot of the time, know that you deserve to be well. Respect yourself enough to seek professional help if you need it.
Do you know of any other ways to kick start the self-love process? I’d love to hear them!