12 Steps to Love Yourself - From Someone Who Didn't
Self-love goes beyond its definition: it is trusting yourself to make hard decisions and being confident that they are the right ones. It is accepting that life will put you in situations that will make you grow developmentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Self-love is admiring every curve, stretch mark, birth mark, freckle, scar and blemish that you have because they are a part of you, and your story.
I’ve told myself that I would be happier when I lost the last five pounds, when my skin tightened up or if I didn't have so many stretch marks. It's so frustrating- why can’t I just love myself as I am, right now?
It really hit me one night when my fiance tried lifting my shirt up, but I stopped him.
He asked me, “Why can’t you just love yourself?”
His concern was real… Why can't I?
I should be thankful for what my body has made; I should love me. I decided right then and there to set out on a journey of self-love, and these are the steps I took to do just that:
Social media can be so incredibly toxic. If you are already insecure, the last thing you should be doing is scrolling through Instagram dreaming of those uncomplicated lives and perfectly-slash-professionally fashioned squares. Only follow people who inspire you to be better and do better. Following people who are "#goals" will nearly always bring you down. Take some time for yourself, and your family, and delete social media apps for a few days.
The only person you should be in competition with, is the person you were yesterday.
2. Be alone
Only you are in charge of your happiness.
Take yourself on a date. Being alone helps you sort out your thoughts, think about your day, breathe.
Being comfortable with loneliness will make you closer to loving your own being and appreciate who you really are.
Remember, you are great company.
Loving ourselves starts with taking care of ourselves. Eating healthy foods and exercising promotes healthy habits. Being healthy makes us feel good, and if we feel good, we become more confident. Confidence is a keystone to self-love.
Pamper yourself. You deserve it.
Look yourself in the mirror every day and say, “I am beautiful” or "I am worthy." Say it. Over and over again. Leave yourself love notes throughout your home, daily reminders that you are worth it, and that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. If you have a goal, write it down and place it in an area where you will see it constantly and be reminded of it often. Have goals, and go after them. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop."
And in case you haven't heard it already today, you are loved.
5. Avoid negative thoughts
When you focus so much on the negative, it makes your mind prioritize them. You begin to believe those awful things that cloud your thoughts.
You are in control over your own feelings. If someone does something to upset you, you must let it go. Focus on positive, uplifting thoughts to bring peace throughout your day. Download a meditative app and start your morning with calm and collectiveness.
6. Cut it out
It hurts, but we must cut off negativity, and sometimes that means letting go of those relationships which bring us down.
If you surround yourself with people who are filled with anger and drama, you will most likely pick up on that mindset. At the very least, you'll feel down and saddened by being around them. Surround yourself with people that make you feel joy, and make you want to be a better person.
7. Accept where you are
The moment you are in right this very moment, is a part of your story. The mundane, the stressful, the lackluster, the dull. Accept that.
We may not be able to choose the circumstances we are in, but we can choose how we react to them. Choose joy, every day. Our lives (and often, the best memories) are made in the small moments of ordinary. You don't need more money or a fresh start or a smaller waist to enjoy the now. Learn to appreciate where you are, right now, and you'll learn to have gratitude for everything else in your life. (Yes, even those pesky stretch marks.)
8. Say no
It is okay to say no to the opportunities that do not serve your well-being. If it doesn’t make you happy, say no. There is no selfishness in "no." Many people feel guilt for turning down a request; putting yourself in a situation where you don’t want to be, or are too tired to be in, is not respecting yourself.
It is okay to put yourself first. In fact, sometimes it is absolutely necessary.
Forgive yourself for anything you have done in the past. Like Elsa sings, "Let it gooooo!" You cannot change what you have done, but you can move forward and use those experiences as stepping stones. Your future is unwritten- you still have a chance to make it a really great chapter now.
Remember, you can't drive forward if you're constantly looking in your rearview mirror...you'll likely wreck before you make it to your destination. (And even if you don't wreck, you'll miss the scenery!)
You’ve come a long way, and you have a one-of-a-kind story. You should be celebrating all you’ve been through and all that you have accomplished. Pat yourself on the back and clink the champagne, girl! You are a strong woman, and with all that we endure on a daily basis (between our bodies changing and social injustices), that is an accomplishment within itself.
You deserve to be celebrated.
11. Express yourself
Do what makes you happy. Whether it’s painting, writing, photography or crafting- do it! Everyone needs an outlet.
One of my biggest “flaws” is my lack of communication. I struggle to speak out loud, so I began to write down all my thoughts and found a blossoming love for writing.
Your expression might be volunteering at an animal shelter or knitting. Whatever makes your soul sing- do more of that.
Allow yourself to be free to open up and escape every once in a while.
12. Step out of your comfort zone
As humans, it is our nature to find safety in the familiar. Growth is hard! That's why it's called growing pains. Unboxing yourself from the confinements of your comfort zone will allow you to see new horizons and opportunities. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel just from letting go of the past and moving forward toward the new. Only when you do this, will you truly feel the weight lift off your chest and the love come rushing in.
I left a toxic relationship that I struggled to leave because of the comfort I felt. When I finally got out, I was a new woman. I had to let go of what was weighing me down so I could finally float toward the surface and gasp for fresh air. Stepping out of my comfort box gave me the ability to find real, true love, that I wouldn't have found otherwise.
I stopped wearing makeup. Makeup is a good way to express yourself, sure, but I was wearing it every day because I thought I needed to, not because I wanted to. Now I’m six months makeup-free and am more confident now than I ever was before.
The biggest struggle of mine was being able to show my body in intimate situations. I was ashamed of how my body looked, but I had to remind myself that my body is beautiful because it was home to three amazing babies. I told myself that every single day, and now I can honestly say, I believe it.
When you truly love yourself, you’ll be able to move through life with a deep compassion, not only for others, but also for yourself. You are worthy.