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Learning to love yourself is no joke. For a lot of us, it will never come easy and the journey is never ending. I can go on a diatribe about society and “norms” and ideals pushed on women, but instead of focusing on the negative, I want to talk about the positive.
Anyone who knows me or has been following my blog knows that my journey has been wrought with strife and I’ve struggled to love the body I’m in from the day I learned what self-hate was, at about the tender age of 9. It took another 23 years to finally get to the point where I’m LEARNING how to really love myself. By no means am I self-actualized, but I like myself better than I did when I was “skinny” or my skin was better or I was younger. Why? Because I’ve learned practice the following things.
- Your body is a temple. I’m not saying you have to only eat organic and run marathons. I’m saying you need to feed yourself quality ingredients relatively often, get at least a little excercise daily and listen to your body when it’s telling you something is wrong. That might mean putting lotion on your dry skin or going to the doctor when something hurts. Just listen and treat your body like you want to give it some longevity. I still eat cookies almost daily and I don’t always get in the exercise I had hoped for, but I try my darnedest. The point is that if you FEEL good it’s easier to feel better about yourself.
- Feed yourself compliments. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m going to again because I think this is the most important part. Loving yourself is a mental game, so you have to practice positive thinking. I started this with some daily affirmation cards that were just positive thinking. You can see my favorites here. Then, I began to compliment myself literally every time I look in a mirror. I tell myself something I like about myself. Sometimes it’s even a lie, but I do it anyway. It’s sort of a fake it until you make it idea. You keep saying nice things to yourself and your brain starts to believe it. Look, I don’t love myself all the time, but six months who I would have said I was too fat for a bikini. Hell, 50 lbs ago I still wouldn’t wear them. I’m telling you that positive reinforcement is so important. Be your own cheerleader!
- Take a long look at your mental health. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2013 that I really started to take a look at my mental state and really analyze why I feel the way I feel. It opened up a lot of doors for me to really understand myself and why I am the way I am. Then, last year, I started to see a therapist for the first time and had an opportunity to really speak about myself and work through some issues. Just acknowledging the things that have happened in my life and influenced me helped exponentially. If you have issues with body image and self-love and can afford it, I highly recommend seeing a therapist and talking through why you feel this way. If you can’t afford one (trust me, I get it because I was there for a long time) then try and talk about these things with a friend or family member. Someone you really trust to be non-judgmental. It’s so important and cathartic to say these things out loud.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think these are the three most important steps to learning to love your body. When your physical and mental health are firing at both ends, facing the problem becomes 10 times easier. Trust me!
Tell me what helps you with body image woes in the comments.