All relationships are important. Whether they are platonic or romantic; we hold so much value in the relationships we form with others.
But the most important relationship that we all hold, is also the one that we tend to neglect the most. This is the relationship we have with ourselves.
I’ve struggled with self-love and self-esteem issues for almost my entire life. So I know that the relationship we have with ourselves typically affects every single aspect of our lives. It can affect our mood, our actions, our words and even how we live our day to day lives.
I can tell you firsthand that when you view yourself as ugly, not worthy or even disgusting you tend to become more depressed and can even isolate yourself from others.
But at the same time, when you make small steps to change your mentality about yourself the changes in the way you view yourself can be monumental.
I have tried almost everything to learn how to love and accept myself for who I am. I’ve gone as drastic as starving myself for weeks on end and working out until I couldn’t breathe. To as simple as throwing myself at men in hopes that their attention would make me feel better. But each time I failed.
And the reason I failed was that at the end of the day I really didn’t believe that I was beautiful or strong or enough for anyone. I still was doubtful even though I was trying to take steps at loving myself.
I didn’t believe in myself at all. The thought of me failing was always in the back of my mind and it always slowly crept up on me.
With all that being said, I’ve tried it all. But even though I have failed 10,000 times I still keep on trying. I now feel like I have the confidence in myself to finally learn to accept me for me.
I know that self-love and self-acceptance are a lifelong practice, and though I am only 25 I have learned so much so far in my journey.
Below are some self-love practices that have made me feel empowered, evincible and truly forced me see the beauty in myself; whether it be my outer or inner.
For the past few months, I have been practicing yoga about two times per week. Yoga has allowed me to discover the beauty of my body by showing me how strong I actually am. At the beginning of my journey I could barely hold a balancing pose and now I have seen so much progress in not only my balance but also my flexibility and strength. But the practice of yoga is not the only thing that has helped me discover this, it’s also my instructor Shauna (@Kalanyoga). She has honestly taught me so much about not only the practice but also about my own self. She constantly incorporates empowering and inspirational messages into her practice. At the start of each class she invites us to set an intention, so each time I tell myself, “learn to love yourself”. And at the end of class she closes it with, “may we look within for validation and self-awareness. May we speak words of truth, kindness and encouragement. May we be the change we wish to see in the world.” These three simple phrases seal our practice on such a positive note that constantly leaves me feeling empowered and proud of myself.
Back in high school, I started seeing a therapist because my depression and self-esteem issues were getting worse and I didn’t know how to handle them on my own. My therapist recommended that I start a daily journal and a self-help book called “Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance” by Rosie Molinary. Each day I would read the corresponding except. The author advises you to either write from the question she presented or try something new. This forced me to think about my self-worth on a daily basis, which allowed me to find the tools to finally learn to accept and love myself. I currently do not go to a therapist for my issues but I am rereading “Beautiful You”. Sometimes you just need someone who is unbiased to listen to you or provide you with the tools change your thought process about yourself. Although I know I am strong-willed and more than capable to learn to love myself, it can be tough. Some days are so much easier than others. But I know for me, talking to someone who believes me and makes sure to validate my feelings about myself helps wonders.
One of the hardest things for me to do is tell myself I’m beautiful or that I am worthy. The reason why it’s so hard is because when I say it, I don’t believe myself. If you’re like me, then this one is going to be tough. Affirmations are a great way to change the way you think. When you put something out into the universe it usually comes back to you. This is called the law of attraction. So when you put negative thoughts out into the universe you typically receive negativity back. And when you put positivity into the universe you typically receive positivity back. It’s as simple as that. So for me, when I tell myself I am beautiful or strong or have a great ass, I don’t necessarily believe it (except for the ass part, I definitely believe that!). But the fact that I am speaking positive and empowering things about myself into the universe helps me because it eventually comes back to me later in the form of something else. And when this happens I feel one step closer to finally believing the words I am saying to myself. But if you don’t feel comfortable saying these words out loud to yourself each morning you can always write yourself a sticky note and leave it on your mirror so then you are forced to see it each day. In the beginning, I couldn’t force myself to say anything positive so I would write myself a message on my mirror in dry erase marker each morning. And seeing a message saying “I am beautiful” while looking into the mirror, even though you might not feel that way at the time, will eventually force you to see that you are truly beautiful.
Kind of going back to the therapy bullet point. When your world seems so bleak and dysfunctional sometimes the only thing that can help you is to escape it for a little. The easiest way for me to escape my reality is by reading. When I find a book that captivates me it’s like a movie is going on in my head. All my worries, frustrations, anxieties and thoughts of self-doubt all see to melt away while I’m reading. Bonus tip: grab a glass of ginger ale (or wine), light a few candles and read while in a bubble bath!
Give yourself time
Know that self-love and self-acceptance are a journey, and boy can it be a bumpy one. Changing the way you see or feel about yourself takes time, practice and patience (which I have none of). It’s easy to be hard on yourself when going through this journey but realizing you’re not perfect and mistakes will happen will only help you. Allow yourself to make mistakes or have a few hiccups without being so hard on yourself. I know, I know, easier said than done. But this journey won’t happen overnight, so you have to allow yourself the time to heal from the negative image you currently see yourself as.
When all else fails, don’t give up. Give yourself an orgasm. Discovering your body is one of the quickest ways to self-love and self-acceptance. When I was in college I had a human sexuality teacher that had all the women go home and grab a hand-held mirror to look at their vaginas. Like actually LOOK at their vaginas. Most women tend to hate the way their vaginas look so she wanted us to explore the beauty of our own vaginas. To be honest, this was the first time I had ever actually seen my vagina. I mean, yes, I had seen my it before, but not like this. So I encourage every woman to do the same. And when you are done discovering yourself discover yourself again with an orgasm! When you orgasm your brain is flooded with oxytocin, which is also referred to as the “love hormone”. It plays a huge role in how we bond with others as well. So when you give yourself an orgasm it can help you bond with yourself, which will then lead you to love yourself more.
These are only a few ways that have helped me along my journey with self-love and self-acceptance. I also really enjoy having some alone time browsing through Target or TJ Maxx or hanging out with my girlfriends or taking my parents out to dinner.
There is no right way to learn to love and accept yourself. Each person’s journey is their own and is completely unique to themselves.
So I encourage everyone to find out what works best for them and practice it daily.
I would love to hear how you all practice self-love and self-acceptance!