No matter what you think, no matter how hard it is to believe, the truth is, “You are good enough.” It isn’t easy to love yourself, not with all the picture-perfect images in the media and culturally defined ideas of what a woman “should” look like. Everywhere you look, there is another article telling you “How to lose weight,” How to look sexier,” “How to look better naked.”
When it comes to loving yourself, the odds are stacked against you. There are so many things hinting and even outright telling you that you aren’t good enough and making it seems like life will be more exciting or more fulfilling when you reach X number of pounds or make X amount of money. The “I’ll be happy when…” mindset is a slippery one. And the result is often chronic self-hatred or “not enoughness” that penetrates every single crevasse of your life.
To me, loving yourself is the very first step to living a happy, positive and present life. If you can’t love yourself, you’re going to have a hard time feeling healthy, achieving your goals and truly enjoying all the amazing things that this world has to offer.
Our thoughts are powerful. Scientific research has shown hat negativity can affect our physical health and manifest itself into chronic disease and long-term hormonal and GI issues.
However, loving yourself is no easy task. It’s not like you just wake up one day and suddenly think, “It’s happened. I finally love myself! Amazing!” Loving yourself takes a concerted effort. It’s something you need to work on daily and maintain over time.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
This is something I often struggle with. It’s incredibly easy to compare yourself to others and the result is that you feel lesser than or don’t appreciate what you have by wanting what someone else has.
When we compare ourselves to others, we waste a lot of our time and our energy. The media encourages us to compare ourselves to other and tempts us to want what other people have that we don’t. Self-judgement is toxic and never leads to feeling good or worthy enough.
Social media is a huge culprit in this. Every time we engage in social media, we only see the “highlight” reel of the lives of our friends and strangers. This very often leads to self-judgement and feeing like our lives aren’t quite as robust of those of others. It’s important to keep in mind that no one ever posts the hard stuff on facebook or Instagram. We don’t see the mundane tasks like laundry, cleaning the toilet or unhealthy relationships or personal inner turmoil.
If this is something you find yourself doing, comparing yourself to your friends and strangers’ social media highlight reels, you need to dial back your exposure. Something that has helped me is to “unfollow” pretty much everyone on my Facebook feed, even my good friends.
The only things I see on my Facebook feed are pages and groups that I am interested in learning about or seeing more of. I love my friends but seeing their “highlight reels” can cause me to spin down the dark rabbit hole of comparison. If I want to know what my friends or family have been up to, I just give them call or pay them a visit.
Focus on you and what’s great about who you are, what you have, and what you do. Don’t waste any more time comparing yourself to those around you. This is the first — and most important — step to loving yourself.
2. Focus on your wins – even the small ones.
Too often, we focus on the things that went wrong (or could go wrong) and not on the things we did right.
Humans have a natural bias towards negativity. Scientists see this even in the earliest forms of child development. I feel this is probably related to survival in the pre-modern world. It would make sense to take note of the negative things in our environment in order to survive and keep ourselves alive. But in a modern world, this leads to chronic negativity and harsh self-talk.
Most of us are incredibly hard on ourselves and we make sure that we know it. We’ll dwell forever on a conversation that went poorly, but hardly think at all about a wonderful interaction with had with someone the other day.
Likewise, people are often more likely to focus on their failures than their achievements There is nothing wrong with acknowledging when something didn’t go right but there is no benefit in dwelling on it and beating up yourself over it. Acknowledge it and move on.
When you find yourself going down the self-criticism path, stop yourself, forgive yourself and move on. Try to spend more time focusing on the wins, the things that you rocked, even if they seem insignificant.
So tell me, what was something that you totally rocked this week?
3. Stop basing your happiness on your physical appearance.
It’s all too common for people to define themselves by the way they look. But know this, you are way more than what you look like in the mirror and even further, what you look like naked.
There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance and wanting to look good but it’s not everything and it needs to stop being your main focus. This can be a hard thing to remember when everything around you says otherwise.
An exercise that I have found to be helpful is to look in the mirror naked and give myself and all my parts love. Every body part that you feel is inadequate or not up to par, give it love. Tell yourself, flaws and all, that you love yourself and that you appreciate your body for everything that is gives you. Our body’s are truly amazing and they work hard to keep us healthy and functioning.
Your body deserves respect and love. So give it.
4. Silence your inner shit talker.
We all have an annoying little voice that lives inside our head and criticizes every single move we make and every word that comes out of our mouth. I like to call this the inner shit talker.
We all have one and it’s probably impossible to eliminate this annoying little being that sits on top of our shoulder completely. But the good news is that you can interact with the shit talker and tell it to “shut the f*ck up!”
It all starts with being mindful. Start to notice the ongoing dialogue that lives inside your head. What you will likely notice is that there is a loit of negativity up in there. There is someone in your head that is constantly telling you “You’re too fat.” You’re not smart enough.” ‘You need to be more successful!”
When you hear these thoughts, begin to interact with them. Respond to this dialogue. When you hear “You’re too fat.” Say, “Hey! That’s not true. You are beautiful just the way you are.”
If you hear, “You’re not smart enough.” Say “Hey! That’s not true. You are incredibly smart and always working to improve your intelligence.”
I have found this to be incredibly helpful. You can’t eliminate your inner shit talker entirely but you can tell them to beak off and replace that negative dialogue with more positive and loving thoughts about yourself.
You are an incredible human being and you deserve to be treated with kindness. Think of it this way…If you had a friend who constantly criticized you and told you “You’re fat” “You’re stupid” “You’re poor,” would you continue to be friends with them? I hope not! You would tell that friend to hit the curb. Tell your inner shit talker to take a hike!
5. Make a list of all your awesome traits and the things you are grateful for.
Feeling like you’re not quite up to par? Stop. Drop what you’re doing. Grab paper and a pen. And get to work.
You have made so many amazing accomplishments in your life and even more you have achieved so many great things in the past week. Take a moment to write these things down.
Write down your amazing traits (we all have them!) and all the things you love about yourself.
And if you find yourself struggling with this exercise, write down the things that you are grateful for. We all have a lot to be grateful for. Gratitude has a scientifically proven positive effect on the brain. It improves heart rate variability which soothes the nervous system and helps the body respond better to the constant change in the environment.
This should be something that you do on the regular. I find it helpful if you can start your day by writing down 3-5 things that you love about yourself, accomplishments that you have achieved or just simply things or people you are grateful for.
As I said, loving yourself isn’t easy. It seems like the kind of thing that should come naturally, but it doesn’t. We are programmed with a negative bias that we need to be aware of. Most women struggle with self-love and that’s ok. What’s not okay is not making this an important piece of your self-development.
In my nutrition practice, the women who feel the most negativity, the ones who struggle the most with self-doubt and self-hatred are the ones who have the hardest time balancing their hormones, healing their guts and detoxing. Chronic self-hatred can be the biggest blocking factor standing in the way of you being happy and truly enjoying your one and only chance on this planet.
You deserve love, not only from others but most importantly, from yourself. So start embracing your awesomeness and use the five tips above to start loving yourself now. There’s no time like the present to learn to love yourself!