“You have to love yourself before you can love someone else” – this is a quote most of us have heard at least once in our lives. Whether or not you agree with this statement is your choice, however one part of it is undeniable: you should love yourself. It’s way easier said than done; I know I’ve still got a long way to go before I fully love and accept the person that I am.
There are, however, some things that make it easier to love yourself. If that sounds too scary, try aiming for acceptance first and then working your way up. I found that the older I get, the easier it is to love myself, especially compared to when I was 15-16. I think that the media has started helping with that as well. Many brands are now using people of all shapes and forms in their ads instead of photoshopped models. So I decided to share a few things to help you accept and love yourself just the way you are.
We all have insecurities and parts of our body that we aren’t particularly fond of: a flabby stomach, love handles, big thighs, small boobs, big boobs, man boobs (all kinds of boobs seem to make people self-conscious)… The list is endless. Growing up, I was always the “fat girl” and I still carry insecurities from that time. But I’m now realising that we all come in different shapes and sizes. Just because you might have grown up surrounded by people looking a certain way does not mean that everyone in the whole wide world, apart from you, is like that. As you get older, you gain more perspective and realise that you aren’t alone with your insecurities. Quite the opposite really.
My biggest insecurity is probably my smile because part of my gums show when I laugh or grin. It’s unfortunately not something that’s easily changed, unlike weight or hair for example. A lot of us have something that we can’t change about ourselves, so all the more reason to accept it. It’s a part of you and makes you unique (that’s what I repeat to myself on those bad days). So although you might not be very happy that there are things you can’t do much about it, you can learn to accept them as being a part of who you are. I asked some of my friends how they felt about my gummy smile and they all genuinely answered that it’s not something they even think or care about. So chances are that no one is actually blinded by your insecurity.
Thankfully, there are certain things that you can change more readily. For example, if you’re unhapppy with the way your haircut frames your face, go to a hair salon. If you aren’t loving your love handles or your lack of upper-body strength, hit the gym or find other ways that work for you. If there are things you’d love to change about yourself, go for it! As long as you don’t put yourself in harm’s way or waste all of your money, that is.
If you’re having a bad day and don’t feel good about yourself, remind yourself of what your body has done for you: it has grown, healed and supported you your entire life. So on one of those bad days, just be thankful for your body. What I like to do when I’m not feeling my best is quite simple: wear your favourite/most comfortable outfit. Doing this will give you a small boost of confidence or happiness that you need to get through the day. You can also choose to wear (more) makeup, a bold lip or do your hair – and it’s 2019, so all this is valid for guys too! It’s almost like tricking your mind into being more fond of the way you look by bringing in those positive feelings.
Days where we feel more self-conscious about our bodies are normal and can happen for many reasons. However, if you can pinpoint a few of those and try to avoid them in the future, you might have fewer bad days than you do right now. So whether that be seeing gorgeous people on Instagram, a negative person in your life that always criticizes you or feeling bloated because you ate trash, figure out what your triggers are. Trying to cut down on things that impact you negatively will make it easier for you to feel good about yourself.
Personality is a big part of loving yourself. The things you go through, the mistakes you make, shape and make you who you are. Life is a journey, and part of it is becoming a better person. As you grow older, you learn different skills, drop certain habits and adapt to your surroundings. If you could describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be? Mine would be kind, quirky and needy. I’m not very keen on this last one, but it’s a part of me that I’m working on. You have to accept something before you can work on it. So accepting that at times I can be quite needy is helping me work my way towards removing that word from my 3-word list.
However you describe yourself today could be very different in a month. If you are always late, if you tend to be negative or if you aren’t the best listener, accept that it’s a part of who you are and then work to change it. There is nothing more satisfying than looking back on your life and appreciating how far you have come. Part of loving yourself is accepting that you aren’t perfect. No one is, we all make mistakes. But love your perfect imperfections – as cheesy as that sounds, it’s these little things that make you unique and that people love you for.
Most of the time, insecurities appear when we see something that we consider “more” beautiful. With the likes of Photoshop and Instagram, we are exposed to so many touched up photos that promote unrealistic beauty standards. And it’s toxic, for young people especially. I remember actually writing a speech about unattainable and unhealthy beauty standards when I was still in school. I was adressing the idea that being slim meant being pretty. From a very young age, we are exposed to all these pictures and ideals that end up causing insecurities.
It’s essential to not compare yourself to what you see online. How is it fair to compare your true, unfiltered body to ones that were modified and presented in the best possible light? When you see good-looking people in the street or online, don’t assume that they don’t have anything to be self-conscious about. We each have different standards of what we consider to be beautiful so something you might like is something someone else hates. There are high chances that when you look at someone wishing you had what they have (body, hair, laugh, personality, partner, etc.), they look at you the same way.
It is so important to take care of your health, both physical and mental. You can’t have one without the other. A big step towards loving who you are is taking care of yourself so that your body feels good and so you feel good. It’s not even as hard as it seems. Doing small things here and there can have a great impact on your overall well-being. Whether that’s doing a short workout, going for a walk, cooking a nice meal, staying hydrated or taking an evening to pamper yourself. Do things that will make you healthier and feel better in your skin.
It’s also important that you take care of your mental health. Talking to someone can often help. If you have something you’re insecure about, confide in a close friend. A lot of the time, it’s the case of being too “in your head” so a friend can help you out of that by reassuring you that it’s not as bad as you think. However, I do suggest opening up to a person you know you can trust and that will support you rather than put you down further. This is actually a good way to figure out who really is there for you: a true friend will support you and love you no matter what you look like. And on a further level, true friends will help you see that yourself.
Go see your doctor
Part of being proactive is seeing a professional when you should. A lot of people just live their lives unhappy with themselves, defeated because they think there’s nothing they can do about it. Quite often though, it would just be the case of going to see a doctor. Whether your problem is physical or mental, talking to your doctor will enable them to run a few tests or refer you to someone who will be able to help you. If, for example, you are overweight and upset because nothing you do makes you lose weight, there could be a medical condition at the root of your problem.
If you find yourself to be constantly eating because you are under so much pressure, going to see a psychologist could be the kind of relief you need to help you stop your bad habit. Imagine your problem is a wall and because it’s yours, you’re standing so close to it that your nose is practically touching it. Because of that, you can’t see the bigger picture so seeking professional advice can help you take that step back to gain more perspective. If you’re afraid to go by yourself, ask one of your friends that we discussed previously to go with you for moral support.
Loving yourself can seem like an impossible task but if you take it day by day and slowly apply some of these tips, you will reach your goal. You are beautiful, inside and out. In the meantime, try to spread the love. Avoid judging people based on how they look and don’t jump on the bandwagon of cyber-bullying. Instead, fill your Instagram feed with positivity. Come follow me on Instagram (@relatablesunday) and I’ll (hopefully) add some fun and happiness to your feed! If you have read this far, thank you so much. I hope you have a lovely week and I will see you next Sunday!