A Beginner's Guide to Self Love
"Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth."
The concept of 'self love' is one that is not only important for those in recovery, but for everyone in our society.
A very important part of my Anorexia recovery, was learning to love myself. I know it sounds cliche and predictable, but learning to love yourself after years of hating yourself is by no means an easy task. And there is no way that I am 100% there (yet). In fact, I am very far from complete 'self love'.
But the thing with self love is, it's not going to come overnight. No one loves EVERYTHING about their body or personality. Self-love is not easy, and you should never ever feel bad for not loving yourself 'completely'. I don't think anyone does. The process of self love is constantly learning and experiencing new things, and despite most definitely making improvements since being sick... I am still enduring the ups and downs of this process.
Throughout writing this post... I realised just how complex the journey to self love can be. The direction you take is never going to be crystal clear, and you will most definitely have to endure your 'down' days just like everybody else. But in saying that, there are some steps you can take to begin on the right path. Some are bigger than others, and some will take time to develop and well... work. But I gave them a go, and throughout the process found what works best for me.
Try them out below, and slowly but surely.... you might find yourself feeling a little more empowered and body positive.
SELF LOVE 101
Music that just makes you feel damn good. Put it on nice and loud, and dance around the room like no one is watching. Depending on your mood, it might be a singing every single lyric to your favourite song from high school, or a collation of sad ballads that makes you feel like you can take on the world. It's okay to feel like an idiot while doing so, as long as you can laugh at yourself and smile.
Focus on positivity
There is good in every day, but sometimes the challenge comes in finding it. If you take on this challenge, even on your bad days, I promise you that you will feel like an all round more positive person. Speaking poorly about others is just as bad as talking poorly about yourself, and never makes anyone feel good. If you catch yourself in a negative mind space, or just generally feeling down about your body or lifestyle, find two or three things about your day that have been good. They can be as small as getting a yum coffee at your favourite cafe, or simply the fact that you didn't trip on the way to work. Focus on these, and stray away from creating more negativity. In terms of fixing a negative focus on your body, try to remember that your body functions each day and allows you to breathe. For that, we are all so very lucky, and sometimes I struggle to remember this concept myself. If it's your thighs or your hips that you hate, try to remember that if you didn't have these parts - you simply could not exist as freely as you do right now. Be thankful, be accepting, and distract your mind away from negativity as often as you can.
Realise that you cannot control everything
Shit happens. The most important thing is to avoid letting the things that you cannot control stress you out. Instead, form new appreciations for the things you have at present, and remember that you are so very capable of conquering anything that life throws at you (regardless of whether you want too). I am very prone to letting myself get stressed out over small things I cannot control, and often, reminding myself that I needn't worry about things I can't control helps a lot. Realising that our day to day stresses a usually just minor issues blown out of proportion is really helpful, and particularly for me, help form a more positive approach for things to come. It's a hard habit to conquer, but the more you do it the more it works.
Put yourself first
Saying ‘no’ can be a magical thing. It is something I struggle with a lot, and I still find it incredibly hard to say 'no' when I feel obliged to something or someone else. It can be scary at first, but its important to remember that you are by no means being selfish if you choose to put yourself first once in a while. If you don't you will burn out, and this is somewhere that I have been far too often. 'Burning out' is not fun, and will leave you feeling even worse (and under even more obligation) than before. Try to remember that it is okay to put yourself first when you need too, take some time out, and pay attention to your bodies needs. If you are feeling particularly yucky, taking the time to listen to your needs is so important. Sometimes having a nice relaxing bath or treating yourself to a massage can help make you feel better, and/or for some, simply taking time to be alone with your thoughts and doing the things you love helps as well. Whatever the case, take the time for yourself.
Rid negative energy and people
This seems silly, but over the last few years I have seriously learnt the importance of doing this step, in creating a more positive and healthy lifestyle. You NEED to rid absolutely anyone who makes you feel shit about yourself, and in doing so, you will draw the right people in. Some people take pleasure in seeing you fail or endure loss, and similarly, will enjoy seeing you fail along your health journey too (what losers I know). These people automatically make us feel shit.... so GET RID OF THEM. Find people who lift you up. There is not enough time in life to be spent enduring those with a negative energy, so instead; find people who are genuinely happy to share your successes and your journey with you. Love and respect goes a long way in forming relations with other people, and throughout this very process, you will automatically find yourself feeling more positive about yourself.
This one is by far the most 'cliche' action you could do, but I found this particularly helpful when first starting out to love myself post-illness. I began by writing out 3 things I loved about myself; when I was down, when I was feeling good, or just somewhere in between. ANYONE CAN DO THIS, even if you don't feel like you can. It can be either physical or mental attributes, and its okay to begin with small things. Add your thoughts to a jar or box every few days, and then on your lowest days, take a couple out and remind yourself of how special you really are.
Comparrison is the thief of joy
My cousin consistently reminds me of this idea. Comparing yourself to others will always always ALWAYS steal your joy. Every single person on this planet is different - and even my twin brothers couldn't be further apart in personality and attributes. Everyone therefore, has different talents and achievements, some we deem to be more 'lucky' than others. Whatever the case, you should never EVER focus on others while forming an individual idea of happiness, especially when it comes to body shapes and sizes. Believe me, I tried, and it does not work. You will never be anyone else, and heck... why would you want to be? Focus on yourself, your body, on your favourite bits and also everything in between.
Accept your slip ups.
Most important of all the steps moreover, is the ability to accept your flaws for what they are. Life will throw you curve balls, and some days will feel much better than others. That's how our world works. Remember that one slip up is not the end of the world, and one bad day of eating does not take away all your progress. Think about it... one healthy meal does not make you a healthy person, just as one unhealthy meal doesn't make you fat. One intense training will not make you ready to take on the Olympics, and one day off the gym won't lead to 10kg weight gain. You will fail, and you will fall. Accept these moments, and move forward. No one is perfect beautiful.