Let's get real about ‘Loving Yourself’
We’ve all seen these quotes online, heard them from parents, friends, public figures, religions... ‘you must love yourself before you can love another'blablabla..
Now, we may know this to be true and yes, self acceptance and self love are pretty crucial if you want to be happy.
Thing is, I find the wording often used in these inspirational quotes to be a little off, especially if one is feeling like shit.
For me self esteem and self worth always ate at my confidence. I could always slap on my 'game face' but underneath the mask there were qualities and things about myself (physically and mentally) I just hated.
At my lowest, when I saw these quotes and attempted them, I felt dishonest, like I was kidding myself. What I was capable of saying or feeling at the time was no way near what these quotes where spouting, I just felt more disconnection from who I was and frustrated that wasn't who I wanted to be. It was an unrealistic way of speaking to myself and sometimes I just saw it as darn right obnoxious and false.
There is a point to writing about this sort of thing as with anything in life, baby steps are the key to lasting change in the world around us and within us. Social Media is a huge influence and the last thing you want to feel is pressured to ‘LOVE YOURSELF’, because the whole frikkin world seems to be doing it. Take a step back, be realistic and remember its about doing what works for you.
Like, you wouldn’t expect a 3 year to sit an A level examination or a Doctor fresh out of Medical school to perform a lobotomy now would you? Learning and progression are the reality.
Now these are huge comparisons but It does illustrate the point I am trying to make. If someone doesn’t like things about themselves and feeling seriously shitty, suggesting that they should 'love themselves’ kinda just makes them want to throw something heavy at you.
Often it leads to more self sabotage and frustration about the way they feel. As far as the spectrum goes, they are at one end of it and the expectations of what these quotes are projecting upon them is at the other. Its not realistic. Its silly really for anybody to suggest someone to feel this way because its not achievable in their current time, space, reality.
For someone who’s feeling 'okay' or 'good'…these affirmations can be a real boost, i’m in no way denying that. But if you don’t feel great and are having a tough time, different wording is paramount.
So Lets start with REALISTIC wording that will, in time, gently rewire your thinking patterns.
I approve of myself
Its okay to feel this way because I care about how I feel
I am open to change
I am willing to start loving myself
I don't feel great today but its just temporary
I'm listening to my feelings and getting clarity
I accept myself at this moment
Everyday I will approve of myself more and more
These Affirmations are positive but a lot more general. Abraham Hicks (American inspirational speaker) is always on about going general when out of balance. Its just a more achievable less pressurised goal to attain when it comes to feeling mentally better.
Going back to the 3 year old and Doctor scenario. This is like sitting with that 3 year old and encouraging creativity. For the Grad student fresh out of Medical school its moving into more ’speciality training’ in the field they want to concentrate in. its progression.
These are crucial steps you cannot miss if you want to see long term results in your metal health and wellbeing. Its also a daily practice and one you can have fun with. As you move through life with more awareness, natural migration will take place within yourself. Just know that whatever stage your at, you're on the road and thats what matters.
Mirror work really helped me. I would pick an affirmation and repeat it out loud or internally to myself. I remember when I first began, I would look at my refection then automatically look away when I tried to say nice things about myself. Deep shame and disapointment about my appearance became apparent. I Adjusted and designed my own affirmations that were easier for me to stomach in this early stage, similar to the suggestions I listed above.
Affirmations like “I LOVE AND ACCEPT MYSELF’ or ‘I AM BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT’ just didn't work for me when I started. I wasn’t ready to hear what I believed was utter bullshit. It just wasn’t true for me in my current reality.
So B A B Y S T E P S….
Point is you start somewhere but always be kind and realistic, this way you can begin the journey and it's believable to you. How fast you progress is up to you, but be ready for change, wonderful change.
Mirror work is great, taking 2-5 minutes in the morning to do this is a great start in shifting negative thought patterns.
Meditation again is always fantastic, It's a means of getting you in touch with your true self, the self that loves unconditionally.
Exercise, call a mate, dance, listen to music, draw something… action things that lift your spirits and deter you. Practice and play with distracting yourself, get off the subject, stop feeding the negativity.
Like a stray animal, If you keep feeding it, it will keep coming back. What happens over time if you decide to stop feeding it? We can relate to the mind and our thoughts in this way.
I know what its like to get obsessive in negative thought patterns, but these are just stuck patterns and you CAN change them.
For example, when I used to look in the mirror I would automatically start seeing flaws and be like ‘Oh GOD looks at my F**KING face’ the negative momentum would escalate, my mood would shift then anxiety and panic would set in. JOY.
So I played with warmer affirmations, like we have been discussing i.e, 'My skin is not how I would like it to be right, now but i accept it '. These words I could believe.
So start with what YOU believe to be true. As you practice and evolve, the affirmations will get more positive, the negative feelings and habits will diminish and the reward is FREEDOM. freedom from that negative thought hindering your happiness.
Trust me I NEVER thought I could get to a point where I could look the mirror and feel appreciation. I had so many hang ups and would just beat myself up for not being perfect all the time. It was bloody exhausting. Today I view my world so differently but its takes time and commitment.
Invest a little every day, like you would with your savings. The commitment pays off. Results are inevitable.