The Totally Revolutionary Practice of Loving Yourself
Sometimes it feels like loving yourself is easier said than done.
This is especially true in a culture where no matter what we do, we seem to feel inadequate in some way. Especially as women. Especially as mothers. Because with a finite number of hours in the day, everything in life is a trade off.
Career-driven woman? Here’s guilt about not spending enough time with your kids! Work from home mama? Enjoy that, but don’t forget to also ruminate about not bringing in income for your family. Because how dare you not be it all?
Does it feel like you’re never doing enough? Like you aren’t enough? That’s where learning and practicing the art of loving yourself comes in.
This insightful article from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation describes what we’re talking about. “Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness.
Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve.”
Ready for me to drop a bomb real quick?
According to Now Foundation’s research,“Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.” Let that sink in.
Almost no one is happy with their physical appearance. NO ONE. This is a national (actually global) epidemic we are completely ignoring. Are you thinking “Ok, people are dieting. So what?” Mental Health Foundation explains why this is so serious.
They say, “Higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders. Conversely, body satisfaction and appreciation has been linked to better overall wellbeing and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours.”
Here’s a personal example I believe every woman can relate to in some way.
I’ve always been a happy person. But like most women, I’ve also struggled with my body image at various phases throughout my life. Especially in junior high and during my postpartum period. I mean seriously, check out this ridiculous picture below of me in sixth grade.
Woooooow. I was an absolute twig! I had the highest metabolism ever and couldn’t eat enough calories to put weight on if I tried. I literally switched to drinking whole milk for a while to help. Rumors were spread at school about me having an eating disorder, (which I never have). And I was pretty insecure about how thin I was.
Why? Because I wasn’t happy with how I looked compared to how I thought I should look. I wanted to be like everyone else who wasn’t so gangly and awkward. I wanted curves! I wanted boys to like me.
Then, when my son was born a few months ago, I went through the opposite struggle when I felt like I couldn’t get the baby weight off fast enough. I compared myself to all the Instagram models whose bodies apparently mysteriously snap back to size 0 days after giving birth.
By the way, not judging your body is just one facet of loving yourself. But what it all boils down to is finding inner peace and self acceptance.
When we compare ourselves to other people, we will NEVER be happy. Never.
It finally hit me. It took 34 years but I finally can see clearly where I’ve been going wrong for 20 years. I’ve felt too thin. I’ve felt too soft, too flabby and everything in between. Because I was looking at what everyone else was doing and what I thought I should look like compared to them. Well my new question to myself is: so what?
My body is strong. I am healthy. I am happy. Why does it matter how my body fluctuates as it processes its fuel? I finally realized that while it’s healthy to take pride in my appearance and important to take care of myself, it’s never going to make me happy to look for validation from the outside.
Because spoiler alert, perfection doesn’t exist so it’s never going to be good enough. Instead, I need to look on the inside and love myself exactly the way I am. No matter what stage in life I’m in. And it’s definitely too late to go back to middle school without self judgement.
But it’s never too late to accept myself–flaws and all–give myself grace, and be grateful for the many, many gifts in my life.
One practical tip I learned recently as a way to practice self love is by doing daily self affirmations.
I know, that might sound corny. But trust me, they really work. It’s been proven that if your self talk becomes positive, your reality will become more positive. If you don’t know much about positive affirmations: here are a couple you could try out.
I love myself because I am perfect.
I respect myself.
I accept myself exactly the way I am.
I am worthy.
I am valued.
I am a powerful woman.
I am beautiful.
Try saying them every day and see how you feel afterward. Do you feel better? Do you see positive changes happening in you and in the circumstances of your life? Does loving yourself–your perfectly imperfect self–become a little easier each day? I bet it will. Because it has for me.
Positive affirmations or not, I realized: the better I take care of myself, the better I feel both physically and mentally. Because if there’s one thing I refuse to do, it’s look back 34 more years from now and think: Damn. She had no idea how beautiful she was. Inside and out.
What has helped you in your journey to loving yourself, mama? Let me know in the comments below.
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