I’m not really sure the exact moment it began, but for as long as I can remember there have been parts of my body that I have hated. Now I know that hate is a strong word, but that is the only word that can describe what I felt towards myself on a daily basis. I was never happy, never good enough. There were always goals to achieve, and I was certain that I “will finally be happy” once I achieve them.
There is one major issue with this kind of thinking, and that is that our body’s are forever changing. Sure, you can lose weight, you can get toned, you can alter your body in many ways, but unfortunately you will discover that the perfect body just does not exist. I have learnt this the hard way time after time, losing weight, starving myself, spending hours on the treadmill, only to discover that at the end of the day it didn’t change the hate that I felt toward myself. I was never happy. I was forever striving for something that did not exist. So I knew that something needed to change, and no, it wasn’t the size of my clothes.
That realisation brought be toward the path that I find myself on currently – the one toward self love and self acceptance. It has been a rocky path with many relapse moments and slip ups, and I think thats an important thing to realise, is that you can’t just decide in one moment to love yourself. Loving yourself is a choice that you need to make over and over, maybe even 100 times every day until it becomes a habit, and that is okay!
If you are tired of hating yourself and want to learn how to love yourself fully, here are some of the steps that I followed and continue to follow on a daily basis:
1. Focus on health and feeling well
It is time to stop focusing on what your body looks like, but rather focus your time and energy into what your body feels like. Instead of putting yourself on a diet of no carbs and limited calories as punishment, eat nourishing whole foods as a way to nurture and reward yourself! Do it because it makes you feel full of energy and life, not because you want to look a certain way.
The same goes for exercise. Find something that you love to do. There is no point in running for 1 hour every day if you hate it! For me I just love going for walks and practising yoga, that is what makes my body feel alive and now I have come to look forward to my daily exercise.
2. Treat yourself the way you would treat others that you love
You would never call your friend fat. You would never look your mother in the eye and tell her she is ugly. So why do you do it to yourself? It is time to stop the negative self talk and start lifting yourself up.
This can be challenging, as for many people this negativity comes out without really thinking about it – it has just become an automatic response. The way to tackle this is to catch yourself when these negative thoughts come up, and then mindfully make the decision to flip that comment around. Say loving words to yourself, even if you don’t believe them at first. Make positivity a habit.
3. Be grateful
Don’t waste your time looking at pictures of other bodies and wishing that yours could look exactly the same. Instead, be grateful for the amazing body that YOU have. Look at the parts of your body that you don’t like and think of the amazing things that it can do, for example if you don’t like your legs think of the strength that they possess! They literally carry you from place to place. They can walk, run, jump, swim in the ocean. They can bend and stretch and do incredible things. Be grateful for your body. It is the only body you will ever have.
4. Love yourself first and the rest will follow
Focus your time and energy into loving yourself by acknowledging your achievements and being proud of yourself. Look at your so called “imperfections” as perfection and be grateful for who you are. Your body will find its natural rhythm and take care of the rest for you. Trust in your body, and love your body.
Be at peace with yourself, and remember that beauty isn’t external, it is the light that shines within you. It is time to feed that flame and stop stamping it out.
Love and light,