Lately the idea of “self-love” has been prevalent in today’s society from music to movies and even advice given to one another. How often have you heard “If you don’t love yourself, how do you expect someone else to?” or “go love yourself girl or nobody else will?”
But what exactly is “self-love“? I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but according to Merriam Webster dictionary it is the regard for one’s own happiness or advantage.
I have never been one to love myself or thought I was worthy of love. For almost half of my life I had a negative self-image as a result of being bullied. It started as early as primary school and continued for most of high school. My self-image was also coupled with thoughts of my body image resulting in my self-esteem being at an all time low.
My lack of self-love may have started from my own perceptions of myself, but it continued to grow because of me searching for “love” in the wrong places. I was miserable and didn’t feel like I could love myself enough, so I looked for it from others. Depended on them for my happiness and worth. Not only relationships, but in friendships by trying to fit in with cliques that had no interest of mine.
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I can’t recall the exact moment that made me decide it was time to stop and reevaluate my life. It probably happened on more than one occasion when I chose to walk away from an unhealthy relationship; however I always found myself going back. The hardest thing has always been to remind myself not to settle.
Before the relationships I found comfort in playing sports and being active. I also joined different groups which I felt held my interests; they were Girl Guides, Interact and other school organizations. I always felt good being a part of a group whether it’s teaching me life long lessons or helping others in the process.
I just wanted to be happy and feel good about myself.
Ways to love yourself
Loving yourself is not always about treating yourself (spa days, dining out, shopping sprees etc); of course all that helps, but self-love comes from the inside.
What do you think of yourself? How do you feel about you as a person?
First off it’s all about the mind; your thoughts are extremely powerful and can affect how you feel about yourself as well as your resulting behavior. You need to think positively about yourself, erase the negative images.
Practicing mindfulness is another exercise which can help you out. Try to erase all of the things going on around you and think within; what would make you love yourself?. Journaling is a tool used in these cases; try making lists of what you love about yourself and those things that you’re grateful for. Try writing out your feelings, just get them out. After you can analyze your lists and everything you wrote and decide how you’re going to make a change.
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Comparison is the thief of joy.
At some point in time you have to stop comparing yourself to others. This only leads to negative thoughts and depression. Let go of people pleasing; if there’s something you want to do make sure you’re doing it for you and not anyone else. Live intentionally.
Stop depending on others for happiness. Live the life you dreamed of without waiting for someone magical to show you love or give you the world.
The biggest of them all ACCEPTANCE. Took me awhile, but it had to be done. There are many people out there wanting to be a size 3 and here was I a size 00
(not a typo) just wanting to weigh more than 100lbs. I ate just as much as normal people or even more, but weight gain didn’t seem to happen. Eventually I had to accept my body for what it was and be happy in it. P.s I eventually gained a little bit more weight.
I’d love to honestly say that I absolutely love myself presently, but I’m still going through the process. You’ll gradually learn how to love yourself then it’ll be up to you to keep practicing it. It’s an inward feeling and nothing you do is supposed to change that, at least that’s what I think. You just need to be strong enough to love you, flaws and all; Love yourself as much as you crave to be loved by others.
Be you, love you. All ways, always.
– Alex Elle
Photos are from an old photo shoot taken by ZKFhotography