This Neghar Fonooni is turning out to be a very timely and sensible one.
A couple of days ago, I found her post about body image on a day that I really needed it. “Today” (can’t sleep, so technically…), given my earlier post, I received this email from “her”:
“How to stop hating on yourself
‘Self love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.’ -William Shakespeare, Henry V
… When you regularly practice self-loathing, you don’t have what it takes to further yourself in your career, relationships, or fitness endeavors. Instead, you exist as a victim, and often place blame, whether on yourself or on external factors. When you lack self-love, you also lack self-worth, which is the driving force behind true ambition and active acceptance: If you don’t think your worthy, why would you ever attempt to have or do anything great?
Self-love is clutch, and we just can’t progress without it.
But often people will ask me, isn’t self-love a little arrogant? Conceited? Vain? This is a common misconception. You see, self-love is not the same thing as self-importance. Self-love is the belief that you are worthy of love, and the awareness that while you may want to be better, that doesn’t mean you’re not enough right now. It consists of positive self-talk, and regular self-care (exercising, eating nutritiously, getting enough sleep, etc). Self-love is the foundation of not only your love for others, but the love that you’re able to authentically receive.
Self-importance is thinking that you’re more valuable than others, or that your worth outweighs that of everyone else.
Self-love is tremendously advantageous when it comes to developing a success mindset and self-importance is downright counterproductive. Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you think you’re better than others, it means that you think you’re worthy of love, and able to accept it. It means that you can actually change your eating and exercise habits for good, because you can overcome mistakes instead of dwelling on them.
Only once you believe you’re worthy of love are you able to make a real transformation; if you want to change your body, you’ll do so because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. If you want to change your habits, you’ll do so because you want to do what’s best for yourself, not because you’re disappointed in who you are. If you want to advance your career, it’s because you know you’re capable, not because you perceive yourself as a failure.
Self-love changes your inner dialogue from “I’m not good enough” to “I’m worthy of success.” It seems like a small change, but it’s one that will completely shift your intentions and in doing so, your actions.
But loving yourself doesn’t mean that you always think you’re perfect and can do no wrong. People who love themselves make mistakes all the time! What it does mean is that when you do make mistakes, you don’t beat yourself up for them, and you don’t berate yourself for every little misstep. Instead, you learn from your experiences, and live in the awareness that you aren’t perfect–and that’s okay.
For a lot of us, it’s not easy to embrace self-love. Maybe we were raised with a victim mentality, or perhaps we were constantly told we weren’t good enough until we finally believed it. Like anything else, self-love takes practice and requires a ton of mindfulness. It’s something we need to truly cultivate in order to make it a habit, but with a few strategies, we can start to change our behavior and the way we view ourselves.
5 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Cultivate Self-love
- Take 15 minutes of personal time. This isn’t simply time alone, it’s focused personal energizing time. Whether you go for a walk, journal, or read, take some time alone to energize and reflect. When you do this on a daily basis, you’ll not only start to really look forward to this alone time, but you’ll begin to develop an inner dialogue that serves you in the most loving way possible.
- Say goodbye to toxic people. If someone doesn’t add positively to your life, it’s time to let them go. I know this can seem impossible in certain situations, and in some ways it seems harsh, but it’s absolutely essential to your wellbeing. Surround yourself with people who add value, and to whom you can add value as well.
- Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure, and your mistakes don’t define you. How you recover from those mistakes is the mark of your true character. Let it go, forgive, and use the past as a lesson, not a curse.
- Turn your thoughts around. The moment a negative thought about yourself comes into your mind, ask yourself, is that really true? Or am I just giving myself a hard time because that’s what I’ve always done? Turn the thought around into something constructive, and one thought at a time you’ll start to cultivate more positive self-talk.
- Listen to your body. If you’re in tune with yourself, you’ll know when to slow down and when to speed up, and if you’re in that flow you’ll never feel as though you didn’t do enough. You’ll do whatever you’re capable of doing.
Start doing these 5 things, and before you know it you’ll begin to shift from the “I’m not good enough” mentality to “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.” Only once you truly accept who you are right now, can you begin to move forward and change.
So I need not to beat myself up about counting portions in my head. It is expected after having done it for the last three years. Just being happy that I’m moving forward, that I’m on the recovery path, that I’m reclaiming healthy one step at a time – that is self-love. The real tomorrow will be another step and hopefully, by doing things one day at a time, things won’t be as hard tomorrow.