I have hated myself in the past.
I have loathed looking in the mirror.
I have felt lonely and unwanted in even the biggest group of friends.
I have felt very, very small.
I have avoided trying to make plans with friends, because I have assumed they won’t want to see me anyway. I have cancelled plans last minute, because a bad feeling can turn into full on anxiety and resistance to leave the house. I have walked through crowds with my head down, trying to breathe and trying not to panic that everyone is looking at me. I’ve experienced a time where I really didn’t love myself.
It would be easy to assume this post, ’10 Steps To Self Love’; is about to make out like self love is an easy journey. I would understand if people seen this title and thought it would be a list of superficial ways to feel a bit better about yourself.
But that is not my intention, because that would be so belittling.
Loving yourself is a constant journey we all experience, and some of us are unfortunate enough to sometimes slip into this dark place where all we see is the bad. The world is tainted when you hate yourself, or disregard your own worth.
Today I hope to share with you ten things that have made me feel like I’m progressing into a healthier state of mind. Ten steps that have felt like I’m a little lighter, a little more open to the world. Ten steps I have had to push myself through to get where I am now. I’m sure there will be more steps along my way. But here is the progress I’ve made so far.
1. Learning to say ‘No’.
Saying this is very hard for me, and it still does not come naturally. If a situation (whatever it may be) arises where I find myself wanting to say no, I still feel I need to apologise for it. But I do say NO. I don’t force myself to do/be/have anything I don’t want. I appreciate myself enough to say no.
2. Being alone.
Perhaps the hardest for me of all, but the best lesson I learned. There was a time where I hated being alone, ever. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, with silence, with no attention from anybody but myself. I was very insecure and always felt I was missing out on something if I were alone. These days, I revel in the quiet. I know that I am good enough alone.
3. Acknowledging your faults.
We all have them, but accepting them is sometimes excruciating. Finding someone else who accepts them can help, but it will never mean anything if you can’t accept them yourself. Accept them, change what you can, but try not to dwell on them.
4. Celebrating your strengths.
Again, we all have them! Seeing them when you have low self esteem is so, so hard; believe me, I know. But we do all have strengths. Ask the people who care about you what makes you special/loved and you’d probably be so surprised. YOU ARE GOOD. YOU HAVE BEAUTY, SKILL AND LOVE. It helped me to place reminders of things I liked about myself on post it notes throughout my journal.
5. Asking for help.
I have been in a place where I have refused to ask for help for two reasons. One – because I have not wanted to bother people. Two – because I have felt I’m not worth the trouble of anyone helping me. I also have control issues (and that’s another story), so it can be really hard for me to let go of things and accept outside help. But doing so is important, it can mean you know you deserve help.
6. Surrounding yourself with the good.
You are better than accepting things that don’t make you completely happy. Don’t settle for less. Be with people who make you feel good, who make others feel good. Put yourself first.
7. Taking care of yourself.
Whether it be eating right, getting exercise, allowing yourself time off, investing in something you love; you need to treat yourself like you would to your very best friend. Treat your body and mind as if it’s someone you really love and care for.
8. Striving for things.
Goals help us keep moving from one place to the next. Whether it be aiming to do something great and ambitious, or simply getting up and getting dressed in the morning; we all need to strive for something. You are not hopeless, you are worth the effort, and you can do it.
9. Defending yourself.
Have you ever been that person who would defend your friends to the end, but never quiet speaks up for yourself? Yeah, I know that feeling. It can be incredibly hard to overcome, but I feel like it’s a huge step in self love. You are worth defending, and once again; treating yourself like you would a loved one is crucial.
10. Being grateful.
Gratitude is something I practise every single day now. I take a moment or two, and I think of all the things I have that make me feel lucky. I have a body that breathes, and lives, and communicates. I have dreams that I am working towards. I have people who love me, and take care of me. I have joy and laughter in my life. I have curiosity, I have the need to learn, and the ability to do so. I have strength inside me. I know I can get through painful experiences, even if they feel like they might kill me. They won’t. I have lessons I’ve learned and people to guide me. I have somewhere to sleep each night, warm and dry. I have two hands that work, and allow me to create things I love. They allow me to write, as I am now. They allow me to put this out into the world and make my mark.
Self love is a constant journey, I’m nowhere near done. But I’m doing better than I was yesterday, and I’m a completely different person to the one I was a few years ago.
I hope you guys are taking steps too. ♥