Growing up, I was not very confident in myself. I was awkward (still am and own it!) and wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. As I’ve gotten older, I hated most things about myself and once I started dating, my lack of confidence really played its part. I became jealous, with all my insecurities seeping out. After many failed attempts to be “confident,” I realized my lack of confidence stemmed from not accepting myself or feeling like I had any value. I stayed up late at night contemplating how to truly be okay with who I was.
After reading inspirational quotes, articles, and reflecting on my life, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t love myself. Almost every advice column for being happy, or having confidence, stated that you should first love yourself. Love myself? How? That honestly sounded weird to me. I didn’t see how that was going to help me be happy and I didn’t even know how to do that. But I took the time to truly get to know myself and worked on becoming a healthy version of myself. Here are the steps I took to learn how to self-love:
1. Accept that you make mistakes. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and know you are not what has happened to you. No one is perfect. How boring would the world be if we all did everything right and by the book? If no one ever messed up we wouldn’t learn or appreciate the value of things; bad moments build character.
2. Don’t blame others for who or how you are. Get out of that victim mentality. Yes when someone betrays or hurts you, it kind of scars you, and makes you see things differently. Yes, you should be aware that not all people will be kind to you, but you shouldn’t let it destroy you or keep you from happiness. You are in control of who you are, so don’t let others’ actions and cruelty turn you bitter.
3. Learn from experiences. Don’t become them. Let them make you wiser. If you do change (because as people, we do evolve over time), let it change you for the better.
4. Find your flaws. I’m not talking about things like ‘I’m too ugly’ or ‘I’m so boring.’ I mean real flaws that you have noticed have hindered you somehow. Things that others may have even pointed out about yourself, such as procrastination or stubbornness.
5. Embrace those flaws. EVERYONE has flaws, and no matter how much you try to erase them, they will always be there to an extent and that’s okay. Flaws are what makes us human. Just like you would want someone to accept you, you should also accept yourself, flaws and all. Some things we can change, but some flaws you just have to accept because they make you who you are.
6. Work on yourself. You have no control over the universe, or anyone else – only you. So take advantage of every day that you are growing and evolving. With things you don’t like about yourself, either ACCEPT them or CHANGE them. Figure out qualities you admire and try to incorporate them into yourself. Pick realistic traits that you really value.
7. Shine a light on your positive qualities. What are things you like about yourself? What have others complimented you on? These are your positive traits. Take note of them, those are your gifts. We’re all blessed in different ways, the key is to figure out your gifts and talents and to use them.
8. Pamper yourself. Sometimes we all just need to take some time and do what we enjoy. Just like you should be kind and do things for others, you also can do things for yourself. Relax, treat yourself, take a bath, and make yourself a priority.
9. Indulge in hobbies. Join a club, start a garden, go see a movie. Find what you enjoy. Whatever it is, just do it.
10. Make time for yourself. Being alone sometimes is not a bad thing. It allows you to reflect, relax, and even get things done. As people, we tend to depend on others for a good time and to “entertain us” but if you’re always looking to others for happiness, then you’re not truly content with you.
A little reminder: Loving yourself is an everyday thing, and takes a continuous effort to keep that love; your own love is the foundation of your being. With your own love intact, you have it to fall back on. This way you don’t need constant validation from others. After all, we’re not born hating ourselves. It happens over time from life experiences, being too hard on ourselves, and trying to be perfect. So restore your self-love and keep it!