I know too many people, men and women, who don’t know just how special they are. They’re either busy focusing on the negative, or they’re surrounded by so many negative people that they don’t even know there was anything in life to be positive about.
I know exactly what it feels like to be your toughest critic, to blame yourself for the simplest of mistakes, and to wish with all your heart to be living somebody else’s life. I have suffered from an eating disorder, I have written down how much I hate myself and how “stupid” I am, I have even harmed myself. So I’ve been there. I know what it means to see no worth in yourself and everything you do.
What if I told you I was wrong for believing those things about myself, and you’re wrong for believing those things about yourself? Because we are wrong. So wrong! It’s the good kind of wrong though. We are all worth so much more than we give ourselves credit for.
I know at first it’s hard to believe and you don’t want to listen to the people telling you how wonderful you are. It’s even harder when you’re not surrounded by people who tell you how loved you are. I’ve been in that spot, and it’s an incredibly dark place to be. Say hello to the sunshine though, because I’m going to give you some tips as to how to start loving yourself a little more each day!
1. Get rid of the negative influences in your life
First step to loving yourself, get rid of the people that don’t love you.
Love is an action, a choice—not a feeling. So anybody who claims they love you but doesn’t make time for you, doesn’t make you feel special, or treats you like you’re unimportant—they do not love you and they are a parasite. They are eating away at your self-confidence and happiness. Get rid of them. They are not good, not important, and most importantly, they are not worthy of your precious heart and time. You’re beautiful, unique, and amazing—don’t waste your time on people who don’t question why you’re not famous for being awesome, duh!
2. Take more time to do the things YOU want to do
If your friends call you up on your day off and they want to go to the movies, you really don’t have to say yes. If you wanted to stay inside and read your favorite book for the 233rd time, do that! Just because the people around you do one thing, it doesn’t mean you have to do it too.
Next time you’re invited out or you find yourself doing something with friends or family out of obligation, ask yourself if it’s something that you really have to do. If it isn’t, is it something you genuinely want to do? If not, politely decline, and just do you.
3. Take that step out of your comfort zone
Do you want to take a painting class? Are you interested in that yoga class at your gym? Do you want to talk to that cute guy/girl in your history class? Just do it! You really won’t be sorry you did.
The things you are scared to do the most are the things that you’ll regret the least! I used to be so scared to go to the gym. I’d hype myself up the night before, doing research on all these cool exercises and routines that I wanted to try. Then in the morning, I would get to the gym and end up on the elliptical or stair-master for an hour because I was so worried what everybody in the gym would think of some newbie trying to go hard on the weights.
Eventually, I got a personal trainer to help give me a confidence boost. It totally worked. Now I hit the gym and instead of worrying about everybody else, I just work on shredding my routine and sweating all the stress away. It was also this mindset that helped me realize that most people are too concerned about themselves that they hardly ever notice those around them. So if you think people are watching or will judge you, it’s okay to feel like that, but don’t let it cripple you, or stop you. Just do whatever it is you want to do anyway! You’ll be great as long as your heart is in it!
4. Be active!
Active doesn’t mean two grueling hours of power lifting at the gym.
It could be as simple as going out for a walk around the block, jogging in place while you watch your favorite T.V. show, or doing 15 minutes of stretching when you wake up in the mornings.
If doing intense workouts is your thing, or maybe long hikes—that’s great, do that! Activity is whatever you want it to mean, but it’s important for you to get up and give your body a little work out every couple days or so. Not only does this mean positive results physically, but internally too. Your body releases endorphins (the feel good stuff) when you’re active, so you’ll feel more energized, optimistic, and ready to tackle everyday situations that are otherwise frustrating.
On a personal note, exercising or going for a quick stroll around my apartment complex gives me alone time that I otherwise wouldn’t get and alone time is necessary for a person’s individual growth. This brings me to my next point…
Take a few minutes once a day to just breathe, to bring all your thoughts and emotions together.
I usually do this in the mornings after an intense, sweaty work out. I go into the gym’s sauna and play a good song and I ask myself “How am I feeling mentally?”, “How am I feeling physically?”, and “What emotions am I feeling right now?” If it’s been a rough morning or a tough week and I’m just angry or sad, then I start taking deep breaths and start thinking positive thoughts to help reinforce confidence and security within myself.
If I’m feeling good and I’m ready to breathe rainbows, then I still take my deep breaths and I think of everything I’m grateful for which really is the cherry on top when I’m already in a good mood. Obviously everybody’s version of meditation will be different, but meditation in general can make the world of a difference in how you feel about yourself and your life. It also helps to clarify and organize any mixed emotions you may be dealing with.
6. Compliment Yourself
I don’t care if this one sounds silly. It works.
When I get ready in the mornings, I find at least one thing I genuinely like about my look/outfit that day.
This morning, I really didn’t like anything. My hair was being stubborn, I didn’t have time for make up, I gained like 3 pounds this week, and it just wasn’t happening. I came to work in a lousy mood and wanted to go back home and hide in my bed. Then I realized, I didn’t find something that I liked about myself today… So I went to the bathroom, made my hair work with a bobby pin, and I smiled at the mirror and thought to myself, “My hair looks cute like this!”
Now I’m in a much better mood, and it’s because I feel better about myself. Now, there will be days where it’s hard, just like me today.
However, I challenge you to fake it till you make it.
Look in the mirror before work, school, whatever, and tell yourself one thing that you like about the way you look. It could be as silly as, “My teeth look really white today.” That’s awesome! Blind the world with your pearly whites! Guess what? The more you make yourself find something you like, one day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll find something you like about yourself right away. You’ll look in the mirror and you’ll say, “Dang, I look gorgeous today!” even if you’re just wearing a baggy pair of jeans and a sweater. It’ll happen.
Loving yourself is hard because nobody knows your mistakes, flaws, and thoughts as much as you do. It’s so easy to beat yourself up when you miss something, forget something, or make a silly mistake, but I challenge you to be patient with yourself. I challenge you to follow some of these tips and to stick with them to see how loving you is achievable. You’re awesome and I know it, so it’s time you knew it, too.