1. Find solace in your body.
This is first and foremost because it may well be the most difficult, and while photoshopped images dazzle you from every magazine cover and your cellulite seems to multiply with each passing day, your self-esteem slowly deteriorates to nothing more than a serious mental issue. Walk around naked, half-naked, do your makeup naked, cook breakfast in only your underwear.
Fall in love with the organic stretch marks, that thin web of broken skin, accept the awkward tan lines, the deepening wrinkles, the pockets of fat and scarred tissue. These are your evidence of a genuine life, one where there were more important things than constant waxing and moisturizing. Your body can never be perfect, because no such thing exists. You make your own perfect, your own unique blend of self-acceptance and inner joy.
2. Never put down another woman.
The golden rule applies to all aspects of the well-lived life, and we can only respect ourselves when we respect others equally.
What you give yourself cannot be whole and truthful if you are conscious of giving the rest of the world less, for whether you know it or not, your inner self knows and keeps track. Disrespect this woman for her dress, her experiences, her background, her body, and you can never truly respect yourself.
3. Learn to accept both compliments and criticism graciously.
You bring yourself respect by making it clear that you deserve it. Rejecting compliments, no matter how humble it may appear, is actually an insult to yourself and the giver of the compliment.
Whether you agree or not, accept it and then use it as a standard to hold yourself to. This also applies to criticism. Take the critique into careful consideration and again, accept diplomatically. If you disagree, rather than reacting rashly, sleep on it. It may be difficult to admit to being wrong, but it’s more difficult and much more admirable to take every criticism and look at it objectively. This is how you grow, even when you thought you were past that.
4. Understand that you’re not Wonder Woman, and that comparison will get you nowhere.
Stop comparing yourself to every Beth and Sally you meet. Yes her waist smaller, yes she’s read Dostoevsky (and understood him), and yes her fiancé looks like Hercules. But that doesn’t matter because she isn’t you.
You cannot expect to do everything and still have time to get in a run. You cannot expect to find every hour of your day filled without finding yourself unfulfilled, because there will be sacrifices to make, and that’s okay. Accept your extreme indecision at the grocery store, your tendency to cause a mess when you’re getting ready, your thick thighs. You only select better produce, can truly appreciate cleanliness, and have the ability to use those thighs of yours to carry you far and wide. You are special, no one else will ever be like you, and vice versa.
5. Always be reaching.
Hold yourself to a higher standard every day. When you reach that standard, push it a little further.
Always have that standard hanging over you, because a big part of what will fuel your self-love and keep you from comparing will be challenging yourself to reach new levels of success. Whether it be breaking a personal record on the usual jog or reaching the Olympics, nailing that soufflé recipe or winning Iron Chef, it’s all about keeping yourself focused on constant self-improvement.
Don’t put yourself down for the success of others, use it to show you that it can be done and have it set a new goal for you. If she can get a promotion at work for her excellence, rather than despise her, respect her for the hard work she has done and then focus on yourself. It isn’t a race or a competition, it’s all about the self. Keep aiming high and no one can touch you, but stoop to a level of disrespect, and you’re in the perfect position to be stepped on. Push yourself, and with the levels you reach, you will learn to respect and love yourself. Step by step.