I recently had a friend reach out to me and ask me what I've done to learn to love my body and heal from the negative feelings that I used to have about myself (and sometimes still do). After talking to her, I thought it would be a good idea to share what I shared with her here on the blog in the hope that it could help anyone else out there who might also be struggling with the same issues. Although I still have bad days where it seems impossible to love myself, these practices have helped me get to where I am today and have also helped me recover from a lot of my disordered thoughts too. 

Consistently and constantly challenge any negative thoughts that you may have about yourself.

One way that I've been able to do this is by immediately countering any negative thoughts that I have about myself with positive thoughts in their place—even if I don’t believe what I’m telling myself in that moment. I’ve noticed that the more often I've treated and spoken to myself kindly (even if it feels feigned and unnatural during hard moments), the more second-nature that kindness becomes. There have even been times where I've had to sit myself in front of a mirror and tell myself, “I am beautiful” over and over again just so I could see myself saying it and have the message sink in. Growing up, my mom always told me that if you, “Do the action, the feeling will follow”, and I think that’s definitely true in this case. The more I have sincerely told myself that I am beautiful as I am, the more I believe it. Practice makes perfect!

When you have a negative thought about yourself, picture yourself saying that same comment to someone you love, like a friend, a sibling, a parent, or a spouse.

The idea behind this is that if you wouldn’t say it to someone you care about, you should never say it to yourself. I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that the person we should care about and love the most is ourselves. Always be your own best friend. 

I'm so sad that summer is almost over! Luckily, Justin and I have
gotten to go on a couple of adventures though :)

Give yourself pep-talks and reality checks whenever you think negatively about your appearance.

Make sure that you don’t hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. Flaws are normal and natural—they’re human! What isn’t normal and natural though, are the perfect images of people that we see on social media accounts, on fashion blogs, on magazine covers, and on the red carpet. Everyone has fat, everyone has wrinkles, and everyone has imperfections. Don't forget that imperfections and beauty are not mutually exclusive. You are not less of a person or of less worth because you aren’t a certain size, weight, race, height, or any other superficial measure of your appearance. You are yourself, you are enough, and regardless of how you look, you are beautiful. 

Focus on all that your body is and can do, not what it is not and cannot.

Whenever I feel like my body is inadequate, I try focus on all the positive things that my body is and can do. It is strong, it is healthy, it is special, it is mine. Yes, my thighs are big, but they are strong. Yes, my skin has a few zits, but I love the dimples around my lips when I smile. Yes, I have a round tummy, but it’s cute and keeps me warm. If there are certain areas of your body that you dislike, find things that you do like and appreciate about them and repeat those things to yourself whenever you need a self-esteem pick-me-up. You could even make those statements in to a daily mantra that you tell yourself too! Be proud of your body and give yourself compliments wherever and whenever you can--especially to the areas of your body that you struggle the most with. They need love too! 

Avoid making comparisons to those around you.

Tell yourself: "My body is my body and I cannot expect myself to look like someone else. I may look different than those around me, but that does not mean that I am ugly or less beautiful. Someone else’s beauty does not detract from my own." Beauty is more than just your appearance, it is who you are as person, how you treat those around you, your uniqueness, and the impact that you leave on the world. Existing as a woman is not a competition, but when we treat life as such, no one wins. When you spend time developing a love and appreciation for yourself, you begin to develop a relationship with your body that is priceless and impossible to achieve otherwise.

Go outside of your comfort zone. 

If you don't like the way you look in a swimsuit, go swimming. If you hate the way that you look in pictures, put yourself in as many pictures as possible AND let yourself be tagged in them on social media (which is sometimes even harder than having a picture taken of yourself in the first place). If you don't feel comfortable without makeup on, go a couple of days without it. Pushing the boundaries of your self-esteem can help you become more comfortable with and accepting of yourself. I think sometimes we project how we feel about ourselves onto others and assume that they judge our appearances more than they actually do. Most of the time, we're our own worst judges and are more critical of ourselves than anyone around us ever will be. When we let our hate, our fears, and our insecurities related to our bodies rule our actions, we miss out on life and unintentionally persuade ourselves that our lives are not worth living (or enjoying) if we aren't perfect. Ultimately, we tend to base our self-esteem on superficial factors and situations, rather than on an unconditional love of ourselves.

Surround yourself with body-positive people. 

One of the best ways you can do this is to follow body-positive accounts on social media and actively look for the stories and experiences of other individuals who are fighting (or have fought) to love themselves. Create a support group for yourself and make sure that you choose to be around those who build you up, rather than those who tear you down or belittle you (that also includes following Instagram accounts that make you feel bad about yourself too). I would even say that you could extend that same rule to yourself too. Make sure to be patient and kind to yourself so that you don't undermine your hard work! Also make sure to ignore the haters and listen to those who truly love you and accept you without strings or expectations attached. You are deserving of love at any weight and in any condition. Don't settle for those who treat you any less than you deserve! Lean on those who are further along than you are and believe that one day you can get to where they are. And, if you aren't in a place where you can believe in yourself, lean on my belief in you.

Learning to love myself has been one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done, but it has definitely been worth it. (And, it does get easier the longer you keep at it) 😊 

You can do it! 

No comments