If there was anything I was very good at, it was pointing out my own flaws, even before anyone pointed them out to me.
After almost 26 years of being around, I realized that I spent more than half of those years feeling insecure about different things. It seemed as though I kept finding different things to hate about my body. To reinforce this, I was in an environment where different people helped to affirm these insecurities, most times, unknowingly.
I was a late bloomer and attending a “girls-only” secondary school also did not help. I wanted to look mature so desperately as I was taunted for not growing breasts on time or for having acne. This lead to me seeking acceptance from third parties while lack of self confidence crept in slowly but steadily. I wanted to fit in. This affected my perception of my life much more than I am willing to accept. My mode of dressing, choice of career, my attitude to life and its gifts, even the kind of friends I made.
Ironically, it was very easy to identify the good in others. That came to me very easily. It still does. I am quick to compliment someone’s smile, their outfit or even to applaud them when they achieve a set goal or hit a new milestone. But I never did that to myself. I never even accepted compliments given to me genuinely by other persons.
However, for reasons I cannot even chronicle accurately, a few years ago, I came to realization that I needed to do more for myself. If I was going to do the things I really wanted to do, I needed all the self confidence I could muster.
After several experiments and self pep talks, here are some of the things that helped me.
I needed to love myself more. In fact, I believe that self-love is the most important form of love. It is often seen as vanity and self-righteousness. But is it really? Especially if it makes me happy and improves my self confidence and value to myself and others. I realize it is in fact one of the best things an individual can do for herself. There is a special level of self-confidence and self worth that only comes from self love. It generally changes how people see you and more importantly how they treat you. You become perceived as more positive and happier and it is easier for you to fall in love with other people too.
After trying different things, you will discover a whole lot of things about yourself and eventually, you will be able to narrow down and find things that particularly work for you.
In addition to self love, here are other things I do that have helped me a whole lot:
1. Practice self compassion. This comes naturally to some people but it was something I had to learn. I had to change how I treated myself especially when I make mistakes or do not achieve a goal that I have set for myself. Self compassion can be practiced by first:
•Forgiving yourself: I had to. In fact, it was probably the hardest part of the whole process for me. I had to come to terms with the fact that making mistakes was in fact a whole part of the process of evolution. Like it was for me, it may take some time but you will eventually get to that point and you will be the better for it.
•Being mindful: Always be in the moment, allow yourself whatever emotion it is but do not amplify it. Allow yourself move on from it, especially when you have no control over it.
2. AffirmationsI learnt this from a friend. It is really simple. Just say things you want to manifest into the universe and watch it come back to you. It really does work.Affirmations and positivity help you boost your self-esteem which in turn contributes to the overall goal of fearless self love.
3. Learn to Say NO.Let me start by saying you do not even need to always have a reason for saying “no”. It is not going to be easy, particularly if you are used to going out of your way for others. You may realize that you are absorbed in taking care of others while forgetting to look after yourself.Learning to say No when certain things are not convenient for you is an integral rung to self-care.
4. Enjoy your own companyIt is such a great idea to spend some time doing things you love doing for and by yourself. It could be by going to the cinema or going out to eat at a fancy restaurant alone.I do this at least once a month and it sure feels like a healthy practice.
5. Take care of yourself.This is one of the most vital ways to grow in self-love. It might seem obvious, but most people do not practice it. Simply put, If you take care of yourself, you will be the best version of yourself. That way, you are also in the best form to be there for other people.
There are so many easy and inexpensive ways you can take care of yourself.* Meditate/ Do Yoga: if you do not wish to be immersed in yoga, you can practice deep-breathing exercises for about 10-15 minutes per day. * Take a bubble bath: Sitting in a bath tub taking a bubble bath is relaxing.* Sing and Dance like no one is watching: Yes, just plug in your earphones and do it while doing your chores or you could schedule a couple of minutes to sing and dance. It is a mood booster!* Take a long walk: Nature is really beautiful and taking time off to enjoy it is therapeutic* Start journaling: You might not be very consistent initially but do it anyways. It helps to relieve stress and helps you practice living in the present and hence, mindfulness. A bonus point of course is that you get to have your creative outlet which is also a great mental health booster.* Get yourself a self-care box: Having a self-care box subscription makes all the difference especially since it would contain different things that you can use to pamper yourself at home and well, you’ll be receiving a surprise gift from yourself too. Win-win.Everyone should find ways to fall in love with themselves. That way, we gradually become the best version of ourselves.
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you”. And don’t forget, you are worthy of love.”