Last week we were graced by the presence of the ultimate hallmark holiday, Valentine’s Day. And my timeline was flooded with notes of adoration for partners, friends, family and even the odd pet. But nobody talked about how much they love themselves.
Self love is something I was unaware of until I turned maybe 17. That was nearly 5 years ago, which makes me feel ancient so let’s move on from that. In reality, I spent the majority of my young teens over analysing, judging and hating parts of who I am because of what people said to me.
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
Picture this; a red headed, brace faced Ria, walking across the school courtyard at the tender age of 14. I felt like there was a constant spotlight on me. People commented on my hair colour, the size of my bum (yes – really), my height, my teeth, my freckles; everything was up for judgment. I wanted nothing more than to be swallowed up by the floor on a near daily basis.
One girl told me my body was shaped like a pear and would laugh at how my thighs splayed on the chair when I sat down. Another said that wearing a push up bra because I was an A cup was ‘going to disappoint whoever took it off’. Some boy even told me I’d never get a boyfriend because of how I looked.
This amalgamation of an already low level of self confidence, and people confirming my insecurities started my journey on the road of low self esteem and an unhealthy relationship with both food and my body.
This isn’t a ‘woe is me’ kind of story, but rather a way of me opening up to show you that the smallest thing someone says or does can have a huge affect on people. It certainly did on me, but luckily I’m learning to let it go and move forward.
The thought had never occurred to me, despite the countless amount of support and love from my family and my friends, that I didn’t need somebody else to love certain parts of me in order for me to love them. And for the first time, I felt in control and empowered to be me.
There’s a notion in our society that in order to be worthy, you must be loved by others. There has to be someone there to shower you in love and affection as proof that you are worthy and good enough, and Valentine’s Day is a hallmark holiday that only pushed that motion further.
The fact of it is, if you love you, embrace it. If you love that outfit people hate, ignore them. If someone doesn’t treat you the way you want to be treated, leave them. If a friend doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, you don’t need them.
HOW TO PRACTICE SELF LOVE
To get to the point where you stop hating on yourself, you need to do a few things.
Set the limits you need. Saying no to situations, or people, that stress you, make you anxious, or make you feel bad about yourself is ok. Toxic people feed a toxic mindset, and purging those people from your life is so important. Do yourself a favour and stop pleasing people at the detriment to your own self esteem.
2.LEARN TO LET GO
As important as it is to assess where the root of your problems lie, it’s equally important to let things go and not let them fester. That includes things you have done to yourself. Don’t hold a grudge or be too hard on yourself, let go and move on from your mistakes.
3.TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Taking care of yourself by eating right and exercising when you can will make you feel better about yourself. Nourish your body, eat the right stuff, make it move, read and give yourself time alone.
Don’t be afraid to be honest. Be honest with yourself, your friends and your family about how you think and feel. Don’t water yourself down to please someone else, it won’t do you any good. Learning to love yourself is all about being honest with yourself about what you need. Be it what you need from yourself, what you need from your relationships or what you need to change – honesty is key.
A PROMISE TO YOURSELF
If this is something you want to do, and a change you want to make, make it happen. I still have a lot of work to do to reach a point where I am completely comfortable with myself, but I make a conscious effort every day to put the work in and practise what I preach.
I tell my friends how beautiful, talented, loving and caring they are whenever I can. I am their biggest fans, I think they’re all absolutely bloody amazing. But when it comes to me, I’m self deprecating and mean. So I need to start treating myself how I treat my loved ones; with love, respect and appreciation.
You don’t need a day on the calendar and a shop reminding you to buy that card or box of chocolates to tell someone you love them. You also don’t need to change yourself, or how you look to love yourself. You are worthy and important, because you’re you.