The Art of Loving Yourself

We’ve all heard the cliché advice of needing to love yourself before someone else can love you. This was something that until recently I didn’t pay much mind to because I never felt it applied to me. Then one day I woke up in my late 20’s and found myself single for [more or less] the first time since I was 17. I went through a phase of a toxic relationship with myself in the months to follow. I didn’t look in the mirror, I was hard pressed to find any quality within myself that mattered and I had myself convinced I wasn’t enough. I found physical attributes and internal qualities to love about everyone else around me and I always felt like I came up pale in comparison. 

I was (and still am) fortunate enough to have such supporting and outwardly loving friends and family who always take the time to offer up a kind word about who I am. I always think it would be interesting if we could spend a day viewing ourselves the way people who love us view us. The juxtaposition in thinking would probably cause our heads to explode. I started to notice the irony in always feeling so unlovable and unworthy in myself, yet I was surrounded by people I felt the exact opposite about. This frame of mind because increasingly exhausting and I knew I needed to change the approach of how I viewed myself. As helpful as the validation through friends and family was, I needed to learn to find validity within myself. I needed to follow that ‘cliche’ advice and love myself. 

I came up with a 30 day plan to gear my mind towards viewing myself in a more positive light:

-Start your morning everyday by pointing out something you like about yourself and write it down. It can be intangible, physical or something you’ve done in the past you are proud of.

-Express gratitude for someone or something daily. You have to write it down or express it vocally.

-Meditate (I started meditating through the help of an app called Headspace and I highly recommend it).

-Take at least ten minutes a day to do something solely for yourself (eating doesn’t count).

-Say “thank you” if someone compliments you.

-Don’t apologize for every little thing you do.

These seem like minor tasks, but I can genuinely tell you that taking the time to practice doing these things has been the driving force behind how I feel about myself only 5 months later. We all have unsure moments; questions that seem too stupid to ask so we stay quiet, jokes that go over our heads but we laugh anyway or opinions that we feel too intimidated to interject. These feelings of internal self doubt have caused me to take on a mantra of “owning it.” I’ve learned it’s acceptable to not understand something that may seem like common sense to someone else. I speak up, I ask questions and I’ve stopped allowing myself to feel vacuous for not knowing something I wasn’t educated on previously. We are meant to be different from one another. We aren’t meant to fit a certain mold within someone else’s expectations, we are just meant to be ourselves.

Social media is a huge game player in the way we view our friends, acquaintances and even people we don’t know at all. This minor glimpse we get into people’s lives shapes the way we view them, which can cause us to become hypercritical of our own lives. It’s easy to look at what someone is posting on Instagram and automatically assume they are living a better life than you or vice versa. While we’ve always allowed society and outside forces to affect how we view ourselves and one another, I think the over accessibility of social media has caused us to get a little lost. I know it was certainly a contributor in my own personal battle of figuring out how to accept and appreciate myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am still an avid social media user and I completely appreciate the openness it allows in being able to stay caught up with people’s lives from afar. I’ve just learned to balance reality a little better in taking realization that social media isn’t a very accurate medium for judging others or myself.

During this period I came across many people who identified heavily with how I was feeling. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone but it was concerning to realize how many people walk around feeling genuinely uncomfortable in their own skin. For anyone who does identify with any of this, I hope this reminds you to practice a little more self care. Wake up, look in the mirror and embrace what you see. Find constructive ways to address something you may not like rather than breaking yourself down. Stop apologizing for who you are or aren’t and just mother effing own it. Be yourself and love yourself.

With love,
Ashley

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