Loving yourself is an important part of being able to give love to another, be it in a relationship, friendship, etc. As I have grown older, I realized just how important it is. I had no clue it was such an important aspect of life as a child. It was just so hard for me to love myself the way I was when I was younger. The path I took to overcome that self hate took years of feeling everything that both tore me apart and made me feel unstoppable. I figured out the type of person I wanted to be, and embarked upon my journey to rebuild my self-esteem and confidence to ensure I became that person.
This all may sound simple enough, “just be more confident, right?”or “just stop putting yourself down.” However, for those who have been struggling with self-hate for years, it is something that will take a lifetime to fully overcome. That journey is important though, because you can only really love someone, if you first love yourself. So, If you are reading this, and you are struggling with your own self-hate like I have and sometimes still do, here are some ways I have found have really helped me along my journey thus far:
Do Not Compare Yourself to Others
Never compare yourself to others. When you take part in this, you are not only doing a disservice to yourself but the other person as well. This is something that will take work. It is something I catch myself doing all the time, especially when scrolling through Instagram. I have started tracking myself by my thoughts and have noticed a steady decline in how many times I compare myself now versus when I was 13 or 14. When you start feeling the urge to compare yourself or the negative thoughts start rushing in, backtrack and try to accept who you are and be glad of where you are. Try thinking of things about yourself that make you happy or things you’ve done to make yourself proud. Everything you have done and will do matters and is worth something, so just remind yourself that and the comparisons will stop. And once they do, it will bring you one step closer to loving yourself, being content with who you are, and closer to the person you envision yourself being at the end of your journey.
Come to Terms With and Address Your Insecurities
This was the hardest step for me. We all have our specific insecurities, be it our body shape/figure, weight, acne/acne scars, stretch-marks, etc. In order to get over such insecurities, look deep into yourself and figure out what your biggest insecurity is. Where does that insecurity come from? For me, it has always been my weight and body shape, and with that came other things like stretch marks. My insecurity stemmed from constantly hearing others tell me what I was supposed to look like to be considered “pretty.” I sought to combat this by realizing that other people’s opinions should not matter to me. If I felt good about myself, then that was all that mattered. I cared more about being healthy and eating foods that helped me feel energized than looking like a model or being a size 0. Every person’s insecurity is different, some people need to seek out professional help to overcome and address their insecurities while others do not, and that is one hundred percent okay! The most important thing is to find out how to get to the bottom of the core issue and solve it. Do not look for the quick and easy fix, that would be the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a cut that needs stitches, only slightly helps, but is not permanent. Also, a lot of the time, the problem is not the issue itself, but more so changing the way our mind thinks.
Do what you love. Finding a purpose in life will bring about a sense of meaning and happiness, especially when it is your passion. I was taught to be reasonable and practical when it came to making life decisions, however, I found that I was not making decisions that I was truly happy with. For example, my parents wanted me to come home after graduating college and study for the LSAT. I chose to “do me” and take a job promotion for the summer and work and study at the same time. This decision has made me feel more independent, given me a sense of what working a real 9-5 job will be like, and has also pushed me to create a better work ethic and time management skills. I also started this blog as a way to 1) polish my craft as a writer and 2) lend advice and help to anyone who may need it via my experiences. While money and furthering my career was and is very important to me, there are certain things I feel I need to do with my life and for myself before I embark upon those other journeys. Money matters up to a certain extent, however, being truly content with yourself and with your life is priceless. When you begin to do what you truly love and have a passion for, money and everything else will follow. When you are doing what makes you truly happy, you have an easier time loving yourself because you are not covering up any unhappiness or harboring any negative feelings around inside of you.
Do Not Rely Completely on the Love of Others
Most people, who have in the past, hurt you, do not truly mean to. Sometimes we end up hurting each other without even knowing or understanding how because of our own minute perspectives. After being hurt multiple times in my past, what came easy to me was building walls so that I would not get hurt anymore. Relationships are malleable and can be bent and broken in so many ways if not provided with a strong foundation. That foundation is a strong and sturdy relationship with yourself first. Be honest and real with yourself. Otherwise you will not be able to be honest and real with others. When you began to form this relationship and grow this relationship with yourself, you will become more open to the idea of being open to others. True relationships will form out of honesty and trust, and not out of conformity or fear.
Lastly, Come to Terms With Your Past
We are who we are today because of events that have happened in our past. Sometimes our past can sit heavy on our hearts. For me,accepting and coming to terms with my past came before I was able to love myself, however, for others it may be different… but either way, these two go hand in hand. Revisit your past, while it may be very hard depending on who hurt you and how hurt you were, this step is important so you can understand that hurt and where it came from. I turned to blog posts about how to recover from certain relationships traumas like being cheated on and such, and from there, learned to forgive. Holding on to that heaviness or that hatred hinders you from self-growth. Being able to forgive someone who has hurt you in the past is the best way to take the step to move on from that hurt and focus on yourself. Since we all have different journeys, different pasts, and different hurts, I cannot say that this way f coming to terms with your past will work, but the important thing is to find a way that works for you. Be it professional help, self-help books, talking to friends, etc. Our pasts make us stronger and prepare us for what we may come to face in the future.
I hope this helps anyone who reads it, while the journey may seem long and daunting, the payoff is priceless. There comes a time when self hatred can be dangerous for yourself and for those around you. It is easy to degrade ourselves and focus on the negatives and the flaws, to the point where we find ourselves taken over by the fear of never becoming the people we want to be in the future. I have been there, I have felt that pain and have fought to save myself, from myself. The journey to save myself has been one that has been full of ups and downs, good days and bad days, and one that will go on throughout my life. And while it may be one of the hardest battle and journey I may face, I am grateful for it. You are beautiful, smart, intelligent humans and it is time for you to see that for yourselves!