“You almost have to step outside yourself and look at you as if you were somewhere else you really care about and really want to protect. Would you let someone take advantage of that person? Would you let someone use that person you really care about? Or would you speak up for them? If it was someone else you care about, you’d say something. I know you would. Okay, now put yourself back in that body. That person is you. Stand up and tell ’em ENOUGH!” – Queen Latifah.
It truly is so easy to forget to treat ourselves with love and respect and it is just as easy to be our own worst critics. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. You can’t “break up” or “divorce” yourself; you need to be able to tolerate yourself for your entire life. You need to treat yourself like you expect others to treat you – yet unfortunately, this can be much easier said than done. A couple years ago when I was struggling with low self-esteem, I would never of guessed that I was one of the main causes of it. The constant negative self talk, the dissatisfaction and constant critiquing of my appearance and the fact that I always doubted myself – I mean, no wonder my self esteem was so incredibly bruised. It wasn’t until I learnt to love myself and treat myself better that I began to see myself in a much clearer, more accurate light.
Also, if you don’t treat yourself well or believe you are a worthy, deserving person than you may fall guilty to the self-vertification theory. Self-vertification theory is when people seek confirmation of their self-concept. This means if you have a negative self-concept, you are likely to attract and surround yourself with those who confirm your belief about yourself. Often those who stay in abusive relationships do so because they believe they aren’t worthy or deserving of love, and their abusive partner verifies that belief. As you can see, it is completely toxic and that is why it is important to recognize your beauty and worth, and truly love yourself. If you find yourself attracting toxic relationships, maybe that’s a sign that you need start treating yourself better?! Here are some suggestions that I try and live by.
The more and more you try and catch yourself talking negatively to yourself, the more aware you will become of it. For example, the other day I got an exam back and wasn’t happy with the grade. From the minute I saw the letter grade, the negative self talk started. “Why didn’t you try harder, why aren’t you as smart as everyone else, how could you get that question wrong?” and it started to give me anxiety. But then, I caught myself. I realized that I did try hard enough and I did prepare well for it. Just because I got a not-so-great grade on one exam doesn’t mean I’m not smart or capable. It just happened to be quite a difficult exam! It definitely wasn’t worth me beating myself up over it.
Everyone makes mistakes; we are all human. Recognize what you did wrong, and learn from that mistake. Don’t let it become a source of internal hatred. Let go of all regrets and leave the past in the past.
Accept yourself exactly as you are. Recognize your own beauty for what it is, not in the context of comparing it to others. So many of us are chasing after unattainable beauty standards thanks to our constant exposure to media, models and photoshopped photography. Realize that most of the time what you are seeing in magazines is unattainable and a lot of the times, not even real. “To rely so heavily on appearance is to set you up for a fall, after all, image is transient and it’s also subjective. It creates an insecure existence where you’re not only liven ga life based on fluctuating value of what you can attain through validation but you’re also debasing your own substance by neglecting what makes you, you – your values and you live your life. Instead your identity is your appearance” – Natalie Lue from Baggage Reclaim.
When I first read about how affirmations can really make a difference to the way you perceive and talk to yourself, I honestly thought it was bullshit. Regardless, I started to say then to myself while staring at myself in a mirror. I really recommend trying it as it honestly feels really, really good. The more you practice affirmations, the more you start to believe them. Something about telling yourself you are a beautiful person while looking yourself directly in the eye is powerful.
Practicing being mindful will allow you to wake up and see things how they really are. It will allow you to live in the present moment and appreciate it. It will help you let go of judgements, labels and really connect with yourself. I just finished a book on meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn called “Wherever You Go, There You Are” and I loved it. It’s a great beginners guide to meditation.