Too skinny. Too fat. Why don’t I look like her? She’s so much more successful than I am.
These phrases, and so many similar to them, are too often what we tell ourselves. We are constantly finding something wrong when we look in the mirror, or when comparing ourselves to others (stop doing that right now, btw). It took me a while to realize how problematic all this can be. And it’s not to say that sometimes I don’t still have days like this, but I’ve trained myself to quickly snap of it.
The journey to loving me has been a long road of twists, turns, and learning the importance of gratitude.
I was a pretty confident little girl growing up. In my mind, I believed I could do and be anything I wanted. I also remember just appreciating every part of me, and never caring what others thought.
When I reached middle school is when I slowly began to change that about myself. I recall boys in school teasing me because I wasn’t as developed as some of the other girls. They’d make fun of my small breasts and a mole I had on my forehead. Things like this really got to me, even though it probably shouldn’t have, but I definitely carried it with me for some time.
Once the days of middle school were behind me and I entered high school, I began to regain my confidence a little bit. That was until I found myself in one of the most destructive relationships I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime.
At 16, I met a man who I thought truly cared for me. It turned out he was nothing but a manipulative and abusive (both physically and verbally) being. He broke me down and constantly reminded me of how ugly I was compared to the next girl. One time, while I was dressed in a bathing suit getting ready to head to a water park, he had the nerve to tell me I looked like I had AIDS because I was so skinny. Mind you, I had always been thin so there was nothing drastic happening between the time he met me and the time he chose to pierce me with those words.
Needless to say, his words and actions did a number to my self-esteem. It took me years to recover.
When I left him, I slowly began to pick up the pieces. Then I met my husband, who also made me realize that it wasn’t me at all, it was my ex that was the problem. I’ve since learned that I’m pretty incredible in my own way. And that I have so much to be thankful for that there’s no reason I shouldn’t be in love with myself and the life I’m living each day.
But I know it’s not easy. I know. That’s why I wanted to share some tips that have really helped me:
Stop comparing. Comparison is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Yes, it’s normal to see someone and think to yourself how awesome they are. But don’t you ever think that makes you any less. Instead, look at this person as more of a role model and someone you’d like to in some ways mirror their success. Reach out to them. Compliment them on social media. There are so many different things you can do besides beat yourself up over the fact that your life isn’t like theirs.
Wake up every morning and express gratitude. This is by far one of the most important lessons I’ve learned on this self-love journey. When I began to accept and be grateful for all that I do have, the universe started to bring more blessings my way.
Take a moment and jot down (at least) one thing you love about yourself, and do this every day. Start small if you have to but just do it. Once you look back at that list you’ll see there’s so much greatness in who you are.
Never let anyone tear you down or make you feel beneath them. When you find yourself in a relationship, friendship, or even around a family member that’s constantly making you feel low, it is time to cut these people out of your life — ASAP! Sure, it won’t be easy. But these are things we have to do for ourselves, our sanity, and our overall well-being. If there are people who just continually beat you down, say bye.