I enjoy social media and blogging (obviously.) I love seeing motivational quotes, encouraging verses from the Bible when I open my various apps. I also like to read varying opinions on things that matter to me like body image, loving yourself, etc.
There are so many articles and “life hacks” about how important it is to be happy and to love yourself, and it’s true. It’s amazing how much better life is when we love ourselves, but self-love does not simply come from within. Sure, that’s a super motivational thing to say, but it’s not true, at least for me.
I began loving myself when I realized that God loves me right now. He knew before I was born that I’d struggle with my weight, but He created me anyway. He doesn’t just love some future, more perfect version of me; He just loves me. My life has improved in every area since that realization, and it makes it easier for me to make practical decisions to love myself.
I created a list of things that have helped me move from feelings of failure and self-loathing to self-love:
- Focus on finding ways to help other people as often as possible. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by everything in our own lives, but when we take time to help someone else, just because, it feels good. Open a door for someone, buy someone lunch, surprise a co-worker with a coffee, or leave an anonymous, encouraging post-it on their desk.
- Look for the good in someone else, and take time to acknowledge it. People appreciate sincerity. Most of us enjoy receiving compliments too, so when I see a dress I think is pretty, I say it. If a woman at the grocery story has beautiful hair, I tell her. It’s so easy to take 5 seconds to encourage someone who may appreciate it. If they don’t, that’s okay too. (I’m telling you though…they usually do.)
- Let go of regret. Remind yourself that it’s okay to forgive yourself for the stupid things you’ve done. Apologize when you can, and do better next time. (I’ve had to do this one a lot, and it’s extraordinarily freeing.)
- Exercise. Endorphins are awesome. It’s easy to forget that when we’re not moving, but it helps our attitude, our self image and our overall health.
- Figure out what you like and what you’re good at, and do it. I have a few hobbies that I really enjoy. I like reading, knitting, singing and other things. Reading makes me more knowledgable, while knitting allows me to create pretty things. I’m a pretty good singer, and it’s fun to exercise that talent. All of these things are positive, and it’s impossible to love yourself if you’re constantly steeped in negativity.
- Be a good friend. If you want to be loved, love them first. Let them in, and let them know you. I used to struggle hard with this, but when I started doing things I enjoyed I started meeting people who liked similar things. It’s so much easier to have friends when you just accept that we all have quirks, and it’s okay.
- Replace the negative self-talk with positive truth. I used to beat myself up for being ugly, but the truth is that I’m not ugly. I have a lot of positive attributes, and now I choose to focus on those instead of harping on my imperfections.
- Wear a nice outfit, style your hair and take time to be well-groomed. It sounds superficial, but when I take a little time to paint my nails or apply lip gloss, I just feel good.
- Look for opportunities to improve. It’s important to improve and evolve, but it’s much easier to do that when you do it out of love instead of hatred.
- Make a plan. When we’re aware of the things we’d like to change we can look at them practically. Our weaknesses don’t have to be clouds to hang over our lives, they can be opportunities to progress. Sometimes those struggles become our strengths. (I love it when that happens!)
Being happy is important, but being joyful and at peace is more important to me. Joy is not the culmination of happy moments; it comes from knowing Jesus.
I’m obviously no expert. I’m just a person who has learned some stuff the hard way and makes the choice to love myself everyday. I’m an imperfect woman who takes responsibility for my issues as I strive to be healthy, strong and happy.