A few years ago, I was surprised to hear how many of my friends and colleagues admitted to not liking themselves. I, in fact, loved myself. It got me thinking about what I had experienced, learned, and overcome in order to practice this self-love. Here are the factors that led me to love myself.
Understanding and being myself
Growing up, I sometimes lacked confidence and felt like I didn’t know myself all that well. Although I went through these stages of self-doubt and giving into peer pressure, I’ve been lucky in the fact that I am naturally a strong-headed person. Therefore, being myself has come slightly easier, although it still took time and patience to learn and understand who I was. It also took courage to say no to things, decide which friends I wanted to invest my time in and confront the elements of my personality that I wasn’t completely happy with. Sometimes I struggled to express myself, especially when I felt less confident or different from others. After years of checking in with my thoughts and feelings, taking steps to make changes if I wasn’t happy with something and learning to believe in myself, I began to love who I was as a person.
Accountability and holding myself to my values and beliefs
A few years ago when I began exploring the vegan lifestyle, I’d still knowingly purchase products that weren’t cruelty-free. Or I’d photograph products for clients knowing they were far from vegan. I’d then feel disappointed in myself as I was often contradicting my own beliefs. I’ve learned that a big part of accountability is acknowledging my actions, good or bad, and taking steps to improve and better myself.
I am now at a place where I can afford to select clients who share the same values and I choose to purchase products that align with my intentions. In other parts of my life as well, I always hold myself accountable for my actions and question my decisions when they don’t necessarily coincide with my beliefs.
Practicing self-acceptance and forgiveness
When I was younger, I had a very short temper. I used to get riled up quite easily and my parents would always tell me I needed to learn to control my anger, which never really helped at the time. Learning to control my temper took a lot of hard work and self-exploration. Meditation has helped me with this a lot. I have found that it’s important to confront past mistakes, negative thoughts and aspects of my personality that I don’t necessarily like in order to overcome issues.
Opening up to others and checking in with myself
I often find it hard to open up to others. However, talking to my friends and family, being honest, and creating strong relationships with those around me have improved my overall mental health. Checking in with myself and how I am feeling has been a big factor in keeping a healthy mind. When I’m not in the mood to share my thoughts with a friend or family member, I try journaling. Over the years I have found that negative issues and feelings I have been experiencing but avoiding have led to shame or poor decision-making. Being open with myself and others, journaling or in person, allows me to keep a clear and happy mind, full of self-love and acceptance.
Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things
Saying yes to new experiences and taking on personal challenges is sometimes scary and daunting. I have always tried to adopt a growth mindset in order to improve myself and my abilities. A couple of years ago, I volunteered overseas. I went to Nepal with 25 strangers and lived and worked there for 3 months. There were many hard moments and lots of tears, but in the end, the personal challenge allowed me to grow so much as a person and learn many new skills such as teamwork, communication and resilience.
Learning new skills and overcoming challenges has allowed me to feel proud of myself and feel like I can accomplish anything and everything I set my mind to. I find that the more I achieve and surprise myself, the more I love who I am and what I’ve accomplished.
Self-care and looking after my health
A few years ago, I wasn’t eating well and I was barely doing any exercise. I often felt unhealthy, lethargic and unhappy. I now stick to somewhat of a routine to make sure despite work and other commitments, I allocate time to have to practice self-care. I have also improved my overall health a lot by setting strong boundaries and expectations with food and activity. Eating healthy, being active and taking time out to practice self-care have been important factors in my journey to self-love. I now feel happier and healthier than ever before.
Finding happiness in the places that matter most
I’ve found through experience that until I am happy and content in myself, it is hard to be there for others. Working out what I enjoy doing, who I like to spend time with and what I truly want out of life have all allowed me to focus my energy and feel more fulfilled. Finding happiness and a level of contentedness on the inside has then allowed me to create space for helping others, for example, volunteering and being a strong support network for my friends and family.
Learning about and loving myself have required a lot of patience and commitment. I have had to let go of the goal of being perfect and forgive myself for past mistakes or imperfections. I actively avoid comparing myself to others and I hold myself accountable for my actions. I enjoy setting myself realistic expectations and living in the beauty of each moment.
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