Ever since I was a young, pubescent girl, my self-image and self-confidence have a been a constant and debilitating struggle. I have suffered from anxiety, disordered eating, and overall unhealthy lifestyle choices due to my lack of self love. Can you relate?
I remember when I was in middle school I was interested in cheerleading. I tried out for the cheer team in 6th grade and didn’t make the team (I had no cheerleading experience prior to that so in retrospect it’s no surprise). The following year or so, I asked my mom if I could take tumbling classes because I was still interested in that sort of sport even though I had not tried out or planned to try out for cheer again. We got to the huge, daunting gym where young girls were cartwheeling and practicing back bends all over. It was packed. We stood in line to sign me up when I began to have an anxiety attack. The idea that I was around so many people, wearing shorts (I had extreme body dysmorphia about my legs), and with no tumbling experience at all caused me to freak out. So I begged my mom for us to leave.
Fast forward to three years later. I moved schools (across the world) and decided to try out for cheerleading again – and made the team. I loved cheer so much and even cheered the following year, my senior year. I was a good cheerleader despite my lack of tumbling experience and still miss it to this day! The point of this story is that even when you have anxiety and low confidence, you should let your self love outshine it all so that you can do what you love, whether it’s cheerleading, public speaking, running, writing, or anything else. No one else’s judgment should ever inhibit you or keep you from pursuing your passions.
On that note – here are 7 ways to love yourself in this new millennium:
1. Throw out negative thoughts and welcome positive ones
Sounds easy, right? It might take more work than you realize. When we see ourselves in our reflection or in a photo we might automatically pick out what’s “wrong” with ourselves without even realizing. I’m not saying to completely stop these thoughts, because that would be unrealistic, but to acknowledge those thoughts as an unwanted guest. You open the door, see them, but politely ask them to leave and close the door. Then, send invitations to positive thoughts instead. Tell yourself what’s good about you (physically or otherwise). Practice this everyday and eventually you’ll be thinking a lot more positive thoughts than negative ones.
2. Unplug from social media more often
This is a huge one for me. I find that social media causes me to compare myself to other women and I often leave it feeling sad and a bit resentful. Studies have actually shown that young women who spent excessive amounts of time on social media displayed more symptoms of depression compared to those who spent less time on their social networks (I read this article a while back and can’t find it to cite it here but you can do your own research). When you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling on social media, as in not engaging or being purposeful, just close the app and find something else to do (that doesn’t involve your phone). I promise this makes a HUGE difference!
3. Don’t say “no” to what you really want
This can apply to so many things. We often say “no” to hanging out with friends, going on dates, traveling, trying new things, etc. because of our anxieties and worries about what could or could not happen. But if you really want to see that cute guy, if you really want to eat that piece of cake, or if you really want to go to the beach in a bikini then DO IT! Don’t say no to new experiences. New experiences are what shape our character, fill our hearts, and help us develop new friendships (or diminish old ones – not a bad thing btw).
4. Compliment others more often
Getting compliments makes you feel good, right? Well what if I told you that complimenting others will make you feel good too? Try it out. When you go grocery shopping, compliment your cashier’s eyes or hair. When you’re in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, randomly compliment the woman next to you. When you’re on the bus, at the mall, at church, give someone a compliment. These compliments obviously don’t always have to be about physical appearance but giving out any positive message will fill you up with positivity too.
5. Know your worth
Know that you are strong, powerful, and worthy of respect and love. If you tell yourself this and actually treat yourself with that sort of embrace, other people will notice it and treat you that way too. Loving yourself for who you are, and not what you have or look like, is what will really make a difference in your life. Easier said than done but it is so worth it!
6. Embrace life a little more
I am guilty of not embracing life enough. I have many fears and a lot of anxiety surrounding new experiences (Skydiving? Thanks but I’d rather stub my toe on a coffee table 20 times in a row), which is partially why I’m writing this article: 1) I have learned to control my anxiety for the most part, and 2) I still need reminders of all these things just like everyone else. The way I see it, I would rather be on my death bed laughing about all the crazy things I did rather than be sad about all the things I didn’t. #Yolo. This applies to things that make you happy, makes others happy, and brings fulfillment to your heart. For example, traveling is a major part of my life. I’ve traveled my entire life and it never gets boring to explore somewhere new. You might have wanted to travel too but were too worried about the cost, the travel time, or where you would stay. But trust me, it isn’t as hard as you think and even if you travel in some not-so-luxurious conditions, those memories will stay with you forever.
7. Make time for self care
And finally, one of the most essential elements to loving yourself: self care. Self care looks different for everyone whether it be through your diet, exercise regime, spending time at a spa, doing your hair and nails, getting a massage, or anything that involves reconnecting with and feeling good about yourself. For me, I love cooking a healthy meal knowing that I’m nourishing and providing fuel for my body. But, I also love enjoying ice cream or wine after a long day. Both of these things make me happy and I’m able to enjoy them equally as part of a balanced lifestyle.
I could go on and on about this topic but for now I’m going to leave it here. I hope you try some of these out and let me know what kind of self love YOU practice that I didn’t mention here.
Thank you for reading!