Have you ever looked at the life of someone you admire and had that “I need to change” feeling?
You see something in them that you want for yourself, but maybe you aren’t sure how they got it. So you think, “I need to do something new with my hair.” “I could have what she has if I lose 40 pounds.” “I need to start working harder to make more money.” The list of shallow ideas builds and builds, until you lose sight of who you are. It sometimes still happens to me, too.
On days when I allow myself to compare my life to that of someone else, I feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
I’ll get that negative voice in my head that says, “There’s too much for you to change! How are you going to do all of that RIGHT NOW?” I feel weighed down. Has this ever happened to you? I can just barely function for the rest of the day. Nothing creative, delightful, or optimistic comes from me on those days. Some would call that depression. I call it stupidity.
It’s not motivating. I don’t feel empowered to make a positive change in my life. In fact, it just deepens the disgusting “not good enough” feeling. I bet you can relate to that.
So, how do you make positive changes in your life from a place of love and acceptance for yourself rather than jumping from one shiny thing to the next and hoping that’s the key to your happiness?
There isn’t one proven method that is guaranteed to bring you to the place where you feel good about yourself. Getting to that place does, however, require learning to accept and love yourself now (flaws and all). There are hundreds of ways people practice self-love and acceptance every day. You just need to find the methods that work best for YOU and start practicing!
My self-loathing was deep-rooted and required more than writing love letters to my body parts or pretending every day was Valentine’s Day. For me, it came from taking a hard look at the parts of my life that made me (and others) uncomfortable to talk about. This included tough decisions, unfavorable experiences, and character flaws that I found myself carefully editing out of stories so that I wouldn’t be harshly judged or cause an uproar about who I was.
These are the parts I had to start getting real about. These are the parts of myself I was taught to hate.
And that runs deeper than “Her butt is too big” and “She looks like Rosanne.” It runs to the core of who I am. I was the introverted girl, who didn’t miss a day of feeling butterflies in her stomach as she approached her school. The awkward teenager who crushed hard on boys, but never had a boyfriend and never went to prom. The naïve woman who married her first boyfriend and felt miserable, so she stole junk food from her workplace for the thrill and emotional coping. The alcoholic woman whose husband cheated on and left her, so she coped with drinking every day, like her dad did. The divorced woman who mistakenly got pregnant with her partner’s baby. Knowing abortion would be frowned upon, she did it anyway. The hateful bitch who pushed away another partner because she was so unaware of her terrible behavior. No one would help her to see it in a compassionate way. The lonely woman, who finally lost half of her body weight, but still obsessed with food and her appearance in the mirror every day. The never satisfied woman who was so driven to succeed (in any way possible) that she pushed many friendships and opportunities away by being “too busy”. She wasn’t good enough to be happy yet.
These were the parts of myself I tried to suppress and pretend didn’t exist.
I dedicated so much energy trying to protect my ego from the truth: I’m not perfect. I thought you were supposed to hide everything about yourself that only a psychiatrist should know about. And then I wondered why I felt so triggered and reactive when I encountered children being bullied by their parents, women calling each other bitches, pro-life protesters, and fat women eating candy bars for breakfast at the bus stop.
I felt triggered because those were the parts of my life I hadn’t faced.
I had not healed from them because I saw these moments as the dark side of who I was and pretended THAT ISN’T ME… even though I lived it for years.
When you start to love the unlovable parts of yourself, the painfully intense emotions you feel toward these dark parts become less and less uncomfortable. You also become a better person by accepting these parts of your life. You’ll be able to empathize more with others who are struggling instead of judging them.
Whoa, right? This self-love stuff is for all of us.
So, before you think about closing the chapter on this part of your life to start that new chapter, I’m going to ask you to wait. I want you to take the time to work through the parts of this chapter in your life that you’d rather forget and burn. Because you have to be able to comprehend and appreciate this chapter (and all your previous chapters) before you can move on to become the hero of your own story.
And every story deserves a lovable hero, right?
This article is an excerpt of the best-selling ebook How I Learned To Love Myself: When Affirmations, Dieting, and Success Weren’t Enough. This book explores an entirely new & revolutionary approach to making positive change in your life through self-love. The best part about this ground-breaking, eye-opening, life-changing thing called self-love is that you don’t have to be narcissistic, to love yourself. Get your copy of the book here.
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