Now I know we often talk about believing in oneself, discovering your purpose, working hard, never giving up, overcoming obstacles, and going after your dreams week after week on this blog. However, this week’s blog post highlights a topic that I purposely have neglected to write about for many reasons. Ironically, in order to achieve any of the above, we all first need to achieve this concept. What is it that I’m talking about?
Today’s blog post highlights the issue of Self-Love.
Ohhh, this one is a biggie! I promise you!
SELF-LOVE (noun): Regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).
Before we go any further though, I must admit that the main reason I’ve never addressed this topic (though this blog has been in existence for years and we talk about a multiplicity of topics) is because it happens to be the hardest subject for me to write about. Truth be told, it’s something that I’m still working on myself.
What I’ve discovered though is that I’m not the only person who’s had trouble figuring out how to love themselves. Could you believe that? This is why I’ve decided to write about Self-love today.
Maybe this has been an issue for you too. Maybe, some of you never even gave it much thought because until now, you were of the opinion that loving yourself is done subconsciously. Maybe, just maybe, you have also been dealing with some things (secretly) and you need to read this today.
For others, especially those who never realized (or accepted) that you have had a real problem with Self-love, your issue is not being able to figure out why others treat you badly or why things aren’t working out in your favor. Well, I would like for you to know that this post is also for you, because believe or not, your issues all tie back to self-love.
Little did some of you know that Self-love is not automatic. Rather, it involves putting in work for yourself by yourself. My hope today is that together, we can reach a point in our lives where we both will achieve the real concept of Self-Love.
Now excuse me while I over-share…
I wouldn’t say that I’ve suffered from low self-esteem all my life. That would be very misleading. However, learning to love myself has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. To some that may come as a surprise, because I’ve always appeared to be confident, wearing a bright smile, optimistic, and ambitious. I’m sure you’re wondering,
How can someone with all of these qualities not love herself?
Well, it’s simple really. A smile can hide so much. Behind many of our innocent smiles often lay words left unsaid, pain not dealt with, anger, and hate, most times toward ourselves.
You see, I’ve always been my biggest critic. Though I complain when others have negative things to say about my goals and dreams or don’t support me, I’ve had some of the most negative thoughts myself.
I’ve always felt that nothing I did was good enough. At school, I always felt like I had good grades but I was never the best. There was always someone with a higher grade. There was always a student whom my teachers liked best. I’ve liked guys and the relationships never worked out, so I blamed myself. I felt like the reason everyone else were in relationships and I was not was because something must have been wrong with me. I would get all dressed up to go somewhere, receive many compliments, yet still think I didn’t look good enough.
Have you ever experienced this?
With my writing, it’s nothing different. Every time I’ve written something, I would always reread it and find errors. Even now, after writing books, articles, blogs and news, whenever I’m done with one piece of work, I always doubt the quality of my writing. No matter what it is, I could always find a fault.
Maybe you could relate. Maybe you’re like me and don’t even understand why you feel this way.
Well, according to author Meredith Marple,
“You can’t fully ‘love’ yourself if you are still rejecting pieces of who you are.”
I’ve never wanted to admit that to myself, but I believe that the only way to overcome the things that trouble you is to admit that there are things troubling you. So I ask: when you put a smile on your face, what inner conflicts and demons are you trying to conceal?
Are there pieces of yourself that you’ve been rejecting?
Today I encourage you to stop keeping those things in the dark.
One of the things I’ve always rejected is weight. Throughout my teenage years and well into early adulthood, I’ve been self-conscious of how much I weigh. I remember always being the heaviest/biggest among my girlfriends. I love my friends and I don’t envy their size. To me, they are all beautiful. Some short, some skinny, others slim, but all beautiful. And they would often tell me, “You’re not fat, Kay-Marie.” But I rarely believed them. I was convinced that they were just trying to be nice because that’s the job of a best friend. As girls, they would all be able to share clothing and play dress up, but I couldn’t because their clothes wouldn’t fit me. I often felt embarrassed to change my clothes with them because of the way my stomach or thighs looked in comparison.
Similarly, my mother would always tell me, “You are beautiful.” But again, I couldn’t believe her. After all, she was my mother; that’s what she was supposed to say. I couldn’t believe any of it because every time I looked in the mirror, I would only see an obese person. Though I’ve always loved shopping, I hated going to a store and having to ask if they had any bigger sizes. I used to love pictures, but every time I saw myself in them I would cry because of how big I looked. If ever a conversation about weight came up, I would excuse myself from it because I felt awkward. This became such a problem that I often felt depressed and wanted to starve myself. I never got as far as having an eating disorder, but I remember at one point I wished I were anorexic. I wished this because I made myself believe that anything was better than being fat.
Maybe you’ve experienced this as well. Maybe we can relate to each other because, like me, your body image has been an issue that has tormented you for years. Maybe right now you think you are too heavy, too skinny, too dark, too short, or too tall. Maybe you think your boobs are too big or too small. Maybe you don’t even realize that you have a problem (though it’s slowly creeping up) because you’ve convinced yourself that you just need ‘to put on a few pounds’ to look good. You just need a bigger butt, or you just need to lose size in one particular area to be ‘perfect’. You just need longer or straighter hair to look good enough. You just need ‘sexier’ clothes or ‘cooler’ sneakers to be liked. Whatever it is, you think you’re not good enough. Maybe no one even thinks that it’s a real issue because it’s all in your head. Well, from personal experience and having a background in psychology, I can tell you that before illnesses are reflected physically, they often begin in our minds.
For me, my mind could never truly be in the moment, because my physical appearance was always at the forefront of my thoughts. I became so consumed by the ever-present mirror of a reflection I did not love. But, I could not go on living this way. If I wanted to accomplish all of my goals and dreams, I had to be able to accept myself first. I had to decide to smash the mirror into pieces. Pieces too small to ever pierce through my self-esteem again. Today I want you to do the same.
I’m not saying to literally smash your mirrors into pieces, but rather in a figurative sense. Today I encourage you to cancel out that reflection that makes you feel less than and realize that physical appearance does not define who you truly are.
This may not be an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary thing to do.
The bible says…
1 Samuel 16:7, “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
In other words, our hearts and what’s inside of us are infinitely more important to God than our physical features. Unlike anyone I knew, God did not care how “fat” I thought I looked; He loved me regardless. He loved me enough to give me a passion and a purpose, and He is going to help me fulfill it. The good news is He feels the same way about you.
Now there are two reasons I felt the need to write on this subject. One, because the physical act of writing about my problems helps me to heal, so I hope that if this has been something you’ve been struggling with, my words can encourage you to heal as well. And secondly, I believe that accepting yourself is directly linked to accepting your passions, your dreams, and your purpose.
Quite frankly, if you don’t believe in yourself or your goals, no one else will. Furthermore, if you can’t step out of your bedroom because you don’t like your physical appearance, then how are you going to step out of your comfort zone? Remember, if we want our fairytales to become reality, we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones. This is the only way to achieve success.
One day I decided that I needed to do something about my weight, so I enrolled in a local gym. Now, the gym may sound like a good and harmless idea. However, too much of anything is not good for you. You see, when I started to gym, I became obsessive with it. I went from being considered overweight to being called underweight. I had changed my diet drastically. I remember I would go to the gym twice in one day, six days a week. Sometimes I didn’t even take days off. I had no cheat days. Of course I began to see massive results. I’d lost a lot of weight and everyone began commenting on my new physical appearance. However, no matter how much someone told me that I’d lost enough weight, I still saw myself as fat. I still wanted to lose more. I was dedicated, focused, and determined to not stop until I was satisfied. But that’s the problem.
Are we ever truly satisfied with ourselves?
Maybe some of you are, but the ones who lack self-love will never be satisfied. Sadly, no amount of accomplishments would be able to make you feel complete either. Only self-love would be able to unburden all of the lies that reside in the reflection you see when you look in the mirror.
Also, since I’m being honest, one of the reasons the gym never worked out back then – the way it was supposed to at least – was because I was losing weight for all the wrong reasons. You see, though I may have started the gym because I wanted to lose weight, this young, naïve girl who lacked self-love kept going back because I liked someone and I figured if I lost weight, probably the feeling would be mutual. I later discovered that the person I had a huge crush on had a girlfriend. Now, in addition to my own reflection being an issue, I now had her tiny body to look at and compare myself with. I began having crazy thoughts like, Of course he wouldn’t like someone like me. Look at his girlfriend, she was half my size. I definitely couldn’t stop the gym now. Sadly, I had to learn the hard way that if you don’t love yourself, no one else will. And even if you seek love for all the wrong reasons, you’ll never be able to fill the void that only self-love can.
Now my reason for sharing this very personal yet confused period of my life with you today (which for the record, I can’t believe I just did) is because I know I’m not the only one. I know there must be someone reading this right now or maybe someone you know whom you can now share this with, who has had similar experiences.
Maybe the reason you don’t like your reflection is because you continuously compare yourself to others. Maybe you think if you change the way you look on the outside then others will begin to like or accept you too.
This is nothing to be ashamed about. You’ll be surprised to find out how many people think the same way.
However, it is definitely something we need to change. I needed to change this way of thinking in order to achieve all of things I had planned and so do you.
Now, I’d admit, it is a very tough thing to do because our minds are often our own antagonist. Trust me I too had to battle my mind. I shed many tears. But, I also fought very hard until I eventually overpowered my demons. I overcame my self-hatred and I pushed myself to recovery. I decided that my God-given purpose was far greater than me (or any guy or the acceptance of any other person for that matter). I realized that in order to feel complete within myself I needed to find a way to accept myself or accept defeat. I chose to accept myself.
I chose to accept myself because I know that someone who hates himself could never live to see his dreams become a reality. Today I need you to see that you are stronger than you realize and that you can beat this too.
Today I want to remind you that:
- You are not your body.
- You are not your past.
- You are not your negative thoughts.
- You are not what others think of you.
- Comparison is a waste of energy.
- You are inherently enough.
- Self-care is not selfish; it is essential.
- You are perfectly imperfect.
- You have to love yourself first.
- Self-love is essential for your life.
- You are worthy of your dreams.
- You are way more magical and magnificent than you know.
- Its time you start focusing on your strengths because you have a lot of them.
- And more importantly, begin creating empowering SELF-TALK because YOU are listening.
Our negative perspective of ourselves only limits us. It is time to recognize your worth and your strength. Being unsure of who you are or looking for validation from someone else is called self-sabotage. And it is high time we stop sabotaging ourselves and our dreams.
It is time to start loving yourself. Self-love really means self-improvement. Self-improvement means self-growth. Self-growth means self-healing, and healing will bring understanding and acceptance.. but do it only if it’s for YOU.
Today I want you to remember that you are good enough and that you deserve to love yourself for it.
According to author Miyamoto Musashi,
“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”
I’m going even further to say, don’t be too concerned about your outward appearance that you neglect the beauty, magic, and fairytales that reside on the inside of you. Everything exists within you.
Whether your inner conflicts has to do with your weight, your skin color, your disabilities, your hair, the way you look without makeup, your health condition, your mistakes, your disappointments, your struggles, your finances, or any other thing that’s preventing you from fully loving yourself, I want you to begin accepting them today.
Stop waiting or searching for the type of love that you can provide yourself. I encourage you to stop running away from yourself and start running towards your goals. Also, start wearing these scars and all of the things you don’t like about yourself as armor. Instead of burdening you, may they give you strength, as they act as shields you need to love yourself and face the world head on!
It is time to get up and start blazing the trail toward success. Throughout this blog, I’ve shared a lot of different experiences that I’ve had to go through in order to get to where I am today. It has not been a straight or easy road, but it has definitely been one of growth and development and it isn’t over. I am still learning, accepting, healing, and growing daily, and I want the same for you. I want you to stop doubting yourself. Stop being afraid to go the extra mile to achieve the life you’ve always imagined. And start loving the person you were born to be.
Those goals within you and the potential you hold have been hidden far too long. Now is the time to start making them a reality but in order to do so you’re going to need a lot of self-love. Let’s work on that first!
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