For those of you who know me you’ll know I am in a beautiful, happy relationship with a guy who I am head over heels in love with (if you follow me on social media you’d had to live under a rock to not know that due to my loud and proud declarations of love).
The more that time goes on; the more and more I become grateful for all that surrounds and presents itself to me. I have such gratitude for the people in my life for the kindness, generosity and love they show me, but more importantly for the love I get to show them.
Before you start freaking out that this piece is going to turn into some kind of lovey dovey mush fest and have you reaching for the nearest bucket, rest assured it wont. It’s just that I had to preface this piece by expressing my gratitude for all that I have in my life because truth be told, it hasn’t always been that way for me.
There have been times in my past where I felt as if no one loved me, yes NO ONE. Times where I have felt completely and utterly alone, in a dark desolate place. I have cried myself to sleep time and time again until I physically had no more tears to cry.
Possibly the hardest and most difficult thing I faced when going through those emotions was feeling as though I was the only one going through that. I felt as though no one else could possibly begin to understand what I was feeling or going through. Heck, in the midst of bawling my eyes out enough to send a drought into remission, the thought that I kept replaying over and over in my head was that I was ‘so fucked up,’ that I was ‘damaged goods,’ and those dark, horrible, negative thoughts would make me weep even more until I had no more fight in me and passed out asleep.
These times I speak of, they are in my past and exist only in my memory now but it is truly important for me to reflect on just how far I have come and how I got from there (a place of darkness and sadness) to here (a place of light and love). I feel the need to share this with you, to bear my soul to you in the hope that I help you and others in some way, shape of form.
Even if you are fortunate enough to never have gone through feeling like that, it is still important to me to tell you this because at least one person you know at some point or another will have felt that way or be feeling that way right now. Reach out to them and let them know they aren’t alone.
I know that now. I now know I wasn’t completely and utterly fucked up beyond help or alone. I was just a little lost in a dark place needing and desperately wanting something.
Those (untrue) thoughts I had of feeling as though I was alone, that nobody cared about me or loved me…Holy guacamole – it had nothing to do with anyone else. It had nothing to do with anything or anyone external.
I DIDN’T LOVE MYSELF.
I’ll say it again…I didn’t love myself.
I didn’t value myself. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think I was worthy of much. I thought I was fat, ugly, pretty dumb and wouldn’t amount to much.
Thing is, deep, deep down I knew I had potential. I knew I had a huge heart that had a lot of love to give, love to receive. I knew I was a good person and had a brain and could do wonderful things with my life if I really wanted to. I just didn’t have the most critical foundation to build upon.
‘Just love yourself.’ Sounds oh so simple and obvious doesn’t it? Simple? Yes. Easy? No.
You can decide right here and now in this very moment to start loving yourself more wholeheartedly (and you absolutely should), but by no means is it something that you decide to do and cross off a list like checking off a grocery item as you put it into your trolley.
Self-love is a constant work in progress. Just as you would exercise to make a muscle in your body stronger, self-love too needs that same discipline. It is a moment-to-moment thing, a conscious decision to love you and every part of you. To not give in to the self-sabotaging beliefs, to not give into your ego (your mean girl).
Your thoughts feed your feelings, not the other way around.
The toxic thoughts I used to feed myself like telling myself I wasn’t good enough and every other negative thought under the sun, that wasn’t me talking. It was my mean girl. She doesn’t want the best for me, she wants to belittle me and rob me of my happiness, as she does you. Don’t let her.
If you are constantly telling yourself that you are ‘fat,’ ‘ugly,’ ‘too thin,’ ‘not pretty enough,’ ‘not smart enough,’ ‘don’t have what it takes,’ and so on, you are going to start believing those thoughts and things will spiral downwards from there.
The next time you look at yourself in the mirror or are about to think something negative about yourself, stop. Notice that mean girls voice. Acknowledge her and then politely tell her to bugger off.
Us females in particular, are SO incredibly hard on ourselves. You know who judges and criticises us the most? We do. We are our worst critics. My goodness, the amount of negative self-talk I hear in my day to day life from people all around me horrifies me, especially because I have been there. The saddest part is that often they don’t even realise it. They don’t realise it is negative or belittling themselves because that’s just the way they speak. They don’t realise that life isn’t supposed to be that hard, messy and sad; that there is a better way to live and love. I know this because I used to be one of those people.
On top of the crap we tell ourselves, we pile on top of this with other garbage with the food we eat, the trash we allow ourselves to read like commercial beauty magazines which fuel the negative thoughts even more, the people we allow ourselves to be surrounded by, hearing their garbage on top of ours is a vicious and toxic cycle.
I recently attended a beautiful event all about self-love and one of the ‘take homes’ for me was comparing the negative self-talk we feed ourselves, to how we would speak to a good friend. Imagine sitting next to your best friend and berating them with comments like ‘you’re really fat,’ ‘you’re not a good person,’ ‘you could never achieve anything.’
There is no way we would talk that way to a close friend, yet we allow ourselves to speak like that to ourselves.
Why do we place such little emphasis on loving ourselves but a huge emphasis on loving others? Loving others is a beautiful and wonderful thing but you had better do a reality check and realise right now that if you don’t have that solid foundation of loving who you are, how on earth are you going to genuinely love another person or let them love you? What do you love them with if there is no love stemming from inside you? How do you receive love if you don’t truly understand what love is?
Without self-love, what do we have? Does it really matter if another person loves us if we don’t love ourselves? Can we really accept their love for us when we place no emphasis on what it means to be loved?
I started putting more emphasis on loving myself and practicing acts of kindness to myself weekly, daily. In small and big ways, exercising my self-love muscle. Slowly but surely over time things started to shift inside me. Thoughts, patterns and behaviours that were engrained in me for a long time started to dissipate until that old me was barely recognisable and a wonderful, self-loved me emerged.
I believe these two words, SELF – LOVE are the epitome of a happy and joyful life with yourself and with others.
I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I want you to know that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
I want you to know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
I want you to know that your imperfections are PERFECT.
I want you to know that there is ALWAYS someone you can talk to, even if it’s only one person. (My door is always open.)
I want you to know that you get to DESIGN YOUR LIFE however you see fit.
I want you to know that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
If you’re struggling to wholeheartedly love yourself right now, work on it. Exercise your self-love muscle. Make it a priority.
In the meantime you can piggyback off of my self-love. I have enough to go around.
I encourage you to share in the comments below one way you are going to start exercising your self-love muscle more?
Affirmation: “I fully and completely love and accept all of myself. My imperfections are perfect.”
* Feature image sourced from the 25th hour.com