It makes me sad to admit that I haven’t always had a sense of love, or even like for myself. Like many females, I’ve spent a good portion of my life hating parts of who I am, and I exhausted endless amounts of energy and time wishing I could just be different than I was. In our culture, a constant stream of negative thoughts towards ourselves, whether related to appearance, abilities, or even our personality, is considered normal. We often use external things, such as the number on the scale, our jean size, other people’s comments, and even the amount of likes on social media posts or the amount of followers we have to determine how much we value ourselves. However, with a desire to no longer fall victim to the culture norms, time, a lot of patience, practice, and compassion, I’ve learned how to love every last bit of myself.
Here’s how I’ve done it and how you can too:
Be mindful of how you speak to yourself
I was the worst in terms of how I spoke to myself, either through the words I used or the thoughts I had. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, I easily must have said or thought thousands of negative things about myself throughout the day. As I started working on being more mindful of the words I used towards myself, my mantra became, “If you wouldn’t say it to your 5-year-old self, don’t say it to yourself now.” I could never imagine saying something negative to the 5-year-old version of me. At that age, I thought I was awesome and capable of anything. Every time I begin to think something negative towards myself, I picture that sweet 5-year-old face and immediately transition my negative thoughts to positive ones. At first it may feel uncomfortable to say and think positive things about yourself because it doesn’t fall in line with the expectations of our culture, but I’m happy to say with this practice, positive thoughts are now my new normal. Give it a try! Your 5-year-old self will thank you!
Stop comparing yourself to others
With how plugged in our culture is, it’s easier now more than ever to compare yourself to others. As you scroll through your social media feeds, you may find yourself comparing how you look, what you have, and your life in general to that of others. However, what we often forget to remember as we are scrolling through our feeds is that other people are only showing the highlights of their life. We are seeing the best of the best of another person and the life they lead, but not necessarily what it means to walk in their shoes without the unrealistic filter that is social media. It is quite simply the image of a life they want you to see. So rather than comparing yourself to the highlights of another person’s life, focus on being the best version of you, because youhave so much to offer this world.
Spend time doing things you love
Think of the things in your life that you love doing- things that leave you feeling energized, and when you do them you seem to lose all track of time- and schedule them into your day on a regular basis. For me, I feel happiest when I am practicing or teaching yoga, writing, and having dance parties in my kitchen while preparing dinner. I do my best to incorporate these things into my life on a daily basis, because it is when we do things that we are passionate about- things that make us feel alive- that we feel most beautiful. So whatever it is for you, do it more often and I promise you’ll be feeling like a fierce, goddess in no time!
Take time to slow down
We live extremely demanding, high stress lifestyles, so taking time to slow down can sometimes feel impossible. However, it’s key, not just for your well-being, but for helping you cultivate self-love. I am the queen of filling my schedule to the brim with too many things, but I’ve learned in order to be compassionate towards myself, I must schedule in time for rest and quiet. It is in times when I’ve allowed a busy schedule to overtake my life that I am impatient and unkind towards myself and everyone else around me. By scheduling time for rest, you can tune into how you are feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally, allowing yourself the ability to take the steps necessary to replenish your reserves. Follow these steps and I promise you will see that youare worth it!
Valerie Costello is a Portland, Maine based yoga teacher and personal trainer who is passionate about making the practices of yoga, fitness, and mindfulness accessible and practical in order to help others live vibrantly. She loves travel, kind people, and kombucha.