“It is not what you are that holds you back, it is what you think you are not.” –Denis Waitley
It has taken me years to get to a point where I can truly say I love who I am. I’m happy with where I am in life, I feel good about how I look, and I enjoy waking up each day being me. Yes, some days I struggle (as everyone does), but, in general, I have more good days than bad. And, overall, I am (finally) comfortable in my own skin – not because I lost 50lbs or because I had cosmetic surgery or found the love of my life. But, I’m finally happy (and finally free) because I made a radical decision to stop picking myself apart and start finding things (big and small) to love about myself. It truly was a choice – a come to Jesus moment, if you will. I wish it happened overnight, but truth is it took a lot of work and required me to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
The first step was making the decision to start changing how I speak to myself. When something went wrong, I stopped blaming myself and I changed my internal dialogue when it became negative. Instead of berating myself after making a mistake, I started looking for the lessons.
I then limited my Facebook use and created a new Instagram account and vowed to no longer follow people I compared myself to (often super thin or ridiculously fit influencers) and I started following women who had bodies like mine and/or who were after similar goals. And then, I stopped comparing my “chapter 1 to their chapter 5,” as they say (a way of looking at things that I really love).
Next, I set some new goals (small ones at first) and as I achieved those goals, I set new, loftier ones. And I made sure to celebrate my achievements along the way!
Most importantly, because I truly believe we are the company we keep, I stopped hanging out with people who brought me down. I sought out friendships with people who work hard for what they want and don’t make excuses…people who inspire me to be my best self. Folks who give as much as they take and I can call on when I really need a friend. As such, I ended toxic relationships with people who didn’t have my best interests at heart.
I also started eating better (including adding more fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet) and I drank more water. I got more sleep, began following a realistic workout plan, and kept conservative body goals. And, I began taking vitamins and I made sure I took my medications every day.
But, first and foremost, I had to say “enough is enough” with living a half life where I picked apart everything I did and everything I said. Instead of being my own worst enemy, I had to be my best friend, choosing self-love at every turn. And, as a result, I’ve learned a lot along the way. This blog only came to be because I decided to stop standing in my own way and I made the choice to be happy.
That said, here are 10 things that happen when you make the decision to love yourself:
One. You’re no longer afraid to show your knees (or whatever body part you’re most insecure about)
I used to only wear skirts, shorts, and dresses if the hemline fell below my knees. I thought my legs were too chunky for the world to see and I wished for a day when I lost enough weight to wear something short. (Summertime was brutal!) Now, IDGAF. I wear what I want and I don’t think of it as an “Oh well for you, you have to just deal with my fat legs being out.” Instead, I think, “Lucky you. I look fabulous and you get to see me!” LOL
Two. When you catch yourself walking by a mirror, you admire yourself instead of cringing
You may experience that same feeling of disgust when you see your reflection in a storefront window or in a group photo. Well, so did I. But I’ve decided to consider that no one else looks at me that way, so why should I? They don’t see what I see, so why can’t I try to see what they do?
Three. You start living in the present instead of “When XYZ happens”
I think this is one of the biggest rewards that comes from loving yourself. Instead of saying you’ll wear a bikini to the beach once you’ve lost 20, 30…50lbs(!), just f-ing do it today! Besides the fact that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow and you may never get to your goal…(whether you do or you don’t), just do it today. If you start living into your dreams, you’ll be shocked to find that they may happen. I truly believe the Universe takes cues from you. If you say you want to find love so you can travel the world together, for example…just start traveling now and you may bump into the love of your life in the process!
Four. You begin attracting better people and new opportunities into your life
This is possibly one of the greatest benefits to loving yourself, in my opinion. Confident people want to be around other confident people. In other words, when you feel good about yourself, you’ll begin attracting other people who feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work in the reverse. (It’s hard to make and retain friendships with folks who love themselves if you can’t stand yourself.) So, get to work and enjoy the new people who become a part of your circle.
Five. You stop feeling sorry for yourself and take control of your life
This is key. Feeling sorry for yourself, blaming others for your failures, and not taking ownership of your past, present, and future is not something someone who loves and values them self does. If for no other reason, self-love requires valuing your time and your energy resources. Spending time on regret or self-pity is not the way one expresses self-love. And, someone with a solid sense of self and rock solid confidence owns their mistakes, knowing only they can fix them.
Six. You don’t put up with bullsh*t and start expecting better from yourself and others
You’ll stop with the excuses and start getting real with yourself and others. If a friend hasn’t been much of a friend lately, you’ll hold them accountable. You, basically, start living more authentically and with more integrity than ever before – and you expect the same of those you keep around you.
Seven. You take better care of yourself and you’re not afraid to say “No”
The best way to love yourself is to take care of yourself. If you don’t feel like going out with your friends because you need 8-hours of sleep to function, you’ll stay in. Loving yourself requires treating yourself with care, whether that be with your own, personal self-care practice or simply getting enough sleep and eating right. And sometimes that’s at the cost of displeasing others. You can only go out and get what you want in life, if you take care of your mind, body, and spirit.
Eight. You stop worrying about what other people think
Once I began to love myself more, only my opinion really mattered. Sure, I appreciate the advice and opinions of others, but when they conflict with my own, I take what feels right and I leave the rest. So long as my choice(s) feel good in my gut, I’m good to go.
Nine. You truly appreciate others and see their beauty
When I started loving myself more, I criticized myself – and others – less. I saw my beauty, talents, abilities (etc.) and, as a result, was able to recognize wonderful qualities in other people, too. Because I no longer hated my body in a bathing suit, I was able to appreciate the beauty of women (some who were larger than me) in their bathing suits, too. I no longer felt the need to pick apart my flaws or those of others. Self-love truly is a gift that keeps on giving.
Ten. You know you’re not the only one
You’re comforted knowing you’re not the only one who struggles with this thing called life. No one has it all figured out. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they’ve got. When you truly love yourself you forgive yourself and others when you/they have a misstep, you dust yourself off, and you keep it pushing.
These 10 things are just a start. When you love yourself, your entire world will transform – guaranteed!
What have you done to love yourself more? How has your life changed as a result? Share in the comments below.
Outfit details: Shirt: Forever21+ | Jeans: The Limited | Shoes: Forever21
Photographer: CJ Edwards-Acton