Learning to Love Yourself (In 8 Simple Steps)

Don't Forget to Love Yourself...

A press release just landed in my inbox about a forthcoming article in Fabulous Magazine. This kind of thing would usually get deleted, but as it mentioned Ellie Goulding, I gave it a cursory glance (I’m a fan girl. She’s ace).

The feature, which will appear in full this weekend, is a candid interview with the singer, in which Ellie talks openly about her insecurities and lack of confidence, amplified by an industry that focuses so heavily on “perfection”. The singer-songwriter is said to have been crippled by fears that she simply wasn’t attractive enough to be featured by the industry an glossy mags, and the fear almost made her give up on her dreams.

Ellie said:

Because I make pop music, people think I’m supposed to look a certain way. I went through this paranoia of thinking that the magazines didn’t want me because I wasn’t pretty enough. I thought I wasn’t good looking enough.

This struck a chord with me. Ellie is a beautiful, quirky and talented young girl with the world at her feet, yet she still felt tortured by her own self-image.

It seems so unlikely – but I think there’s a similar fear in all of us.

I spent many years feeling like I had nothing to offer, after I lost my career following my car crash. I fell into the biggest slump, thinking that no-one would want someone who had physical and mental scars; I lost every ounce of self-esteem and almost gave up. Luckily for me, I met and learned from a fantastic therapist, who taught me that I was worth loving, and that it started with learning to love myself.

Easier said than done though, right? It’s not like we can just flick a switch and feel automatically fine overnight. But there are things we can do for ourselves that will filter through more quickly than you’d realise. Here are some tips that have worked for me (and hundreds of others!)

Accept your flaws.

Don’t beat yourself up about them. I can promise that no-one is perfect, and everyone has their own little quirks and foibles that make us US. It’s OK if your nose is a little bit wonky, or one boob’s a bit bigger than the other. No-one else cares…and these are the things that give us character. Learn to love them.

Forgive yourself.

Every single person has made mistakes. Some will be bigger than others. But as long as you’ve done everything you can to make amends, forgive yourself. If you think you can do a little more to make things right? Do it. And THEN forgive yourself. Punishing yourself is not the way forward.

Change the things you can.

While we do need to accept the flaws we are born with, their are certain other things we can change. For example, if you’re feeling a little overweight and that’s making you unhappy – work on it. Quite often, when we’re busy hating ourselves for something, it creates a cycle of misery. You may be comfort eating because you’re not happy with the way you are. You may have become a couch potato, because you don’t want to go out when you’re not feeling great. These habits are easy to change.

  • Chuck out the junk food in the fridge and the cupboards, and replace with healthier options
  • Get outside! Go for a walk, or a gentle jog. The fresh air and exercise will release endorphin’s and you’ll feel better immediately.
  • Make realistic goals. Don’t stick a photo of Kate Moss on the fridge – you don’t have her genes, so it’s not going to happen. Instead, put up a picture of you when you looked your best, or work to a program where you lose a pound or two a week. Steady does it – and you’ll smile when you start to see the difference.
  • Make the most of yourself. It may be a while since you put on make up, or dressed nicely. Make a concerted effort to improve your appearance and look your best, and you’ll probably start to feel better too.

Stop self-criticism.

We’re all guilty of this, but it’s unhealthy and needs to stop. Instead of looking in the mirror and thinking negative thoughts, start listing the things you like. This doesn’t just go for your appearance either; you can apply it to all aspects of life. If you find yourself thinking of things that make you unhappy? Turn it around and make a list of the things in your life that make you happy instead. You may need to dig deep if you’re in a slump, but they will be there.

Don’t overthink things.

This was always my biggest problem. I could turn the smallest worry into a catastrophe in a matter of minutes. I’d start thinking about a routine meeting with a boss, and by the end of it had worried myself into a tizzy, convinced I would be fired, even though I’d done nothing wrong. If you find yourself doing this, take a breath, and do this simple exercise: Draw a line (either in your head, or on paper) and mark it from 1-100.

  • Think of the worse thing that could ever happen to you (for most people, loss of a loved one or something similar)
  • Place your worry on the scale. You’ll probably find that most sit at around the 10-20 mark.
  • Once you’ve realised the problem isn’t so big, it will probably become a lot easier to deal with.

Give yourself positive affirmations.

This may sound a little namby-pamby, but it works. If you find yourself feeling that you can’t do anything right, or you’re not good enough, write down statements that will encourage and motivate you. You can also pin examples to the affirmations and hide them around the house. You even pin a photo of yourself that you LOVE and write “This is YOU, you gorgeous thing!” on it. Some of my other favourites were;

  • You are lovable. Look at all your wonderful friends, they wouldn’t be here if you weren’t!
  • You are talented, and clever, and capable of so much. (I pinned an article I’d had published to this to remind me)

Take some YOU time.

Remember what you love. Take some time to focus on those things. Even if you feel like there’s no time in the day – there is – and it’s important to spend it wisely. Draw, write, paint, sing, read, or just take a super-long hot bath with candles and bubbles and some trashy magazines. As long as you’re focusing on you and the things you enjoy, it should work.

Be kind and positive to others.

If you’ve ever heard the expression “you reap what you sow”, you should understand why this will start making you feel better. It’s all too easy to get grumpy, and take out our feelings of self-loathing on others when we’re low. But if you turn this around, and act with kindness to everyone you encounter – not only will people start to be nice in return, but you’ll start to like yourself more too. I don’t know anyone who really likes themselves after they’ve been nasty, especially to someone you love. So even if it takes some effort, take the time to be nice to people, and offer compliments to make them feel good. You’ll reap the rewards quicker than you’d think.

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. — Epictetus quotes (Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, AD 55-c.135)

If you’re feeling low, remember that you’re not alone. Even the people you most admire will have had periods of darkness too, at some level. Talking to someone may help, and if it gets too hard to handle and you feel there’s no-one you can trust? Consider calling someone like the Samaritans, or seeking counselling. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and really can help.

No matter who you are, you are full of wonderful things. Every single person has talents and beauty and the ability to make their own dreams come true. YOU just need to remember that. And when you start to love yourself? Love, opportunities and happiness will come rushing towards you. I promise x

If you have any other tips, or methods that have worked for you, please do comment below. You’ll be helping people shine – and that’s a wonderful thing.


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