Since I came back from Canada so many things have happened, within the last 2/3 months I’ve been trying to learn to love myself and it’s not easy. I’ve been reading various blog posts and things about how to love yourself and have found some information that may be able to help your on your self-love journey too so I hope this helps.
What makes loving yourself so dam difficult is a combination between ‘Negativity Bias’ and ‘Attentional filters’
Negativity bias is when there are 2 equally charged stimuli you are more naturally attracted to the negative one.
Let’s say 2 newspapers write articles about you, one is really positive saying how wonderful, beautiful, creative, smart and how you are gods gift to humanity they praise your work massively. The other negative saying you are an idiot and ugly and that you don’t deserve to be a part of this world and they totally dismiss your hard work.
Which of the two are you most likely to fixate on?
If you are anything like me the negative would be far more impactful than the positive one. But this is actually quite normal. It is the effect of negativity bias.
In the past, the negativity bias was a useful adaptive response. In today’s world, it only makes you pay attention to what’s wrong with you and the world around you.
Let’s say that you are a hunter/gatherer out looking for food in the wild. And all of a sudden a deadly poisonous snake comes up to you and at the same time, wild boar that would feed your family for weeks runs past. Your mind has only milliseconds to make a decision.
If you choose to catch the boar you will be vulnerable to the snake and most likely get bitten and die. If you choose to defend yourself from the snake, you will avoid getting bitten, but the boar will definitely get away. Our ancestors who naturally went after the boar (the positive) all died out because they were unable to identify the threats (negatives) around them.
Attentional filters are when your mind can “filter out” any information that is not necessary so your mind can function and concentrate. There are so many things
(stimulations) going on around us every moment and our minds are constantly filtering it all out so you are able to read this right now. For example, your mind isn’t probably focused on how your toes feel in your socks but now your attention has been called to it you are thinking about it. That is the attentional filter in action.
A side effect of attentional filtering is that often the world ends up looking like whatever it is you’re focused on.
So how does this affect us? Minds aren’t very good at processing reality. Firstly, your mind is much more likely to pay attention to what’s wrong, than to what’s right (the negativity bias). Secondly, your mind is constantly filtering out almost all stimulations in every given moment (attentional filters).
This causes your mind to view yourself as someone who is much less intelligent, capable, good looking, and worthy of love than you actually are.
The media always tends to make you fearful almost that you are not good enough and that you are small and useless unless you are completely up to date with all of the latest trends and sterotypes.
In short, if you find yourself unable to love yourself, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s a side effect of evolution and modern times.
I was always taught to put others before myself and I am someone who is constantly trying to make everyone I meet happy. I honestly hate upsetting people and it has its consequences. I often end up suffering a lot and being really upset because even though I know that I am unhappy in a situation I can’t help but think about how making changes, or how my actions will affect other peoples lives and who it may hurt. I’ve never been someone who takes care of myself at the expense of others because I am a “people pleaser” I guess you could say.
To be able to love yourself you need to be able to realise how important you are.
You are the centre of your world. No, the world doesn’t revolve around you but you are what matters the most at the end of the day. And you need to be able to realise that and start talking to yourself like you matter.
Let’s try this, look at yourself in the mirror. What do you think of yourself? What do you see in yourself? Were your answers positive or negative? So now keep what you said to yourself in your mind. Now imagine yourself as a young child, very impressionable, vulnerable to feedback, takes things often to heart. Now tell that to that little kid. Doesn’t feel right, does it?
Imagine if you spoke to your friends and family the way you speak to yourself in your head, would you have any friends left? Probably not off your answers weren’t that great.
You have to be able to treat yourself like someone that you love. I have spent so long criticising myself telling myself that I don’t make my family proud because of my mistakes and that no one truly loves me because they all just feel sorry for me so they stick around. I often fail to forgive myself for the mistakes I make (even though its only part of being human). I’ve spent so much time stood in the mirror in my underwear just staring at myself and my body picking apart every single thing I dislike about myself like my thighs being too big, my tummy getting rolls when I sit down and leaving lines when I sit for too long, the fat on my back, the fact I have no triceps, the way my hair falls naturally honestly the list goes on and even though everyone would tell me there’s nothing wrong with me id still see it no matter what anyone said.
I know all that sounds really dramatic but its genuinely what I thought of myself and i’m still battling those things to this day.
Everyone wants to be the best version of themselves and the only way we can do so is to stop bashing ourselves like this and beating ourselves up over everything we do and to learn that we are just human at the end of the day. We all mess up and do stupid things and we all have people who hate us for whatever reason. But you cant tunnel vision your mind to focus only on the negatives. There’s so much more to yourself than what you’re looking at right now you have to just broaden your vision and see the potential you have.
It makes me feel physically sick putting myself out there like this but I feel that it’s important that someone reading this could connect with what pain I have felt and could come out stronger.
Think of this ‘journey’ coming in 4 different parts
- Treating yourself as someone who is important and deserves to be loved.
Our behaviour and how we feel work hand in hand. If we treat ourselves badly we feel rubbish. If you treat yourself well then you feel good. The things you do every day can affect how you feel about yourself. Making changes to your routine can help positively impact your mindset:
- Prioritise sleep: this helps you to wake up feeling refreshed and productive every day. Try going to sleep when your tired but waking up and getting up at the same time every day.
- Look at yourself in the mirror: Do it every day and look at the things that you do love about yourself and add to that to your love list. Your body is always changing and you will see your confidence develop and you grow and develop as a person.
- Exercise: spend at least 30 minutes a day 3 times a week getting some exercise. Whether its; jogging, yoga, weightlifting, snowboarding, at-home workouts as long as you get moving.
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet: lockdown snacks aren’t helpful and don’t beat yourself up if you struggle to keep to a diet I definitely do, just keep it basic and keep your meals fairly clean.
- Remove toxic people from your life: surround yourself with people who love and care about you and want you in their lives, people who will encourage you to pursue your dreams and chase your career.
- Play!: have you been setting aside enough time every day for you to just relax and enjoy yourself if not make sure you do. if its spending time with friends, playing with your dog, learn something you have always wanted to.
- Treat yourself: Give yourself small treats throughout the day. have that chocolate bar your craving. Watch funny dog videos with no guilt. Go for a walk. Wear your favourite outfit. Giving yourself small gifts throughout the day signals to yourself that you’re an awesome person worthy of a nice life.
If you act like someone who loves themselves, you will start to feel like you do.
2. Be able to cope with the bad days as well as you do with the good.
Not every single day of your life is going to be a ‘good day’. You have to have some lows to make the highs good else your life is just mediocre and you will never fully appreciate things when they are good.
Even the oldest most stunning forests can get hit by lightning and burn to the ground, and even though this may seem tragic and just pointless destruction its not. It’s the cycle of life (definitely wasn’t singing this as if I’m in the lion king). The fire destroys the trees in the forest which turns into ashes which feed the soil, the soil provides a stronger, more nurturing environment to allow more trees to grow making the forest grow back even more beautiful than before.
As a human on this journey you must learn to accept that suffering is inevitable we alongside everyone we have ever met, loved or hated will die and will suffer. This is just a part of life and we must learn to accept this to be able to appreciate everything fully. (pretty dark I know)
Being able to accept you’re having a bad day or that you are sad, terrified, angry eat and being able to admit that you’re not okay at that moment is a big step its a way of showing you are comfortable with your emotions. You have to be able to embrace and be honest with yourself and the people around you about who you are and that you have a darker side.
Here are some steps you can take to help yourself get there
- Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Like I said before, YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING NOT A COMPUTER! Every single one of us messes up and makes mistakes and does things that we regret it’s exactly what makes us human. I am a firm believer of everything happens for a reason or that our mistakes and things that happen to us in the past shape us into the person we are today. You need to release yourself from this weight on your shoulders. Accept you are human and that you are flawed. If this is hard then begin by forgiving others around you.
- Realise that its okay to cope with your feeling in different ways. Humans are gross, we are lazy and disgusting, aggressive and jealous and that is okay. As long as you are able to cope with these emotions in a safe way without harming yourself or others. Throw a tantrum eat 3 tubs of ice cream and cry, watch sad films, go and work out, take a boxing class whatever works for you. The worst thing you can do is bottle up your emotions and not let them out because trust me they will find their way out and chances are it’ll hurt the people around you more than they would have in the first place.
- Spend time alone. Noone lives in silence anymore, people like to fill that space with music, TV, podcasts, gossip, social media, the internet the list goes on. People don’t often like being in their own company because its scary. We are usually afraid of what we might find if we are undistracted and just in our own heads. You need to dedicate a little time each day to silence, get rid of the devices and just sit in silence with your own thoughts. It helps you to work out who you truly are.
Allowing yourself to free some space in your mind may surprise you and you actually might find some part of you which enjoys some nothingness. It could bring a little piece of you out that you have been holding back in your subconscious
3. Removing the walls around your heart
I have my walls up. I’m so afraid to let someone new into my life and let them love me again. I’m afraid of getting hurt again or not being fully appreciated in the ways I should be. I’m afraid of leaving someone behind when I travel because I’ve done it 100 times before and I hate it.
To remove these walls you have to dig deep into your past and into your life story, you need to be able to express freely your thoughts and feeling you can try writing things down or speaking out loud to yourself. You need to tell your story.
Look for things like:
- Times where you were being cruel to yourself in a way you wouldn’t bet to someone you love.
- Times where you may have suffered abuse from people you loved. Often abuse and times of trauma are hidden and confused with love and care. Often you don’t always see abuse when you have a relationship with someone and often you don’t see it until you are out of the situation.
- Recurring themes, feelings, and situations particularly during emotional parts of your life.
These things are horrible and I promise you its not your fault if you have experienced something like this. You can learn to love yourself though. Stop hating yourself for something that someone else did to you or something that happened that affected you. It is not a reflection of how worthy you are, how strong you are and your abilities as a human. You have come out a strong person you are here, you are alive and you are loved. As you learn to accept these things as a part of the past and stop letting them hold you back from your future you will begin to love again. Your walls will come down and you will slowly let people into your life again.
4. Accepting yourself and share the positivity
Being human is difficult it’s finding a combination between loving yourself but being able to accept criticism and using as a building block to become the best version of yourself, dealing with the good times and the bad equally and learning from both experiences, having a heart of gold and being able to love again even after getting beaten into the ground emotionally.
As a human there:
Will be times in your life where working on the difficult things seems easy. take those opportunities and work hard.
Will be times when you’ll accept your darker side and your routine will be on point.
Will be times when you’ll step fully into your power and embrace every part of yourself.
Will be times when everything feels good and you’ll be happy and sunny and love yourself
However there will also be:
Times when you are stressed and everything around you that would normally soothe you makes you angry.
Times when you lose someone you love and you’ll feel a piece of you is gone for months.
Times where you wish you could take a break from being human.
Everyone has days where things get thrown our way it’s hard to navigate around them to find a positive outcome. Where you want to just curl up into a ball and let it all go by and only come out when it’s over. It’s okay to feel like that. You need to learn to accept it.
But every one of us will see days where you walk around and everything you smile at smiles back, there will be sun and rainbows and happiness and positivity. Use these days for good.
To love yourself you need to love every day how it is, use the good days to make progress and push forward but use the tough days to self improve and be gentle on yourself.
As you learn feel yourself becoming stronger, more powerful more stunningly beautiful both inside and out and use this feeling to help everyone else around you. Spread the kindness and help be a part of someone else’s journey when they need you.
I hope this makes a bit of sense to some of you and I hope that you can relate at least a little bit. You are all amazing feel free to leave comments below or message me I am here for you all any day.