I recently found this post in my drafts folder, written in April last year. For me it was a great reminder of how far I’ve actually come, and I hope that it will bring a little comfort or offer some help to anyone who is where I was then.
The Importance of Self Love
I get so many messages saying “I wish I had your confidence!” and I can’t emphasise enough that I have very little of that, and it’s been that way for a long time. Going through this break up has been the catalyst to making me do something about it, but truthfully I think it probably contributed to that situation, and I wish I’d done more about it a long time ago. Looking back my self worth, my body confidence and my happiness with myself were all at rock bottom and that makes relationships very difficult. I looked to someone else to make me feel attractive, wanted, worthy and happy, but what he gave me was never enough. Things that didn’t bother me before started consuming more of my thoughts, and feelings of inferiority and jealousy crept into my mind. It didn’t matter what he said, I knew there was someone prettier, someone skinnier, someone better suited and more worthy than me. I realise now that all of these things have to start within yourself, with your own inner voice and your own attitude, and that no one else can make you feel better if you still hate yourself. Working on that is SO bloody hard, but until you do it will always be something that has an effect on your life.
1. Be kind to yourself
I’ve said this before but some of the stuff I used to say to myself (and still do from time to time) was vile, it was absolutely verbal abuse. If a partner or a friend had said any of the same things to me people would’ve been outraged. It is way too easy to constantly berate yourself with insults, negative thoughts and this verbal abuse. Stuff you would never even dream of saying to anyone else. My internal dialogue became a completely negative voice, constantly telling me how ugly, fat and awful I was, and it went on for so long that it felt completely normal. It isn’t normal, it’s toxic, it’s exhausting and it’s bullshit. I spent hours and hours consumed by hatred for my own body, because society taught me that was how I was supposed to feel. Those thought patterns are really, really hard to break, unlearning all of those feelings is a lot of work, but any improvement on your self confidence and self esteem is worth the effort and will absolutely have an impact on your happiness.
The next time you feel negative thoughts; the next time you look in the mirror and pick out something you hate, the next time you make a mistake and tell yourself how worthless you are, the next time you question whether or not you are good enough – stop yourself. Pause, and replace that thought with a more positive one. Find something you love about yourself, think about something you are proud to have achieved, remind yourself how worthy you are and how you have people who love and care about you regardless of anything else. If you can’t manage anything positive yet, that’s okay too. Try to replace the negative thoughts with something neutral at least. Your body is carrying you through this life, you have survived everything you’ve faced up until this point. You are stronger than you think.
2. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, and lose the people who make you feel inferior
This is much easier to do online than it is in real life, so start there. Seek out accounts that bring you joy and that feed your interests. Unfollow or mute accounts that make you feel inferior, unworthy or not good enough. If you’re struggling with body confidence then follow people who have learnt to love theirs. Follow people who have a range of different bodies, find people who look like you too, and seek out people who are feeling their oats because that vibe is infectious. Notice how you see and admire other people, and remind yourself that they are no different to you. If you’re struggling with your mental health then follow those who have openly faced the same or similar things, and who can give you the belief in yourself that you need to do the same. Curate a news feed that gives you confidence, inspiration, makes you laugh, brings you joy, everything you need.
Within our real lives it’s much harder to ‘unfollow’ or mute people who bring you down, but you can establish healthy boundaries in order to protect yourself. If someone makes you feel bad, tell them that and ask them to give it a rest. If you don’t feel like you can do that, try to see less of them or take steps to cut contact short once they start making you feel bad. Standing up for yourself, saying no thanks to bad energy and establishing boundaries that keep your mental health protected are hard things to do, but it’s important to give it a try.
3. Do something for yourself
Something practical you can do right away is taking a few moments to do something for yourself. This is often referred to as self care, but sometimes it feels like that phrase had been hijacked. It doesn’t have to be a lush bath bomb, as long as it makes you feel good (although if a bath helps you then do it!). It could be something like putting on a bit of lipstick, which makes you smile every time you catch yourself in the mirror for the rest of the day. It could be taking 10 minutes to read some of a new book. It could be cooking a meal you really enjoy for dinner tonight, or it could be ordering a takeaway so you don’t have to cook at all. For me it’s putting on my favourite song, turning the volume up loud, and dancing it out around the kitchen. Little moments of kindness for yourself, treating yourself better, acknowledging you are worth spending a little time or effort on. That your wants and needs are important too, and that your cup needs filling just as much as the cups of your loved ones which you’re filling daily.
Practising self care/showing yourself acts of kindness/prioritising your own needs – whatever you want to call it, working on doing it often will undoubtedly have a positive impact on how you feel about yourself.
4. Fuck flattering
How often do we see comments on social media like “wow you look great, I’d love to be able to wear something like that BUT….”. It happens a lot. In fact, every single time I post a photo of me wearing a crop top I get messages saying “you look so good, I wish I could wear a crop top!” And hey guess what – you can!! By simply buying a crop top, getting up in the morning and putting it on you are in fact wearing one, and you probably look absolutely banging in it too.
Thanks to all the messages we are bombarded with, and the lack of self confidence so many of us have we’ve bought into this “flattering” myth, that we can only wear certain things that ‘compliment our shape’ and ‘hide our flaws’ and I call bullshit on it. I feel amazing when I wear a crop top, so I wear one regardless of whether or not Trinny and Susannah say someone of my size/shape ‘should’. If you want to wear a floaty skirt but you hate your legs, or you want to wear a sleeveless top but you hate your arms, forget that noise! Wear things that make you happy, bring you joy and give you confidence because I guarantee that confidence and happiness will look better on you than even the most ‘flattering’ of outfits.
Wear the crop top that makes you feel like an absolute babe, wear the skirt that makes you smile all day long. Wear the dress that makes you want to spin around in circles, wear the jeans that make you want to check out your juicy bum in every reflective surface you pass. Basically – wear whatever the hell you like. In the beginning it can feel a little daunting, worrying about how you look/what other people might say. But once you see that you survived the day, once you feel that extra spring in your step because you wore something for yourself and it made you feel good, I bet you start doing it every single day.
Here’s me a whole year after writing this. Still wearing crop tops, still not giving a fuck, still doing my very best to feel good about myself every day.