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A few months ago, I posted this on my personal Facebook page:
"We can't beat ourselves up for the mistakes we made in the past, only allow them to power us to make better choices in the future. Love yourself ♥"
Soon after, this email bubbled up in my inbox:
"Good Morning Lindsay, love your quote today and I live too much in the past and trying to move forward but can't find a way to love me. How do you do that? How do you find the self confidence and know your worth it? I don't know how to stand up for me or love me?"
The quick and easy answer is that we have to accept we can only be who we are. We can't be anyone else. If we want others to love and respect us, we must love and respect ourselves. We must treat ourselves the way we want to be treated and accept nothing less. We must remember that we are all perfect and amazing in our own way. No one is better at being me than me.
Of course, I know that answer is not the most satisfactory — and doesn't really answer the "how" in "How to love yourself."
I did a quick Google and my goodness — lots of blog posts and websites dedicating to helping us learn to love ourselves a little better.
I have had my own struggles with loving and accepting myself or things about me. Some things I could change; others I cannot.
I think focusing on being ourselves, being who we were born to be, is about as minimalist as we can hope for.
I'm sure we've all known a chameleon. Someone who changes who they are depending on their circumstances or who is around. I'm not talking about the difference of being casual at home and being a bit more buttoned up or professional when at work or out in public — that's normal, I do that, too — I'm talking about being a totally different person. Being someone you're not for someone else.
For example, a friend of mine in college always seemed to reinvent herself to accomodate her newest boyfriend. I'm all for love helping shape us and "growing together," introducing us to new things, finding compromise with our partner, but it was more than that.
It felt like she was always trying to become the person she thought he wanted. The trouble with that is we can't really know what someone else wants and while we might be able to change some things about ourselves, can we really, truly become someone we aren't? More importantly, do we really want to be with a person who is not in love with or interested in the real us? (Isn't this the plot for like 100 cheesy romantic comedies?)
Speaking of which, this reminds me of a scene in the movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts. Julia's character, on her 4th or 5th engagement, realizes she doesn't even know how she likes to eat eggs because she's always just ordered whatever style of eggs her guy was eating. Did she like Eggs Benedict? Over easy? Scrambled? She didn't know her true preference. (This was the big "a ha" moment in the movie — Julia's character figures out how she likes eggs, becomes her own person, gets married...happily ever after).
Anyway, I'm a huge fan of self-improvement and I like to think my family and friends help make me a better person. I know they've helped mold and shape me into the person I am today. Yet, I am me. Long gone are the days where I tried to be some one or something that I'm not — especially if that is for someone else.
Love me or leave me, all I can be is me.
As for my college friend, reinventing herself got tiring and she eventually stopped caring or trying to impress. She was just who she was, and it was then that she found her now husband, who wouldn't change anything about her.
I've gotten a little off track (I seem to do that often on MM!) but I wanted to really emphasize how we have to do things for ourselves and not other people. It's our job to make ourselves happy. It's our job to love ourselves. We can't expect others to make us happy if we can't be happy with ourselves. We can't expect others to love and respect us if we don't love and respect ourselves.
There can be things you wished were different. There can be things you want to change or improve upon, but in the sum total, you have to accept who you are. Embrace the real you. I find when that happens, loving yourself follows happily behind.
Over the years, I've found a few tricks to helping me love myself a little bit better and I welcome any tips or suggestions you might have.
1. Stop self-criticizing. Don't berate yourself. Don't focus on something you don't like or a mistake you made. Instead of cursing your abs that you wish were firmer, compliment your beautiful eyes. Stop judging yourself and try to be less negative. Be loving and kind to you.
2. Stop criticizing others. This goes for gossip too. Gossiping and putting down others never leaves you feeling very good instead. Pay someone a compliment instead. It'll give them (and you) a warm fuzzy.
3. Aim to be your best. Do something every day that inspires you to be a better person.
4. Forgive yourself. and forgive others too. See my previous MM post, "We Are Not the Worst Things We Ever Did (Letting Go)."
5. Be good to yourself. Schedule in something everyday that is just for you. A little date with yourself. Stop and smell the roses! The world can wait for you.
6. Accept your perfection (and imperfection). Accept that flaws and imperfections make us who we are and that perfection cannot exist without imperfection. They work together in harmony and compliment each other. For example, we can't truly appreciate being happy if we don't know what it's like to be sad. It's a yin-and-yang and we are both. We have to be both. There is no absolute perfection or absolute imperfection. You can find imperfect in the perfect and perfect in the imperfect if you look hard enough. The point is not to look but to enjoy the balance.
7. Treat others with Love and respect. Put out into the world what you want the world to be — what you want to receive. It will come back to you. Smile often. At strangers.
8. Post positive statements at place you'll see each day. The mirror in the bathroom? It says "Lindsay, you are a hottie!" The scale? "You are more than a number."
9. Leave a positive note for someone else to find. Public bathrooms are a great place.
10. Find Happiness. Happiness is always available to you.