How to: Love Yourself the Right WayPosted: 10/09/2012
I’m breaking my hiatus because my hiatus is stupid and was imposed for no reason other than I was a little bit on the lazy side. It’s true, dear readers. I neglected you because I was bumming around playing video games. And, y’know, college.
For my first post back, I wanted to talk about something that’s very near and dear to me, and that I take very very seriously. Surprisingly, it’s not sex (although that’s a close second).
I want to get into what it means to love yourself. I don’t mean the corny self-help book style of patting yourself on the back or giving yourself affirmations daily or anything like that. I mean this on a deeper level, because I think “loving yourself” is a very subjective act.
***TRIGGER WARNING: EATING DISORDERS, SELF-HARM AND DEPRESSION***
For me, loving myself has many meanings. It could be treating myself to a large iced mocha on a rough day. It could be that extra five minutes in the shower. I may be crazy, but sometimes “loving myself” means doing another set of a lift at the gym, because loving myself and pushing myself sometimes get conflated. Sometimes I give myself an extra ten minutes of sleep before work, and that’s loving myself.
I didn’t always used to have such positive outlets for how I felt about myself. Sometimes I still don’t. I used to think that loving myself meant doing everything I could to be skinny like girls are supposed to be. I didn’t do the greatest job of taking care of myself physically, and it took a toll on me in a way that I couldn’t notice back then. When I got positive comments, I felt like I was flying. It reinforced what I was doing (which was not consuming food), and it felt damn good. When I didn’t get positive comments… I wasn’t very nice to myself. I punished myself, and to this day I am extremely ashamed of this.
I don’t know when this changed for me, and I can’t promise that it will, because nobody can do that. (If only…)
It turns out that I’m not actively trying to make you cry, and I’m definitely not searching for compliments or pity. I want you to be aware that this acceptance of self is a process. It’s a journey and it’s hard. So, what does this have to do with you?
You never know where somebody is coming from in life. You don’t know if that chubby kid goes home and tries to eat right and maybe has some other problems. That weird quiet dude doesn’t need you to point out that he looks like he hasn’t washed his hair. People are so acutely aware of their flaws, they really don’t need to hear another voice chime in and repeat them.
One of the most important things that happened when I started realizing I was worth more than cuts and starvation was that I became a nicer person. When I was better to myself, I felt better and I passed that on to the rest of the world. I’m not trying to be preachy and I’m not trying to brag about how great a person I am – I still have flaws, and maybe you have a different reason for being mad at the world. It’s okay.
There’s that old adage that says, “you can’t love someone else until you learn to love yourself”. I know it’s not healthy to base your worth on your relationship status. However, I think there’s a very fine line between the healthy and unhealthy aspects of that. For me, finding that awesome girlfriend of mine made me a great deal happier. I’m about to sound EVEN LAMER (as if that’s possible at this point) and tell you that she has made me want to be a better person.
I wanted to share my experiences and opinions with you about this stuff for awhile, and I’m still not sure I managed to do it without sounding all “hurr durr look at how great my life is now”. It’s important to remember that you ought to be kind to yourself. Self-respect and self-worth are terms that get tossed around a lot, and it’s easy to get lost in the myriad definitions.
Take a good, hard look at what you view as loving yourself. Does it harm yourself, physically or psychologically? Does it harm someone else, physically or psychologically? It doesn’t have to be a productive thing, necessarily (my coffee/chocolate consumption is hardly productive and mostly just delicious).
Be good to yourselves. I think you’ll feel a lot better.