There’s such a strong infrastructure setup for how we as humans should treat other people. There are laws, rules, religions and moral codes that all have punishment and reward systems that are meant to keep us treating each other well. My parents enforced these rules a lot when my siblings and I were children. We had to learn how to play nice with one another, treat each other like equals and in general, be kind and respectful to all people. We learned lessons about saying mean things and the cruelty that comes from lashing out. We also learned about never using physical force to try and solve our problems and how to keep our tempers in check. We learned a lot about loving each other and loving the people in the world around us.
What we didn’t really learn much about was loving ourselves though.
I don’t blame my parents, because I don’t think anyone taught them either. Or their parents. I don’t blame anyone. I think self love is a chapter missing from a lot of our books.
This has been a very real lesson for me this year while talking with my counselor. We have looked a lot into how I treat myself and to be honest, I have done a lot of mean things to myself. It’s a strange concept, because I think I am intrinsically selfish, like most humans. I fulfill my survival needs and then so much more. I buy myself things that I want and I am definitely out to “get mine”. The issue is deeper than the momentary fulfillments, though. When I dig really deep into my behaviors and my coping mechanisms and my reactions, I find a lot of disappointment in who I am. I use that disappointment to drive myself like fuel. I have told myself “you should be better,” and then used that to become “better”. I tend to yell at myself when I do things that I regard as “stupid,” even though I would never ever yell at one of my friends for accidentally spilling something.
I’m really good at comparing myself to other people and thinking “I wish I was different,” which more often than not, is pretty cruel to myself. My dear friend Brianna talked about this recently. It’s such a painful and unnecessary thing to do.
So how do you love yourself more?
Here are a few of my tips on how to be kind to you:
1. Give Yourself A Break
The next time you mess up, try being nice to yourself like you would to a friend who made the same mistake. Tell yourself that it’s okay, that yes, you will try harder and that sometimes, shit happens. Maybe you snapped at your significant other, resolve to treat them better, but at the same time resolve to love yourself. Maybe you acted like an idiot when you accidentally drank too much. Try to be kind to yourself and laugh it off. Progress is made at a slow speed (if at all) when you do it by whipping yourself.
2. Get In The Habit Of Encouraging Yourself
Wake up, tell yourself that today is your day. Give yourself a mental hug and say “I’m okay, in fact, I’m great.” Ask yourself if there is anything you could possibly be working harder on and then work harder on it. Don’t think about how you’re sucking at something, just focus on how to get better. Thank yourself for the things you would thank other people for. Trust yourself and keep telling yourself that you’re just learning and trying like everyone else. Take a note from Dani’s book. She knows what I’m talking about here.
3. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
This is really hard, I know. Instead of saying “look at so and so, just look at their job, their home, their life, their body,” try
instead looking at yourself and confronting the insecurity that you’re having. Do you really want to be someone else, or do you simply feel insecure about your thighs being so round?
My best advice is that if you must compare, compare to yourself. Know what is possible and what is reasonable and what is fair. Listen to your friends when they tell you what is probably a more realistic version of things.
The sooner you accept and love yourself, the sooner you can drop those really heavy weights off your shoulders and get back to living this short life you have.
4. Observe The World Around You
One of the most beautiful things that I have learned recently is to get out of my own head. When I feel like torturing myself, I find it best to get away from the current situation and take a little time to reset before I go back. My favorite thing to do is to go for a walk and think about the things I am seeing.
Humans like to get stuck in our little realities and nothing productive happens when we get into cycles in our brain. Take a step back and go look at the sky and think about the color blue and the nature of clouds and where the people on that plane are traveling to. Separate yourself from focusing only on you and focus on the things you can see and hear and smell and touch.
For a few more ideas, check out Clementine Daily’s “5 Ways to be Kind to Yourself”
Be kind to yourself, friends.