By Alivia Hall
Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners. – Laurence Sterne
It is incredibly easy to forget to treat yourself with love and respect, and it is just as easy to be your worst critic. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. You can’t “break up” or “divorce” yourself; you need to be able to tolerate yourself for your entire life. You need to treat yourself like you expect others to treat you – yet unfortunately, this can be much easier said than done.
A couple of years ago when I was struggling with low self-esteem, I would never have guessed that I was one of the main causes of it. The constant negative self-talk, the dissatisfaction and constant critiquing of my appearance and the fact that I always doubted myself – I mean, no wonder my self-esteem was so incredibly bruised. It wasn’t until I learned to love myself and treat myself better that I began to see myself in a much clearer, more accurate light.
If you do not treat yourself well or believe you are a worthy, deserving person than you may fall guilty to the self-certification theory. Self-certification theory is when people seek confirmation of their self-concept. This means if you have a negative self-concept, you are likely to attract and surround yourself with those who confirm your belief about yourself. Often those who stay in abusive relationships do so because they believe they aren’t worthy or deserving of love, and their abusive partner verifies that belief. As you can see, it is completely toxic, and that is why it is important to recognize your beauty and worth, and truly love yourself. If you find yourself attracting toxic relationships, maybe that’s a sign that you need start treating yourself better?! Here are some suggestions that I try and live by.
Treat Yourself With the Love and Respect You Deserve
1. Catch Yourself
The more and more you try and catch yourself talking negatively to yourself, the more aware you will become of it. For example, the other day I got an exam back and wasn’t happy with the grade. From the minute I saw the letter grade, the negative self-talk started. “Why didn’t you try harder, why aren’t you as smart as everyone else, how could you get that question wrong?” and it started to give me anxiety. But then, I caught myself. I realized that I did try hard enough and I did prepare well for it. Just because I got a not-so-great grade on one exam doesn’t mean I’m not smart or capable. It just happened to be quite a difficult exam! It wasn’t worth me beating myself up over it.
2. Forgive Yourself
Everyone makes mistakes; we are all human. Recognize what you did wrong, and learn from that mistake. Don’t let it become a source of internal hatred. Let go of all regrets and leave the past in the past.
3. Accept Yourself
Accept yourself exactly as you are. Recognize your beauty for what it is, not in the context of comparing it to others. So many of us are chasing after unattainable beauty standards thanks to our constant exposure to media, models and photoshopped photography. Realize that most of the time what you see in magazines is unattainable and a lot of the times, not even real.
“To rely so heavily on appearance is to set you up for a fall, after all, the image is transient, and it’s also subjective. It creates an insecure existence where you’re not only liven a life based on fluctuating value of what you can attain through validation, but you’re also debasing your substance by neglecting what makes you, you – your values and you live your life. Instead, your identity is your appearance” – Natalie Lue from Baggage Reclaim.
4. Practice Affirmations
When I first read about how affirmations can make a difference to the way you perceive and talk to yourself, I honestly thought it was bullshit. Regardless, I started to say then to myself while staring at myself in a mirror. I recommend trying it as it honestly feels good. The more you practice affirmations, the more you start to believe them. Something about telling yourself you are a beautiful person while looking yourself directly in the eye is powerful.
Practicing being mindful will allow you to wake up and see things how they are. It will allow you to live in the present moment and appreciate it. It will help you let go of judgments, labels and connect with yourself. I just finished a book on meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn called “Wherever You Go, There You Are, a great” and I loved itan excellent beginners guide to meditation.