The hard work of liking yourself
We assume there are some people in the world who naturally love themselves. Instagram influencers and certain politicians spring to mind. They must look in the mirror every morning, see nothing but perfection, and float through their days on a cloud made of joy.
Welp, most of us aren’t like this. No matter how gorgeous and talented we are, we will still find ways to pick ourselves apart. Who can compete with airbrushed faces, Photoshopped bodies, actors who are paid to spend hours in the gym preparing for a role? We hold ourselves to impossible standards.
Reversing years of self-hatred or self-doubt is possible, but it takes work. Even Lizzo, every woman’s body-positive hero-du-jour, admits to having to work hard to accept herself as she is. So, how do you become your own best friend? Here are some tactics that can help:
- Take a media inventory: What do you look at, watch, listen to, read regularly and how does it all make you feel? Do you follow curated perfection on Instagram, or do you follow awesome people doing rad shit? Do you watch shows that enrich you (Shrill on Hulu, for example) or deplete you (Fame-Hungry, Heavily-Contoured People Doing Ridiculous Things on Every Network)? Everything you take in becomes a part of your life, so try increasing the good, positive stuff featuring people who look like you and who inspire you.
Read more: Is it time you went on a social media detox?
- Routinely counter negative messages with positive ones: If your inner voice tells you that everything you do is wrong, that you are unattractive, that you don’t fit in, you’re going to have to have a wig-snatching fight with that inner voice. It means, quite literally, that every time you think, “you’re so ugly, no one is ever going to love you,” you have to recognize what’s happening and counter that thought with something positive and, frankly, more realistic, like, “you are beautiful and lots of people love you.” It’s going to be nasty and you’re not going to believe yourself at first, but it’s the only way to get the negative shit out of your head.
- Build up your confidence: There are lots of things you can do to build a solid foundation of self-acceptance. Keep a gratitude journal so that you have a record of good things that are happening for you. Volunteer for an organization that needs your particular talents to help others and prove to yourself that you are needed in the world. Take up a hobby and congratulate yourself on small wins — learning a chord, learning a phrase in Spanish, mastering a crochet technique, whatever — show yourself that you are always growing, always learning.
Read more: How to create these new habits and make sure they stick? Check out behavior scientist B.J. Fogg’s approach to habit change called Tiny Habits.
Ok, now put down your phone, give yourself a high-five and write down three things you like about your face. We’ll wait.
Lemonada will be discussing liking yourself and other challenges on As Me with Sinéad, coming this fall.