Every day, we’re bombarded with messages we aren’t good enough – commercials are designed to make us see ourselves as flawed and in need of a new cream, product or food. All those messages will total an estimated $660 billion in advertising revenue worldwide in 2016. That, my friends, is what I like to call cray. The antidote to feeling inadequate isn’t any costly material item. What we really need is self-love, and it’s free for the taking. Here are seven ways you can cultivate self-acceptance and outrageous love today:
Know Your Strengths
When we’re beating ourselves up, it is extremely challenging to remember any redeeming qualities we possess. We can become overwhelmed by our perceived inadequacies. As a mother/father, wife/husband, and as a person in general. This is when an outside reminder of who we really are can help shift our spiral of negativity. Collect these external cues and have them in your back pocket for down days. Begin to keep track of compliments you receive. Write them down and keep the list where you can see it every day. Maybe keep them in your phone so you can reference them at any point and anywhere, day or night. Research shows that a kind word can motivate people in a similar way to receiving a cash reward. These compliments will help you regain perspective on yourself when you begin to falter in your self-love.
Stop the Comparisons
It can be tricky to not compare our insides to others’ outsides, especially with social media. Try to remind yourself that typically, only the best, most exciting pictures and news gets shared on these online platforms. It can be easy to believe that other people are better than you – but it’s not true. This comparison is futile. Think about how long it takes you to get the perfect selfie…you’re not alone in that boat. Take a break from social media for a while, even if it’s just a few hours each night before bed. It will help you gain perspective and a better sense of yourself.
It might seem too obvious and easy, but taking care of basic needs will foster positive feelings towards oneself. Don’t overlook the simple act of a good night’s sleep, a nourishing meal and time with loved ones. These healthy activities will create a buffer from self-loathing because all of our systems are running at full capacity.
Put Down Food and Substances
It can be sugar, alcohol, drugs, television or compulsive shopping – they are all ways we try to ignore and suppress our unpleasant feelings. The key word here is try. No matter how we distract ourselves, the feelings will rise to the surface. To practice self-love among these challenging feelings, the solution is to sit with them. Like a head cold or flu, feelings need to pass through your system. They should not be feared, but rather experienced. Then they too will pass. Be mindful and you will learn to embrace yourself and your feelings, even the most unpleasant ones.
You aren’t perfect – no one is! Humans make mistakes all the time, despite their best intentions. It is just part of the human condition. Reflecting on past events or relationships you would like to change is important, but dwelling on them beyond that will get you into trouble. Instead of berating or beating yourself up, forgive yourself. You can learn from mistakes and move beyond them. They needn’t define you. Remember, there is no such thing as a failure if learning and growth result.
Getting caught up in what you don’t possess is a surefire way to promote self-hatred. Counter it by recognizing all that you do have and can be thankful for. Gratitude has been shown to foster well-being and success. Be grateful for you spouse, even when they forget to do the dishes, because they love you unconditionally. Be grateful for your children, even if they spill their yogurt all over the dog, because they are the light of your life. Be grateful for your home, even if it’s not furnished perfectly, because you have a roof over your head. Be grateful for your job, even if you have a bad day it provides you income. There are various ways to cultivate your appreciation, including keeping a gratitude journal and writing thank you letters.
Saying no is an important part of advancing self-love. It might seem counterintuitive, but it promotes integrity and can even develop relationships. Setting limits at work, in love and activities ensures we don’t deplete ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. When we set boundaries, we define what we expect from others and life itself. Just like when you’re learning a new skill, self-love needs to be repeated and honed. Take the time to practice these seven ways and you’ll find you don’t get bogged down with self-hatred and doubt. Instead, you can keep a healthy perspective on yourself and the world around you.