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The most difficult relationship you will ever have is the one you battle with yourself. I don’t care what anyone says, it is not your boyfriend or girlfriend, it is not family or friends, because at the end of the day, you are the only person you can depend on. First things first, I want you to think, and say the first thing that comes to mind. Pause. Think about what you said, probably something about yourself, was it negative or positive? Next, I want you to think about what you love about yourself and say the first thing that comes to mind. Pause. Finally, I want you to think about something you hate about yourself, say the first thing that comes to mind. Pause. 

You are probably wondering what was the benefit of any of that, right? When asked to say what you love about yourself, did it take you a moment to think of something? Then, when asked to say what you hate about yourself, was there a list? Was thinking about just one thing a battle in itself? 

There are millions of ways to “learn” how to love yourself. You can take a seminar, watch a YouTube video, read an inspirational quote, anything really, but, within all of these things, does any of them teach you how to hate yourself? Let me rephrase, critiquing and questioning are one of the most influential ways of learning. This is how we learn in school, in our part time jobs or full time careers. Hate is a strong word, yes, but is it really any different than the word love? Can you truly learn to love yourself, if you have not learned how to hate yourself too? 

Back to learning how to love yourself. In this millennium, the new way of thinking is to love yourself, no matter the size, shape, successful level, anything. In this process we have seen a plethora of body positivity, self love and especially mental health awareness. All of which is needed, don’t get me wrong. Nevertheless, with this, can we say there is an absence in teaching? Think about it, like I said before, in our everyday, professional lives we are taught how to fail externally, with the actions we do. But now with this abundance of positive thinking and overall happiness, we are not taught how to fail internally. Internally meaning within yourself. The critiques and punishment you give to yourself may not be healthy or effective because we are not taught how to do so. 

In no way by this do I mean that everyone should hate themselves, that does not resolve anything. If you love yourself the way you are and have no issues, ignore me. But, if there is some part of you that you hate but do not know how to effectively do so, this is for you. 

By failing internally, we then learn how to be successful again. Success is not the only thing. We learn how to be happy, to accept who we are, and what we can do to adapt and evolve as a human being. This can only happen if we properly learn how to hate ourselves, in a way that is effective. 

People despise me for saying this, but I do not believe people can change. In other words, I believe people have the ability to adapt, to evolve and become a better version of themselves, but this does not equate to change. Change is being someone completely different. Change is from a cow to a horse, people don’t do that. 

The ways we are taught to love ourselves is designed for us to change. What was the difference between hating yourself last week, reading an inspiring quote, then now loving yourself. Nothing. You did not learn anything, you did not evolve for the better and certainly did not become a better version of yourself. In other words, do the thing that makes you see your failure. Understand that the same way of learning from your mistakes on paper, is the same thing as learning from your personal failures and hatred. 

Why is it, that after all of the positive affirmation, positive and mindful thinking we believe we are taught, that thinking about ways in which we love ourselves is so hard? And with blocking out all internal hatred and saying that judging and hating ourselves is not an option and to love ourselves is better, but when asked to think of something we hate about ourselves, it’s a never-ending file? 

Nadine Sallaj

Buffalo '23

Political Science Major Philosophy Minor Junior, 2023
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