I have struggled with self-love, especially body image, for as long as I can remember. In high school, I would often find myself in tears before it was even 8 a.m., clothes strewn around my bedroom floor as I struggled to find something I felt confident in. I was my own bully – saying cruel words to myself, equating my worth to the way I looked, obsessing over fitting a certain image. I wanted to love myself so badly, but my idea of how to get there was skewed and infiltrated by internalized societal expectations.
Now, I don’t remember exactly when I stumbled across this quote, but I do remember it changing the trajectory of my self-love journey ever since. It reads:
Reading that was like a lightbulb moment. The desire to learn to love myself was so powerful, but so were the brutal words I was constantly harassing myself with. I realized that if I really wanted to find self-love, or at least self-acceptance, I was not going to find it through self-hate.
I couldn’t hate myself into a version of myself I could love. It clearly was only sinking me deeper into my body image struggles. Something needed to change, and from then on, it did.
Very slowly, but surely, I worked to shift the way I talked to myself. I had to take back the reigns from that harsh inner voice that was controlling how I felt about myself and existed in the world. That was the first step: I tried to catch my negative thoughts, and think of this quote. I’d ask myself: “How is this thought bringing me any closer to self-love? How is this thought bringing me any closer to inner peace?” It was a bit of a rhetorical question, as deep down I knew the answer, the thoughts were only straying me further from that.
The harder part was reframing. Negative self talk was a well trodden path in my brain, so I knew it was gonna take work to redirect that. But I realized that if my negative thoughts had this much power over how I felt about myself, positive thoughts could have just as much sway. Even if I didn’t fully believe them, I began to tell myself I love myself. I accept myself. I met myself with grace and compassion when confidence and love felt hard.
It’s not to say I never have a negative thought about myself anymore, that would be impossible. However, a more loving, compassionate, and understanding presence is now in the driver’s seat of my brain.
Negative self talk is easy, and reframing it is hard. But growth doesn’t come in the absence of discomfort, and you deserve to live a life with inner peace and self-love. Next time catch your mind beating your body or self up, I encourage you to ask yourself: “Is this self-hate bringing me closer to self-love?” The answer is no. Only kindness and love itself can do that.