I’ve always struggled with self-image and have had a low self-esteem for honestly as long as I can remember. I grew up always the overweight child and was bullied pretty early on both at school and at home with my mother’s family and even from my parents as that’s just kind of common in a Hispanic household.
I had absolutely horrible habits of how I talked to, treated, and was towards myself. This THANKFULLY has slightly changed over the years thanks to therapy, antidepressants and an amazing support system. I’ve leaned and have begun to implement small changes to continue further on my journey to self-love.
Of course, the basic answer to start loving yourself is to “be nice” to yourself, but how? I had spent so long talking negatively about myself constantly and believing it that I really didn’t know how to genuinely be nice to myself. But, my therapist told me it wasn’t just about what I said to myself but also how I treated myself and viewed myself.
Saying nice things to myself after something didn’t work out or I failed at something, was incredibly hard when I had grown up being scolded or yelled for not doing well in something. My therapist recommended started talking to myself as if I were my best friend. She said “You wouldn’t tell them that they’re an idiot. You wouldn’t call them stupid for failing a test and you wouldn’t refer to them as a cow, so why do you do that to yourself?”
This is something I think about CONSTANTLY. When something distressing occurs I don’t resort to the old tendency of insulting myself on the inside, but I’ll be nicer to myself. Now, being nicer doesn’t just mean saying “you’re smart! you’ll get it next time!”–– that never worked for me. Instead, I started taking it easier on myself, I started being more compassionate.
Where I would once hate on myself for sleeping in and literally insult myself and curse at myself, now I just think “I slept through my alarm. I must’ve been really tired last night.” This is because I remind myself that I’m human. I often feel we forget that we’re human, we get tired, we can get exhausted and we aren’t perfect. My therapist made me realize that it was silly of me to expect perfection at all times, and to be upset when I didn’t get it. I’m easier on myself but I do still set deadlines and obviously if I sleep in past a class or something important I will be upset, and I try not to do it but it happens, and we can’t expect things like this not to happen.
I took a yoga class at the community college I attended in high school and it was amazing. I learned how amazing mindfulness and relaxation are and how important it is to appreciate my body just for what it is.
A big part of yoga requires attention and focus on your breathing. Sometimes poses require you to stay pretty sedentary and simply focus on your breathing, emphasizing how important it is to fully breathe in and out. For other poses, it required us to focus on our breathing while doing whichever pose. I unfortunately don’t do yoga all too often anymore, but I definitely do focus on my breathing more. Whether if it’s after exercising or at my desk while working ill focus on breathing in and out for even just 2 minutes and try to either talk positively to myself or just breathe and allow myself to connect with my body in silence.
Self-Love unfortunately doesn’t come overnight, but these two practices have helped me tremendously. I can’t say I’m where I want to be either but baby steps my friend, baby steps.