This week for Self-Care Sunday I’m focusing on self-acceptance. In the journey to being as healthy, happy, and well as is possible for me, I know that accepting myself, and loving myself is key. In order to take care of myself, I need to accept that I deserve to be taken care of, and that I am enough, as I am right now.
This has been a battle for me for a long time. Growing up I was so focused on ‘being better’ and getting out of the life that I was in. I didn’t like who I was or where I was, and my energy was all used to beat myself up for what I perceived as not being good enough. Over time I realised that my self-esteem was in pieces, and I needed to work on that in order to move forward. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve really started taking that in though.
Just over 2 years ago, I went through a pretty rough breakup. I got cheated on and was completely devastated. I immediately moved back down South after my brief adventure with the North. That was a real turning point, as I began to realise that I deserved much, much better. I had a transformation in the couple of months between leaving Preston and returning to London. I started to see that actually, I was good enough. I made a vow that I wasn’t going to settle for less than what I wanted, because I deserved to be happy. In theory that was a great thing, and I did notice a bit of a shift in my attitude right away. But in practice, I hadn’t done anything to actually start believing that I was enough, so I ended up repeating a lot of the same patterns and habits. Something had changed though, as little by little I started to move away from situations, and people, who were bringing nothing good to my life.
Cutting out negative influences is one of the steps recommended to develop self-acceptance.
Without consciously realising, I had begun to cut out the negative, and sometimes toxic influences from my life. As the months went on, I became more sure of myself in terms of not accepting any bulls**t. Things started to improve, from my work life to my personal life. In April 2017 I met my amazing boyfriend Michael. He is pretty much my favourite person, and I couldn’t imagine life without him now, but I am glad we didn’t meet earlier. When we did meet, I was finally ready for a real relationship, for big love, and being partners instead of an unequal couple. Now we’ve been living together for 9 months, and our little home is my happy place.
Now that I have some good foundations, and the space to work on myself, I’ve been really digging into how I can look after myself better. That’s when I realised that I need to accept myself, as I am now, in order to truly move forward and grow. I’ve spent most of my life feeling bad about myself in some way or other, but enough is enough.
I started looking at advice on self-acceptance. I’ve followed self-love and body positive accounts on social media. I read articles online, and I’ve been trying to put into practice some of what I’ve learned. So how do you learn to accept, and love yourself?
One of the main things that’s stood out to me, and made a real difference in practice too, is gratitude.
By focusing on the things that make me happy, bring me joy, and give me pride in myself and my life, I instantly feel a little bit brighter and more positive. Each day I’ve started writing down 3 things that I’m grateful for. You could do this in a notebook or journal, or even on your computer, but I use my coach.me account with a new goal of gratitude (I wrote about coach.me here) to record my 3 things. I also sometimes take the time to physically write out a list of things that are great about me. This is a longer exercise, which I do when I’m feeling a bit negative, stuck, or am about to do something scary and important like a job interview.
I have also taken to sticking little notes of positivity, encouragement, and motivation around the flat. These can be quotes, positive things about myself, or words to help me keep striving for my goals.
However self acceptance isn’t just rainbows and positive quotes. It also means making peace with the things you don’t like, or mistakes you’ve made. This is perhaps the trickier bit, but it’s vital in order to truly love yourself.
As a perfectionist, I am quick to beat myself up for my mistakes. For doing something ‘wrong’ or not doing something that I felt I should.
It’s something I’ve been working on, and while I still have a tendency to stress about bad things, or things I don’t like, I’m trying to just let them go. The things that have already passed are out of my control. I can’t go back and change them, so there’s not much point in feeling bad about them, so I’ve been learning to let go.
One way I like to let go of the negative stuff is with fire. That may sound dramatic, but let me explain. At least once a year, I write a list of things that have been bugging me, struggles, regrets, and anything which is weighing negatively on my life. Then I go outside and light each one on fire, letting it burn and scatter away in the breeze. I actually got the idea from a Carrie Hope Fletcher music video years ago, in the first year after my mum’s death when I was looking for anything to save me. On the one year anniversary I did it myself for the first time, burning the papers in the sink of my uni halls’ kitchen. It was so freeing, and kind of cleansing to let the words disappear into the fire. Now when things get tough, or at a point of transition I like to do it again. Most recently M and I did it on New Year’s Eve to rid ourselves of the old year and make room for the new.
Another way to deal with the negative is by fighting back against the voice in your head.
You know the one, that when you look in the mirror picks out your flaws, or makes you doubt yourself before an interview or important meeting. In consciously thinking about self-acceptance, and doing my best to counter any negative self-talk with positive talk. Think about what you’d say if a friend said the same thing about themselves. I’ve started telling myself exactly what I’d tell a friend. At first it feels a bit weird and uncomfortable, but I’ve learnt that often if something is worth having it won’t be easy, and it’s an act of wild rebellion to start loving yourself.
There are many other things you can do to begin accepting yourself, these are just a few that I’ve taken to heart. So expect selfies, and tweets where I’m proud of my achievements. I will also do my best to encourage others to recognise their own strengths and achievements whenever I can. Because me loving myself is great for me, but everyone loving themselves is great for society. (Yes I know I sound like one of those inspirational quote posters now, deal with it xD )
For more reading on self-love and acceptance, I really recommend following the wonderful Kay. Kay is a self-love and confidence coach, and creator of MH Stories she is also one of the nicest humans I’ve never met. Without knowing it, she has been part of inspiring me to start the work on accepting and loving myself, so thank you Kay!
What do you love about yourself? Pick one thing and tell me in the comments.
What is something that you want to work on accepting about yourself?
I’ll go first, so check the comments to see my answers!
Have a lovely day wherever you are, and if you can’t be gentle with yourself.