Wednesday, 11 November 2015

the power of loving yourself

I am not the most confident person - not by a long shot.

Like so many people, sadly, i could list more things i dislike about my appearance, than things that I do. 
And thats a sobering reality.

I could stare into a mirror for hours and hours wondering why my nose is the way it is, why my skin is bad even when i've tried all the solutions, how i'm not a smaller size when i exercise every day, why my hair is difficult to manage, why my collarbones aren't more prominent, why my stomach bloats so much after meals... the list could go on, and on, and on.

Recently, i've noticed the ways in which such a way of being has taken its toll on my life, my relationships, my health, and my happiness - and this isn't a new thing. Though i may have just realised it, the reality is that these feelings, emotions, thoughts and ways of existing have been present in my life for years, and years, and years. 

It's scary how much time I've wasted criticising myself.

I look at photos of me when I was younger - photos like the one you see of me above - and I pine for that innocence. I don't pine for that age, or that naivety - i simply wish i could somehow rewind time and re-become that girl that looked in the mirror only to brush her hair, and the girl that put on clothes that fit and felt comfortable, without looking to see how they compared to her friends, or strangers.

And you may think it silly of me to compare the way i thought of myself then as a young girl, to the way i think of myself now, as a young adult - but why is that such a strange comparison? at the end of the day, why is it normal to become more critical of ourselves as we age?

And my life, each year, began to become more and more heavily impacted by these venomous thoughts.

My relationships - to everything and everyone - changed.
I began to ask my mum to not serve me as much dinner, or to not give me unhealthy treats when she would get them for my siblings. I began to compare the amount that I worked out to that of my friends. I began to watch what other girls bought for lunch, and compare it to what I was buying or eating. I began to go through phases of serious malnutrition and over-exercising, followed by phases of splurging, before returning to 'normal'. I began to hate myself whenever my 'self control' gave way, and I would take this anger out on the people around me. I would blame social outings for the fact that I was constantly eating out, or not having time to workout. Most of all - I saw food as a disease - something to be avoided as much as possible - an evil temptation that was ultimately there to screw up my aims of getting 'healthier' and to challenge me.

My health was obviously impacted, there's no denying that - i gained weight and i lost weight [though never enough, right?] and i would be starving then sickly full. I couldn't find a balance, and if ever i managed to somehow, I simply couldn't maintain it. 

Happiness became something virtually unattainable. 

When a person is lacking confidence in themselves - believes that they are weak, unattractive, hopeless, alone and just simply less than everyone around them - they are not happy.

It was to such an extent that I could go out for dinner with friends, have an amazing night laughing with them, exploring, going to the movies - whatever - get into bed that night feeling uplifted from the evening, and come crashing down in the single moment where i would place my hand on my stomach and think "it's so squishy and fat - you should be ashamed. you shouldn't have eaten dinner tonight - your workout this morning was terrible anyway, you may as well have not worked out at all"

The demons were in my mind.

But - like i said - recently i began to realise just what my life had become as a result of this self-scrutiny. 

And it scared me - so much, that i see no way out but to change.

And I've been trying.

It's only been about a week, so far, but I've noticed little aspects of my life picking up.
If i don't workout one day, i don't spend the rest of the week punishing myself - I simply can accept that I took a rest, and that there is nothing wrong with resting your body.
If i eat something as a treat - i do so consciously. I think before i eat it - do i want it? And if i do, then that's that, I will eat it, and not put my fork down thinking "you didn't need that, you have no self control"

In fact, on the contrary, i've found that the less i've focused on what i eat, or how much i workout, the easier it is. if i consciously allow myself a treat, then i've accepted and enjoyed it, and i'm less likely to feel deprived later, thus reducing my cravings for sweets the next day.

The past week, I have felt so much happier than I have felt in a long, long time.
Other people have noticed, too, and mentioned it to me.
It's uplifting.

No, that's not to say I felt miserable - I've been travelling! I have amazing friends! I've been seeing my family! I have the greatest boyfriend I could wish for!

But this is happiness from within - and that kind of happiness is so rare, and so, so valuable.

This is just my story - my struggles.
But i have a terrible, upsetting, sobering hunch that there's a seriously large, slightly hidden amount of you out there who may be in similar situations - be them less or more severe.

So i challenge you - for this week - consciously love yourself.
Tell yourself that you are great, and try your hardest to believe it.

Yes you will fall, no it won't mask all your problems and no you won't feel like you're living on cloud nine all the time. But you will get a glimpse of happiness, and self-freedom - and let me tell you - it's addictive.


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