How to Love Yourself.
Go on an extensive google search, ranging anywhere from “How to like yourself” to “How to look in the mirror and not want to cry because you are so unhappy with how you look that you ate five cookies just to get through the experience.”
No, I’m not exaggerating, I really want you to do this.
Feel free to sub out the cookie for a more preferable snack, the results might come back a little different.
Once you have gotten into a routine, keep that up for a little over a year, making sure to read three to five articles a day and letting out a heavy sigh every time you read “Love starts within.”
Throw something across the room every time you read “Be your own best friend.”
Consider punching a wall after reading,“News flash ladies, no one will love you till you love yourself.”
And, finally, cry deeply when you can intellectually grasp the concepts these articles are articulating but just don’t emotionally understand how to be in relationship with yourself.
So, how do you actually love yourself?
This question will eat away at you everyday as you try to think your way into self-love. You will start to look outside yourself for clues and hints from others. You might start studying people you encounter who seem to have this concept on lock; they seem confident and flirty (note to self: google how to be more flirty).
You will see confident women and wish you could have even five percent of their self acceptance, but of course you do not talk to them, because they might figure out just how much you don’t love yourself and judge you for it. This is a scary prospect, because you are bombarded with self judgment every second of everyday…you don’t want to invite more in.
Meet a person, a person who sees you and makes you feel inspired. You might fall in love with this person friend-wise or romantically—friendly is better, they will lead you to more people who can potentially help crack the code on self love.
Experience yourself loving this person exactly as they are, flaws and all. After a while, you might start to feel a little jealous or compare yourself to them—this is normal, just try to love and accept them, it will eventually come easily. Allow your new friend to lead to other friends, build a community, connect with people.
Do not stop googling.
One day, your friend, the one you love, might break down. They might bear their soul for you to see.
When they do, let them in.
Show them your soul, tell them you sometimes compare and get jealous of them. Being this open might feel weird at first, but it’s oddly freeing. Let them tell you that they had no idea you felt this way, let them tell you that they, too, compare themselves to you.
This is a good friend. Cry happy tears because you are not the only one who feels this way. Feel your heart—it’s still beating, even after letting someone love you.
Start to toy with the idea that maybe you are truly lovable. Shut it down. Eat some cake. Cry.
Wake up feeling a little brave. Think, “Could I really be lovable?” Get scared at the idea of this, but don’t shut down. Ask the next person you feel safe with if they love themselves. Cry more tears of joy as they tell you their story.
Start talking to everyone you meet, ask every question about “self love” that you can muster. Get the name of a special book, a book that feels like it was written just for you on this topic; let that book lead you to more books.
Expand your search beyond internet how-tos and into peoples’ memoirs and stories.
Start looking yourself in the eye when you look in the mirror; it’s ok that it feels foreign. Do this everyday for six months.
Try to say I love you and mean it. Try not to worry that this feels strange, keep doing it.
Start questioning—questioning the music you listen to, does it make you feel good? Do you really love it? Try not to let anyone else’s opinion interfere with how you feel about it. Let this new exploration of what you like and believe seep into every part of your life from your clothes to your morals. Let the new feeling be exciting, try not to revert back if it feels scary.
Be patient with yourself if you can’t show your newness to your old family and friends. Show your new friends the new things you are exploring, about your life, about yourself, about your soul. Get inspired.
Wake up and toy with the idea that you are beautiful, that nothing has to change about you.
You might get scared by this idea and eat a whole pizza.
If, after, your belly hurts, be kind and drink water then go to sleep to wait it out. Wake up and decide that it’s time to stop toying with the idea that you are beautiful, because buried deep down within you there’s a glimmer of an idea that feels like that is the truth.
Stop everything you are doing and try to get to that feeling, maybe even sit and just breathe.
Go to sleep excited that you are starting to understand what it is to feel something, something good. Wake up with new resolve, feeling brave, and try something new that scares you. Realize that new things can be fun, realize that no one is worried about what you are doing because they are stuck worrying that you might be judging their actions as well.
Repeat this brave playfulness for a year or so, try to keep cultivating that deep glimmering beautiful feeling.
Wake up on a Tuesday and feel like you are enough—it’s ok to feel a little perplexed that you didn’t have to do anything to feel this way. Have lunch with your friend and take a yoga class appreciate your legs in down dog.
Then, over a cup of tea in your apartment with your cat, feel a warmness in your heart and notice that you are crying, not of sadness, but of an overflowing of love. That love is coming from you, to you.
You have found your soulmate.
You have fallen in love.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Anna Chapman
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Used with permission from Kathy Carlisle