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It could be curtain call, we could be surrounded by flowers, cards, sweets, and admiration—drowning in love—but we will be haunted by the one person in the back rolling their eyes.
When I was 23 years old, I enrolled in a four-month yoga teacher training course. During the course, we were assigned a mirror meditation. Basically, we were to go home, light candles, and meditate in front of a mirror, starting with our eyes closed. After some time, we were instructed to lift our eyelids and gaze into our eyes in the mirror.
I was quite frightened to do this. I don’t know what I thought I’d see in my eyes—a monster, horrible person, or something wildly unworthy—but as I gazed into my green eyes flashing with candlelight, I started crying. Not out of shame, but in a revelation: I saw kindness, gentleness, love, wonder.
For the first time, I thought, wow, if I was a stranger looking into my eyes, I would like this person.
The most gut-wrenching thing about self-loathing is realizing you have it; it breaks your heart, but it’s also liberating—your mind habits can slowly start to change.
When I realized I wasn’t my own biggest fan, it was by becoming conscious of my thoughts about myself. I’d say the wrong thing at a party and then think rapidly, “You’re so stupid. No one is as dumb as you. Everyone thought you were an idiot.” Or when people—who I wouldn’t even be close friends with, mind you—would hang out without me, “No one likes you. Why would they?”
I slowly had to reverse course, talk sweetly, “You are smart, darling,” or, “People love you, Elizabeth, they love you.”
What is the saying?—The truth hurts, but it will set you free?
How do you react to compliments? Do you put on a different mask with everyone? I always felt like I couldn’t be myself; like I had to be who I thought everyone wanted me to be.
Like, I’m one of those people who needs to delete Instagram from my phone when I find myself feeling particularly bad, because I scroll and compare, compare, compare. While my partner has never felt this way from Instagram. And that’s okay. We are all different, and we must do what serves us.
Tune in and reflect: Do you feel angry with yourself? Do you self-sabotage? Are you highly critical of what you do? Do you blame yourself? Do you ever tell yourself, “Good job?” Do you feel plagued by feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy?
Signs of self-loathing:
1. You tear yourself down.
2. You feel insecure around others.
3. Neglect self-care.
4. You don’t let yourself be happy.
5. You isolate yourself from others.
6. You put on a facade with others.
7. You’re afraid to dream big.
In the hopes that this will be of benefit, despite a little sting at first, here are seven signs we don’t like ourselves, followed by seven reasons why:
Remember, you can slowly change. I recommend journaling things you love about yourself—even if you can only list your eyebrows and teeth—it’s a start.
Practice yoga, breathwork, and these other small treasures.
For the mirror meditation:
>> Set up a mirror in front of you.
>> Dim the lights and light candles.
>> Sit in front of the mirror and close your eyes: focus on watching your breath. In and out. Gentle.
>> Once you feel more at ease with yourself (after a couple of minutes), open your eyes and stare softly, directly into the center of your own eyes. Keep breathing. Hold this gaze for a couple of minutes or as long as your can.
>> Say, out loud or in your head, “I love you.”
>> Bring hands to heart center and bow toward yourself with honor as you complete the meditation.
You are worthy of love, sweet one, especially from yourself.