I haven’t always been a happy, healthy and confident person. In fact, I used to be an obese, depressed, junk food addicted and booze-fueled party monster. I still have days when I feel like I’m not measuring up, but it’s about not letting those one-off days become regular appearances in your everyday life.
Too often we look to find the flaws in ourselves and constantly downplay our assets. For years I beat myself up physically and mentally about my appearance, telling myself I was never good enough or worthy enough. I let how others judged me affect how I judged myself. I ate poorly as a way of self-medicating in the search for happiness, and ended up becoming 240 pounds of unhappy.
I was heading for an early grave, until one day I snapped and thought, “What the hell are you doing?” I consciously decided to change my life. Over two years I lost 120 pounds and detoxed my life of bad food and negative people. It wasn’t easy, and there were slips-ups, but my new lifestyle eventually became second nature.
But the years of self-loathing and negative self-talk had also become second nature. What I learned, and have to constantly remember, are the following nine tips:
1. It's OK to love yourself.
For some reason it is drummed into our heads from an early age that being confident and loving yourself means you're stuck up and egotistical. From now on I want you to release this negative connection and look yourself in the mirror and say, “You’re frickin’ awesome. I love you.” Say it loud and proud, and say it daily until you start believing it. It will be hard at first, but fighting for something day in and day out means when you finally grasp it, you earned it, and you will appreciate it.
2. Reflect on your past.
So many people say you should leave the past in the past, but it doesn’t hurt to look back and appreciate your achievements. If you still dwell on a negative memory, forgive whatever or whomever and release the negativity. Move forward with positivity and appreciation.
3. Get a journal and use it.
Write things you achieved, your fears and dreams, and use them to solidify your thought processes. On the first page, write a letter apologizing for the way you've negatively treated yourself, and vow to never do it again. Also start two lists: One being "I love myself enough that I will …" and the other "I love myself because ..." Start each list with five things, and each day or week add one thing to it. Before you know it, you’ll start thinking more positively, you'll see how much you deserve your love.
4. Do things that make you happy.
Take a bath, get a massage, read a book, have a glass of wine, meditate, sit and listen to music: just do something completely indulgent for you and do it guilt free. Looking after yourself is paramount to your happiness, and it doesn't mean you're selfish. You'll feel better, and your positivity will radiate into the lives of those around you. Take time out every day to reset, reflect and enjoy. This is your life.
5. Start each day with love and intention.
Wake up each morning mindfully. Don’t drag yourself out of bed when the alarm goes off. Lay still, smile, take five deep breaths and remind yourself how fortunate you are to be alive, what you are grateful for, what you are going to make of today, and what you love about yourself.
6. Stop apologizing.
We have become accustomed to apologize for simple things and say sorry without genuinely meaning it. Not only does it downplay the significance of the word, but it drums it into your head that you are constantly doing something wrong.
7. Nourish your body.
Nourishing yourself with the best quality foods and taking time to exercise (think of all the endorphins!) means your health becomes a priority and you feel good about yourself. Plus you can enjoy that delicious raw vegan chocolate guilt free!
8. Seek help when you need it.
It's a great feeling to realize we aren't superheros and can't be expected to handle everything on our own. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional, a friend, a family member, a partner and say “I need help.”
9. Expect slip-ups.
Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. If you fall out of habits, eat something you normally wouldn’t, do something out of character, simply acknowledge what happened, learn from it and move forward with positivity, grace and dignity.
Be kind to yourselves and to others. You are worthy of your love.