I have lived. And I have loved. Well, learned to love.
It took me over 10 years to stop shaming my body and relax into the unique blessing bestowed upon me:a perfectly capable body. A body that's able to choose love over self-doubt. So that's what I did. I chose love after so much time living through self-doubt.
Learning to love myself, especially my size and my healthy, softer tummy wasn't an overnight snap decision. It was work, but when it came down to it, I really had no choice to but embrace myself for what I was. The day I woke up and realized I'd hit rock bottom in terms of how I viewed my body was the wakeup call I so desperately needed.
When I started to think of my tummy as a life source, the gut from which instinct flows, my emotional home, my body's second brain ... my journey to love my body truly began. From this journey, I learned these three key steps to really acing the self-love process.
1. Radical Honesty
This is the first step to self-love, and the most important. It's telling people how you feel about your body and experiences without holing back and feeling shame. When you're honest, something in your body and mind shifts, and it starts working in your favor. It's scary to confront, but once you've stared it in the face and moved past it, you feel so much better.
You may look back and wonder, "Why couldn't I just confess my struggle earlier and start this journey even sooner?" Alas, you'll never know what I mean until you actually employ radical honesty. So start here.
2. Self-love & Kindness
Allow yourself to move slowly in this loving transition, making your new healthy habits stick for good instead of throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick.
Start by reserving judgment when you want to say negative things about yourself. Instead, turn your thought and words into positive affirmations. Eventually, you'll start to see yourself in all your goodness ... even your belly. I'm not going to pretend this is an easy process or one that happens overnight. It can take years to love your body, and it will always be a project, but life is so much easier and stress-free with an open mind and lack of judgement.
This is the third step toward loving yourself and making it a life-long habit. While all of these steps are important, this last one often requires a bit more elbow grease than the other two. Some doable ways to hold yourself accountable?
- Stay in touch with a group of friends who you aspire to emulate in their self-loving, confident ways.
- Schedule routing phone calls with supportive people to let them know how you're doing on your journey.
- Keep a journal so you can reflect and make sure you're upholding the standards you've set for yourself.
- Use social media to share your experiences so friends can keep up with your journey.
- Lean on a loved one. My husband loves me, no matter my size, but he loves my health too. So we use mindful eating practices together and encourage each other to sweat every day.
Photo courtesy of the author