The journey of self-love and discovery that I have been on has been completely eye-opening. If you'd told me only two years ago that I'd feel the way I feel about my body today, I wouldn't have believed you. You see, learning to love yourself is a journey. It is a huge task to undertake and doesn't come without its hurdles to overcome, but my god is it worth it when you arrive at the other side, positively brandishing your self-love badge in the face of society. But why do it? Why would you bother to deconstruct everything that society has taught you about yourself? Well surely that's motivation enough? But if not, then here are my reasons why you should choose self-love.
PAVE THE WAY
Self-love is an inherently subjective thing. The way that you feel about yourself and your body exists only in your mind and you decide how to express that, if at all. But if you choose to try and nurture a positive relationship with your body, the way that you will speak about and behave around your body will take on a whole new meaning to those who surround you: whether you are aware of it or not, you will influence people. Choosing to love yourself means paving the way for a new kind of societal and cultural body ideology - one that is long overdue in being created. Family, friends and those who you may influence on social media (if you choose to express your bodily love that way) will take a slice of body loving' goodness away with them if they see that the perspective that you have on your body has shifted somewhat. Your journey of self-love will resonate with people and you could be a part of a movement that is paving the way for generations to come and the way that they will treat their bodies.
FREE YOUR MIND
Feelings of anxiety that relate to our bodies stem from one thing and one thing only - we are concerned about what others think of us. I used to be so worried about what other people thought of me that my self-esteem directly affected my behaviour. I wouldn't achieve things that I wanted to do because I was scared of showing myself up, I believed that my size somehow restricted me from accomplishing my goals. But since I began navigating my way down the path of self-love, I realised that the only boundaries that were stopping me from doing the things that I wanted to do were in my mind - born out of an idea about my body that I had been taught by society. Since freeing myself from these mental chains, I have accomplished more than I thought possible and guess what? My achievements have no relation to the shape or size of my body and yours don't either. Sheer resilience and determination will show you that you can, and you will, succeed.
EDUCATE & ILLUMINATE
The world is an unforgiving place and so many of us are faced with challenges on a daily basis that test our self-esteem. Someone might make an offhand comment about a fat person, an eating disorder, the clothes that someone has chosen to wear, comments to their children about body size - all of which could contribute to an already body image obsessed society. When journeying through self-love, you will not only educate and illuminate yourself, but you will find that you have a platform from which to educate others. The self-love movement has rapidly taken off in the last few years, but there is always more work to be done and more people to reach who haven't heard the message yet, so why not see if you can change someone's mind and maybe their life?
KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Self-love isn't just about learning to love the skin you're in, it is also about knowing who you are. Ridding yourself of negative self-talk will open your mind to the hidden potential that you had in you all along, but didn't acknowledge because you didn't know that it was there. We are so accustomed to shining a negative light on our attributes, that we forget to recognise the good that we have within us. When you're not worried about what people will think about you or how you will be treated in society, you will discover so much more about your inner self - and your outer self - and see exactly how much exists inside you that is simply calling out to be loved. So please, give yourself the chance to find that self-love that exists in all of us, you'll be surprised at how quickly it comes.
This article was originally posted on Fran Hayden's blog, here.