13 ways you distort your thoughts (and how to stop doing it)
funny the way it is

the ABC's of loving yourself

 abcs of loving yourself 

You are the only you, and you have to love that about yourself. No matter what other people say, no matter what you read in magazine articles, no matter what celebrities and super-fit models look like, you are in the body you have right now. You may not like it, at times you may even hate it, but here you are, in this body. There are things you may want to change. Maybe there are even things you should change if they are posing risks to your health. But for now, in this very moment, you are what you are. Since you're here, sort of stuck, you might as well love what you've got!

From what I've seen, it seems that women suffer more from being concerned with their appearances. I'll save you all from a long, draw out analysis taken from the pages of my life when I was in graduate school, studying gender, but I think accepting one's body is more difficult for women because, sadly, a lot of emphasis is put on the female appearance in our society. Though I've studied male behavior as well (spent an entire semester on "The American Male," analyzing Fight Club and masculinity) and I know men suffer from body image problems as well, I must admit that I'm not as in touch with these issues. I'll do the best I can to make this post gender neutral, but there are just some things that women and men deal with differently. There are certain challenges each gender faces...okay, okay, I can see a tangent brewing here...I'm going to stop now before I launch into a recap of my master's thesis and send all of my lovely readers straight to the big red X on their browsers (or red circle, I think, if you are lucky enough to be working on a Mac). Okay, so, regardless of your gender, I think you can really benefit from reading the ABC's below. I know I've learned a lot while writing them!

 

The ABC's of Loving Yourself

Accept your body.

Sure, there are things you can change, but, for the most part, you've got to work with what you've got. As I said above, you are who you are. You should love yourself no matter what shape or size you are in. You are awesome. You are beautiful. You are YOU. Don't ever forget that!

Be who you are.

Don't forget that your body is not YOU. You are not your body. The essence of you comes from within -- from your mind, your personality, your heart. I often find it hard to remember that I am not what I look like, but, when I do recall this, I know that there is so much more to me than appearance. 

Cultivate a health environment.

  

Put yourself in a healthier place. Keeping fresh fruits and veggies around, eating healthy, and exercising are great ways to love your body (and yourself!). And don't forget about your mental health. Consider meditation to get your mind in a calmer, happier place. 
 

Dive into self love.

  

Okay, so you're having trouble loving yourself. You look in the mirror and think, "YUCK!" Try looking into self-help books or blogs that encourage positive thinking about life and, more specifically, about body image. Sometimes reading up on loving yourself can really help you put it into action.

  

Embrace your abilities.

  

Think about what you do well. Your body is only a part of who you are. You might be a great writer, a great athlete, an amazing parent. No matter what you are, there is more to you than your appearance. Embrace what you're good at and spend more time indulging in these activities.

  

Forget about comparisons.

  

Stop comparing yourself to others. No matter what you do, you probably will not ever look like Heidi Klum or Brad Pitt. But that's okay! You are beautiful in your own way and you will always and forever be you. Accept yourself, love yourself, and stop looking to others to see what you "should" look like.

  

Get moving!

  

I don't know about you, but when I get in a funk thinking about the way I look or how much weight I've gained, I don't want to do anything. I just want to lay around, watching E!, thinking about how pathetic it is that I've resorted to watching E! Break the cycle. Get off the couch and use that awesome bod!

 

Have hope. 

Even if you're struggling with self-love, don't give up hope. It might be hard right now, but the more effort and time you put into it, the more you will learn to love yourself. Hope is crucial when it comes to learning to love yourself. Believe in your own ability to achieve self-love. 

  

Indulge in what you love.

  

Don't overdo it, but every so often, let yourself eat or do whatever you wouldn't normally. I'm sure you've read this a million times, but if you completely cut yourself off from something, you're more likely to go nuts the next time it comes along so let yourself indulge every once and awhile.

 

Join something fun.

 

Joining a group (or even starting a blog, which feels like joining something) can really help you with your image of yourself. You meet new people. You try new things. And, bonus!, you can have a lot of fun. Being happy in general can make you happier with how you look so check out some groups you can join.

 

Keep thinking positively.

 

Ah, my favorite! Keep thinking positively -- no matter what. So you gained 5 pounds. So you got an terrible haircut. So what. Keep thinking positively! No matter how bad you feel about yourself, there is always something good. Focus on the good, the positive, and push the negative from your mind.

 

Let go of your past.

 

You were a size two in high school. Sure, that's super, but you're not in high school anymore. Remind yourself that this is where you are now. You may have been something else in the past -- thinner, prettier, more muscular -- but here you are now. In the present. Love who you are right now.

 

Motivate yourself.

 

You are the best motivation tool you have. Other people might encourage you, but only YOU can really motivate yourself. Do whatever you have to to remind yourself how great you are. Read books. Get off the couch. Talk to friends. Do whatever you have to to motivate your inner desire for self love.

 

Never say never.

 

You're looking in the mirror moaning, "I will never lose this weight." You know what? You're right. With that attitude, you won't make any changes at all. You'll settle, thinking there's no hope, and you'll be unhappy. If you believe you can change something, you can. Never say never.

 

Open up to new ideas.

 

Try something different. If you're not in love with your look, try something new. New clothes. New makeup. New workout routine. Experimenting with new things isn't going to solve your body image issues (that comes from within), but you can give yourself a little boost by trying out something new.

 

Put on your best outfit.

 

For those of you who read "rainy days and mondays..." you know that sometimes just a change of clothes can change your perspective. Don't stay in sweatpants all day. Don't settle for average or blah or you will feel average and blah. Dress up. Put in the effort and you'll feel a lot better about yourself.

 

Question your perception.

 

You look in the mirror. You see ugly, fat, tired. But is that what's really there? As I talked about in my last post, your mind can really distort your thoughts. Sometimes what we see isn't what's really there. Keep the positive thoughts in the forefront. Avoid looking for the bad and try to keep a positive outlook.

 

Remember what you love.

 

You hate your stomach, but your love your eyes. You hate your arms, but you love your thighs. Focus on the good parts of you. We often spend so much time obsessing about what we don't like about ourselves that we forget to spend time thinking about what we do love. Make a list of your favorite parts of you.

 

Stop judging.

 

You are your worst critic. You are judging yourself much, much more harshly than anyone around you is. Stop it. Stop it right now. There is absolutely no good reason to critique yourself in a harsh or demeaning manner. Love yourself and the world will love you too.

 

Take time for you.

 

Your body is the only one you have. Take time to pamper yourself. Do whatever you have to do to get some quality alone time. Take a bath. Take a walk. Take a vacation. Whatever you take, take some time to be alone with yourself, to rejuvenate your body (and your mind).

 

Understand your needs.

 

What do you really need? What makes your body happy? When you exercise and eat healthy foods, does your body feel better? When you get plenty of rest, do you wake up refreshed? Think about what your body asks for and give it what it needs. The better your body feels, the better you will feel about it.

 

Vacate your mind.

 

As Chania Girl mentioned in the comments section of "13 ways you distort your thoughts," sometimes we become prisoners in our own minds. Sometimes we obsess about our looks and our appearance to the point that it's unhealthy. If you're doing this, get out. Get out of your mind and free yourself.

 

Watch what you say.

 

Are you always saying to your friends, "Ugh, I'm a fatass" or "This make me look fat"? If so, think about what you're saying. The more negative things you say about yourself, the more you will start to really believe what you're saying (and others might too). Try, just once, saying, "Wow, I look great!"

 

X-ray your desires.

 

Think about -- I mean, really think about -- why you want that piece of chocolate cake or that new handbag. Will external things make you feel better? You bet! But the feel-good feelings are only temporary. Lasting happiness comes from within so give some thought to what you really want.

 

Yank yourself out of your routine.

 

Routines can be deadly. They set us in patterns that feel old and tired, that make us feel as if we are old and tired. Some routines are good and necessary, but what routines do you have in your life that aren't good? What can you do to change them, to make them more positive experiences?

 

Zap any negative thoughts.

 

Last but certainly not least! Getting rid of negative thoughts about yourself and your body is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Whatever you need to do to do this, do it. Read books. Go on a retreat. Get rid of negative people in your life. Whatever you do, be positive about you!

 

 

 

I hope this list was helpful for you. I know that I need to print it out and put it up all over my apartment, to remind myself not to get down about what I look like. If you remember one thing from this post, remember this: what you look like is NOT who you are. You are more than your appearance. Also, know that no matter what someone else looks like, they have body issues too. And, finally (okay, this is turning into three things to remember instead of just one!), know that no matter what you do, you won't necessarily be happier. If you lose twenty pounds, your life won't turn magically into a fairy tale. If you get plastic surgery, men/women won't suddenly be swarming around you (and, if they do, it's probably for the wrong reasons). If you want to be happy with your appearance, you can be. Happiness is a state of mind. Thinking positively about your appearance -- no matter what you look like -- is possible, but it's entirely up to you.


Listening to Lily Allen's "The Fear" yesterday, I was really struck by how hard it is for all of us -- no matter what we look like -- to be happy with our appearances. No matter what weight I am and no matter what I buy to improve my appearance, I still have doubts. I'm pretty sure the most gorgeous people in the world have doubts about their appearances. Perhaps it is human nature to worry about what we look like (and, in some cases, obsess over it), but worrying about my appearance causes unhappiness in my life. Obsessing about what I'm going to wear or what I look like never brings me joy. I might be happy with the finished product when I walk out the door, but it took a lot of work (and over-analyzing) to get there. Whether you love your looks or not, reading the ABC's of loving yourself will help you bring positivity into the way you view your appearance.

Comments

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Such a great post. I really am working on so many of these things. It's a slow process, as you know, but just having a list like this helps you recognise things that you didn't even know you were punishing yourslef for. So thanks for writing this :)

Penny - So glad you liked it! :) I'm also trying to work on these things. It's not always easy, but I think if I can accept who I am I will be a LOT happier in the long run.

Excellent post! A, F, & L are the 3 letters I struggle with the most.

A - Accepting your body - This one's tough for me because there's a lot more of me than there used to be.

F - Forget about comparisons - I always compare myself to super models or Olympic Athletes, never to regular people; a sure recipe for disappointment.

L - Let go of your past - This is also difficult because I used to be in awesome shape, but as my nephew once said, "Round is a shape too!"

As for comparisons, it's just best to be the best you, after all, that's one thing that nobody can do better than you!

I enjoyed this so much. I may print it out and hang it on my bathroom mirror! :)

Dani,

Great list!

I'm 49 now and I still find it surprising that I don't look 30 years old when I examine myself in the mirror. Anyway, the older I get, the more I need to "Get Moving" to maintain my health. Fortunately, I like to exercise so that helps.

Debra - I struggle with those a lot too. They are hard to deal with but I think we can both do it! Printing out this list and putting it near a mirror sounds like a great idea. I should do that too and then, whenever I'm feeling bad about myself, I can take a look at it and remind myself I'm awesome! :)

Roger - It's definitely hard to realize you're not the same as you once were. I still think I'm in high school and I'm definitely NOT! That's great that you like to exercise. I HATE it, which is a real problem when it comes to the whole "get moving" thing. Something to work on, I guess!

"Forget about comparisons" and "Stop judging" are two of the most powerful ones, in my opinion. Those are the big ones for me, anyway. I find that the less I compare myself with others, and the less harshly I judge myself, the more I am able to love myself, and the rest just falls into place.

Great list, Dani! Thank you for showing us the way!

Thank you so much for this post! I battle these demons often, but I've definately improved my outlook on the subject. It is most certainly true that if you appear confident and have a happy personality, people will flock to you and think you look amazing. I theorize that is has something to do with the energies we give off, and the way the chemicals in our bodies react. I know this to be true. I was drawn to someone because they had such a great personality, I found them very attractive, and then, their personality started to turn sour for whatever reason, and I no longer found them attractive. Another important thing to remember is that in the same way we can't hear our real voices when we speak, we can't be sure about our reflections, either. We will never know what others hear when we speak, and we will never know what we look like to other people. We could be 1,000,000x more attractive than what we see! Perception is reality. And finally, I leave you with this: We really ought to stop caring so much about what other people think - chances are, they're too worried about what we think about them to think about us!

I really love this post, I think I ought to print it off and keep it in my washroom (there's a large, wide mirror in there, not flattering at all).

You know, Dani, I'd really love to read your master's thesis. :)

Jay - I agree. It's really hard not to compare yourself to other people. I definitely have a hard time doing this and I think the media overwhelms us with images of what we "should" look like. It's hard not to critique ourselves or compare, but it makes us so much happier when we don't!

La - So glad you liked the post. I battle a lot of these demons on a daily basis but, you're completely correct when you say that we shouldn't worry about what others think about us. If we focus on ourselves, and worry what we think, we'll be a lot happier! Someday I think I'll share some bits and pieces of the thesis, but not quite yet... ;)

I LOVE Lily Allen!! This is an amazing post! Embrace yourself for who you are! Yahoo!!

I will remember my ABC's now ... beautiful list!

Great list. It reminds me of things I hear in Al-Anon. Thanks!

Raphael - Me too! Lily Allen is awesome (though apparently she was quite rude to a friend of mine at a concert and I don't like that!). I really, really love "The Fear" - such a great song!

J.D. - Haha. I'm glad I can help you with that! Thanks for commenting. So happy you enjoyed reading the list.

Syd - Yay, that's great! I hope I can be inspiring not only to my readers but also to myself. I've given up drinking and it's not always easy, but writing this post helped to remind me how much I have to offer(and how great we ALL are!). Thanks so much for your comments. :)

What a great post - I am the only me for sure and I should love myself for that. Its not as hard now as it would have been years ago as I am a lot kinder to myself these days.

I am going to revisit this post often I am sure, it might be just what I need some days :)

RML - That's great to hear that you're being kinder to yourself. I really need to work on that. Thanks for the comment! :)

Great post, and I'm very impressed you came up with something for each letter of the alphabet! Kudos.

It's interesting because I've been thinking a little about this lately, mostly as I bathe my kids. Let me explain: My daughter (3 next week) is as round as a berry. She's tall for her age, but she also has ROUND thighs, a very-round bottom, and a thick torso...and she is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Why is it that I can look at her with such healthy love and respect, and in the same breath, berate myself in the mirror. If I gave myself HALF the compassion I have for my daughter, I would find myself beautiful.

Kirwin - Wonderful comment. It's so true. We think other people are beautiful but we are so hard on ourselves. It also seems like it's extra tricky when you're a mother because you have to make sure that your own body image insecurities don't rub off on your children. I don't know how good I would be at balancing that! Thanks for the comment -- really made me think!

Great post. If I could pay myself a dollar for every criticism I've given myself about my body over the years, I'd give Donald Trump a run for his money!

I'm happy to report though, that I finally feel like I'm at a point where I appreciate my body for what it is and what it does for me. My focus now is less on what's wrong with it and much more on what's right with it.

Great post, thanks for the comment, and you have a fantastic topic/blog!

Hi
What a great post! You have listed some very good ideas for loving yourself. I think everyone needs to read and practice your examples. :-)
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than no Action

Sami - So glad you enjoyed the post -- and it's great to hear that you're loving yourself more. That's great to focus on what's right rather than what's wrong. Yay for being positive! :)

Joe - I'm glad you liked it! :) Thank you for commenting.

Giovanna - I'm happy you liked the post and my examples. I'm not sure I do all of these (or many of them, haha) but I'm working on it.

Wow this post is really great, what a good idea :)
Thanks for your post on my blog as well.

Once you let go of all the stress and problems in your life and you focus on what you have and what you love, and begin to love everything else, thats when happiness and true success comes about.

I wish you love and peace of mind
Yours truly
Allen Loomis

Love your writing style, the whole A-Z thing is super creative. I think women really do have it tough in our society because of what the media does. Beauty magazines don't' help because every time a woman walks into the grocery store there's a magazine with weight loss tips, please your man ideas, etc, etc. The presupposition is "you're fat, and your man is not happy with you." We fill a woman's head with self-doubt over and over again. As a guy, I can easily say, it seems far less complicated for us.

Simply wonderful! What a great list, you just put everything into a nutshell! WOW

What a great list. As I was reading it, I kept saying "that's my favorite", then I would read the next one, and say the same. I thought I could pick one of the ABC's I liked the best, but they're all so true and helpful, I have to say, I love them all.

Very creative post. I love letting go of the past; it's made the most dramatic difference in my life...

Allen - You've got it right. Once you begin to love yourself, you really begin to love the world more. Thanks for commenting!

Srinivas - Thanks for the compliments! :) And I REALLY appreciate you acknowledging the difference between men and women when it comes to body image. A lot of men are quick to say, "Oh, no, we have to deal with the same things." Men have their own things to deal with, but women definitely have the body image issue pushed in their faces a lot more often. I applaud you for being so perceptive. I don't think many men I know would notice or think about the affects of what is on women's magazines. That's awesome that you're so aware of others!

Angie - So glad you enjoyed it! :) Thanks for commenting.

Barbara - Your commment made me smile! Thank you! I'm so glad you liked them all.

Kaushik - I agree. Letting go of the past (in relation to body issues or in general) is so important, but it's also so hard to do. I feel like I'm learning a lot from writing this blog, as I'm always trying to turn my thoughts to the positive and the present.

Excellent post! yes we must accept and love ourselves! This is key, once we are able to do this the rest is easy.

Mark - Glad you liked it. I completely agree with your comment!

You have a knack for zeroing in on what I need to hear most. It's almost spooky! :0)

I have struggled a lot lately with being less than pleased by my appearance. Rationally I know that I am not hideous, that I am fine and perhaps just need to get some exercise and tone up. But I do the negative self-talk way too much.

The items that hit home for me were Q: Question Your Perception and W: Watch What You Say. Thank you for the reminder.

Chania Girl - I'm glad we're once again on the same page! :) I think we're all too hard on ourselves most of the time and it's important to remember that you're not alone in this. I do the negative self-talk way more than I should and it does nothing but make me uphappy. Hopefully this list will motivate us to love ourselves! :)

Well done! I think you covered so many pertinent points in your ABC list! This one is a keeper!

Jodi - Thank you! :) It makes me happy to know that you think this one's a keeper!!

Great post, thank you!

The best part of loving myself... being able to accept love from others. Not until I truly learned to accept the consequences of being myself, was I able to have real meaningful relationships with others. I had to learn how to have a healthy relationship with myself first.

http://www.spiritualzen.net/index.php/2009/02/06/having-a-healthy-relationship-with-myself/

Forget about comparisons! For most of my life I saw myself through the eyes of others. My self-image today starts on the inside... where I can really make a difference!

It was interesting to see what you would come up with for each letter of the alphabet. Bet that took some thought... very creative!

Jared - I completely agree. Until you love yourself, it's really hard to accept the love of others. For that reason, self-love is really important in creating meaningful and lasting relationships. Thanks for posting that link. Can't wait to check it out!

i absolutely love this post and your blog! i felt like we were kindred spirits when i read it. so very similar to the way that i handle things in life. thanks for dropping by my blog. look forward to stopping by your page more often. *kae* www.kaelovinlife.wordpress.coom

Kae - I'm so glad you liked the post and the blog. That makes me really happy! :) I look forward to reading more on your site too.

So much of our society today is based around your looks, and lets face it... looks can get people places. However, you are so right. Happiness come from within. I have learned that you are not able to love others until you love yourself. Thanks for the inspiration! I'm attempting to follow these in each and every aspect of my life!

VitalityEmilie - What you said is definitely true -- you cannot love others until you love yourself. I'm glad you liked the post and thank you so much for leaving a comment!

This is good information and thanks for this blog.

Juliya - You're welcome! Thank you for reading Positively Present!

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