“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”– Louise L. Hay
Self-Love is Key.
Over the last couple of days I’ve realised the importance of that short but sweet sentence. I recently watched a YouTube video by a poet named Nayo Jones,it was titled Healing. In the video she divulged her deepest thoughts and feelings. I felt a wave of emotions watching it, mainly empathy as I understood almost every twist and turn she had faced. Nayo openly discussed her inner demons, it was at that point that I reflected on my own. I have been around people and had to alter my personality on so many different occasions, because somehow being confident and self-aware comes across as arrogant and I would always find myself in disputes with others because of this. So I would minimise the good stuff, the stuff about me that I liked, so I could just blend in. I didn’t want to be confident anymore, I enjoyed being mediocre as I was clearly concerned with how other people saw me and how they wanted me to be. The older I got the more I’ve realised how damaging that has been for me.
From the young age of 7, I suffered from low self-esteem. It all started when I was waiting in line in the playground where I heard a few moms talking about me -“she’s such a bully, she’s so loud,” etc. Hearing adults discuss me so negatively opened a can of worms, and it wasn’t that I was a bully, I was confident and I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it, but I can imagine seeing a 7 year old behave this way may have been very threatening. From that experience, my self confidence withered drastically and further deteriorated as I got older, I held onto absolutely every negative thing ever said about me. I know the phrase “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me,” is supposed to be an uplifting quote. But whoever wrote it was lying. It seems to be mere satire, you are more likely to suffer from things that have been said than a broken bone. Bones heal, words that are said have a lasting impact, especially when you are consistently presented with the same thing over and over again. It is impossible to believe that there isn’t something wrong with you.
I reeked of inadequacy and had negative thoughts about myself which increased when I was around others. I consistently measured my accomplishments and physical appearances against my closest friends and even strangers my age. Without understanding my destructive habits now, its safe to say I would have been seeking approval for a lot longer than I already have done. Self-love is the root of all love. You cannot claim to love others without sharing that same value and appreciation to yourself.
Rupi Kaur says it best in this quote from her phenomenal book Milk and Honey. The way I have treated myself over the past few years especially as a late teenager towards adulthood has been unfair and unkind. I have been in relationships/friendships where I have placed so much emphasis and value in them, that losing some of those friendships/relationships felt like I’d lost a limb. I know its crazy to say that but heartbreak isn’t just a emotional response but a physical one too and I feel that the reason why I struggled so badly when losing people close to me was because I valued their place in my life excessively. Sometimes you can be so giving of yourself that you lose every aspect of who you are. If you don’t understand what I mean by that, I’m simply saying that sometimes you can love someone too much to the point where you alter things about you to keep them. I have done it, I have been there. I would always think what more could I have done to keep so and so in my life or what could have been if I did things differently, my brain had me looking like that crazy math meme.
Without that core foundation of love that I should have had for myself I wouldn’t have wasted my energy trying to pour it into others. But without trying to help someone else and fix their problems, this often prevented me from feeling valued and loved, as if there wasn’t anybody for me to care for. I would always wait on others validation to give me the feeling that I was missing and without it, I would be lost. There were so many times that I gave up my time/money/freedom to others, that my own needs were being shoved into a corner. I became complacent with myself and would always “get back to things later” but later never came and I always felt like I was drowning in my own worries. This is what happens when you do not place yourself first.
“You cannot be everybody else’s saviour if you are not willing to be your own first.”
It has definitely taken years for me to stop disliking aspects of who I am and to minimise the self deprecating traits that I have acquired over time. I have focused more on basking in my beauty whether that’s anyone else’s version of beautiful, well I don’t really care. I stopped being indecisive, and I didn’t even acknowledge how my indecision attributed to my low self-esteem. However I can see how my fear of making the wrong decision, the fear of failure and fear of taking risks all stemmed from the same negative cycle of not believing that I was enough or worthy, because I placed so much value on how others saw me.
I am so grateful that I have gotten to a point now where I believe every aspect of me is popping and I feel strong and comfortable in my skin. I push myself to feel secure in myself even on my “ugliest days” because without any level of self-confidence I know that I would continue to sink into that hole where I need people to validate my worth. It’s time that you try to feel the same way about yourself too. Create small positive affirmations for your self, read them over and over until you believe them, prevent yourself from being around negative/draining people who always want to receive but never give. This doesn’t prevent you from being a good person but focus on your self and your worth before you aim to penetrate others’ walls with your love. What do you not like about yourself? Can you improve these things? If any of your answers are based on your physicality, what can you do to change the way you see yourself? Remember there is only one you out of the 7 billion people on this planet. Take care of that and be the best you, you can be.
Written by Camillia Elizabeth