Sometimes, I feel as though I cannot escape all the negative thoughts about myself going through my head. “Why can’t I look like her, why can’t I be as smart or successful as this person?” What is even more upsetting is that I know I am not alone in these struggles to achieve self-love. We tell ourselves these negative thoughts often; they get ingrained in our brain and become habits that seem nearly impossible to break. We recently posted some techniques you can use to improve your self-esteem (read more here). Today I want to change the focus slightly and discuss the steps you can take towards improving not just your self-esteem, but the self-esteem of those around you as well.
I know what you are thinking, “I can’t seem to improve mine, how can I possibly improve others?” Technically, you can’t (only they can change their thoughts), but we can all work on creating an environment that encourages self-love. One thing I constantly see and hear, especially amongst women, is body shaming one another. We have all had friends who have told us something negative about our body. We have also all heard women talk about others in a negative light, simply based on looks. These constant comments, giving the impression that no woman is ever good enough, have a domino effect. If we hear people body shaming, our automatic reaction is to start doing the same, and people who hear us may begin doing it as well. This has got to stop! In order to stop body shaming, we must start with the woman in the mirror. Let’s look at how we all can play a part in creating an environment that promotes self-love.
- In order to love others, you must first love yourself. Before reading ahead, do me a favor. Look in the mirror, smile, and tell yourself 3 things you love about yourself. No seriously. Pause for a second and do that. No mirror? No problem. Just grab your phone and put the camera on yourself.
- When you find yourself judging another person, stop and adjust your mindset. Think about one thing you like about that person. We can spread acceptance of others through our actions and our words. Realize the beauty in EVERY body (no matter their shape or size) including your own.
- Don’t be afraid to let go of relationships that damage your self-esteem. If you have friends that constantly body shame themselves, you and/or other women, have a talk with them. Tell them that those thoughts are making you feel self conscious about your looks and you are finding yourself judging others more. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and make you feel beautiful. These are healthy relationships and will help you be the best version of you.
- Be vulnerable in your relationships. This is a fundamental aspect in the journey to self-love. What makes you vulnerable is what makes you beautiful. Once we become vulnerable in our journey to self-love, we will be able to communicate and explore where any negative thoughts may have originated. Brené Brown studied connection – the thing that gives us purpose and gives meaning to our lives – for 6 years and interviewed hundreds of people. From her research, she realized that the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging have one main thing in common. Care to guess what it is? It’s simple – they believe that they are worthy of that love and belonging. In the same group of people, Dr. Brown found many commonalities:
the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then each other, the fearlessness to let go of who they are supposed to be to be who they are, and most importantly, they fully embraced vulnerability. They believed in order to achieve any sort of connection they must be vulnerable. Be able to say I love you first. Be able to follow your heart, even if it may lead to heart break. Be able to fight for your dreams, even if you may not succeed. Be able to love yourself.
If you are interested in learning more watch this TedTalk by Brené Brown herself.
- When communicating with others, instead of listening to reply, listen to understand. It is almost a routine to think about how we will respond when we are listening to someone, no matter what the conversation is. However, if we actively listen to what they are saying, we will be better able to understand their feelings. This is important when listening to people talk about their accomplishments. We often try to respond with one of our own to show that we are also successful. However, that can easily be taken as disregarding their accomplishments. Respond in a way that makes them realize that you understand and appreciate what they said. We have all done great things. Let’s be proud of each other. Try not to compare and continue the greatness. If we listen to others, we will create an environment in which people will feel proud of their accomplishments. And when you feel proud of your accomplishments, loving yourself comes naturally.
Can you imagine a world where, when you see someone, positive rather than negative thoughts come to your mind? Can you imagine a world filled with people who believe they are worthy of self-love? Every single one of us is part of this world and we can make a difference if we begin to look at our actions and reactions. We are society. We must spread acceptance and love to all, including ourselves. Let’s work at creating an environment where self-love, rather than self-hatred, is promoted.
Remember, when your thoughts go negative, focus on something you love about yourself and others.