When did you start loving yourself?
Of self-love and self-acceptance
Somehow I didn't really know how to start this article, so I just looked for the term “self-love” in the Duden. The following result came out: “Self-love, the: egocentric love for oneself; Synonyms: egoism, self-love, selfishness ”. Mmm. Kind of not quite the meaning I think of when I speak of self-love. Is it really selfish, as the Duden entry implies, to love yourself? I think quite the opposite. We owe it to ourselves to show ourselves the respect and love we deserve every day.
[Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and I cannot replace one. I just want to give you advice based on my own experience so that I might be able to give you one or the other food for thought.]
As an expert on self-doubt, I know of course that this is anything but easy and requires a long journey rather than a quick rethink. Since I've been on this journey for a long time myself and there are always moments when I have the feeling that I have arrived at my destination, I would like to give you a few thoughts and tips that help me with helped my own journey to love myself.
Where are you currently in terms of self-love?
Learning to love yourself is a long process, but in my opinion you have to make a conscious decision in order to be able to work on it. Therefore, first of all, the question: What is it like for you? What do you think when you look in the mirror? How long do you have to think to write down three things that you don't like about yourself? Or the other way around: Can you easily manage to compile a list of properties or characteristics full of things that you like about yourself? Are you proud of? Do you often feel that "everything is your fault"? Even with little things, do you doubt that there are people who really love and accept you for who you are? Do you think you are not good enough for someone (friendship, family, partnership) or something (study, job, hobby)?
If you recognize yourself in these questions, then you may feel a little like me a few months ago. I could easily write an eternal list full of things that I didn't like about myself, I constantly doubted that I would be able to graduate and later become a good doctor, I always blamed myself for every argument and for every conversation For days I thought about what my counterpart might think of me because of that - with the result that the other person will now at least think I'm stupid. After I came across the topic of "high sensitivity" by chance and started to deal with it more, I slowly realized that many of these supposed "problems" take place in a certain place - only in my head. It wasn't until I realized this that I was able to work on it. And now the question again: where are you now? Do you feel like me? Then maybe I have a few more useful tips in this post. And if you couldn't even recognize yourself here, I am very happy for you that you seem to already have a positive attitude towards yourself - that's great!
Self-love and high sensitivity
I know from the feedback on my article about high sensitivity, which I was allowed to write for MutterKutter, that many of you recognized yourself in my words, so I would like to briefly address this topic here. In my case, this characteristic goes hand in hand with my tendency to self-criticism, which does not have to mean that every (highly) sensitive person automatically has self-doubts or vice versa. Two things play a role for me: On the one hand, I perceive many nuances and emotions in my counterpart (tone of voice, posture, facial expressions) that are not necessarily always meant “on purpose”. I also find my own emotions to be particularly intense, reinforced, which is why I tend to overinterpret things and relate them to myself.
A friend is having a bad day and reacts with an annoyed tone to a question from me? In principle not surprising, everyone can understand. The message: "I'm annoyed". What I get is: "I'm annoyed BY YOU". And please, let's start the spiral of thoughts. “What did I do that she was mad at me? She sure hates me, just why? Well, I can understand it, I would certainly hate myself as a friend too. I am a terrible person ”.
When I write these thoughts down here, it almost seems absurd to me, but I know from my own experience that things like to go this way. The end of the song: I'm sad, worry about a problem that doesn't even exist in real life and find myself, as a person, very terrible. As already mentioned, my highly sensitive tendencies and my tendency to harsh self-criticism go hand in hand, and if that applies to you too, but you don't know anything about it, I'll link you to two articles on this topic here.
- I wrote this article myself as a guest author for MutterKutter, where I explained in great detail what high sensitivity is and what it means to me: high sensitivity - my very own superpower!
- The second article is from dear Anna, and that was the article through which I became aware of the topic and which opened my eyes very much: High sensitivity - why does nobody understand me?
Now you may have reached the point where I was a year ago. You are aware that you doubt yourself far too often for no reason, and you cannot really accept yourself - your body, your personality. Time to work on it. The difficult thing is that outside confirmation won't get you anywhere on this journey. No matter how many times your best friend can tell you how beautiful and lovable you are - this information will only really reach you when you can think and recognize it yourself. And only when you have built a healthy relationship with yourself can you really build healthy relationships with others - that's my opinion.
For example, I couldn't understand for a long time why my boyfriend (after years of very happy relationship) wanted to be with me at all, because I just couldn't find a reason why someone should love me. It goes without saying that this can strain a relationship. So I had to start with myself. But how?
Be ‘your best friend
As mentioned earlier, I tend to be very critical of myself and to question myself. To a certain extent, this type of reflection is certainly not a bad thing, but I am mostly overly critical. Wear skirts in summer? Not without tights, your legs look way too fat. In addition, my nasal bone is a bit too wide, my connective tissue is not very beneficial and my feet are generally weird.
Let's be honest: Have you ever thought something like this about your best friend? That your legs were too fat, or that your feet were strange and you wouldn't be beautiful because of that? That your quirks and little quirks make you less appreciate them? No, and that although she too is a completely normal person with rough edges, whom you still like very much, or perhaps because of it. The “mistakes” that immediately catch our eye when we look in the mirror cannot be seen by anyone else in you. Only you can see them, and they are what define our individuality! The way you see your best friend, your mom or your partner, these same people see you too. Try to look at yourself from your perspective with the knowledge of how you see it yourself.
To be a little more specific, here is a small example. Do you find your thighs too fat yourself? Think about it if you've ever thought about finding their thighs too fat in someone you love. Probably not. And that's how someone who cares about you thought about you - why should you do it then? The next time you look in the mirror, try to look at yourself the way you look at your best friend - be ‘your best friend.
And should someone from your environment make such critical statements that hit and hurt you and that were not helpful or meaningful in any sense, you should perhaps ask whether this is really a person you want in your life.
90-60-90 - What is actually "perfect"?
In short: nothing and nobody. We are constantly looking for supposed mistakes in ourselves that we can only notice because we like to compare ourselves. Social media paired with Photoshop and Co. has made these comparisons even easier, and the fact that I, as a "content creator" with a small account, know what goes on behind the scenes in the online world has made it possible for me to stop making comparisons. Since of course not everyone is super active in social media, I would also like to share these findings with you here, in order to maybe get a different view of the supposedly perfect bloggers of this world.
The idea: Blogger xy has uploaded a new picture on the beach and, as always, looks great. Make-up, outfit and hair look just perfect, and the setting is terrific too. Since you have the feeling of being the viewer of a brief moment, a holiday snapshot, such a picture suggests the feeling that blogger xy always has to look so great. Always had the perfect outfit, is always perfectly styled, and only lives and travels to grandiose backdrops. What used to often lead me to the question of why I usually don't look so perfect (despite the effort) and why my vacation snapshots don't even look nearly as good. I compare myself to being worse and feeling worse as a result.
The reality: When I take pictures for Instagram with my friend Elli, we not only meticulously plan the locations, but also the outfits. In terms of color, everything should fit together and also fit well into the current feed. We also look for handbags, hair accessories and jewelry separately, the hair is curled and we then drive with a selection of outfits in our luggage, for example to the Markleeberger See, where we then take several photos that day. Also included: camera and tripod. By the way, it takes an average of around 100 pictures to get the one that ends up on social media, plus a Lightroom filter and a little Snapseed post-processing. What I don't do, however, is to change anything on my body or face, e.g. to work away smoother skin, scars or wrinkles or to make my legs thinner. There is nothing spontaneous about these supposed “snapshots”. It really seldom happens that we are really out and about privately (e.g. walking or strolling in the city) and then spontaneously a photo is taken for Instagram, because NOBODY looks good in all respects at all times and at all times. On the pictures posted for Instagram, however, because this is exactly why they are posted. Personally, I don't think that's a bad thing, because it's actually relatively obvious that I'm not standing in an interesting pose in the middle of a rape field by chance. So it is quite obvious that the aim of the picture is to look aesthetic and not to depict absolute reality. And: despite all the planning, the shooting days are always a lot of fun for us!
The bottom line: If you compare yourself to someone on social media, you compare yourself to people in pictures whose job it is to look good in pictures that have been planned in detail, professionally photographed, selected from hundreds and post-processed. In addition, as an outsider, you don't look as closely as the person in the photo does. (You'd laugh at the reasons why some of my pictures don't end up on Instagram - details that you would never notice, but that really catch my eye.)
So I started to keep in mind that for the reasons mentioned above, blogger xy is also not perfect when I think again that everyone looks better than me. Every time I have these thoughts while consuming social media, I think through the train of thought that I have shared with you here in order to come out with the conclusion at the end. After that, I usually feel a little better again, and also do not perceive myself as "worse" than the person being viewed, because: Nobody’s perfect, and that is exactly what defines the beauty of each individual.
Self-love vs. self-acceptance
The term “self-love”, even if I use it more in a general context in which I believe that I have a healthy and more positive relationship with oneself, can possibly put you under a lot of pressure. Self-love, that sounds like, in order to be able to really love yourself, you not only have to like 100% of everything in yourself, but even love it - a strong word. That is, in my opinion, but not the reality. I can't love everything about myself - but I can accept myself just as I am. So it is a very important step to move from excessive criticism of yourself to a point where you fully accept yourself, your body, your personality and idiosyncrasies - but that doesn't mean I have to love every detail about myself.
Actually, I had planned to write a kind of guide with concrete tips on the path to self-love. Even while I was writing, I noticed that there is not THE ultimate tip, THE life hack for self-acceptance, and that I don't have a panacea either. Instead, I gave you a very private glimpse into trains of thought that opened my eyes and helped me to recognize and change my own negative and destructive thought patterns.
Nonetheless, at the end I would like to try a few specific tips for more self-love:
- Show your successes before your eyes. My self-critical view often relates to the fact that I cannot do something (studying, completing a certain exam, successfully completing a project). In the back of my calendar I have a page that provides space to write down everything and visualize what you have already achieved - from small successes to major milestones. Write them down! And the next time you doubt whether you can do something, you will notice: Yes! Because you have already been able to create completely different things.
- Try to change your thinking patterns. Whenever self-critical thoughts arise, you should consciously recognize them as such and try to convince yourself of the opposite. At some point you believe yourself - I've tried it, and I think it can't hurt to give it a try and break your own thought patterns.
- Take time for yourself. Even if it may seem superficial at first glance: I feel most comfortable by far when I have make-up, do my hair and dress smartly. Apart from the fact that I enjoy preparing myself, I just like myself better and the look in the mirror is associated with much more positive thoughts than if I didn't get myself ready for one day, which then kind of like a kind of positive feedback affects me. This “time for me” in the morning is good for me anyway, and it also makes me feel more comfortable in my own skin, which makes me much more self-confident. Yes, it seems superficial, but I am much happier, more self-confident and much more myself when I feel 100% comfortable in my skin and my outfit. I don't mean that everyone has to smack as much makeup on their face as I do. But if you like to curl your hair, like to use mascara, like to wear a chic outfit, then ‘take the time to do that - even if you don't have to leave the house that day or don't have any appointments. It really worked wonders for me, especially in terms of my self-confidence and my charisma.
Many, many words later, I have come to the end of my article, and as I write, I notice again that I also still have a lot to learn in terms of self-love. But I really hope that with this post I can show you that you are not alone with possible self-doubts, and that I struggle and struggle with myself again and again despite supposedly perfect Instagram pictures. And who knows, maybe I could help you a little with one or the other tip or train of thought.If you have any questions or comments, or maybe you have a good tip yourself, feel free to leave a comment here, I'm always happy! Thanks for reading and have a nice Sunday,
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