One woman’s self-reflective journey towards self-love, in face of and against the societal norms and beliefs that kept her down
I have always had a strong distaste for injustice. The older I got and the more I learned about the world, the more I began to understand how it was in fact built upon injustice. I began investigating how the capitalist patriarchy affected me personally and how oppressive power structures played out in both my internal world and the world around me, affecting my ability to love myself.
Having struggled with my mental health since I was a teenager, I wanted desperately to find peace and a way to be happy by my mid-20s. I thought self-love was a good place to start, but I had no idea it would be as difficult and complicated as it turned out to be. I started Recipes for Self-Love in 2017 as a part of this endeavor. I began by self-publishing magazines and shortly thereafter started the Instagram account — which within a few months had acquired tens of thousands of followers and gained incredible support and media attention.
A chord had been struck. Messages were resonating.
The world is such a tricky place to navigate and most of the time we are all just trying to do our best. Despite trying our hardest to live and love, we often end up feeling very wrong. It’s important we remember that this is normal and an important part of the journey to becoming the person we’d like to be. By embracing both the good and the bad, and by allowing space for the products of both, we become more sensitive and conscious people. We begin to judge ourselves less and trust ourselves more.
Sometimes we simply need to hear an affirmation from someone else in order to truly feel like we have the permission to trust ourselves.
If that’s the case now, then perhaps these tips can help remind you of some things that you already know but needed external affirmation for.
Don’t be afraid to let go of toxic people
There will be people in your life that cause you anxiety, that stress you out, and who contribute to your unhappiness. These people aren’t always aware of their effect on you and may not be willing to alter their attitude or behavior toward you, even when confronted. You may need to take responsibility for the negative energy they bring into your life if they don’t. If you don’t think there is a chance of resolving the situation together, it may be best to remove the person from your life. Your energy is precious, to be used for things that are productive and fruitful. Don’t let it be depleted by toxic relationships.
Never feel guilty about your feelings
We tend to judge our emotions and categorize them as either good or bad. We also often fully identify with the unpleasant feelings we experience when we don’t have to. There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ emotion or feeling. All your feelings are real and valid and important, the positive as well as the negative. You don’t always have to be happy and strong. Allow yourself to process all emotions fully, especially feelings of sadness, sorrow, misery, anger, and others considered to be ‘bad’. Don’t force yourself or others to be positive if and when they’re feeling down. Rather, try to simply remain loving and present. Learning how to survive discomfort and pain will help you grow and to more fully experience joy, pleasure, and contentment when they arise.
Surround yourself with people who add value to your life
Life is so full of special bonds and friendships like those shared with pals, family, mentors, romantic partners, and even people you don’t know particularly well. Try to surround yourself with those people that really add value to your life, and don’t forget about what value you add to the lives of others. Spend time and energy investing in these remarkable relationships so they will grow and last.
Wear what makes you feel good
Clothing can be an important expression of identity, but one that can also be challenging when going out in public due to cis-heteronormativity and the patriarchal world we live in. Practice being more conscious of wearing what makes you feel good. Dress masculine or super feminine, cover up or show a lot of your body. Rock high heels, go barefoot, wear loads of makeup, or none at all. If tight clothes make you feel good or loose clothes make you feel more comfortable, do whatever you want to help you feel most like yourself when navigating the world.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It can be incredibly difficult to deal with the challenges life throws at you when you’re on your own. We’re generally told it’s good to be self-reliant and independent, and although it does feel good to be self-sufficient, there are times when we cannot manage on your own and could really use a helping hand. Be specific about who you want to ask for help and the kind of help you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you feel like you’re struggling. There is no shame in admitting that you need a hand. Try also to be sensitive to the people you care about when they may be under stress and need some extra support.
You may also enjoy 8 Simple Yet Transcendent Strategies to Practice Deeper Self Love by Danna Bodenheimer