Self-love doesn’t come naturally to me.
I’m notoriously self-critical and struggle to speak, or even think, nice things about myself.
But throughout therapy and beyond, I’ve come to realise just how important self-love is.
This body and this mind are my permanent home for this lifetime. No matter how much I criticise myself, put myself down, or tell myself I’m not good enough, the fact remains that when it comes to this lifetime, this is what I have; no more, no less.
Will me constantly telling myself that I’m too fat, that I’m too tall, that my scars are ugly, make my spirit magically jump from this body into a new one?
Will me constantly telling myself that I’m stupid, that I’m incapable, that my ideas are useless, make my mind spontaneously gain 50 IQ points?
This is my body. This is my mind. Hating them isn’t going to change that.
But more than this, I’ve realised that it’s not enough to work on silencing my inner-critic. I need to replace those negative thoughts with thoughts that build me up and help me to feel content with myself.
Recently, I was lying in bed, drowning in self-criticism.
The negative thoughts were overwhelming and I just couldn’t stop them; they were too loud and too persistent.
Reaching out for something to anchor me, I quickly wrote three affirmations off the top of my head in the notes section of my phone:
I am safe.
I am free.
I am happy.
In that moment, I didn’t feel safe, free, or happy. But I wanted to. So I just kept reading them over and over again; out loud at first, then in my head.
With each repetition, the negative noise began to grow dull; fading and fading until I found myself saying each affirmation slowly and calmly. I started to believe that I was safe, that I was free… I struggled a bit on “happy” but the fact I’d nailed the first two gave me hope for the third.
It won’t work for everyone – nothing does.
And don’t get me wrong, in the past, I would totally shy away from the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality.
But this has worked for me, both in times of crisis and in my day-to-day life, slowly but surely building up my level of self-love and generally making me feel better about living inside my body and my mind.
If you’re struggling to think of some nice things to say about yourself (I’ve been there, trust me), here are some ideas to get you started:
- I am strong
- I am loveable
- I am kind
- I can do this
- I can do anything
- I love myself
- I like myself
- I am worthy
- I am brilliant
- I am a good person
- I have many skills
- I am creative
- I am smart
- My life has value
- My hopes and dreams are achievable
- I am loved
- I am gentle
- I am caring
- I am funny
- I like the colour of my eyes
- I like my smile
- I give good hugs
- I am supportive
- I make a difference
- I am open-minded
- I make my friends laugh
- I am generous
- I am brave
- I am determined
- I am talented
- I am enough
This list is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your own based on your own unique qualities and traits. You can be as vague or specific as you want and you might find that you use different affirmations for different situations.
Mix and match, try different combinations of affirmations, write the same one down ten times, say one out loud three times a day, turn one into a painting and hang it on your wall – find out what works for you.
You can love yourself in the way only you know you need to be loved. And that’s pretty neat.
What are your thoughts on self-love? Do you have a favourite affirmation? Let me know in the comments.