Let me start by saying
That I LOOOVE how so much focus and attention is being put on self love! I love that there is so much support and inspiration out there to help people feel more comfortable in their skin and in their lives. I know how empowering it is to feel at home in your body.
There's something that's been weighing on my heart. I think there's a silent message being broadcasted at the same time, and that message is that if you're not successful at loving yourself, accepting your body exactly as it is right now, then you're failing and you won't be able to receive love or truly love someone else.
I call bullshit.
Yes, total love and acceptance is a beautiful goal. And it's ok if you don't love yourself and accept yourself completely right now. To be honest, I don't know very many people who are successful at loving ALL of themselves, ALL of the time. It's a constant battle, and you don't have to be perfect at it. Striving for perfection at loving ourselves just puts more shame on our shoulders for not getting it right, making us feel more like shit when we’re down on ourselves rather than lifting us up. It’s great to be on a journey of loving yourself, but having shame around the moments where you don’t love yourself is counterintuitive.
There's a better way.
And that's truly accepting all the different aspects of yourself, INCLUDING the parts of yourself that can't stand yourself sometimes. Crazy concept, I know. Being ok with not being ok with yourself. Talking about these struggles is what is going to make your journey through shame and self loathing a lot easier. The more you’re able to openly and authentically talk about your struggles of not loving yourself, the more your shame will disintegrate and fall away. Shame thrives in secrecy, but it can’t like when it’s talked about. When you hear your friend make a comment about something they don’t like about themselves, instead of showering them with compliments about how great they look and telling them they should accept themselves as they are, really listen to their struggle. Hear what they are saying and try to understand what they’re feeling. Let them know that you understand how it feels and what it’s like without getting into a “who loathes themselves more” match. Pushing their struggle away with compliments just leaves them to deal with it on their own.
Some wounds can’t be healed on your own, but need a relationship in order to fully process and heal them. Being loved and giving others love is healing. You can learn to love yourself by loving others, and through seeing the way others love you and accept you for who you are. Yes, low self-esteem has negative side effects on relationships. That much is true. Though the process of loving yourself doesn't have to be so linear, you don't have to wait until you're fully capable of loving yourself before getting into a meaningful relationship. All of your relationships up until the point of loving yourself are not meaningless stepping stones.
And if you do beat yourself up for not loving yourself, that's ok too.
The whole point is to be able to accept yourself in your journey, wherever you are, because you’re going to be on this journey for the rest of your life. The self-love-journey doesn't happen overnight. It can takes years and years of practice to rewiring your mindset.
And it's worth it.