Bieber was right. you should go and love yourself.
Do you hate the way you look? Hate the way you act? And hate the way you feel?
Do you tell yourself you’re fat? Ugly? Lazy? And that you’re basically a pretty shit human?
Most have us have been there, and it’s a hellish place to be.
We get into a place where we think that these things are actually true. And I’ve got some news for you: they’re not.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know - you think that you’re different. You actually are fat/ugly/shit. Again, I’m here to tell you: no, you’re not. And thinking that way ain’t gonna change it. In fact, it’s going to keep you right where you are.
You cannot hate yourself to happiness.
I remember hearing a comment from comedian Wil Anderson, responding to a statistic that 8 out of 10 women are unhappy with the way they look. His (joking) response was: “yeah and those other 2 are so up themselves!” I laughed at first and then realised - it’s funny 'cause it’s true.
If you don’t like the way you look, you feel crap and if you do, you are labelled 'up yourself'. It’s a lose, lose situation.
It can be scary to like yourself. We think that by liking ourselves, we are accepting mediocrity:
If we like our bodies, we’ll never lose weight.
If we say we're doing well, we won't do even better
If we say we’re happy on our own, we'll never fall in love
We fear that we will get comfortable and never change. We tell ourselves that if we are not where we want to be, we can’t be happy. And to that, I’m calling bullshit.
I tried a little experiment on myself a few years back. I decided to like everything about myself, instead of hating everything about myself.
I was one of those people who thought that nothing I ever did was good enough. I didn’t realise that it wasn’t compulsory to criticise myself 24/7. It was a revelation.
I committed to telling myself I was doing a great job all the time. That I looked beautiful, that I was a great person, and that everyone liked me. After all, I thought, no one can hear what’s going on in my head – why not give it a shot!
I tell you what, it felt bloody amazing. To anyone else, they had no idea that anything had changed, but inside EVERYTHING felt different.
I was calmer and so much more at ease. I didn’t feel like I had to prove myself to anyone – including myself. I felt so much freedom - I could finally do things because I wanted to, not because I thought I should. And I was so much nicer! I smiled all the time and was radiating sunshine and lollipops, I swear.
The craziest thing about feeling content for the first time in my life, was that it actually made me want to try harder at everything I was doing. To put it into a sporting analogy – it’s like when you make an awesome shot, pull off an amazing pass, or take a specky intercept – and you get that incredible surge of energy. You can be as tired as you like and then BANG! You do something awesome and you feel like you can do anything! That’s what feeling good about myself did to me.
I would continually get these energy surges, because I constantly told myself I was ‘making great plays’. My mind didn’t seem to notice the difference between me telling myself that I was awesome, or someone else. So it felt like I had my own personal cheerleader following me around all day, err’day.
Think about how much your energy declines when you feel like you’ve failed. You might feel heavy, unmotivated, and you often want to comfort yourself through food, alcohol, or other harmful habits.
Thinking that you’ve done great literally does the opposite. It certainly did for me. I felt like eating healthy foods (I didn’t even crave chocolate!) and I didn’t feel the need to get completely wasted when I went out. This was a brand new feeling, and I liked it.
You can choose to not think badly about yourself - who knew?!
The energy surges made me think it was possible to be better, do better and live better. And amazingly, if I didn’t improve something, it didn’t matter! Because I was ALREADY happy. I knew I was great, exactly as I was. This took away allllll the pressure I would place on myself. I didn’t have to be perfect, because in my own eyes little old me, just chugging away at life, was doing pretty ok.
And if you’re worried it will make you 'up yourself', it won’t. You won’t become arrogant. And you won’t strut around thinking you’re better than anyone else. Quite the opposite, in fact. It will make you less defensive, more caring and a nicer person in general. You will probably find that you are an absolute delight!
Now, I’m not saying this is easy. I am not miss-perfect, and I never will be! Neither will you. But it becomes easier and easier, because it feels SO GOOD.
It’s a bit naïve to think that we will never have a negative thought about ourselves. It happens. The lesson here is to not listen to that nasty thought. When it comes along, we just choose a nicer one to replace it with.
Here’s an example:
You wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say to yourself: ‘geez, those thighs are looking big today. Where’s your thigh gap at?’. (And normally you would then spiral onto something else: your tummy is flabby, you skin looks gross, etc.) Now, new nice-thoughts-you just stops it RIGHT THERE. She don’t spiral, oh no! Nice-thoughts-you might say‘That’s not true. You look so great! Your legs are such a nice shape, and you are glowing! You arebeautiful!’
Sounds weird. You might feel silly. But only YOU know that you are saying it. Just like only YOU know that you have been thinking you are a half-arsed version of yourself. Change the story.
So what happened when I did it? I became the fittest I had ever been, I had the best body I had ever had, I was so much nicer, and I was getting asked out a lot. I was loving my life, I was loving myself and I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was great because I already felt it.
It took work, but it was worth it. The more I did it, the easier it was. My internal mantra was ‘I love myself. I love myself. I love myself. You are beautiful. You are so good at ‘X, Y, Z’.
I didn’t say it to anyone else, just me. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it.
My opinion of myself matters so much more than anyone else's, and it is the only one I can control.
Now, it’s how I aim to operate everyday. I still have days and weeks where I can get into an “I’m no good” phase. But I know how to get out of it pretty quick smart.
There’s no harm in trying to say nice things to yourself. No one will ever know. You can stop if you don’t like it. But I think you will love it, and I know you’ll become the happiest, loveliest and most successful version of yourself in the meantime.