Everyone’s gone throught it. Some sort of phase when they doubt themselves. Or a phase when they hate looking at themselves in the mirror.
I only noticed recently how much I doubted myself when I was much younger. Even though I’ve always been showered with praises. I did well at school too. But there was always a part of me that I didn’t like.
I only realised recently that I used to hit myself on the face. When I was disappointed with my own actions, I would stand in front of a mirror and wither slap myself so hard, punch my own face or pull my hair. I wouldn’t stop until it really hurt badly. When I remembered these moments, I realised that it was actually self-harm. I didn’t know it when I did it to myself, as the pain and the violence actually made myself feel better.
I grew up with an anxiety disorder, and my mother took me to a psychologist on Saturdays. I had a sense that there was something wrong with me from the get-go. I always felt like the world was constantly judging me, that people were ill-intended and I wasn’t welcome anywhere. But it was all in my head.
I was surrounded by people who always commented on my looks. My adoptive mother was Caucasian. Pale skin, pointed nose, which have always been the beauty standard back home. People would always comment in such a concerned manner. “How come you look like… this?”, “Why are you so dark?”, “Do you spend too much time outside?”, “Did you sleep on your face as a baby? Your nose is so flat”. It was constant. Slowly but surely, I started to accept that my looks is way below beauty standards. Back home, it’s somewhat acceptable to ask such rude and intrusive questions.
It was only in my mid 20s when I realised that, wait – I do have dark skin, but what the f- is wrong with that? Yes I have a flat nose, stop telling me I need to get it artificially ‘sharpened’. Yes I look nothing like my mother, but that’s cause I was adopted. I finally realised how much toxicity I had to deal with when I was growing up, and I decided that I wasn’t going to have to deal with that anymore.
Fast forward to today, I am in my early 30s and finally enjoying being myself. I realise how important it is to practice self-love when you are a mother. Your child needs to know you are secure with your own self. When you value yourself, you’re kind to yourself, and that will show in your parenting.
So what helps me the most in this journey of self-love?
1. Get rid of the toxic elements in your life. Eat less junk food, meet better people, get rid of media that upsets you. It’s surprising how sometimes social media can affect your mental health. Be selective of what you read and consume. Definitely no drugs, and minimise the alcohol.
2. Get a better job. Easily said than done. But if you make it an aim, you’ll get there. A better job means a workplace with respectful colleagues and an employer who values your work. If you can’t get both of that, at least get something you are happy with. Something you don’t dread waking up in the morning for.
3. Work on your strengths. Everyone has a talent, a skill. Get better at it, up-skill, ask for help, and when you are able to see the results from the work you put into it, you’ll feel better about yourself.
4. Write down all of your experiences. Weirdly enough, every time I redo my CV, I am amazed by how much I’ve done. I can look at how far I’ve come and how much I’ve achieved. Even if it’s not a career-based experience, perhaps, you’ve helped your friend move out of their apartment, you’ve cooked a big feast for a friend, these are the things you can do.
5. Exercise. I’m bad at keeping up at this, but I always feel so much better after I exercise. You don’t need to exhaust yourself, just enough to get your heart pumping.
6. Read. Find out what the world is about. Learn about new people, and pretty soon you will find out that some people relate to you and your struggles. You’re not alone in this journey. Gaining new knowledge from reading also opens up such a massive horizon and it gives you a new perspective in life, and opens up more possibilities.
7. Ignore the negative comments. I keep repeating this throughout my blog entries. But I really find that ignoring hurtful, useless, negative comments, is difficult, but once you learn how to do that, it’s so liberating.
Generally surrounding yourself with things that make you happy, things that will help you gain that self-worth are the keys to self-love. It is a long journey, and it can be a rough one, but make it an aim.