When I was doing a Q&A on Instagram stories the other day, one question that a reader sent through was actually quite surprising to me, but one I felt very compelled to answer. It was a variation of ‘how can I be happy all the time, like you are?’ and even though I answered in a shorter version, I felt like this topic deserves a lot more discussion and openness so that I can help other people learn the things I’ve learned, as well as try to remain happy, and happiness genuinely does come from self love and self acceptance. Of course you can find temporary happiness within materialistic things and going on adventures, but unless you love yourself truly, there will always be negativity creeping in which can ruin the best of things.
I’m guilty of self loathing, I used to do it all the time, and in fact, I was really hard on myself during my teenage years and even up until a few years ago, I would always punish myself in some way or another. I have no idea why we do these things to ourselves at all. I mean it can be really easy for us to love others, so easy, but why don’t we always show ourselves the same kindness? Why not? We’re human too… Why are we so unhappy with ourselves? If you ask yourself a serious question and think about how you speak to yourself internally, if you spoke to someone else that way, would that be acceptable? Or is it bullying? I’ve started to believe that we need to speak about ourselves as if we were a friend or someone we loved, and it’s life changing.
A long time ago I learned that absolutely no happiness can come from such a negative space in your mind. Of course it can serve as inspiration if there’s a part of you you wish to change, but don’t beat yourself up if those things are difficult. Until you are accepting and loving of yourself, you won’t be fully happy. The reason for this is because of the clouded judgement. Anytime there’s an issue, rather than responding to that situation with a rational, thought through response, how we handle it often arises from that negative space in our mind. Relationships are a good example, often there’s insecurities there and those reside within yourself, and if you can’t love yourself, you don’t believe someone else can fully love you either, so it can cause a self destruct spiral, arguments, and constant reassurance, which can put huge strains and pressure on relationships as you’re always looking within them for security, when it needs to come from within yourself.
Until I really took a step back and looked at myself, learning to accept me for me, disability and all, I couldn’t move forward and truly see happiness in things as I was held back. I would always hear in my head ‘I can’t do that because I’m not brave enough, I’m not strong enough, I don’t deserve to…’ but learning to love myself for everything I am, really opened my eyes. After all, you are you and you are stuck with you for the rest of your life – there’s only one. You wouldn’t want to go through life stuck with someone else that you loathe and dislike, it would create such unhappiness, so why should you do it to yourself? Don’t treat yourself like someone you dislike, don’t put yourself down constantly, and don’t put those negative feelings onto others as it causes friction. You’re worth much more than that.
Some of the things I have found helpful in learning to accept yourself and like yourself are:
- Making a list of things you are happy about with yourself mentally
- List achievements you’re proud of
- List body parts you like
- Try to eat healthy and be pro-active as it really gives you a positive outlook
- Be kinder to yourself daily and say positive things to yourself
- Turn any negative thought around to seeing the positive side as well
- Don’t compare your body to anyone else – we’re all unique like finger prints
- Don’t create barriers between yourself and others, we’re all equal, there’s no right or wrong
There’s one thing in particular, to do with someone snapping at you, instead of immediately thinking they were rude to you and it’s a personal attack, see it from an outside point of view, perhaps it was irrational and they had had a bad day, so had an outburst and it actually wasn’t anything to do with you. Obviously this doesn’t make it right, but by you not taking it onboard and dismissing it, you’re not being self critical and thinking there’s a reason.
Instagram and social media in general can be a big problem for self hate, always seeing peoples photos and how amazing their lives must be, but remember that most photos are photoshopped (including mine to some extent), and everyone has their own daily battles and struggles. To try and combat this, you can follow inspirational accounts I like such as BodyPosiPanda, Gemma Atkinson and Emily Schuman (they’re such honest women), but also being a part of a community like The Odissean Experience can really help as it’s full of support and positivity. By learning to just be yourself, understanding you’re amazing (we all are as humans – isn’t the way our body works a miracle when you think about it?) and life is in fact actually precious. As I’ve got older, I’ve learned how precious it just actually is and I’ve learned that in order to be happy, I have to let go of that self doubt and disappointment in myself, and I have.
Of course this isn’t something you can do over night, it takes a long time, and I do still have bad moments. Living with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome hasn’t been easy as there are numerous things I dislike about my body, but I accept them now, they’re part of me. I like who I am as a person because I know the things I value and stand by are good, I try to help as much as I can when it comes to people and animals, and I have a lot of love to give, but I do still suffer from anxiety, nerves and self doubt, mostly due to not having a lot of confidence, but I’m working on that and I’ve been able to do things I never thought I could, so it’s all in your mindset. It’s a journey, but the self love and self acceptance train is the best one you will board for your future happiness.
Remember this – you are amazing, you are strong, you have come a long way. Look back at your life and all the things you have been through, and you’re still here. Find the positives in anything you can and change the way you react to situations, and it will change your life. Happiness is an emotion and it can be brought to you by the simplest of changes. Believe in yourself, have compassion, and learn to love your body. Just don’t confuse this with self righteousness and arrogance, it’s not the same thing. Be kind, to everyone and yourself. Lorna xx.