When I was a little girl I used to marvel at my reflection in the mirror…
… I was blissfully unaware of self-image or at that stage, body image. People used to tell me I was pretty but that I shouldn’t love myself too much because that would be considered vain and no one liked vain girls.
Fast forward into my teen years, I developed a habit of hating my reflection in public. I would never let anyone catch me looking at my reflection in a public place. I did not want them to think that I was vain. I wanted them to know that I was a nice person. I was not conceited. I would only look at my reflection at home in the privacy of my bedroom or bathroom. Often it was also only to judge my appearance and see what was wrong with my face and body, rather than what was right with it. I could also never accept compliments. I thought it was more humble to turn them down.
As an adult, I still find it difficult to look at my reflection in public. I have since learned to accept compliments and humbly respond with a “thank you, you are too sweet”, but make sure that it “doesn’t go to my head”. I also found it challenging to “blow my own trumpet” in the corporate world, where you are encouraged and expected to highlight your strengths to be noticed and possibly be promoted… It was only until recently, on our Empower Me Confidence Weekend Getaway (with Abigail Klopper) that I realised that this was an issue that had stemmed from childhood. On the topic of self-love, I found it difficult to get my head around it.
Can you love yourself without being vain?
In a world where everything has become about the “selfie” and you are rewarded for being “flawless and perfect”, how do we clarify vanity vs self-love?
Vanity should possibly then be categorised as a personality trait describing someone who believes that their aesthetic beauty gives them a higher value, followed by treating others poorly. Basically, an ice queen.
Ask yourself, are you a beautiful person by appearance only? Are you only beautiful and friendly on social media to get followers, popularity or likes, or are you a beautiful person in real life too? Are you authentically beautiful?
Self-love should not be confused with vanity. Self-love is an inward reflection of who you really are and giving yourself some TLC. It is an inward reflection and allowing yourself to like the person who you are – body, mind and soul. It is about seeing the good qualities and the good physical traits that make you unique and beautiful in your own special way. It is about being confident in your body, your mind and in your soul. Should you find that you have development areas in your personality and authenticity or want to lose a bit of weight to be healthier and happier, then do it because you love yourself enough to do so. If you want to highlight the outstanding features that make you beautiful, then do that!
Be confident in being you. There is nothing wrong with loving yourself. In fact, it is really important.
“To fall in love with yourself, is the first secret to happiness” – Robert Mornely
How can you properly love other people, if you haven’t mastered the art of loving the one person who is with you the whole time – YOU!
People who make the effort to love themselves tend to enjoy life more. Appreciating yourself helps you to appreciate your life more.
Those who love themselves will be motivated to adopt healthier habits. Loving yourself does not mean you ignore room for improvement; it just means that you care enough about yourself to take care of all the parts of you. Love yourself enough to do the things that make you look and feel your best.
Those who love themselves resolve mental health issues quicker or don’t even develop them at all. You can keep yourself from getting lost in your own head and going down a path of negative thoughts and feelings. Often people who have an addiction or suffer from some form of mental health issue often needs to develop a stronger love for themselves. Developing self-love may help get out of certain disorders.
Those who love themselves reduce their stress levels, procrastination, and anxiety when put under pressure.
People who practice self-love also bounce back from life’s curve-balls. You cannot control what life throws at you, but you can manage how you respond to it. People who generally feel good about themselves tend to handle life crises better and can move on to better days faster.
“Your greatest responsibility is to love yourself and to know you are enough”
How can I practice Self-love?
Knowing that there is value in self-love and that it can improve the quality of our lives is the first step. The next is by actually adding this love into our lives.
Here are 3 tips to get started.
1) See Your Beauty
Don’t wait to be perfect to love yourself. You can love yourself now! Start with one small feature and decide to love that part of you first. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s perfectly yours! I have stretch marks from carrying my son for 9 months. I used to hate them, but I have learnt to love them. They remind me of what my body is capable of and that I have my son because of them. I am fortunate to have them, knowing that there are many women in this world who would love to have my stretch marks.
2) Change Your Self-Talk
We need to change the little voice inside our heads that can drag us down when we make mistakes. You probably wouldn’t talk so harshly to someone that you love, so why say it to yourself? Why do we allow that little voice in our head to drag us down? Instead, replace that negative self-talk with something positive, uplifting and encouraging, like “No worries, I’ll try that again, maybe in a different way”
“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love” – Brene Brown
3) Pamper Time
Be more aware of your physical condition and do things that make you feel good. Take time to pause and enjoy the little things that you enjoy. We all need some “me-time” and it’s not selfish to self-love. Little things in small ways can let you know that your comfort and well-being is important.
“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world” – Pema Chodron
Ladies, please make the time to look in the mirror, reflect inwards and speak kindly to that soul inside. You really are beautiful. You are unique in every way. There is no one else like you or capable of what you can add to this world… that in itself is worth loving. So be confident in that and let your love light shine!
This is a development area for me too, so I’ll be taking “baby steps” daily to practice this myself.
– Janine Brink
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss