Self-acceptance and self-love are not easy journeys to accomplish and/or master. Getting to a place of self-acceptance is a rollercoaster ride: there are highs, there are lows, and there are plateaus. I am not in a place where I can accept or love myself for who I am, or my body for all that it does, but I have learned a lot of lessons over the years on what works and what doesn’t on the journey to self-acceptance and self love. And I’m not giving up on this journey.
Here’s what not to do while on the journey towards self-acceptance/love:
Tell yourself you’ll be happy when you get to your goal weight.
Our bodies change all the time. Weight fluctuates. That’s just life! People struggle with body image issues at every weight and size. Losing weight or gaining weight would not make you happier….physical health improvement does not inspire emotional and mental health improvement, unfortunately.
Limit your participation in events and activities because of your body image issues, and begin participating when you’re less insecure.
You’ll regret it in the end. Trust me, I do. I regret allowing my insecurities to take the reigns of my life. I wish that I would’ve went to the beach more, or in the pool more, or ate what I wanted at family or friend affairs, instead of eating myself alive from the inside out in guilt and worries. We only have one life. Live your life. Don’t limit yourself.
Keep all of your insecurities, fears, and anxieties to yourself.
Odds are, you don’t tell others about what makes you uncomfortable, scared, anxious, or nervous. Keeping all of this negativity in your head is not good for your overall mindset and mental health. Confide in someone, whether it’s a best friend, a romantic partner, a parent, a co-worker, a therapist, a sibling, a grandparent, or even a texting buddy and share your emotions. Share how you feel emotionally during different scenarios. By doing so, some weight will be lifted off your shoulders. You’ll be able to breathe better, you’re secret will be out. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll build a relationship that allows you to feel less insecure when you’re doing whatever it is–let’s say swimming in a pool in your bathing suit– with a specific person/group, like the person you confide in.
Allow other people’s words about you (or others) make you feel bad about yourself for any period of time.
Especially not an extended period of time. Family, friends, and strangers can be very cruel, even without realizing it. Having someone tell you they’ll buy you new clothes when you go down a clothing size, or having someone tell you that you’re a beautiful person who shouldn’t feel ugly/worthless/depressed because of how great you are, isn’t helpful. At all. No matter how good intentions are, sometimes words create emotional and mental scars– scars that last a lot longer than physical ones. There’s a saying, “Call a woman fat once and she’ll never forget it.” Words hurt. And allowing them to hurt you makes it 1000% worse. Don’t let words put you down. (This is so much easier said than done…words hurt me everyday. But if I had control over my feelings, I would program my emotional settings to not allow others’ comments to put me down).
Solely participate in activities that helped others accomplish self-acceptance, rather than doing what you know makes you happy/feel good.
I’m not saying don’t try activities that others recommend, definitely give them a try if you’re up for it. But everyone finds happiness in different ways and places. If reading a specific genre of books makes you happy and sparks time for self-reflection, make that your primary focus during your free-time. We are all different, and that’s something to celebrate, right? Well, let’s acknowledge and celebrate our different causes for happiness, too! Because you deserve to be truly happy.
Set boundaries for yourself.
First of all, there is no “normal.” You can’t tell yourself that it’s “normal” for you to feel a certain way, weigh a certain amount, or have a certain mindset. “Normal”s change! Do not restrict yourself to your current normal, or even worse your past’s normal. Allow yourself to do anything and everything your heart desires. At the same time, you must acknowledge the consequences. For instance if you’re counting calories because you have a goal to lose weight, and you only give into your desires to eat junk foods for two days straight, don’t be surprised when the scale changes and your clothes are tighter.
Beat yourself up when you make mistakes.
Not if you make mistakes, when you make them. We all have set backs. We all do things we know we shouldn’t do (like eat that second burger, oops). You’re only human! Everybody makes mistakes. Learn from them. If eating six cookies in one sitting makes you feel sick, don’t do it again. Or do. It’s your call. But don’t punish yourself or put yourself down because of things that you do. It’s okay to have set-backs. It’s okay to take three steps forward and four-steps back. You still make three steps progress originally, right? You can do it again.
Give up on trying to accept/love yourself because of your set-backs/failures.
Never give up on yourself. Ever. If you do give up on yourself, pick up the pieces and begin the journey again. Everyone has failures. In one of my favorite Disney movies, Meet The Robinsons, a character says, “From failure we learn, from success, not so much!” Each time something makes you feel bad when you want it to feel better, you learn something about yourself or the scenario. Maybe being around a certain person makes you feel bad about yourself. If so, stop talking to them/hanging out with them. You deserve to be happy, and to feel positive about your life, your choices, and your body.