7 Practical Steps To Nurture Your Self LovePosted on 23/09/2020
Silencing your toxic self criticism.
Sometimes it’s hard to wake up and look into the mirror and be happy with what you see because you think you’re not good enough. While I’ve built much thicker skin towards my acne and acne scarring over these past few years, I still have insecurities. If it’s not just my skin sometimes it’s how my hair sits, or the shape of my teeth, or my height or the weird bumps I have on my body from birth. You can tell me that I am beautiful but on my bad days, I just won’t believe it because from the young age I compared myself with other girls all the time that it was hard to accept and embrace myself. It’s exhausting especially when I blame everything else around myself, and fail to realise it’s due to my own toxic self-criticism.
This might be the harsh reality for some of you but I’m here to say that you’re not alone and things do get easier once you recognise that you have the power to regain control again. I’ve compiled 7 steps to help stop yourself from drowning in your own negative thoughts, and to nurture your self love.
1. Pay attention to your thoughts to recognise the thought pattern.
You’re so used to hearing your own narration that it’s easy to become oblivious to the messages you’re sending yourself. Start paying close attention to your thoughts and you might realise you call yourself names without realising it. For example, when you stare at the mirror, or scroll through your Instagram feed, do you start to say/think you’re ugly? When you recognise these patterns, you can take steps to remove these situations.
2. Occupy your time with things that make you happy.
While solving a problem immediately is helpful, ruminating on the issue is destructive. For example, when you keep thinking about your skin/body over and over again you’ll drown in your own negativity. You can’t hate your acne or spots away. The best way to change the channel is to do things that make you happy. Listen to music, paint something, dance in your room, or go for a walk. Write these down so you have a list prepared when you’re feeling down again.
3. Examine the evidence because your negative thoughts aren’t 100% true and often exaggerated.
Your thoughts aren’t always true. In fact, they’re often exaggeratedly negative. It’s important to examine the evidence before you believe in your thoughts. For instance, I used to say “I am so worthless” because of my visibly red acne and believed that no one would love me but where’s the evidence to support that? I still had friends and family sending their love. Boys still showed interest because they cared more about my personality than my skin (those who made me feel bad about my skin are shallow and this experience helps me filter out the judgmental people anyway. A win-win situation). I have so many other amazing aspects and qualities besides my skin and so do you. Write down your unique qualities on paper to help you realise this.
You can’t hate your acne or spots away. The best way to change the channel is to do things that make you happy. Listen to music, paint something, dance in your room, or go for a walk.
4. Replace self-inflicted insults in your mind with loud affirmations.
Say realistic, positive statements about yourself out loud so your brain can hear it. Speaking affirmations out loud has been scientifically supported to re-wire your brain and create a healthier and positive reality. For example, I am strong. I am capable. I am confident. I am worthy. Your friends call your compliments, you should be able to hear your own.
5. Give your inner critic a name: Sounds funny and weird but it works!
Create distance between yourself and your inner critic by giving it a name. When it shows up, you can be like, “Hey Karen”. Continue having fun with this because this silly name makes your inner critic less of a prominent presence in your mind. It also helps you realise that this ‘Bob’ person is attempting to take over your mind. Once you recognise that you can stop them in their tracks.
6. Treat yourself with compassion like you would to a friend.
It’s often easier to be more compassionate toward other people than to yourself. For example, while you might call yourself ugly, it’s unlikely you’d say that to a loved one. When you’re struggling with tough times or doubting your ability to succeed, ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” Then, offer yourself those kind, wise words.
7. Balance self-improvement with self acceptance.
There’s a difference between telling yourself that you’re not good enough and reminding yourself that there’s room for improvement. Accept your “flaws” for what they are right now while committing to improvement in the future. You can simultaneously be a masterpiece and work in progress.
Please remember that self love is not a destination to be reached, no stopping point, no end. You can love yourself wholeheartedly one day, and the next you feel like you’ve ended up miles back from where you were and that all the ‘growth’ has been thrown out the window, but this is part of the journey.
Once I finally recognised self love as an ONGOING journey, I made a promise to myself to never give up towards practising self love, to always try to take steps to overcome my toxic self criticism even when it gets so hard. It does get better as each day passes. There may be set backs and you might fall back into the hole of self doubt again in the future but know for a fact that you are worth it. You are worth investing in your own confidence and beauty.
– Written by Elizabeth Claire Nguyen, Sydney based Skin Positivity Advocate.
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Do the examples of toxic self criticism above sound familiar to you? We want you to know that you are not alone! We’re here to help in any way we can. Feel free to leave a comment or question for ur or Liz in the comments below.
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