This year I am trying to do better in various aspects of my life. One of my main goals is learning to love myself because such a thing does not come easily to me.
So imagine my interest when I came across an article today which listed fifty ways to love yourself. I had a read and it was ok, but I soon realised that this list was for someone who most likely lived in sunny California, not in wintry London Town.
Telling me to ‘skinny dip in the ocean’ as an act of self-love is not going to work. The nearest thing to an ocean where I live is the River Thames and I would not wish skinny dipping in there on my worst enemy. There are absolutely no healing properties in that murky river, unless you count the ice-cold feeling that envelops you as you dive in.
Another thing they mentioned was to ‘catch the sunrise’. This sounds lovely and I’ll admit it is nice to wake up in the summer to the sun shining and birds chirping, getting a fresh cup of tea and eating grapefruit in your garden or on your balcony, feeling like you’re in Florida. But when it is winter it’s a different story. It is pitch black when you wake up and the last thing you want to do is look at the sun. You flinch at the bathroom light when you wash your face. Then you moan about your impending commute and having to stand next to someone who either:
A) has smelly armpits
B) coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth
C) is playing music which is leaking through their tinny headphones while you’re trying to have a nap.
By the time you get to work (or your train comes up from underground) you have missed the sunrise.
Another one was to breathe deeply all the time. Let’s be honest, this is not really feasible. Meditation is a great thing, but breathing deeply all day every day will result in people looking at you as if you’ve gone mad. It’s not a doctors appointment! There will be times when your breath will be shallow as a puddle, so maybe you should save your (deep) breath for those moments instead.
So here are a few of my ways to love yourself. There aren’t fifty of them…but at least I won’t be telling you to go skinny dipping in an ocean:
•Stop comparing yourself to other people.
Do not feel inferior just because someone you know has achieved something big, or that random woman on the bus looks amazing and full of confidence. For all you know, they might be comparing themselves to you. There is only one of you so own it.
•Have a chat with someone you like/love about life.
This might sound like small talk but it’s not- it must be with someone you can tolerate for more than five minutes. Bonus points if you start talking about random crap.
•Laugh like a hyena at something funny.
I was in a mood the other day and sat moping on the train, when I came across a video of a man in a polar bear suit falling over on an ice rink several times. It did the trick because I cried with laughter and the woman sitting opposite me momentarily looked a bit worried.
•Wear something that makes you happy.
It could be the brightest or the blackest item in your wardrobe. It could be a red lipstick or a fedora for all I care, but if it makes you feel golden when you wear it, then put it on.
The thing about dancing is that a lot of people get nervous about it. I love dancing but even I take a while to feel comfortable enough to get on the dancefloor (once I am, everybody. Stand. Back.). Don’t worry if you have no co-ordination or rhythm or you don’t look ‘cool’- just embrace it. If you’re still unsure, two-step all the way and add a bit of your own sass. As choreographer Martha Graham once said: “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.”
•Do not put yourself down.
There are enough people out there doing that for you. When that feeling comes a-crawling, shake it off and think of something that makes you feel good. Keep hold of that thought for as long as possible and go on from there. Yes, you can’t be positive twenty-four hours a day but there must be something about you that makes you go, ‘yeah…I’m alright, y’know.’
•Take heed of your own advice.
If you’re the one that your friends turn to for advice, but you never take heed of your own words, you need to start doing so. Now.
•List your favourite things, or things that happened that made you smile.
These things could have happened today or across an entire week but whatever they are, write them down (and no, I don’t mean seeing someone you don’t like having karma pay them a visit. It has to be positive, so your negative thoughts about that man/woman in the other department can wait until another time).