Healthy Self Image: How to Love Yourself For Who You Are
Self image affects your physical and mental well-being. So go ahead... love yourself.
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Changing for the Better
As Mary’s experiences prove, there are things you can do to work toward self-love and acceptance. Willetts notes that we can begin to succeed by taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
Internal self-talk is very important, she adds. You should talk to yourself as a coach, not a critic. She suggests finding support from family and friends who are positive and encouraging and honest, who will help you to see yourself in a realistic light. Feeling that you are part of a broader community, whether it’s a faith-based organization or some other community, has also been shown to be important, Willetts says.
For some people, especially women but increasingly men, too, self-love requires ridding ourselves of expectations about how we should look that are often based on the air-brushed images we encounter in magazines. “Society saturates us with pre-defined notions of happiness, success and beauty,” James says. To battle that, we need to develop and trust our own standards.
“It’s very American to want to always be bettering ourselves and sometimes we need to stop and be grateful and just enjoy what we have,” Willetts says. “I see lots of people who think they should be able to choose and do everything and do it well, and that’s not healthy.”
Learning to love yourself, James says, begins by recognizing what is getting in the way of self-acceptance. “You need to turn inward instead of outward and do an inventory of who you are, to recognize your strengths and identify things that interfere with feeling good about yourself. It’s about giving your voice as much volume if not more than everybody else’s. You need to trust your gut and not make decisions based exclusively on what others say.”
For some people, the journey to self-love will require professional help. “If lack of self-love is causing hopelessness and depression, if it’s affecting your quality of life and the direction you’re going in, you need to seek help,” Todd says.
Cross made the journey to self-love successfully, she says, because she learned to reject the standards that others set for her and develop her own rules for life. Now a business owner, wife and mother, she has a career she enjoys and people in her life who matter to her and make her feel joyful, she says. “I feel way better about myself now than I ever did.”