How did you learn to appreciate yourself?

How did you learn to appreciate yourself?

Monday, September 21, 2020

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THE self-help books preach this moment of realisation when a person should reach the highest level of clarity—and at that level they should love themselves, accept their flaws, accept that the past is the past, and embrace the future.

It's a step-by-step guide that many people take a while to complete, because often they stumble at the point that highlights self-love, and accepting themselves for who they are, how they look, and with all the characteristics that they can't change. Because deeply ingrained in our culture, our psyche, our socialisation, is a thought process that there's a certain look, certain personality traits, and a certain state of being that is the ideal, and that should be what we all strive to be.

For many of us, clarity comes late, after many missteps along the way, as we try to meet the ideal we've become accustomed to striving for. For others, learning to love themselves wasn't as difficult a process. How did you learn to love yourself? These four women share their methods.

I left my comfort zone

Melissa B, 38:

I was rail thin throughout childhood and early adulthood, so thin that I tried various methods to gain weight— even dangerous things like chicken pills and all kinds of craziness. I would also wear several layers of clothing just to have some semblance of a butt and hips, and you know how Jamaicans are about 'mawga' people —it's either you're sick or starving. I was called all sorts of names, lived through all sorts of insults and accusations, bwoy, I went through it. I struggled for years with my self-esteem, but after I left Jamaica and lived overseas for a while and saw that different ethnicities actually liked my thin frame — that's when I started to embrace how I looked. It was a whole different perspective and I loved the attention. Now that I'm older and the metabolism has slowed down, and I'm packing on some pounds, it's the opposite — where I'm trying to lose weight —but that high that came years ago from being appreciated hasn't diminished. In fact, even now, with my little belly and fat face, I love the way I look.

My mate affirms me

Natalie W, 40:

I know they say that you shouldn't seek affirmation from other people, but it's my husband's constant compliments and admiration that has made me love who I am, even more than I did before. Even after I had the babies and wasn't feeling my best, he would gush over my body, even though I know that there's no way I look as hot as he says. It's given me a confidence boost that no waist trainer could, and I think that even if someone else was supposed to point out any flaws now, I'd just laugh, because I'm beautiful!

Daily words of affirmation

Susanne F, 42:

They started a fitness programme at work, and a group of us committed to losing pounds, eating right, attending affirmation classes, and exercising. I didn't want to join in at first because I was just too busy, but they convinced me to and it was the best decision of my life. I think the affirmation classes had the greatest effect— before that I was dealing with childhood abandonment from my father, a string of failed relationships, and body image issues, as my child's father had left me for someone younger, slimmer and lighter-skinned. Reciting daily words of affirmation made me stronger, and I was able to move past my insecurities, and the other day I even connected with my father on Facebook, and we've been talking.

Faith moved me

Latoya L, 45:

It was faith that did it for me— before that I hadn't been inside of a church in years. But one day I was at home, yelling at my children as usual, trying to balance my budget after a salary cut, and absolutely hating the choices I had made in life — from the career I was in to the number of children I had —and I had an epiphany. It was as if some almighty power was talking to me, and I listened. I was in church the following Sabbath, and amazingly, that day the message was about the importance of meditation. I've been doing it for about a year now — sitting or lying down for 15 minutes in silence and just letting thoughts pass through my mind. This has been beneficial to me in so may ways— I've laughed, I've cried, I've healed, and I love myself and my life.

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