I’m going to share with you how I’m learning to love myself. I’m not a doctor in any way. This is my personal story and what I’ve learned through life experience and reading and what has worked for me. Maybe this might work for you too.
Self-hatred started pretty young for me. I always thought I had to be pretty, outgoing, and white in order to be loved. That’s what I thought the society I lived in admired – America. Since I wasn’t any of these (based off society’s standards and fact…I’m black), I thought I was unworthy. I also grew up in a mixed race family and being that I was the only black child I always felt alone. Subconsciously I always felt unworthy, but I wasn’t aware until three years ago. I could never admit that I didn’t love myself because then I was showing I was insecure and nobody likes an insecure girl, right? Or at least that’s what I thought. It’s a lose-lose situation. I’m someone society nor I (because I thought something was wrong with me) admires, yet I’m supposed to ignore it and be confident and pretend like I love myself. When I don’t. And that’s the problem, my friends. You want to know how to love yourself? First, admit that you don’t. It’s a mindset thing. You have to change your negative beliefs to positive beliefs but before you can do that you have to acknowledge the negative beliefs. BUT before you can admit you don’t, you have to be aware of your feelings. I became aware through meditation.
Do you think you’re ugly? Admit that you think you are ugly. Do you think you are stupid? Admit that you think you are stupid. Say whatever it is you don’t want to admit and feel. I always thought I was ugly. It’s not true, but it is how I felt. It’s a negative belief. You can’t cover up these negative beliefs with positive affirmations. Well, not at first. That comes later. First, you have to address the negative thoughts and beliefs. You have to get the negative beliefs out before you can let the positive ones in. You can’t just cover up or push away the negative thoughts and hope they’ll go disappear. They won’t. They want to be heard. So that’s why you have to acknowledge them. Acknowledge how you feel.
You think you’re not worthy? Say I think I’m not worthy. Then say positive affirmations to build your worth. Do things that make you happy. A lot of people push these negative thoughts away by ignoring them (what I did by depending on others), by drinking them away, smoking them away, there are so many ways we avoid our thoughts and feelings. Avoiding feelings is just like avoiding a toothache. You can put numbing medicine on it and it may relieve the pain temporarily, but the pain will come back. You have a rotten tooth. You have to take the tooth out and start over. We can avoid our feelings with alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, work, sex, or whatever else we avoid with and they may go away temporarily, but they’re still there. You have to address them and you have to change your thoughts. You don’t think you deserve love? Admit it. After you’ve done that, let yourself know you just like everyone else deserves love and you are loved by God unconditionally. You don’t think you’re loved by God unconditionally? Admit it. Notice how when you admit these negative beliefs, it might feel uncomfortable, but you’ll feel better after. It’s LITERALLY a release of tension in your body. It’s like crying. The chatter in your mind will also lessen. Your mind is connected to your body. Whatever you feel in your body is relayed to your mind. If you have a lot of negative energy/beliefs in your body that you’re suppressing, you will hear it in your mind, in your thoughts. That is until you become aware and address it.
Changing your negative beliefs to positive beliefs is not going to happen overnight. Self-hate didn’t happen overnight, and neither will self-love. So to make a long story short, you want to start loving yourself? Don’t ignore how you feel. That is the opposite of loving yourself. You’re ignoring yourself. Don’t ignore your negative thoughts and beliefs. Once you address those beliefs, THEN you can work towards positive affirmations and self-love. I’m not blaming society for why I don’t love myself and I’m not blaming white people either. I mean I could still love myself regardless. But I was young and unaware and society had a big impact on my self-image. That is why it’s so important to have all type of races represented in media. Young people might think something is wrong with them like I did. I didn’t know then what I know now and I can’t change the past, but I can change my mindset. I’m trying to change that and this is what has been working. Also, knowing that God loves me. That’s a big one. And being honest with myself.
-Sonja Jackson, OpenHeartTin