How often do you tell yourself how much you like yourself? Do you ever look into a mirror and think to yourself: “Yeah, you’re rad”? To be honest, I don’t. Not all the time. It’s really hard to look your own self in the eye and think something good about yourself, isn’t it? But, it doesn’t have to be. Would you ever say the things you say to yourself to someone you love? I’m imagining the answer is probably no. So, my question is, why would you say that kind of thing to yourself? Your best friend wouldn’t say it to you, you wouldn’t say it to your own best friend, but maybe you should also realize that you can be your own best friend as well.
Does that sound weird?
Don’t worry, I used to think so too.
Growing up, I don’t think I ever thought of liking myself or not liking myself. I just was who I was. But, as I got older, and became a lot more self-reflective, I noticed I wasn’t kind to myself, at all. I’ve spoken about my eating disorder, and my issues with depression, and that all plays into not loving myself or respecting myself. I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and told myself I was awful, and I’ve grabbed pieces of my body and squeezed them so hard I wished they would disappear. But, I would never do that to anyone else because I want only the best things life has to offer for all of those that I love and care about. Clearly, I didn’t care about myself in the same way.
I do outreach with Planned Parenthood and we often have a little trivia session at the table where people can come, spin the wheel, answer a trivia question and win a prize. We have a section for kids who are under 10, and one of the questions that you can ask them is something along the lines of “what do you like about yourself?” and most kids can’t answer it. They stare at me and look like they’re afraid to get it wrong, and honestly, it breaks my heart. I always ask them things like: “Do you think you’re smart?” “Are you funny?” “Can you tell a good story?” And they will always nod yes and look super relieved. Ask them a question about what makes their best friend their best friend, and they can stand their for 10 minutes spouting off on how great it is to have someone to ride bikes with, play dress up and go swimming. So, they know what it is to be a best friend, but they don’t know what it means to be their own. I get it. I bet you get it, too.
But, how hard would it be for us all to look into the mirror every day and think: “I’m pretty great”? What would it take to tell yourself how good of a storyteller you are, or how good at baking you are? Why can’t this be something you acknowledge about yourself? As we get older, especially as womyn, we tend to put our own needs and desires behind what everyone else needs and wants. We become people in the workforce, mothers, caretakers and a million other things, but we don’t become a friend to ourselves very often, if at all. I know when I mess up at my job, I go on a shame spiral and take all the blame immediately, but if my co-worker did something, I would tell them it was okay and to move on. I have friends who talk about gaining weight and how bad they feel about it, and I always tell them it only matters how you feel inside, and the scale doesn’t reflect anything about who you are as a person, yet here I am, constantly berating myself for eating that ice cream or skipping that yoga session. It doesn’t make any sense.
Will I ever figure it out? I’m working on it. Will you figure it out? Well, honestly, that’s up to you. I do have a mantra I always come back to when I’m being super hard on myself: “Never say something to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a best friend.” I then try to count myself as my own best friend. It’s a reminder to not only care about who I am as a person, but also someone else out there loves me, so why can’t I love myself?
I hope you try this. But, more importantly, I hope you remember someone out there does love you, and you are worthy of that love and kindness. Especially from your own self.
Take care and be good to yourself.