Learning to Love Yourself

It took a while to get to the point where I could say I truly loved myself, and even longer to learn to love my body. I spent so much time hating myself that I will tell anyone who will listen just how much I’m loving me now! Am I sunshine and roses all that time? No. Do I still have some bad days and insecurities like everybody else? Sure! But I’m no longer waking up every day hating what I see when I look in the mirror. Learning to love yourself is the ultimate form of self-care. If you can't love yourself, how will you effectively love to others?

So Ashleigh, how did you get to the point of loving yourself and being confident?

Pep Talks in the Mirror -- may sound silly, may be cliche, but it worked for me. Forcing myself to look in the mirror and say “Ashleigh, you are beautiful and I love you” until I actually believed it worked. Even on the days where I looked and felt a hot mess, and couldn’t force myself out of bed. I used to avoid mirrors, but now I’m always in one. Not out of vanity, but admiration for how far I’ve come physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I’ll dance, make silly faces at myself, tell myself to get my sh*t together or assure myself that I’m doing the best I can. Spend that time in the mirror, I promise it will help.

Visible Quotes and Positive Affirmations -- I love quotes. If you’ve ever been in any room I’ve lived in, or even seen my Instagram, you know this to be true. I would write quotes, scriptures, and positive affirmations on my mirrors, post them on my walls and have screenshots on my phone to ensure I had plenty of reminders throughout the day.

Video Journaling -- this more so helped on my mental health journey but it’s all intertwined anyway. Getting my mental health together aided the process of getting my physical and emotional health together, and vice versa. I recorded myself talking about what was currently going on in my life, how I was feeling, what I was thinking, and so on and so forth. It was my actual therapy before I started therapy. I recently went back and watched those videos (all ranging from 2011-2013) and man, I’ve come such a long way.

Putting in the Effort -- When I didn’t love myself, it showed. In the way I dressed, in the way I spoke (or didn’t speak) to people. I felt miserable so I didn’t put much effort into my clothing, my hair, or my body. I started losing weight, eating better, consistently getting my hair done, and slowly changed my wardrobe. I noticed that when I put effort into looking better, I felt better.

Going Places Alone -- I love going places alone. It’s simple. You can miss out on so much not wanting to go places or do things alone. Your favorite artist in town for a concert? Go. A new restaurant in town with good reviews open up? Try it out. An amazing flight just dropped? Book it! It’s easier said than done for some folks, but I promise you’ll feel better than you do missing out and watching experiences pass you by.

Celebrate the Beauty In Others -- This one is important. Comparison is the thief of joy. Being envious of the beauty and bodies of others added to a lot of the insecurities I had about myself. Instead of being jealous of the many beautiful women I had/have around me (especially during my time at Howard), I made it a point to celebrate their beauty, inside and out. No seriously, it’s okay to say “You are so beautiful!” to a perfect stranger or to compliment a characteristic you love and appreciate about someone. We all have days where we feel less than and I had to learn to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning my own.