It’s hard to embrace ourselves, especially if we’ve spent years doing the opposite. The complete opposite. It’s hard to embrace ourselves, especially if we’re more accustomed to berating our bodies and every other trait we see as a flaw (which adds up to a lot of traits). It’s hard to embrace ourselves, especially if we’ve been taught that we’re worthless, that we need to change—lose weight! stop being so ridiculously sensitive!—in order to accept ourselves.
It’s hard. But it’s possible.
You can start small. You can start now. A few days ago, I shared some ideas on embracing ourselves. Below are five additional suggestions to consider.
- Sketch a favorite body part. This could be anything from your hair to your heart to your hands (because they look like a mini version of your father’s fingers, who hasn’t walked the earth in 8 years). You also could draw organs like your kidneys and your liver, because you appreciate what they do for you day in and day out. You also can draw a single cell, because it reminds you of the complex magic of your body.
- Tell yourself the truth.
- Tell people how you want to be treated. Tell them what you need. Tell them what you like. Tell them what you’re willing to do and not willing to do. Tell them kindly. But tell them—whether you believe you deserve to or not. Tell them, anyway.
- Write a letter thanking yourself for decisions you’ve made last week or a decade ago. Decisions that were right for you, that led to something important.
- Say one kind thing a day. Instead of criticizing yourself for not being able to work despite the utter exhaustion you are feeling, say “I understand.” Instead of judging yourself for being too sensitive, say “I’m sorry that was painful for you.” Instead of bashing yourself for eating too many bowls of ice cream, say “This has been such a tough week for you. It’s OK that you overate. You learned something important today: When you’re super stressed, you turn to food. Next time let’s try to turn to something that will really nourish you” (and there’s nothing wrong with savoring a bowl of ice cream; the problem becomes when you feel out of control and don’t even enjoy eating it). When we’re kind, instead of shutting down (like we normally would when we’re hurling insults), we get the opportunity to see more clearly. We get the opportunity to learn valuable information about ourselves, what works, what doesn’t. We get the opportunity to actually solve our problems and take great care of ourselves.
Embracing ourselves can seem like a big, complicated thing that we can’t wrap our heads around. How to start? When to start? After I lose the weight? After I find someone to actually love me (or at least like me)?
Forget about setting conditions (“I’ll embrace myself when…”) or making elaborate plans. Do it right now. Start embracing yourself in this minute. Start with smalls acts. With small kindnesses toward yourself. Start by finding appreciation for a body part, for a single trait. Start by telling someone how you feel. How you really feel. Start by telling this to yourself. Start by giving yourself a break. Start by getting curious (instead of angry with yourself).
Just start. Please start.