I believe in hope. I believe that we are malleable. I know so much of our time is spent thinking somehow our bodies are changeable, but our thoughts, opinions and beliefs are not. I know that if we believe the future can be different and better than the present, we can take the steps now that allow for improvement.
Changing yourself is not just about you as one person. Changing yourself also means changing your organization, your interpersonal relationships, your peers.
Learning to love myself has been over two decades in the making. I spent long periods of my life trying to be what people wanted me to be rather than being who I wanted to be. I spent endless hours critiquing just about everything about myself…my intellect, my career choices, my image, my friendships and relationships with my family, my morality, my view on social norms – and so on. Extreme self-loathing coupled with depression brought me close to the edge more than once.
My journey to wellness is anchored in the idea of changing myself into something I love. Love does not mean absence of flaws. Love does not mean perfection. Love does not mean permanent happiness. Love is authentic acceptance.
Lessons I have learned that I want to share:
- If you want to love yourself, surround yourself with people that love your faults, not love you in spite of them. Loving yourself does not mean being imperfect.
- Grieve the loss of the old you when you start to change. That is who you were, not who you are or are going to become.
- Forgive yourself for being imperfect.
- Name the changes you want to see in yourself, to yourself. Hold yourself accountable to a timeline to make movements on those choices.
- You can change yourself into something you love. It does not happen overnight. And coming to love yourself often means stretches of being unhappy. Paradoxical, but true.
- Only you can change yourself into something you love. No one else will do that for you. No one else knows how to make you the person you love.
- Avoid arrogance and conceit. Loving yourself requires being vulnerable and open. It does not mean you are the best at anything or everything.
- Be sensitive to the critiques of others. I have learned that much of what frustrates me in others are things that I know or once knew to be true in who I am – even if they way they were manifest was different.
- We are all afraid of rejection. Don’t be surprised if you reject yourself too. Then deliberately – even when painful – accept yourself.
- Regardless of life circumstance, traumatic events, history, we all have the ability to recover – if we allow ourselves to regain control and find meaning to what has happened. This is not always a journey completed alone. But one of the ways in which changing yourself into something you love is helpful, is the ability to find new meaning in who you are, your resiliencies, and your remarkable ability to adapt.
- Changing yourself into something you love means confronting some of the harm you have done to others in the past and learning when and how to ask for forgiveness. Loving myself, I have quipped, means accepting that I am a recovering asshole.
- Don’t apologize for your world view. Don’t apologize for your values and beliefs. Don’t apologize for your morals. Loving yourself is an unapologetic exercise in being who you are and need to be, not subscribing to what others try to tell you to be.