Ten years ago, I hated myself and struggled with life.
Now I love my life and believe I am unique and special. I practice gratefulness every day and embody an attitude of kindness. I am happy.
Coming from a place of self-hate to one of self-acceptance is a change worth celebrating, and sharing!
When I look back on my journey, there are 8 changes that transformed my relationship with myself. By sharing these steps, I hope you can improve your relationship with yourself.
STEP ONE – I OPENED UP MY MIND
If I stayed stuck with the same behaviours, thoughts and beliefs I would have continued to hate myself. So in order to change, I needed to open myself up to new ideas and concepts.
At the recommendation of my psychiatrists, I completed a Cognitive Therapy Course. This course showed that if I changed my thoughts I could change my life. Before this point, I had no idea that thoughts were the main cause of my discontent.
From then on I read everything I could on self-help, self-love and recovering from depression. I read every relevant book in my local library and started buying buying as many books as I could afford. My favourite books are:
I re-read these books at least once a year and still learn new things each time.
I joined a beginners course at my local Buddhist temple that introduced me to the basic concepts of Buddhism and meditation.
I downloaded inspirational podcasts and Ted Talks. I used the time driving in my car to listen and learn.
In essence, I opened myself up to accepting new ways to view life and live my life. By learning, I was able to move forward.
STEP TWO – I FORGAVE MYSELF
We are all doing the best we can with the knowledge, skills, beliefs, experiences and resources that we have.
When I realised this, I had no choice but to forgive myself. I was just trying to survive in a world I perceived as fearful. I was working within a frame of reference that was limited and tunnel-visioned, but I didn’t know any better at the time.
Now my resources, knowledge, skills and beliefs have grown and expanded, I can make decisions from a place of love that are more aligned with my soul purpose.
STEP THREE – I STARTED TAKING CARE OF MYSELF
When you dislike yourself, you stop worrying about your well-being.
I consciously started doing things that made me feel good. I walked on the beach each day; took myself to coffee shops to be around other people; and listened to happy music.
The biggest change I made was to start journaling again. I use my journal to capture my unhealthy thoughts and beliefs in order to re-frame or delete them. It is also a great place to record inspirational quote and messages. Most importantly, I use it to record my progress forward and not as a place to wallow in self-pity.
STEP FOUR – I COMPLETED A LIFESTYLE AUDIT
I needed to break my old patterns and habits. There were many people and conditions in my life that were bad for my mental health.
I was living by myself which gave me too much alone time to feed my self-destructive thoughts. I was invited to come live with my Aunty in a seaside town two hours from the city. With the support of my cousin, Aunty, Uncle and Sister I packed up my house and made this big move 250 Kilometres away.
A new environment surrounded by loving and supportive people was exactly what I needed. I was given the time and space I needed to re-set my thoughts and start again. On a side note – if it wasn’t for this move I wouldn’t have met my husband!
The other big change I made was to distance myself from people who were detrimental to my recovery. I stopped seeing people who triggered unhealthy thoughts and behaviours. I also stepped away from the people who were not supportive or understanding of my struggle to love myself.
STEP FIVE – I SURROUNDED MYSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE
I attracted a tribe of happy, vibrant, caring and supportive people.
This was mainly friends and family already in my life, but I also selectively developed relationships with new people who were good for my soul.
After the birth of my oldest daughter, I attended a Mothers Group at the local Community Health Centre. Through that group I met six amazing ladies who have bought so much love and happiness into my life. As scary as it is to try new things, especially when you have a temperamental relationship with yourself, it is worth the effort when you attract amazing people to you.
STEP SIX – I IMPLEMENTED MINDFUL LIVING TECHNIQUES
The topic of mindfulness is an article on its own. For more detailed information, read this article.
In simple terms, Jon Kabat Zin (the person responsible for bringing mindfulness to the mainstream western world) defines it as ‘paying attention; on purpose; in the present moment; and non-judgmentally’.
In essence, mindful living means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment; without judging it
as good or bad.
STEP SEVEN – I USED AFFIRMATIONS
I introduced daily affirmations. As I dressed in the morning I would say an affirmation in the mirror. I also had them as sticky notes in my car and would repeat them to myself throughout the day. Some affirmations I use are:
- I like and appreciate myself
- I have love for myself and others
- I radiate love and acceptance
- I deserve to be happy
- I deserve all that is good
- I am full of gratitude for my life
- I am proud of myself and my accomplishments
- I am worthy and valuable
STEP EIGHT – I CONSCIOUSLY DESIGNED MY LIFE
Instead of reacting to life, I take responsibility.
I realised that a lot of the difficult aspects of my life I had manifested myself through past behaviours and beliefs. I now consciously create my life to attract the positive experiences I deserve.
Many things are out of my control. I made a decision to actively choose how I respond to experiences outside of my influence instead of getting swept away in my thoughts and emotions. This is hard, and I can still get overwhelmed and have bad days. But in the bigger picture, I no longer try to control occurrences outside of my influence.
Learning self-love was not a quick fix. It has taken 10 years to develop this strong and healthy relationship I now have. And it is ongoing practice!
Even though it takes time, it is worth it! I am now happier; more settled and content than I ever thought I would be.
Related: 10 Ways To Create Lasting Happiness (join the happiness challenge!)