Journey To Self-Love
Written By Felicia Bowman
Seriously, I want y’all to throw out everything you know about self-esteem; whether you learned it from Psychology 101, your family, mentor, friend, whomever. At any point any book will give us a generic definition like “self-esteem is used to describe a person overall sense of self-worth or personal value of self.” I want us to scratch what the books say and create your own definition of self-esteem. If you want my definition, I will simply say that self-esteem begins with self-love. All may not understand the ways that we love ourselves, but the underlying factor is the only one that has to understand it is you because ultimately, it’s saying that you accept who you are. I have erased the word self-esteem out of my vocabulary and replaced it with self-love. I define self-love as an appreciation for one’s self.
I can honestly say I didn’t know what it really meant to have a love for myself. There was a time in my life where I felt I wasn’t the “baddest chick” out. I lacked a level of self-love that I believe many teenagers experience. And it’s not that I didn’t hear the words I was beautiful, or even that I didn’t hold myself to a high level of self-respect, but I let society and the media control how I should feel about myself. Over the years, I realized that I often found something negative to say about myself any chance I got. It started with my skin complexion, and then it moved to my body shape. I went through a phase where I wanted to have larger boobs, I wanted a bigger butt, and I wanted to look like Beyoncé.
But why? Why did I really want to make that change? Was it a lack of self-esteem? Was it to feel accepted by others? Was it to be known as the best looking girl in school? Or was it the lack of self-love I had ignored? In my previous post, I talked to you about how I have learned to love myself. This is true. Just this past year, I thought of every flaw possible to point out about myself. I thought my stomach was too big (even though some would say I am 90 lbs. soaking wet), I thought my natural hair was a mess at times, and I would continue to keep a list of things I felt was wrong. Until one day it dawned on me… Why am I criticizing myself? Don’t we see enough of that in social media? Don’t we get enough hate from others in the world? And sometimes in our relationships? I sat in my room one day and said I am beautiful. I am beautiful because God made me. More importantly, I am beautiful because I am me. I realized that it wasn’t about the image anymore. It was about the way I carried myself. The way my personality spoke when I walked in a room full of people who may or may not know who I am. I got to where I am today because I really started living by these four things.
● I stopped criticizing myself/others. Seriously, I just stopped. As a woman, we have to stop critiquing ourselves in unhealthy ways. I decided to ditch all those negative perceptions and embraced the image God wanted me to have.
● Secondly, I stopped finding a way to criticize others. (Yes, I did that too.) Too many of us find a flaw in someone else without reason. I never understood why. But I knew it didn’t help me nor did it help the other person. Now I make it a point to uplift other women. I realized that you never know that person story or the level of self-love they have, and I didn’t want to be anything to add to their insecurities.
● I stopped giving an F about other people’s opinions. Y’all know everyone has an opinion. And while everyone is allowed to voice his or her opinions, do I have to listen? Uh no! I stopped giving a flying F what others thought of me. I realized that the ones that are truly there for you will provide their opinion, but they will follow it with a suggestion to help you work through any issue. Opinions of worth are constructive. Women who have embraced self-love don’t put much weight in what others think. They simply know who they are, and that is enough.
● I ditched the negative vibes. How can you really love yourself if you always speak or think about yourself in fault? That’s not possible. Your mind will be filled with what’s wrong or what could be a problem if that’s all you think and speak on. So start speaking positive affirmations into your life. Every morning wake up and say something good about yourself. It takes one minute or less to share a compliment.
I just want each of us to embrace the Queen within, your best you. The only way you can start that journey is by showing yourself love.