A reality check
When I hit my 20’s I thought I would have my life figured out by the time I was 25. I thought I would have my dream job, be married with children, be several stone lighter and have a perfect body. But in truth. Such goals are often unrealistic, especially in just five years. Whilst I have achieved some of what I wanted, bouncing blonde locks of hair and a stick-thin figure was never going to be achievable for me as that was me trying to be someone else, someone that I’m simply not. That is not self-love, but, what is? E.E Cummings said,
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
The first word that comes to my mind with this quote is conforming. Mainly, conforming to be what society molds you into and wants you to be. If your Vegan you have already broken society’s rule to conform. You’re the minority. So, how do we go from that to self-love when you may find yourself feeling like you need to defend your choices. Not just in relation to being Vegan but in everything you do.
Firstly, let’s talk about the basics of what self-love is. There is no easy way of describing such a concept as it means something different to everyone. Whether it’s dealing with your problems, taking care of yourself, getting rid of bad relationships or just eating a little healthier. The easiest way to think about self-love for you is to think of love itself and what it means for you. Is it a strong emotional feeling? Or is it more physical? Does it involve doing something you’re passionate about or simply spending time with the people you care about? Once you have decided what it means to you then you can start working towards love for yourself.
You can be the leading role in your life, but how do we do that? You’ve already done the difficult part of becoming Vegan. Even if you haven’t, this guide will still help you. You’ve made the first step by doing the research.
I’ve broken Self-love down into three main topics.
Acceptance is the beginning of your journey. It’s the foundation and the root. Imagine a beautiful rose beginning to sprout. That flower needs the right earth and neutering for growth. That’s what acceptance allows.
You have to accept yourself for who you’re. For me, this meant acceptance of my flaws and acceptance of how things were when I went Vegan. This doesn’t mean you have to be OK with what happens in the world and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything about it. Acceptance is accepting yourself for who you are. Not the one you portray to other people but the real one inside. The person who gets annoyed by things that can seem simple to others but may also show passion towards things that people don’t consider. In order to accept you have to also accept your issues, flaws, imperfections and everything in between.
Everyone has issues. Just because they don’t tell you about them doesn’t mean they’re not real and a big problem for them. Wishing you were someone else and admiring others is part of where the problem lies. When you focus on others and not yourself you only ever see your ‘problem areas’ and categorize them as such. This creates the mindset of, ‘I need to do something about it’, ‘I wish I looked like that’ or, ‘I can hide it’.
Don’t hide those flaws! Accept them.
The most influential people in the world are the ones who except themselves for who they’re, flaws and all and then works with what they have and doesn’t let it stop them. Blind people can play the piano disabled people play in the Olympics. Those are the people you should be admiring. The ones who know who they’re and embrace it. They don’t let it falter them, they don’t feel sorry for themselves. They live.
Accepting yourself is easier said than done but you need to learn how to do that. That could mean looking at yourself in the mirror and accepting those stretch marks for what they are, marks on your skin, that is all. They’re just marks on skin. This also means accepting things for how they are right now. If you hate the way the world is as a Vegan but don’t have the time for activism right now. Then that’s OK. There is always some other way to help. There’s always little steps you can take towards an end goal. Petitions, for example, are a great way to help out.
You also need to accept every aspect of your life. How you look, who you’re. Your career, home life and of course the people in it. Sometimes this can also mean a reality check. People claiming to be your friends may actually be holding you back or maybe you have problems a little deeper and mental health is a struggle for you. Don’t hide away from it.
Accept yourself. It’s the first step.
In order to start running your life, you have to embrace it once you’ve accepted it. Fears, flaws, problems. They’re all a part of us and will show up at random times in our lives. Accept that. Embrace that. It’s what makes you unique and amazing. Some people confuse self-love with being selfish. Putting yourself first is on a different level to being selfish. It’s the difference between only ever thinking about yourself and embracing yourself.
Gratitude is also an important aspect of embracing our reality. It’s the act of being grateful for what you’re and what you have, even if you don’t have everything you would like. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. Don’t just accept reality, embrace it and all of the ups and downs. When you’re going through a bad time know that it will get better. Positivity and Gratitude are such healthy emotions and concepts to embrace on your self-love journey.
Validation is something that people often struggling with in this step. You look to others to validate your actions and choices and most likely even the way you live your day to day. Stop this. By embracing yourself and your reality you will realize that the only person you need to validate with is yourself. Trust your instincts and your own mind. If you feel you’re making the right choice for you then you’re probably right. And, even if your not. It’s a positive learning experience. Don’t rely on others as then you’re being what they want you to be.
Maybe validation isn’t your struggle. Maybe you can’t embrace at all. Maybe you’re trying to hide the things you don’t like rather than showing them off. Face your fears and your issues rather than running away and trying to hide them. Solve your problems and embrace yourself. By embracing the way of life and how things are it allows us to open our eyes and also see the positive side of things. The great changes that are already underway. The improvements to our health and how wonderful than can feel. Saving just a single life knowing that every life matters. Focus on the positive and Self-love will start becoming easier. You will see the good and experience in everything you do.
A flower that is losing its petals is just as beautiful as one in full bloom but only if your willing to see it.
Living rather than surviving
So, you’ve accepted who you’re and how things are and you’ve embraced that but what’s next, how do you begin showing yourself, love?
It all starts with self-maintenance, just like you would check your boiler, weed your garden or clean your house. You should be taking that same initiative to look after yourself. Cleanse your body, prep yourself and love yourself with positive affirmations. This involves taking care of yourself, diet plays a key role in this, eating good food helps you feel good as you are giving your body what it needs and fueling yourself. Maintaining a healthy Vegan diet is so helpful in this.
It’s not just diet though. It’s everything. Self-love is about loving who you are and showing that to yourself. It could be taking that holiday that you’ve been saving up for. Or it can be as simple as having a 30-minute relaxing soak in the bath instead of a quick five-minute shower before you dart out the door in the morning. Maybe you have a book you’ve been wanting to read or an album you’ve been wanting to listen to. It can be anything. It can be a passion you’ve lost contact with or a friend you’ve not seen for a while. Take that time for yourself. This is the epitome of self-love, like the icing on a cake. By accepting and then embracing it allows you to truly enjoy and be thankful for what you have and see it in a new light.
Self-love is the foundation
Now that we have talked about how to achieve Self-love it’s time for you to start doing it and achieving it. It’s critical to be able to flourish and grow into that beautiful flower you can be. How do you expect to respect and love others if you don’t do that for yourself?
Once you learn to love yourself other things will just start falling into place. You will find you have a more positive outlook on things. Your mental health may be less of an issue. Your weight could be falling off. You could have a new outlook on your career or even take that step to head down a new road. Self-love is just the beginning.
My self-love journey began with going Vegan. Now I am heading towards a healthy weight, I have a positive mindset and outlook on life. I love what I do and most importantly I love myself. There is so much more I can do and you can as well. Just take that first step.