JKG | jkgphotography.co.uk
Location: Wandsworth, London
So as of late, I've been becoming more and more aware of this every growing pressure to love yourself. I guess I've been in my own little self love bubble where I preach it to the high heavens, but I've somehow forgot just how difficult loving yourself really is. There are countless articles along the lines of '10 ways to love your body' and even Instagram accounts dedicated to the self love movement. I'm also guilty of promoting self love quite heavily and until recently, I didn't realise just how isolating that can be for those who feel like they just can't love themselves.
I used to hate myself so much that I would physically harm myself and whenever I looked in the mirror, I would cry a river of tears with shame and embarrassment. I knew I wanted to love myself but nobody taught me how and I was stuck in this great big dark hole. Although I look back now and feel sad for my former self, I now know that its sort of inevitable to dislike parts of yourself because if you didn't know - we are brain washed to from birth.
Now I know that sounds so depressing and a bit like 'oh FFS what a shit world we live in', - which is true lol, but undoing all of that self hate and all the negative thoughts we've developed about ourselves can be done. It just takes a lot of time, effort, sacrifice, hard work and determination.
All of which doesn't come easy - that's for sure.
I often receive messages (usually privately on Instagram) from hundreds of young girls and women telling me their stories and why they're struggling to love themselves. I would usually reply with essays, bullet points and my top tips for finding self love, but from today I shall be stopping that!
Self love is one of the hardest things you can do. Yes its super empowering and can lead you to a new world of happiness, but it doesn't just come overnight. I, and so many others can give you all the advice under the sun, but it has to come from you - when you're ready. And as weird as it sounds, you might not be ready yet - (apologies if that sounded like I'm a pretentious dickhead, I'm not I promise). What I'm trying to say is, that you have to tackle past trauma and heal things you've been through before you can become a 'new' you. It is absolutely okay to not love yourself and take it from me - the most confident and happiest people don't love themselves all the time. Self love is just like any another state of mind - it will come and go depending on circumstance, environment and many other factors too. It is hard work - harder than I ever thought it would be. And as humans we are dealing with so many things that sometimes, putting ourselves first can be daunting.
There is also a sense of guilt isn't there? Everyone you know is preaching about how much they love themselves now and how everyone should because its so wonderful blah blah blah, and you quite frankly do not - its overwhelming. However if this is you - try your very hardest NOT to feel guilty. You are literally living life the way you've been taught and lets face it - there is no guide, or manual on how to love yourself and don't forget all the messages we receive as children and then as adults that tell us we have to be one ideal of beauty. Its fucking exhausting!!!!
And nobody should be judging someone who is a product of society, especially when we ALL are.
It isn't as easy as 'say some affirmations in the morning' and 'meditate' or 'be kinder to yourself' - which is something that I always say to people. Self love comes from a place way deeper than that and I honestly believe that place cannot be reached by anyone other than you. Of course advice and love from people around you will help massively, but ultimately, self love is a single handed journey that will start to happen when you are pushed towards it. For me personally, I woke up one day after crying myself to sleep because I only lost 1 pound at slimming word. I looked at my puffy eyes and collar bones and decided right there and then that I was absolutely done. Weightloss wasn't helping me to love myself so I decided to find a different route - I gave up dieting and went into therapy. That was my wake up call and one day you will have yours. It might be the same as mine or completely different but if you're willing it to happen - it will.
My advice to any one of you beautiful readers who are stuck with the notion of 'I just cannot love myself', I would like you to know that you can and I'm rooting for you. You can achieve anything in this world when you believe in your ability - people have literally walked on the fucking moon. Give yourself more credit and believe that you are magic and wonder and hope and you mean the world to someone - even if you haven't found out who they are yet. Heal your pain and give yourself time to grieve past experiences because self love will come to you when you have an open heart, and have space to receive it.
In the mean time, sit with how you feel and connect to it. Where is this pain coming from? Why am I feeling this?
Am I happy with the people I have in my life? Who and what triggers me?
Self care is something you can always lean on and in doing so - can ignite a flame to begin your journey with self love. Learn to look after yourself as if you were your childhood self and give her all the things you need right now.
Self love is for everyone, but if you're not there yet, that's okay. You're still good enough. You are worthy and powerful and one day you will love yourself so much that you won't remember a time that you didn't.