I’ve touched on the body positive movement before, in a way that strongly critiqued the mainstream trend (see here). Now I’m all for think pieces and opinions, but after you tear something apart it’s important to suggest solutions. When I wrote that piece I was extremely unhappy with myself, and my body. I constantly compared myself to my other friends, and spent hours obsessing over my weight (and how to lose it). In many ways I think I was trying to disappear, to take up less space, to have less of me that could be critiqued. I knew the importance of loving and accepting your body, but I was so impatient to gain results; “why?”
Self harm isn’t limited to physically harming yourself; self harm is also allowing your head-speak to hurt you. What I mean by that is, sometimes we (myself included) will tear ourselves down before we give anyone the importunity to. We become our worst enemies, so maybe it doesn’t hurt so much when we perceive threats. “What does this mean?” Using myself as an example, I used to have someone in my life who was constantly belittling me. They’d attack my intelligence, life decisions, friendships, and even past traumas. I felt broken down in every direction. The issue wasn’t that I was internalizing these messages as true, but I think I became obsessive about attacking my actual insecurities before they could. Which as a result doubled down on the toxicity, and poisoned the air I was taking in.
I say all this to say, self love is NOT achieved all by ourselves (contrary to popular belief). As touched on my previously mentioned post, the environment we live in and the messages we receive highly impact our ability to internal positive feelings about ourselves. That means, who we hang out with, who we live with, where we live, the things we watch, and who we have close relationships with have an impact on our ability to love ourselves. “Why?” Because, humans are inherently social creatures! Which means we seek approval for others, we want to fit in, we care about what others think of us. Now do you understand why it’s important ensure that the people in our life are on our team? Do you understand why when we have people in our life we have to ensure:
- They advocate for you.
- They build you up.
- They are thoughtful towards you.
- They are considerate towards you.
- They are patient with you.
- They have faith in you.
- They are understanding towards you.
- They love you in a way that does not make you question it’s validity.
There are always going to be people who want something from you, or simply just want to be in your life. But on our quest for self love it’s important to reflect on how people impact you, and what you end up doing with that impact. I told my mother recently: “People in your life will either build you up or break you down, there’s no in-between.” That might be a bit radical, but the older we get, the less time we have for ourselves. We must be selfish with who we let into our lives, we must ensure that people are building us up. Because even if we allow toxic people into our lives, just because they can’t literally break us down doesn’t mean we won’t start helping them.
“So how do we internalize self love?” Simply put, look at the quest for self love from a Micro (You), Mezzo (People in your Life), Macro (Society) perspective. On a micro-level are you doing what you can to internalize self love:
- Are you feeding yourself?
- Are you drinking enough water?
- Are you moisturizing your kinky curls?
- Are you putting yourself first within reason?
Then on a mezzo-level, are the people in your life aiding to your ability to internalize self love:
- Are the people in your life kind to you?
- Are the people in your life present through the good and the bad?
- Are the people in your life supportive of your decision?
- Are the people in your life jealous of you?
Lastly, the level we have the least amount of control over (but one we should still consider) is the macro-level:
- Are the shows you watch providing you with positive representation?
- Are you in an environment where you felt seen and heard?
- Are you in an area where you have access to products you need?
- Are you in an environment where you feel safe to be your true self?
The more or less privilege you have will impact how much you’re able to do to support yourself. However, I still think it’s mindful to be considerate of these questions, even if you’re unable to change them. This is because we must be kind with ourselves.
“Some days I’m not able to wake up and go to the gym, because i’m tired. Some days I will keep toxic people in our life, because I don’t know where else to get support from. Some days I will continue to live in environments where I feel unsafe, because I don’t have the access/ability to live anywhere else.”
We can not allow our lack of privilege or energy to be an excuse to belittle ourselves; “Be understanding and forgiving of yourself.” Sometimes self love means accepting what we can not change and control, and celebrating ourselves for what we did have the ability to do.
So let me ask you this, what have you done on a micro, mezzo, and macro level that showcases you do love yourself?