Learning to Love Yourself, Even When You Feel Awful

December 28, 2009

Now, I have written MANY posts about learning to love yourself. So many posts you may be sick of them by now, but since this is a concept that I continue to struggle with, I have faith that this still applies to some of you. Often when I write about this topic, I try my hardest to come at gaining a better relationship with your body and mind from a POSITIVE outlook.  This is, in part, due to my ultimate favorite stance – faking it ’til you make it. Now, this is a good overall strategy, I do believe, but I have also written about: learning to be the most amazing person in the room, learning to have sexual confidence, and learning to love your body regardless of it’s size.

The problem that I’ve been facing lately is that it is much easier to love yourself when you are feeling good, when it’s nice and warm out, when you are active, when you are newly in love, when you are making a concerted effort, or when you are making good food choices. When you are doing any of those myriad of things, or often several in conjunction with one another, you are guaranteed to have an advantage in the “I feel unstoppably fantastic” department.

The question is: How can you force help yourself feel good about your body when you are really struggling?

I have been really struggling. I mean struggling like I haven’t struggled since my freshman and sophomore years of college. AND still I’m on here every week telling you that you shouldn’t submit to your negativity and should take the high road in your mind/body relationship, loving your body regardless of its flaws. And that is still true. But, sometimes it is harder than others.

There are days when you wake up and your skin feels tight, your body swollen and out of bounds, your limbs are plump and lethargic from lack of use, your skin is dull and your image distorted.  And when you have days like that, if you are me, you do not want to be touched or held, or looked at, certainly not photographed, or – on the worst days – loved, because surely that means the lover in question has lost their minds and are either a) lying to make you feel better or b) mentally unstable and must be dumped immediately.

We all have our triggers. For me, if my underwear feels tight or uncomfortable enough for me to be conscious of it, my mind hinges to it throughout the day as a constant reminder of how worthless I feel, and even the best intention or most conscious thought re-patterning will not sway my negative thinking.

The downside of this negative space is that I feel really really mean, and isolated. I feel as though I alone am struggling and I alone am condemned to live this awful life that I somehow deserve.

The point of this post, however, is to remind you that if you are feeling this way (today, tomorrow, next year, or in your post-holiday-cookie-coma) that you are not alone. I think that often I come at body image from a stand point of pulling yourself up by your boot straps. This stems from my personal ability to dwell for an ALARMINGLY long periods of time, so it is essential for me to reign this type of negativity in.  What I wanted to put to you, dear readers, is the reality that, while I often write about loving yourself regardless of everything else, I – like all of you – am completely human, and the reason that I even have a blog is to both portray the day to day of learning to love yourself more (we all have to start somewhere), and also to create a community feeling to alleviate the isolation that often comes hand in hand with impaired body image.

The reality is that you cannot force yourself to love your body. But you CAN take certain steps, some different for every person and some universal, to help pull your body back together. I do not mean that in a weight loss kind of way, but instead as tools that you use to make your body recognizable to yours brain again.  I find that this is the biggest problem in my struggle with my body image, that when I am in a negative rut, my body is unrecognizable to me, it seems to have a mind of its own and thus, I despair and think that there is nothing I can do, or that I am condemned to feel badly forever.