At least a couple of times a day, I encounter frivolous, intrusive thoughts.
“Wow, you look crap in that photo.”
“You’re getting a monobrow.”
“You’re going to die alone.”
You know, little things like that.
And I know me, and I know it’s a very swift fall from “Why is my voice so annoying” to a full-blown stress-dream self-loathing vortex.
So I acknowledge the thought, and I imagine it on a piece of paper swiftly burning up, and I move on.
This is a way of saying what you already know: having self-love takes work. It’s a constant thing.
I wish I was a person who practiced mindfulness or meditation. That would probably help, but it would require turning my brain off for more than 30 seconds, and that’s frankly impossible.
Instead, I have to be active about it. I have to live it. I have to juggle while I walk on the tightrope, because if I stop juggling then I’ll think about the fact that I’m on a tightrope and I’ll fall.
Even as I write this, I’m editing it, removing adjectives that undermine what I’m saying. No, you shouldn’t put long-winded there, it makes you sound doubtful. No, you probably shouldn’t describe your intrusive thoughts as shallow or meaningless; frivolous is better, but only if you give it a little weight. Lucy – I stare myself in the face – you have to love yourself enough to recognise your voice is worth hearing.
I have written and deleted paragraphs outlining my history of self-hate before I understood how to be self-confident. I have debated whether or not it’s worth it to describe the way I felt at age 12, when I dealt with vicious bullying and a maelstrom of hormones, and wished fervently to be someone else. I can’t tell you if it would be worth it to detail how I struggle to look at old pictures, because they make me remember what it was like to truly loathe myself.
I could catalogue every flaw I’ve noted for the past eight years.
But I won’t do that, because I refuse to wallow in anything other than self-confidence and positivity.
Instead, I’m going to tell you something radical: Goddamn, I love me.
Herewith, a dot-pointed list of things to love about me.
- I’m so funny. I make people cry laughing at my jokes. In fact, I’m so funny I laugh at my own jokes before anyone else does. They’re lucky if they can hear it in between my gasps for breath. Because I’m really funny. I just tickle myself.
- I’m so smart. I’ve got a memory like an elephant and a wealth of general knowledge at my fingertips. I can write my way out of just about anything.
- I’m so pretty. Have you seen me? Have anyone’s eyes ever been bluer? Has anyone’s hair been shinier? Has anyone’s smile been brighter? The only people who come close to me in the pretty stakes are literally all women, because women are amazing and we’re so lucky to have them.
I’m so amazing. I sing the body electric. The best things in life are me.
I say these things enough, and I begin to believe them. I accept enough compliments, and I begin to internalise them. I see enough setbacks, change enough plans, and my self-confidence grows. I absolutely refuse to indulge in self-hatred.
And then I write a piece for a website about how much I love myself, and how difficult it can be to make sure I keep loving myself, and writing it is the easiest thing in the world.