Self love

“You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha In life we unconsciously reject ourselves and always put others first. For most of us it is the only natural thing to do because that is how we have been raised. This is even worse for women and girls who from a tender age everyone else in the family comes first, so if it is eating you get the last plate even if there are other boys who are younger than you. We are taught to always serve others which is not a bad thing but more often than not it culminates into self rejection. As we grow older self love diminishes from our lives when we have children and tend to prioritize them in every sense.

The next money that we get hold of as parents we think of how we are going to spend it for our children, our parents and our siblings. We are always the last person that we think of. Growing up in a society that has a tendency to compare us to the next person we always find ourselves bashing the self for failure to be like the next person or for all the wrongs that we conceive we have done in our lives. We grow up being asked to be like so and so and in the same vein we lose ourselves and we fail to realize just how beautiful we are just as we are. I am one person who has failed dismally to conform to a lot of societal expectations and I used to bash myself for it until I realized that I had to rejoice that I am an original me and not someone else’s photocopy and only then did I start appreciating, understanding and loving myself. Our experiences in the past good or bad are supposed to teach us something and not act as our drawbacks but many a times our lives dwell on most of our negative experiences and we fail to successfully progress in life.

Self rejection and sacrificing leads to self hate and thus it is important to love ourselves under whatever circumstances. Perhaps one would ask why talk about self love? Who does not want to feel loved, appreciated, and understood? It all starts with us because no one will love us if we don’t believe we are loveable. It is important to appreciate oneself and to be able to be loved you must love and respect yourself as much as you do to others. When we love ourselves we become more grounded and live more purposeful and meaningful lives as we embrace our weaknesses as well as our strengths and are more centered in our life purposes and values. When we love ourselves we will not let anyone hurt us or take advantage of us. It is also very important to remember that we are what we say we are and so it is imperative to ensure that we change the conversation in our inner world before we see any change in the outer world. I have hated myself and kept on blaming myself for things that happened to me even when I was young.

I have hated myself for the mistakes that I have made in my life. I have lambasted myself for not being like this or that person. I have accused God of favoritism by not giving me certain things and for having allowed me to go through certain traumatic experiences in my life. I had this deep rage within me but I realized that if I had to live a fulfilling life I had to forgive myself and all those who wronged me in my past. I realized that I needed to heal from my past and love myself so profoundly and most of all I had to be at peace with the universe. I have taken a number of steps in embracing self love that I believe can benefit one or two individuals. It hasn’t been easy because I lived more than 20 years hating myself for a number of things and being too hard and harsh on myself only to realize that the outside world is not any kind to me so only me could really love, appreciate and embrace me. Forgiveness The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy-Henry Ward Beecher.

If the sun does not choose who it shines on and shines on murderers, thieves and armed robbers that is profound love which we must embrace and exercise when forgiving.This comes in two parts: a) self forgiveness-there is no need for us to carry labels and mistakes from our yester year mistakes and make them define us. Whatever happened, happened and we surely have to rise above these experiences and learn a thing or two from them so that we progress towards becoming better people. One friend of mine always says never beat yourself up about the bad choices you have made in your life because when you made them at that particular point in time they made sense.

Anyway experiences are always the best teachers so view your mistakes as rich, authentic lessons learnt and move on. We always forgive others when they err and hurt us so why not extend the same kindness to ourselves. Go ahead and forgive yourself for all your flaws and acknowledge that you are a human being and erring is human. We need to choose to focus on our strengths and not our weaknesses because when we focus on our strengths our love for ourselves grows deeper.

These days when I feel I made a mistake I just sit myself down and say out loud, ‘I forgive you Tariro for such and such and please learn from it and never do it again.’ It has really helped me a great deal because then I love myself more and more. b) Forgiving others- We have all been hurt in our lives by other people intentionally or unintentionally and this hurt and pain usually sits in our bodies and results in us hating ourselves. Unfortunately we will always be hurt by one person or the other but honestly how we choose to respond to it is our responsibility either we keep hurting ourselves more and more by focusing on the pain or we choose to let go and move on. Forgive everyone who wrongs you in your life even those that are not sorry for their behavior and actions for your own good. That way you will love yourself more knowing you are too precious to allow other people to mess up with your feelings.

Letting go of the past-allowing yourself to heal Make peace with your past so that it won’t disturb your present Harboring negative feelings only hurts us more so it is important although hard to let go of past events. Painful events in the past usually weigh heavy on our souls and result in low self esteem and low self confidence or no confidence at all. This has been my greatest struggle in my life. I went through a number of traumatic experiences in my life that have remained a part of me for all these years. I have cried incessantly over the years due to my past experiences among them rape experiences, sexual assault, sexual harassment, physical and emotional abuse from relatives and colleagues and I tell you it has torn me apart.

I have physical scars all over my body and they are visible on my face too from childhood physical abuse, I always looked at the scars and told myself how ugly I was and hated the person that caused the scars. My world outlook was greatly influenced by these experiences and generally I believed that humanity was very cruel and I guarded my space jealously fearing that I would get hurt. Due to the numerous sexual abuse experiences I had, I really thought I had to make every effort to make sure I was not ‘attractive’; I compulsively ate myself and in the process became obese. Some days I would want to look pretty but on others I thought I would only be inviting trouble for myself. I have had to deal with Bipolar Disorder because I persistently lived in my head and dwelt on the past always focusing on the pain and the hurt and never on the good things. I then realized when I was obese that

I was doing myself so much harm and I had to let go of my past if I would be happy. This has been and is still the most painful part of my journey but I am winning the war. I had to struggle with low self esteem although it was not apparent because to those that know me I am ‘supposedly’ one of the strongest people there can be who oozes with so much confidence but I battle with myself fearlessly to portray myself as such. I felt worthless and useless but now I have had to appreciate that my past experiences have made me the activist I am today who will go all out to fight for women and children’s rights because I have walked in those shoes and this drives my passion. Healing from the past makes us accept ourselves, be at peace with the universe and mostly love ourselves more for shining after the fierce storms that we have gone through. It is important to tell ourselves that for every rain that we experience we should look for the rainbow and for every darkness that engulfs us we should look for stars.

Value yourself When you value yourself you know your self- worth and you will not allow other people to take advantage of you. You become very comfortable in your own skin and find no business in wanting to prove anything to anyone or conforming. Society always wants to place us in little neat boxes but it is okay if you find yourself not fitting any of those boxes. You are who you are and embrace yourself. Never compare yourself to anyone because when you fail to meet certain expectations you will hate yourself for it. I have been in relationships both professional and personal where because I didn’t value myself I allowed people to abuse me as they pleased tossing me around left, right and centre.

When you are confident of your self -worth it is easier to walk out on any toxic environments and situations because you love yourself so much you would not want to put yourself through hurt and pain. When you value yourself you inevitably fall in love with the self because you become mindful of what you feel, what you want and what you think and never do anything to please anyone else at your detriment. It is difficult at times to say NO to the people that we love and even to our superiors at work which in turn makes us depleted and at times injured physically, emotionally and spiritually. When you value yourself however it is easier for you to say NO when you cannot and to genuinely express yourself. Always exercise self affirmation Always believe in you and say kind words to yourself. If you don’t tell yourself how beautiful you are and wait for someone to do it, if they do not you become frustrated and judge yourself upon their inactions.

Praise yourself for the achievements you have made in life and give yourself compliments. Stand in front of that mirror if need be and tell yourself e.g, ‘Tariro you have such gorgeous eyes…’ Self affirmations make you appreciate and love yourself more. I have lost 25,8 kgs in my weight loss journey and when I am feeling like a failure I remind myself of that achievement I have made. It is those little simple things that seem like they do not matter but go a long way in boosting your self confidence and result in loving thyself more. Explore your spirituality Whatever it is that you believe in it is important to always believe in something because this is the foundation of self love. When you believe in something you have trust and belief in that and that can keep you strong when you feel like you are broken. For example when you believe in the power of the Universe or God you can easily look up to those in times of distress.

When exploring your spirituality it becomes easier to even learn new things about yourself that can help you appreciate and love yourself. Meditation is a key tool in exploring spirituality as this is an art of listening and it enables us to tune in and fine tune our mind and the spirit. Personal Development Never stop learning, enrich yourself, always keeping abreast with what is happening in the world so that you never cease to be relevant. A person should invest in books and ensure you read so as to enrich your mind progressively. Take care of yourself It is important to take of the self to reinforce self love. Taking care of the self means adopting healthy habits to take care of the body that makes you, you. Healthy habits include exercising, eating healthy food that nourishes your body and surrounding oneself with positive people. It’s also important to have enough sleep and healthy social interactions which nourish your mind and heart.

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