To say that we live in an imperfect world would be an understatement of the year. As a species, we tend to trivialize the truly important causes, while we overthink the irrelevant. We are prone to letting magazine covers affect our self-perception, we disfigure the language we use to describe ourselves simply because we don't fit into the fake template of what's considered ideal, and we rarely give ourselves a break. The world has little mercy when it comes to those feelings as if they are never enough – competent enough, beautiful enough, handsome enough, or strong enough.
In the face of all that criticism, how can you even begin to love yourself? It takes time. Then, some more time, patience, and plenty of learning. This is one of those simple opportunities to find new ways to recognize and acknowledge your own values and stay true to who you are. No matter what the world says.
A person's 60 kg weight-loss journey starts with saying no to a soda. In a similar manner, your leaps and bounds of dramatic change happen in the form of small, baby steps which you can manage. The fact that you've already recognized you should build your self-esteem is a great step forward. As the first act of kindness towards yourself, you can start by taking notes on your thoughts and actions. Writing down and journaling helps you put things in perspective and spot areas where you can take charge and improve.
For example, you can start by smiling at yourself in the mirror. When you become comfortable with that, add a few words of encouragement. Recognize and verbalize what makes you awesome – because there certainly are qualities that make you an authentic person.
Self-care includes a wide spectrum of decisions that help you overcome your fears and allow you to love yourself together with all of your flaws. Self-care, however, doesn't boil down to sustenance. Start doing what brings you joy and what allows you to freely express yourself through those choices. What you wear, the music you listen to, the items and people you surround yourself with, all of those choices should be a reflection of who you are
We've already mentioned how negative self-talk can become embedded into our mindset. What you can do is spot those negative bursts of derogatory talk and swap them with kindness, understanding, and love. If you are prepared to do the very same for your friends and family when they struggle with feeling low, you should learn to do the same for yourself. It can be difficult at first to notice the negative patterns. Over time, you'll learn to recognize that inner voice and transform it into your cheerleader. For starters, find a few thoughts that you can always go to as your emergency source of positivity – whether it's a reminder of what you've achieved, of your loving relationships and how you make others happy, or your generosity, the choice is yours. Just make sure you start giving your inner voice a makeover.
Risk-taking is an enormous part of life. Sheltering yourself from potential hurt and failure can never give you the means to push your boundaries the way facing your fears and limitations can. What's more, fail on purpose! Give yourself the chance to see failure for what it truly is – not yet another reason to feel like a subpar human, but proud of yourself for finding your might to get up and move on.
You will begin to value yourself more as someone who is willing to dare and fail. After all, we're not meant to be great or even good at everything we do. If you love singing, and you have no musicality whatsoever, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying your tunes. You might never feel inclined to join a talent show, but you shouldn't prevent yourself from singing altogether. When you see something and immediately think "I couldn't possibly" – do it anyway. Do it in spite of the potential failure, just for fun, for a challenge, and for a new chance to high-five yourself.
Life and people will always find a way to challenge your self-perception. Let them. Then use the opportunity to show them what you're made of, even when you slip, even when you doubt yourself, and when you need a break from the world. Most importantly, remember that we're all just human, and that it's up to you to bask in all that makes you human – flaws, brilliance, and everything in between.