Like most of the best things in life, learning to love yourself takes time. Committing to self-acceptance and cultivating tenderness toward your own body are both fantastic initial steps. Acknowledging that the definition of beauty does encompass you can kick start the process. But don’t expect to rewire your brain overnight. Most self-loathing and negative body thoughts take time to eradicate, and patience is key.
And even after you’ve made tremendous strides, even after you feel that you’ve done the brunt of the work, even after you know that you’ve drastically improved your self-image, you will still struggle. Do not expect to love yourself completely and wholly every day of your life. It may sound like a worthy goal, but it’s actually a trap. Because if you hold yourself to that standard – the standard of consistent, unwavering, holistic self-love – you will fail. And when you catch yourself wishing your upper lip was less hairy or your thighs a bit slimmer, you may feel guilt or shame. Since the goal of striving for self-love is to abandon guilt and shame, this is counterproductive. You will have tough days, moments of frustration with your body and inner self. You will doubt.
And that is just fine. You are a human being and life is inconsistent and challenging. Just as you should strive and strive hard to love yourself, you should acknowledge and accept that you sometimes won’t. Some days are harder than others, and some days will defeat your best efforts. If you feel yourself devolving into consistent negativity or notice that certain people or circumstances are triggering these lapses, take action to correct your path and change your situation as best you can. But if you just experience the occasional flash of frustration or disgust, anger or resignation, don’t dwell on it and don’t beat yourself up over it.
Some days you look at your best friend and want to punch her in the mouth. Some days your boss is superfab, and some days you want her to leave you the eff alone. Some days your brother calls you and the very sound of his voice irritates you from top to tail. Our feelings about other people fluctuate frequently and naturally. It only makes sense that our feelings about ourselves would undergo similar fluctuations.
Part of learning to love yourself is learning to be patient and forgiving with yourself. And that includes being patient with your journey, and forgiving slip-ups. You’re human. Which is kind of the point.