Imagine a “perfect” version of yourself.
Can you do it? What does your “perfect” entail? Is it a long list of things that you presently are not? Does it encompass anything about your current state of being?
Last October I had a case of recurring hives and needed to go on antibiotics and steroids to get rid of it. Along with this, I was told not to exercise or sweat because perspiring would heat up my body and influence more hives to pop up. A few months later, after visiting a physiotherapist, I learned I needed to strengthen my wrists and lower back and to avoid exercise. I was devastated. The combination of these two things lead me into a dark winter of mild depression. I felt very alone.
I felt that no one really knew what a struggle I was enduring and instead watched me struggle, gain weight, retain lots of water and gain more weight. The medication changed the flora in my gut and I no longer craved vegetables, and felt comforted by junk food. Thanks, steroids!
But, I was determined to be happy with myself. Regardless of what was going on.
Things have changed the past four months or so. And with that came a little weight loss (back to my “normal” size). You would think I would be happy to receive compliments, but that wasn’t the case. The compliments reminded me of how often people are quick to judge without knowing a situation. They reminded me that body image is sadly at the forefront of many people’s minds. They reminded me of how so many people don’t care about the journey, they just want to enjoy the destination. I was reminded of how alone I felt in my struggle. And lastly the compliments reminded me of how many people love themselves and arguably others with conditions.
So many people tell themselves that they’ll only “feel better” or “love” themselves once they hit a certain milestone whether it be changes to their physical health, the amount of money they make, or anything else people strive to obtain. I hear people tell themselves that “once such and such happens, I’ll be happy.” Well, what about the present moment? Why not be happy now? Why not be happy along the journey?
We talk an awful lot about loving others unconditionally, yet do we ever stop to consider if we are extending the same kind of love to ourselves?
I know many people that are presently unhappy with themselves, maintaining a mindset that they will be happy once a certain thing or milestone happens. They hold out on loving themselves, like some reward they can earn, or achieve. They love themselves with condition. They set the terms, trying to improve themselves first, but they are not truly loving themselves. They are loving themselves conditionally, not unconditionally.
It hurts me when I hear friends, family or coworkers get down on themselves in their present state. It hurts me to love people unconditionally and know that they don’t love themselves the same way. It pains me to see people go the extra mile for someone else but ignore their own goals. It hurts me when I hear people put others down. Are we not all just trying our best? And if we’re not trying our best, are we not allowed to acknowledge that we could do better, but continue to love ourselves in the present?
This past winter I realized something important. I realized that I want to love myself entirely, without conditions.
I refused to get down on myself.
I refused to let my thought pattern give into negative thoughts about myself.
While I do, in fact, think and consider certain negative self thoughts, I mull them over, contemplate and analyze the entire situation, until I come to some peaceful conclusion. I then digest the truth and go forward with my day. Taking the time to do this enables me not to carry half-conclusions, negative, or otherwise unhealthy thoughts with me.
This past spring and summer I proudly wore a bikini with my extra weight on a number of occasions because that’s how my body was when I had the opportunity to swim. I was never a model to begin with, so why would I place those expectations to only wear a bathing suit when in perfect physical condition? I realized if I did, I would lose out on so many opportunities in life. I wanted to swim. And I have a body and a bathing suit. So why not put it on and swim?
Anyone who thought something negative about me in a bathing suit is stuck with those negative thoughts. They are not mine. They do not belong to me, so why would I impose someone else’s viewpoint on myself?
Anyone that presently loves themselves with conditions, ask yourself why. Why aren’t you deserving of love and acceptance right now? Did you learn this from your parents? Did you learn this from mass media? Why do you give out love so freely to others but not give it to yourself?
Loving yourself unconditionally is one of the most badass things you can do. Embrace your own journey, and let’s be badasses together!