Kate of Kate’s Happiness Journey kindly agreed to be my first guest blogger. Kate is a mental health advocate, who champions body positivity, self kindness and disability awareness. So many of us struggle with self love – be that because our bodies don’t look or function the way we’d hoped, or because we’re not who or what we think we should be.
Here’s Kate’s response to her most asked question...
"How can I love myself more? That’s the number one question I get asked. Honestly, my answer is: I don’t really know. Firstly, the biggest step is not love at all but simply acceptance."
"Self-love is so hard; it’s not something that you can switch on. It’s not even something that can be taught, researched or studied. It’s a skill, like learning to play an instrument. You’re going to be crap at first. You’re probably going to want to give up. But like any other skill you have to weigh up the options. Is it worth persevering? What will you get out of building this new skill? What are the consequences of giving up? If we stick with the instrument analogy, it may be worth persevering if you love music. What you might get out of learning to play: the possibility to share your musical skill with others and it could take you to new places. What would the consequences be of giving up: well, probably not much when it comes to playing an instrument but unlike playing an instrument, you would lose a lot if you were to give up on learning to love yourself.
I have constantly, like so many others, struggled to accept myself as I am. When I was young, I remember being told “just be yourself”. But I hated myself, so I tried to be a better version of myself, fuelled by hatred and self-loathing. I had been bullied for my appearance so I had evidence that I needed to change. So being myself became less and less attractive to me. I wanted to be anything BUT myself.
Trying to change that mind-set is probably the most difficult thing you’ll ever do. When you’ve been told for so many years that you need to be different, being yourself seems scary and unattainable. Lots of people, including me, actually question “who even am I?” All I can say is that it takes time to learn. Be patient with yourself, let yourself make mistakes and learn what you like and don’t like.
Think seriously about your values, what do you find important in life? You’ll probably find that the things you value are not your body size, your facial features or your social media. It’ll be things like, family, friends, your passions and aspirations. So when you’ve established that, you gain perspective on the ways you can live in tune with your values. If you value family, making time for them and making them happy will make you feel good about yourself. Doing things that give you a sense of fulfilment really improves your self-esteem.
From there, you have a much clearer view of yourself, allowing you to see the positive in yourself, and gradually acceptance yourself as a whole. When your view of yourself as a person improves, it is SO much easier to accept your appearance. You’ll see your body as an extension of yourself, rather than your sole value.
So as I said, self-acceptance is the first step towards self-love. If self-acceptance is as far as you can get for now, that’s okay! Finding self-love is a lifelong pursuit and you are NOT a failure if you can’t achieve it straight away. I’ve been trying for years and I still have days where the self-loathing comes creeping in. But simply trying, or even thinking about trying, shows strength, courage and in the end shows that you DO value yourself"
"We are all just humans walking about this planet trying to find happiness. You need to believe you can achieve it. Because you CAN".
You can find Kate and her honest happiness journey on Instagram @kateshappinessjourney
Photo credits: White background photos by Ben Shaw. Black lingerie photo by Kate.