Claudia Mirallegro: Small Habits of Self Love
Everyday I’m asked, how did you find your confidence? And everyday, I struggle to find an adequate reply.
How does anyone fall in love? It’s rather inexplicable, it happens slowly without notice and then, suddenly all at once. It took nearly two entire decades to fall in love with myself. And here’s the thing, it doesn’t just happen. You won’t ever simply wake up and finally sigh with relief. Your usual wave of self-hate will not just evaporate without a conscious effort on your behalf. And yes, I hear you, how terrible it is that we live in a society that practically encourages self-hate. But the most rebellious act is to refuse and that refusal can only happen with work. Tiny rituals and habits that accumulate – in the same way forging a life with a partner develops.
Love is an action, it’s a habit - it’s not just a word. The concept of self-love is flung around like a frisbee. We’ve listened, we understand it’s crucial to our happiness but we are rarely told how. So, rather than simply stating the importance of self-love, I want to tell you exactly how I fell in love with myself.
What are the benefits of exercise?
I’ll admit, I have an almost religious relationship to exercise and it’s purely because of how it makes me feel. Because here’s the thing, exercise brings you back to yourself, it’s not a competition in the way we're so terribly conditioned to compete, it’s just you against yourself. A daily yoga practice has kept me focused on myself, my body’s abilities and progress in strength. It’s not how my body looks it’s what my body can do – and that switch in priority is absolutely life changing.
You are what you consume
Everyday we are incessantly overwhelmed with visual content on social media. We hit follow with a casual click and then follow along on the journey of a thousand people’s lives who are actually absolute strangers to us. We rarely consider that this stream of content we actively sign up for has a huge impact on us.
Social media is still mostly a bragging platform (and we’ve all bought into it). Subsequently it make us feel less than enough. Be selective with who you follow online. You’re an intelligent, inspiring and creative human, so curate your social media feed in the same way. I promise you’ll feel much better for it, more peaceful, less wondering why you aren’t like this or that. If a book annoyed you or made you feel terrible, you’d likely put it down – do the same with instagram accounts. Eliminate and save yourself a lot of self doubt.
Surround yourself with honesty and kindness
We are naturally programmed to compete with one another. I hate this. I have found the best way to bond with others both in real life and online is to just speak the simple truth. Have no money? Voice it. Feeling lonely? Talk about it. Some one broke your heart? Share it. We are naturally very compassionate creatures and nothing will speaks louder than honest, uncomfortable truths. It creates an intimacy and that in turn, binds us together.
So be honest and be kind to those you cross in life. It opens us all up to more love and compassion, but it also individually makes us feel better about ourselves. Creating a dialogue where we can confess our problems or insecurities and then responding with kindness and making each other feel better? It’s the most beautiful thing we can do. And it’s a beauty that will breed more love for us ourselves too.
This one is so simple. Treat yourself like you would your best friend. We so easily torture ourselves over really stupid, meaningless stuff. Last summer I decided to stop mentally apologising to myself. It’s a waste of time and that circular hell called self-blame is self-hate’s evil cousin. Go easy on yourself. Life is short and small shortcomings or regrets are all part of the journey. To dwell on them is pure nonsense in a life that is already far too cruel. You are enough and whatever you do or don’t do won’t break you.
Focus on what makes you proud
I feel this is especially important when it comes to body-image. Everyday we are fed photos of ‘ideal bodies’ and ‘perfect faces’, it feels almost impossible to glance at a mirror without wincing. But you must remember photograph’s aren’t real and we are are so much more complicated than what an image portrays. I cannot tell you I love every part of my body, I wish I could. I have days where I feel great, but for every one of those days, I have several where I wonder why my stomach isn’t flatter or my nose, better shaped. They are far less frequent than they once were, but I’ve learnt to halt those thoughts as soon as they arrive and instead concentrate on what I do like about how I look physically.
Absolutely no one is perfect and I’m sure every one every wishes they could change a thing or three – we all have flaws but we also all have beauty. And that’s just what it is to be human. Perfection has never existed and it never will, so why do we still pine for it like it’s a possibility? You must simply remove this pressure of perfection from your mind.
You are deep
In this world, women have been venerated almost exclusively for their beauty. It’s always been that way, and while it is changing, there is still so much work ahead. A huge component of my confidence comes from the fact that I am so much more than the surface. I like to read books and take photographs and write poems. I believe I have interesting things to say and I’m drawn to people who want to share their mind.
And this life I’ve had? It’s been varied, it’s been crazy, it’s been an adventure. And that’s what I’ll remember most when I die, not how I looked in a dress or how men might have liked or disliked me, but these passions I chose and then committed to. They make me who I truly am. They are what I’m most proud of – so make more room for your passions and celebrate your achievements – and the skills you have today? They will increase and amplify as you age. Beauty doesn’t beat charm, humour or intelligence. They always win. Realise you are deep and with the intention to always be deeper. Celebrate that and prioritise it over anything else. There are so so many, infinite things to be passionate about and dedicate yourself to in this world, don’t let what you look like distract you from them.
Here’s to you, loving you.
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