Learning to Love Yourself

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“Do you love yourself?” If you were to approach me in early 2009 and ask me that question, it would’ve been blatantly obvious that I didn’t.

There I was, 20 years old, living a sedentary lifestyle at a whopping 230 lbs.

I didn’t communicate with myself and, as a matter of fact, I didn’t communicate with anyone. I allowed myself to be bullied into silence by my peer’s comments, which left me feeling completely ashamed and worthless to all walks of life.

Some days, I didn’t even want to get out of bed, nor did I feel like I had a reason for doing so. I self-medicated with food and my unhealthy eating habits spiraled out of control.

To rid me of this empty void within my heart and soul, I brainwashed myself into thinking that food was my only comfort in life.

But my hatred towards myself became so strong that I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was slowly killing myself with food…something whose purpose, ironically, is to aid in our survival.

It wasn’t until one night, in April of 2009, that I woke up and realized that it was time to make a change.

I was tired of having my quality of life go down as the numbers went up. I was tired of feeling breathless after hauling myself up a single flight of stairs.

I was tired of avoiding social gatherings because I was too embarrassed of my existence. Most importantly, I was tired of not living.

I had to wake up from this self-induced ‘coma’ that I put myself in. I was just a body comprised of fear, hatred, and sadness — a walking billboard for the hopeless.

Believe it or not, I came to terms with my food addiction and was inspired to change by watching The Biggest Loser. And after making necessary lifestyle changes, I successfully lost 110 lbs.

Unfortunately, I didn’t focus on my psychological well-being. I was still stricken with fear. I was chained to the scale, my life controlled by numbers.

After time, my inner strength began slipping through the cracks. Self-sabotage pushed me too far in the other direction and I found myself in the same deep depressive state that I was in at 230 lbs.

If I hadn’t met a runner in late 2010, I have no idea where I’d be today.

This avid runner I mention convinced me to sign up for my 1st race after showing genuine interest after testing my limits on the treadmill. The rest is history.

Now I can proudly call myself a 2x marathoner and an ultramarathoner 2 years later. Running has trained me to run the day, not let the day run me.

I put on my cape, chased my fears, and rescued myself. I am my hero. I am me. I am Adrian.

I’m not just a runner. I’m someone with a strong passion for life. Even when a gust of wind crosses my path, I will continue to keep my flame burning bright.

The best reward of this journey is being able to say ‘I love myself’ and actually mean it.

You all have the power to love yourself, too, and here’s what I’ve learned through much struggle:

1.) Change your vocabulary. What is the first negative thought that comes to your mind? It may be something along the lines of, “I can’t do this; I’m a failure!” Repeat your thought loud and clear for the entire world to hear. Come to terms with your negativity. Bottling up these intense feelings that you have towards yourself is unhealthy, whether it has to deal with doubt, lack of respect, and so forth.

Write this thought on a piece of paper, crumple it up, and toss it into the garbage. This thought can’t destroy you any longer! Like the old saying goes, out with the old and in with the new. Start saying the exact opposite; “I can do this; I will reach my goal!” Repeat this thought over and over again, ultimately locking it up inside of your head.

When you need a moment of self-affirmation, you now hold the key to release the positivity.

2.) Grab a pen, some paper and make a list. Write down your positive attributes, greatest abilities, and biggest accomplishments. Next, identify areas in your life that you feel need to be changed or improved. Once you’re fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can come up with possible solutions to the latter of the two. Instead of dwelling on what you believe needs fixed, do something about it and stop making excuses to rationalize your behavior.

Prime example: “I failed this exam, so I’m obviously a loser. I’m going to give up now.” What should really be rolling through your mind is: “This too shall pass, and I will try harder next time. This is no time to give up because I’m much stronger than this.” A little belief in one’s self goes a long way.

You have to trust your journey and love yourself before anyone else can. Come to terms with underlying problems and do differently than what has failed in the past.

3.) Bring your “little voice” to the surface and really listen. The past is the past, and oftentimes, the little voice inside of our heads is merely a result of our past conditioning. It’s a bundle of experiences, could’ves, would’ves, should’ves, regrets, wishes, etc. Don’t let the past control your future. You hold the power to change your current situation for the better.

Your inner voice is only a wall, and that wall doesn’t have to be permanently erect. Bring your inner voice to the surface, actively listen, and dismantle any unnecessary fears that may pose a threat to your future success. Be the change that you wish to see in the world, even if it’s your world. Your world is no less important than anyone else’s, so don’t allow it to be.

“Once the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” Sure ,the caterpillar was probably unhappy in it’s former state, but now it’s free to fly away and embrace the life that it was always destined to have.

It’s time to break through your cocoon and spread your wings. I’ll see you there when you do.

Join the conversation: How have you learned to love yourself? Share your life and lessons in the comments section below.

 

Image credit: ecwhitman on Etsy

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