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  • Writer's pictureNikki Ostrower (Nutritionist)

How to Love Yourself

If you love personal growth and development books and workshops like me, you’ve probably heard this a million times.

“All you need is love. The answer is love. Just love yourself.”

Love seems to be the magic sauce that creates an amazing life. We read it in books, see it in movies and television shows, and played out in our daily lives - the love of parents and children, the love of romantic partners, love for friends and family.

One would think we’d all be masters at it!

And yet…if you’re reading this, I’m going to take a wild guess that you struggle to love yourself and at times, other people too. Just like I do.

It’s human to feel this way. We are human beings who experience diverse thoughts, emotions, and experiences throughout our lives.

I made the mistake early on in my personal growth journey, of believing that loving oneself was supposed to come easily and naturally just by reciting affirmations.

Affirmations are wonderful, and I do believe in the power of language and how we speak to ourselves and others. I do believe thoughts and words can help us manifest our dreams.

❝ Being a “whole person” means accepting all parts of ourselves, dark and light, and from that new place of grace, compassion, and understanding, choosing to grow and improve.

But when your “dark/shadow” side comes out, or you are in fight or flight, or going through a wave of emotion like pain, grief, anger, or other more intense feelings, “self love” is easier said than done.

Does that mean it’s an impossible feat? The good news is, no. It’s not impossible to learn how to love yourself. We simply weren’t taught what that actually means.

You can’t always “positivity” your way out or “affirmation” your way out of life’s challenging moments.

Learning to love ourselves means truly listening to and understanding ourselves and our behaviors, giving ourselves compassion EVEN at our worst moments.

Compassion is not the same as pity, lack of responsibility, or sugar-coating things. Compassion is holding yourself in a warm hug without judgment, attuning to your deepest needs.

When our “dark/shadow” side comes out, our ego tends to do one of a few things. We might fight it, we might ignore it, we might run from it and use every possible distraction to not experience it, or we might even freeze in its grasp.

Being a survivor of Eating Disorders and going through immense growth, change, and recovery at my lowest has taught me that in order to have love for myself, I must accept ALL parts of me - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Acceptance doesn’t mean feeling hopeless or believing you can’t change. Acceptance means taking into account where you are now, without fighting, fleeing, or freezing, and being observant of all that is, as it is.

It’s through true attention and acceptance of the darker parts of ourselves that we learn to understand, appreciate, and respect ourselves more. It’s in that work and processing that we are reminded “The only way out is through.”

Being a “whole person” means accepting all parts of ourselves, dark and light, and from that new place of grace, compassion, and understanding, choosing to grow and improve. Believing that we can.

We are not meant to be perfect, otherwise, we’d already be! And perfection would be a boring existence. Life is filled with challenges and growth opportunities, and I’m a firm believer you can create a wonderful life through how you choose to experience those challenges.

So in my opinion, yes, you can learn to truly love and respect yourself by having compassion for all parts of yourself. Seeking help from mentors and programming when I finally surrendered and knew I needed help with my eating disorders many years ago saved my life.

If you are at a place in your life where you feel deep in your belly that “enough is enough” and you want to grow and change, learning to love and accept all parts of yourself, surrendering to something greater for help and support, it’s here for you.

I love that I can return the favor and teach anyone struggling with emotional eating, eating disorders, and food-related challenges how to finally break free and love their bodies to full wellness. It’s a journey worth pursuing with all your heart.

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