Best selling author Stefani Ruper has stopped by to share some of her extensive brain with us. I understand first hand what the struggle is like in loving myself and Stefani is going to share her 9 steps explaining how to love yourself. This information on how to love yourself are just words on a screen. I hope that when you are finished reading this, you take a leap forward into loving yourself and paying it forward. Oh and before I forget, there is an entire guide written on this subject that Stefani just published. Grab your copy of Sexy By Nature now!!!
How to Love Yourself
The thing no one warns you about when you a start a health journey is that it never ends. Even when you achieve your initial goal, new challenges arise. New ideas pop up. New insecurities leak in. The only thing that’s constant in the world, so far as I can tell, is change.
This is an important preface for a step-by-step guide on how to love yourself and love your body. As George or I or any other health advocate out there who has “made it” to the shining pinnacle of self-love and body acceptance will tell you, this is an on-going journey. There is no finish line. There is no trophy; there is no marching band. But there are important milestones. There are ways of thinking about and relating to your body that help. And before you know it, you will have left the cold open waters with sharks behind and have found yourself swimming in warm seas with manta rays – not a perfect place to be, but there is also most likely an occasional mojito waiting for you on the beach.
So I have for you as perfected a step-by-list to self-love that self-love guides can be. This is one built on years of working with women all over the world. It’s built on my own story. It is built on years of networking with and learning from inspiring colleagues like George. It is not a perfect journey, but it’s got 9 solid stepping stones to help you on your way of learning how to love yourself.
1. Surround yourself with the love you deserve!!
Before attempting to make any lasting changes in your own brain, start with your environment. Ask yourself:
- Are the people in your life supportive?
- Are you the recipient of warm, unconditional love from anyone?
If you answered yes to both of those questions, develop your relationships with these people, and exercise your trust of them. You may even want to let them know you are working on developing your self-love. Bit by bit, show your vulnerabilities to them. You should not be surprised when they affirm you and love you and help you on your journey. I even encourage you to ask them for help cultivating your sense of worth. You can ask for daily reminders of your value to them, daily reminders of your beauty, daily reminders of what it is that is so you and therefore so lovely.
If you have ambivalent or negative answers to the questions I posed above, consider the role that these negative influences play in your life. How necessary are these people? If necessary, can you have a conversation with them about how to negotiate better to meet your needs? If not, can you reconstruct your own life such that your contact with these people is minimized, or at least such that they have the least amount of potential to be poisonous? While difficult questions to ask (and you have all my sympathy and empathy in doing so), this first step is incredibly important because shadows in the world around you will always inevitably land on you.
2. Deconstruct negative thoughts about yourself!!
Deconstruction is the act of asking “why do I feel that way?”
All of us have demons, and all of those demons have their starting places. Childhood? Grade school? A particularly cancerous relationship? A piercing loss? Sit down with yourself and a journal, or with friends, or with a therapist, and do your best to understand where your self-doubt comes from. There will be a lot for you to unearth. A lot. The process will never end. I can promise you that. But as you deconstruct the bad, so you will find that the good you construct in its place becomes sturdier and sturdier.
Take stock of your present situation:
- Who are you, what’s your deal?
- What’s good, and what’s bad?
- What’s going on in your body today?
Then, tie that present situation to the whole story of your life. Give yourself a context. Like so: My name is Stefani Ruper. I have acne scars, horrible insomnia, and impaired reproductive, thyroid, and adrenal health… as a result of years of living in a size 00 body with a punitive eating and exercise regimen. I started eating and exercising that way because I live in a culture that has a very particular image about what the “right” body type is, and I wanted to be and feel loved. I pursued it vigorously to the detriment of my health. I later corrected that, but in doing so (even while a small change compared to significant weight journeys) had to fight viciously against these norms to be happy at a higher weight.
4. Get on your Body's Side!!
This is an important point, the most important of all.
Once you have told the story of your body, your health, and your life, acknowledge the fact that your body is doing its best and has always done its best. Whatever may be “wrong” with you today is not a result of malice. Your body is not out to get you. It does not want to be at war.
If you start way back in your infancy, you can see every point at which your body went up to bat against an enormous challenge and gave ground. For example, I can see where the cysts on my ovaries developed as a result of stress and poor dietary choices. You can also see where it succeeded. Small thing like healing scrapes and bruises count. Larger ones like remaining insulin sensitive in the face of drinking soda throughout adolescence may be another. Often, it is easy to be blind to the body’s triumphs, largely because they are perceived as “normal” and the failures are so easy to focus on.
But where your body “fails” is not its fault. Your body is always trying to be healthy. It is always trying to make you happy. It is always trying to make you feel sexy and free. The only reason your body might not be at the health or fitness level you desire right now is that it has been stymied by poor diet and lifestyle choices, social norms, and physiological and psychological harm. These are enormous challenges, and your body cannot be blamed for not being able to overcome them all.
You may struggle with your body, your health, or how to love yourself now, but you are at this place, in this exact moment in time, as a result of a whole lifetime of events that have not necessarily been your fault. And even if they have been, that’s okay, too, because you are you. You are as you are right now. No more, and no less. You and your body both.
After you accept where you are, forgive it. I made it quite clear in the steps above you’re your body tries. It is not to be blamed. It is to be accepted. It is to be forgiven. It is to be consoled, held, loved. Let go of resentment. Let go of frustration. Have compassion for your body, since it has been trying so hard and laboring against such heavy weights. Have compassioheavyweightsf, too, as you are also a victim who battles incredible forces day in and day out.
I envision steps 1-6 as a gleaming, polished, wooden floor. This step, step 7, is the dance on top of it. What is there to love about and appreciate in your body? More than I can possibly say. Here are a very few important points:
- Your body heals.
It may not be visible healing all of the time, but trust me when I tell you that every single cell in your body is at work cleaning up shop and making you as healthy as it possibly can. Awesome.
- Even if you have significant health issues, there is an infinitely good probability that there is more right with your body than there is wrong.
Think about all of the cells working in concert at any given point in time. Think of all the systems, all the organs, all the limbs. Your heart is pumping and you are breathing and there is power in your muscles, and isn’t that a literally incredible thing?
- Your body provides the basis for everything you do in life that makes you human and feel alive.
Breathing. Dancing. Eating. Sex. Laughing. Yes.
- You are at home in your body like you are at home no place else in the entire universe.
No other human being will ever be in your skin. This can be a terrifying fact, but it is also a liberating and empowering one, as you come to realize that your body is your own respite, your sacred space, your shelter from the storm.
- Your body is beautiful.
Period. No questions asked. No matter how much your beauty may or may not conform to norms, it is still beauty. Only different from others.It is only society’s arbitrary standards that have blinded you and tricked you into thinking otherwise. Your body is a unique manifestation of nature, an infinitely complex synergy of trillions of processes that constantly give rise to life. This is a supremely beautiful thing.
- Your body is you.
Your body tells the story of your life. Scars, quirks, personality traits… they are all in your bones and in your skin. How cool is that?
8. Join arms. Go to the mattresses. Fight!!
You have been programmed from a young age to doubt yourself and your body. This is partly because you are human, and human beings have an inherent tendency toward fear and insecurity. Yet this is mostly because certain parts of Western culture have capitalized on that fear in order to profit. Sometimes this comes in the form of power over you. Others it comes in the form of actual paychecks. Usually it is a mix of the two.
No to norms means setting up a good defense. Surround yourself with loving people. Stop looking at magazines with airbrushed ideals in them. Avoid advertisements. Put mental stop gaps in place in the case of emergencies whenever you anticipate feeling attacked or insecure.
No to norms also means setting up a good offense. Project your love for yourself out from your skin before anyone else has a chance to squash it.
Enforce your self-love on a daily basis. Build it into the way that you talk and the way that you walk. The more and stronger appreciation for your body you can develop, the stronger and stronger it becomes in the face of challenges.
This is the “last step” in how to love yourself, but I hope you learn to do it more and more all along. You may never experience something that is “perfectly arrived” at the finish line – so go have fun with it as much as you can. Go. Now.
Having shed high quantities of your self-doubt, you can go for a run in public without fear of judgment. You can wear that skirt at the back of your closet. You can go out dancing with wild abandon. You can live with a natural smile on your face. Daring to be confident in this way will teach you two important facts:
- that there really isn’t all that much to fear from other people – you just have to give them a chance, and
- that being on your body’s side is way more fun than being it’s enemy. The more you reinforce these truths, the more invincible your relationship with your body will feel, and the more peaceful and happy you will be.
Thus we arrive at the end of the step-by-step list on how to love yourself.
- I cannot promise you perfection.
- I cannot promise you a finish line.
- I can promise you a journey full of self-discovery and light.
You may take 2 steps forward and then 600 steps back, but that’s okay. Eyes on the future is what matters. Progress is what matters. Forgiveness and lightness are what matters. Learning to play with and delight in your body while simultaneously working through challenges is what matters. All the rest will come with time, on this journey in which you are NEVER alone.
What is your favorite step from this amazing list you are going to take right now?
Thank you Stefani for sharing such a beautiful guide. Learning how to love yourself is the first step to success everywhere in life and I appreciate your passion for love. For all reading, ensure you grab a copy of Stefani's book Sexy By Nature to master your skills of sexy.