Friday, March 20, 2015

Love Yourself First, the World will Follow.

I think its super important to learn to love your body, as it is. However, it’s becoming a harder and harder task, given the environment we live in (our culture and more specifically the media). It seems like it comes down to our self-esteem, not only how we feel about ourselves, but where those feelings come from and what they’re based on. 

I read an article on the APA’s website (American Psychological Association) that highlighted research done by Jennifer Crocker, PhD, a psychologist at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, and that was published in the Journal of Social Issues (Vol. 58. No 3). Crocker found in her recent studies on self-esteem that “that college students who based their self-worth on external sources--including appearance, approval from others and even their academic performance--reported more stress, anger, academic problems, relationship conflicts, and had higher levels of drug and alcohol use and symptoms of eating disorders”. Likewise, she found that “students who based their self-esteem on internal sources-such as being a virtuous person or adhering to moral standards-were found to receive higher grades and less likely to use alcohol and drugs or to develop eating disorders”. 

Self-esteem directly impacts our mental and emotional health, and therefore our physical health. I think it’s really important to be actively engaged in self-reflection. If we sit down and think (or write) about how we feel about ourselves, consider where we are on a spectrum of positive to negative self-esteem, and then furthermore, what we base our self esteem on, we can perhaps make the appropriate changes necessary to really love ourselves and to re-focus our thoughts and feelings on being a happier person. I don’t think that comes easy or naturally for most people, it takes (sometimes hard!) work, but it can be done.

I really wish everyone could love themselves. I wish I could love myself the way I should. But it's downright difficult sometimes when our culture is constantly telling people they're not good enough or setting impossibly high standards that not one, save Kate Moss, can accomplish. I guess what we really need is a cultural revolution, a rebellion of people standing up for themselves and others and declaring that our culture and ideals today ARE NOT OKAY. That would sure make it easier to love one's self. However, the greatest change we can make is within ourselves. I believe the change DOES start there, and then the ripple will extend outwards. So I'm calling on everyone, ALL PEOPLE, right here and how, to LOVE THEMSELVES, THE WAY THE ARE AT THIS VERY SECOND. FOR WHO THEY ARE, NOT WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE. FOR THEIR MINDS AND HEARTS AND FOR WHAT THEIR BODY CAN DO INSTEAD OF WHAT IT IS.