by Elizabeth Setti

When staring at one’s reflection in the mirror and reflecting, the thought “if only I was better, then I would be happier” seems to reoccur. This behavior has slowly become habitual for the majority of society, consequentially making those negative words and ideas turn into beliefs. Reversing these tendencies and fostering a positive relationship with yourself is a life-long process that eventually can become second nature. Though breaking this norm is difficult, it results in an overall improvement in quality of life.

Humans tend to chase perfection even if those expectations are not realistic. Eventually, when those hopes are not fulfilled, we critique ourselves instead of practicing self-love and compassion. The cycle of pursuing impractical goals and then self-loathing when the desired outcome is not achieved is harmful for the mind and body. Medical News Today states this pattern can lead to “a shorter lifespan, IBS, eating disorders, depression, and suicidal tendencies.” The damaging outcomes of selfhate should not be seen as an excuse never to set high intentions, but as a reminder to learn acceptance.

Incorporating daily affirmations can improve the relationship you have with yourself. Affirmations are personal encouragements that can be stated, written, or simply just thought to ameliorate mindset and emotion. Oxford Academic conducted a study that showed individuals who participated in positive self-affirmations had increased brain activity associated with valuation and self-processing. The study also linked a plethora of other benefits including reduction of stress and improvement in academic work.

You can begin the practice of self-affirmations by adding them in your morning routine, almost as a ritual for yourself. Undertake any method that seems most comfortable and prioritize accomplishing at least one affirmation every day. Completing the task early is preferable because it cultivates a positive environment for the remainder of the day. My favorite affirmations to use are: “I radiate love and others reflect love back to me, my body is healthy and full of energy, and I see the beauty in everything.” Additionally, while the affirmations may not always feel completely true, stating them confidently will decrease possible uncertainty. Affirmations may not be ideal for every person, therefore experiment with other methods such as meditation, journaling, or reading. Finding what is most effective for growth may take time and attention but will yield vibrant results.

Starting a self-love journey is good for everyone. If you assume that you do not need improvement or that you are not worthy of it, know it is a common issue and there is always room for change. Ending the perpetual standard of always craving perfection and detesting ourselves is necessary for solving the mental health crisis our society is facing. Civilization will not turn narcissistic but instead reinvent the criterion on which we base our confidence. Creating a new standard for future generations that emphasizes a healthy personal interrelation will end a toxic era of self-hate.

About Elizabeth Setti

Elizabeth Setti is a junior at Richwoods High School in the International Baccalaureate program. Setti plays volleyball for both Richwoods and Central Illinois Elite Volleyball Club, where she has the opportunity to travel throughout the Midwest and compete at high levels. She is the editor (and previously a writer) for the sports section of “Richwoods Shield,” her school’s newspaper. Setti serves on the student leadership team and Noble Knights, and is a member of her school’s science club. She was recently diagnosed with Anorexia-Nervosa, which she developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. She feels it is important to share her story and spread awareness about eating disorders. As such, Setti created a blog called “A Hidden Addiction,” where she tells her story and her journey to recovery.

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