Lilly Singh Shares Decisions That Were Her Acts Of Self-Love And How It’s Integral To Our Mental Health. Her Views Are So On Point
A decade ago, my 19-year-old self didn’t think much of mental health, self-love, and healing. We never really heard of these things unless you pursued courses and sessions on mindfulness and mental wellbeing. Then again, how many 19-year-olds do that? I was oblivious to the things that are fundamental to our happiness. I had body image issues and wanted to lose weight even though I weighed barely 48 kgs. Even if a little existence of my tummy peeked through my bodycon dress, I would think I was fat. I couldn’t pin point the reason I thought being fat was bad, but that’s what I knew. Nobody is born with such insecurities; it is the people around you who put you under a microscope and make you think that having chubby cheeks is worse than having an attitude problem.
It took me some time to stop being so critical of myself and love myself with the same compassion I love others. Self-love is indeed integral to our mental health and Lilly Singh’s recent post threw light on this. She began by writing, “Every time I ask people about their mental state or happiness or life… the concept of self-love always comes up. Self-love… the unicorn we’re always trying to discover. Most of the time the struggle is feeling like we don’t have enough self-love. I feel this!”
How many of us find ourselves entrapped by the chains of self-doubt, even if it’s just a passing feeling? Even the best of us can feel negative emotions towards ourselves because of definitions of good and bad created by the world around us. “I have one lazy day and I feel like a failure. I see a comment about my body and suddenly I’m bullying myself in the mirror. I had a reaction I didn’t like and now I’ve concluded I’m a bad person,” Singh wrote further.
It does prick us, right? When someone makes a snarky remark about how you look – taking your features and making them sound like pillars of ugliness – you begin to see it that way too. When you take a day off for mental health and people think that you’re just being lazy and unprofessional, those adjectives stay in your mind. And when you haven’t become a chef, lost weight, and learnt to paint during this lockdown, you wonder if you’re a loser because everyone seems to be quite productive. To top it all, when we realise that we shouldn’t be affected, we beat ourselves even more for not having enough self-love. “In those moments I think “ugh… why don’t I have more self-love, maybe I’m just not worthy of it.” I trick myself into believing that even I shouldn’t love me. I generalize and what I do every single time is forget the millions of times I’ve shown genuine self-love to myself,” Singh articulated.
Self-love isn’t selling out shares that you can simply acquire. It is an ongoing process and you will have to work on loving yourself every single day. You know how we expect a partner to put effort in our relationship. It can’t be like he confessed his love and then puts no effort in loving us, right? We have to be the partner we want for ourselves and do acts of self-love every day. Lilly Singh shared some examples of her decisions that were acts of self-love. She wrote: “When I fought passionately to dance as a kid, even though it wasn’t culturally accepted, that was self-love. When I stopped dating someone who mistreated me, that was self-love. When I decided to have a career I loved even though it wasn’t conventional, that was self-love. And when I decided my happiness is more important than people having opinions about my sexuality, that was self-love. Taking a break from social media…that’s SELF-LOVE.”
She concluded the post encouraging her audience to love themselves and pointing out that the love is there in us, even if we feel it isn’t. “And I’m sure you have your own unique examples. You’ve done so many things in your life because you love yourself. Because you are worthy of love and happiness. So don’t feel like you don’t know how to treat yourself well… you’ve done it before. It’s innately inside you. And you’re worth it,” Singh explained.
Lilly Singh started off by taking a leap and uploading her first YouTube video. And today, she has tasted success and her empire only keeps expanding. Currently, she has 14.9 million subscribers on her YouTube channel and has the likes of Michael Obama, Mila Kunis, Reese Witherspoon, Selena Gomez, etc featuring in her videos. Today she wears several hats – a comedian, digital content creator, actress, a speaker, and several more. She has even announced this month that she and a few other celebrities are bringing a National Women’s Soccer League team to Los Angeles, which can be expected to play in 2022.
None of this would have been possible without self-love and confidence. But with being under constant scrutiny how does she pull that off? In an earlier interview with Getthegloss.com, Singh had spilled her secret. “Personally, I became confident when I became okay with who I am as a person and decided to not be so hard on myself. Being okay with my flaws, the emotions I’m feeling and where I am. I’ve found that when you really love yourself, it leaves less room for others to make you feel bad about yourself,” she said. “I used to get really annoyed at myself if I got sad or jealous. Part of loving yourself though is saying that it’s okay to feel those things and to work on them. I really embrace whatever it is I’m experiencing now. There’s no need to beat myself up when I have those days,” Singh added. In fact, how many times does it happen that we refuse to believe our gut feeling? We’ve grown up doubting our feelings and we end up staying around in relationships where we are gaslighted and emotionally manipulated because we doubt ourselves. Even if we break up, we tend to bottle it up because we don’t want to feel like a loser. So let’s not do that and validate our feelings.
In an interview with Shape.com, Singh had also advised that we must let go of people who try to pull us down and create a more motivating environment for ourselves. Singh said, “I think the first step for me was to say, let me surround myself with people who make me a better version of myself, who lift me up and build me up instead of putting me down. Also, let me surround myself with an environment that inspires me, not one that makes me sad and makes me tired all the time. It’s about proactively making changes in my life.”
I really agree with her. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where it’s acceptable to make jokes on each other’s appearance, status and skills. And these are our close ones, those who “mean well”. You are expected to take it in a sporting way but honestly, I don’t think it’s a culture we should encourage. I remember sending my belly dance video to my best friend and instead of focusing on the dance, she pointed out that I had gained weight on my stomach. I wasn’t offended but I explained it to her that why should we indulge in such behaviour. Don’t we all notice ourselves very minutely? We know if we gained weight or lost weight, or lost hair or have not waxed or got a pimple on our forehead. Is there a need for someone to come and point it out? We say it’s a joke but subconsciously it stays in our head. And because of all these pressures, women generally are so insecure about themselves. We want to look good, be a good partner, be successful – but how do we measure these things? Apparently, on the basis of the stereotypes, that’s set by the very people who advise you to use fairness products and lecture you on how a lady should behave.
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And as much as I wish that we woke up one day and these triggers ceased to exist, it’s not an overnight feat and self-love isn’t either. But if we work on our self-love and supporting each other, we’ll be able to see these stereotypes and toxic behaviours being knocked down. Until that happens, at least our mental health won’t be affected. Lilly Singh shared how self-love has made her stronger, “Once I posted a picture of myself in a crop top on Instagram I got comments like ‘wow you need to work out’ and things like that. It immensely bothered me but then I had to talk to myself and really think about how I view myself, and I posted another one right after. I’ve really gotten to a place where it would take a lot to make me feel bad about myself now because I do love myself. And I love eating fries, so that’s not gonna stop.”