You are drowning in the depths of despair. You are suffering, whether it be a mental disease or a physical one or both. You are wallowing in your pain, in your self-pity. You don’t see a way out of this pit of darkness you have created for yourself and you just want to give up.

I feel you. I have been there; I am still there. Suffering is a constant part of life. Pain and joy walk hand-in-hand; only, pain seems more all-consuming and joy is fleeting.

Then what should you do? Give up? Sure, you can choose to give up the pain, but you will also be giving up your happiness. Is that a trade you are willing to make?

What is the alternative then, you ask me scornfully? Finding joy amidst pain. That is the alternative.

You laugh at my words, but remember, pain and joy walk hand-in-hand. The night is dark and cold, but also has the glowing moon and stars to brighten it up. That night sky is our life, where we are in the dark, but we have our stars and moon.

How do you find your stars and moon in this pitch-black darkness? The only answer is self-love, self-acceptance. That is your stars and moon.

If you can master the art of loving yourself unconditionally, then no matter what obstacle or suffering comes your way, you won’t fall. You will stand back because you know your worth.

The journey to self-love is a long but rewarding one, and once you have reached a place where you are ready to love yourself for who you are, you will be ready to fight every battle of life.

This is how you can practice self-love even when you’re suffering:

  1. Accept the way you are

The first step to self-acceptance is accepting yourself, just as you are. Often, as a writer, when I face a rejection letter, I feel I’m not good enough as a writer, that I don’t have what it takes. This self-doubt, this negativity is counter-productive to my journey to self-acceptance. 

I have to accept that I am who I am, what I write is for my own fulfilment, and a rejection letter or two cannot stop me from writing. If you hate the way you look, or feel your figure is not perfect enough, then stop right away.

 Tell yourself, out loud, “I am beautiful. I am born this way, and my beauty is in my heart, not in my looks.” Accept yourself for who you are, not who you wish to be. “I wish I was like her.” Hasn’t this thought occurred to every single one of us? But how do you know that she isn’t wishing, she was like you. 

Embrace your imperfections and flaunt them proudly, because they make you unique. If you were just like her, then what would be different about you?

Self-acceptance doesn’t happen in a day, and if you are already sinking into the pit of self-loathing and negativity, it will be even harder for you to accept yourself for who you are.

 This is where positive self-talk comes in, to help you on your path to healing. You are your truest friend. No one knows you better than you. 

Allow your mind to connect with your soul and talk to yourself. Have conversations with yourself. Ask yourself, “why do I feel this way? What is making me doubt myself?” Then find an answer to your question. For example, if I ask myself, “Why do I not feel good enough as a writer?” I get the answer, “Because there are better writers out there.”

 And therein lies the solution. I’m comparing myself to others when I should be working on improving myself. As soon as I start having healthy conversations with myself, I will find my way to self-acceptance even when I’m suffering. 

Ever listened to “Thank u, next,” the song by Ariana Grande? She talks of a similar thing. Having out loud discussions and conversations with yourself helps you know yourself better, helps you see where you are making the mistakes and where you can replace the negative with the positive.

  1. Be grateful

The next step is gratitude. Expressing gratitude every day for what you have, instead of lamenting over what you don’t have is also a part of self-love. I suffer from chronic mental illnesses. If I constantly looked at what I don’t have – a “normal” life per se, it would add to my suffering.

Instead of looking at what you don’t have, why not look at the things you have? If you are hating your body, then immediately list three things you are grateful for, that you DO have. Eyes to see with, food, home. 

It’s so easy to take these little things for granted, like our eyesight, but can you imagine what a blind person goes through? He or she then expresses gratitude for having their hearing abilities, their sense of touch. 

Whenever you are having a negative thought pop up in your mind, immediately write down three things you are grateful for. You will instantly feel better about yourself. Accept the glass half full perspective, not the half-empty.

  1. Let go of your past

Our emotional wounds are often the ones that lead to our constant suffering. The last step to loving yourself is to come to terms with your old wounds. Accept the past, because if you stew upon it, you can do nothing to change it.

I understand what having past scars feel like, but you have to let yourself heal those scars. Again, talk with yourself, tell yourself to leave the past in the past and move ahead with your future. Emotional wounds can turn to figurative cancer if you don’t heal them.

Allow yourself to accept your past, accept your present, and work for a better future. I know you are suffering, and no one can do your inner work for you, but with constant attempts to love yourself by accepting and being thankful, you will wake up one day when you will no longer have to read articles to love yourself. It will come from within.

Sonia Motwani, is a bestselling author and mental health blogger based in India. She loves writing poems all about self-love, mindfulness, self-care and believes that you can heal yourself through the power of words. When she isn’t writing and working on her blog, she can be found cooking yummy recipes and strolling in nature. You can reach out to her on her Instagram or the blog at www.soniamotwani.com