Self-love is the “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness”
— Oxford Dictionary
Having a regard for your happiness and well-being means making the active effort to participate in activities that enhance your well-being and make you happy, while saying no to things that don’t bring you joy and cause you pain. Self-love, to me, is making my happiness and well-being a priority whilst learning to love my strengths and flaws. It’s taking the time to rest and recover to prevent burning out. It’s making the conscious decision to commit to being the best possible person I can be, saying no to mediocrity, negative self-talk and remembering I deserve the love I give so freely to others.
Loving yourself isn’t selfish nor is it narcissistic, it’s healthy and valuable because you are the most important person in your life. The love you have for yourself should be more important than the love someone else can give you because you’re the only permanent person you’ve got in your life. It’s sad but true, you’ll always be the only person you can 100% count on. Everyone around you can disappoint you because they’re human and you can’t control what they do, but you can always control what you do.
You don’t just start loving yourself overnight, it’s a long journey of self-awareness, self-discovery, devoting your efforts to being nice to yourself and dedicating the time to recreate your mindset:
- It’s choosing yourself, repeatedly.
- It’s saying no when you don’t feel like going to somewhere (to some extent).
- It’s believing you deserve good things (not just your friends, you also)
- It’s not comparing yourself to others
- It’s avoiding self-sabotage by doing things that help you succeed even when you can’t be bothered
- It’s not engaging in negative self-talk, even when things are going bad.
I saw a tweet which stated “if someone spoke to you the way you spoke to yourself, would you still be friends with them?” It really stuck with me because they were absolutely right, so many of us are so mean and beat ourselves up over too many things. Sometimes it’s minor things, other times it’s resenting and not forgiving ourselves for things that happened years ago, all of this negativity is unhealthy and has never changed anything for the better so why do we keep doing it?
To love yourself, you must make your mind a positive environment where positive thoughts can blossom. A positive mind is key. Focusing on the positives in your life instead of the negatives can make a huge difference to your mood and how you see yourself.
Think of yourself as a child: Would you call a child stupid, ugly and constantly berate them? Or not congratulate them when they get things right? Or not encourage them to do the best in everything they can and that the sky’s the limit? So why would you do that to yourself? You know it’s damaging so why do you belittle yourself? Those who went through this as children know how it can affect your confidence and the love you have for yourself so why do this to yourself as an adult?
Love without conditions
So many people take the dangerous approach and settle for loving themselves with conditions attached. Conditions such as I’ll love myself when I lose or put on weight, or I’ll love myself only when I wear makeup, I’ll only love myself if I’m wearing the latest designer clothing or when I get to a certain point in my career, or I’ll love myself only when I get a partner at 25 or earn more money. What is wrong with loving yourself now because what happens if you don’t lose or gain weight? Will you hate yourself? Or you don’t achieve what you want? Do you stop looking at yourself in the mirror? What if you miss out on that promotion? What if you’re not married by 25? What do you do next? You keep on moving because nothing is the end of the world and self-love is about loving yourself through the good and bad times.
Love from third parties
I know that sometimes someone can love us more than we love ourselves. They love us beyond our flaws and many shortcomings, they see the positive in the things we hate about ourselves and somehow think we’re wonderful on the days we want to hide. It’s great to have someone there, but my worry with that is, what if they walk out of our lives one day? Are we going to fall down and die? Does all the love we have for ourselves disappear with them? No, it should not, we all need to get to a place where we’re comfortable enough to be on our own because we’re the love of our lives and we need to love ourselves regardless of whether others love us. When you give yourself unconditional love, you become invincible because your perspective on your life changes. We should never use love from others to sustain us.
Interactions with others
Sometimes, when people know you don’t have a strong sense of self-love or don’t see your worth they will want to take advantage of you, even worse, some people see the love you have for yourself, take it as arrogance or want to project by putting you down because your confidence makes them feel insecure. Don’t let them. Avoid them at all costs and if you can’t, make sure you have an accessible list of all your strengths and other things you love about yourself aka a brag sheet. If you’re stuck for positive attributes ask your friends what they love about you and look over that list when you’re feeling down.
You deserve the love you give to others so freely
Some of us give our friends so much love, encourage them that they can do anything they put their mind to and really believe in them but we can’t do that for ourselves which is so sad. This mindset must change, although it won’t happen overnight, it will happen over time. You deserve the love, encouragement and respect you give to others so freely, there’s nothing wrong with loving others, just make sure you love yourself in the process.
How I practice self-love
- I avoid negative self-talk at all cost. It’s unhealthy, detrimental and doesn’t improve anything in my life
- Although I have my down days, I genuinely believe I can do anything I put my mind to.
- I eat well and cook most days, check out www.instagram.com/apieceofhealth
- I take time to make sure I look good when I leave my house, unless I’m going to Asda, the post office or the gym.
- I go to the gym at least once a week as the gym is a great destresser and even if I don’t go to the gym, I take long walks.
- I take time to rest
- I have a list of my strengths in my journal and I starred cute messages my friends have sent me on WhatsApp about my positive attributes
- I barely watch the news, I’ve muted certain words on twitter and I blocked the shaderoom and balleralert because I don’t like negativity
- I make the effort to do the things I really want to do, whether it’s solo travel or working towards my goals.
- I try to avoid procrastination by reminding myself that my problems won’t go away just because I’ve decided I can’t see them.
- I try my best not to compare myself to others, instead I find inspiration because if they can do it, why can’t I.
- I look at myself and say wow you’re so sexy – you should too btw x
- I focus on what I can control
- I don’t deal with, speak to or spend time with people who drain me. Adulting is already draining, I don’t need someone who will make life harder than it is.
- I don’t speak to people who like to stay in problematic situations.
- I remind myself that everything is a learning curve and try to find gratitude in the simplest of things.
It’s taken years for me to get on this journey and find ways to practice self-love that works for me, but I have to say it’s been worth it. I feel really settled and at peace with myself.
To answer the title of this post, yes, self-love is the best love. It’s unconditional, nurturing, non-judgemental, forgiving and perspective-changing. It’s accepting your flaws and championing your strengths; it’s avoiding self-sabotage and being gentle in the things we tell ourselves even when we’re down. Most importantly, it’s truly believing we deserve good things and that we can do anything we put our mind to.