I think self love is the most important kind of love. People all around you may come and go, and even though the ones that matter most might stick with you for a lifetime, your love for them should never be greater than the love you have for yourself. The depth of your potential for self love, is greater than the depth at which any other person could love you. Because it doesn’t matter how well another person knows you; they are not you. Only you know everything about yourself there is to know, and even with that you will still be discovering more and more every single day. Self love evolves as your understanding of yourself does.
It’s kinda my goal to make sure I never stop loving myself and taking care of myself, even when I get to be in a relationship. I want to commit to myself first and foremost, I want to make sure that my love for myself is always there, is always something I can fall back on and trust. Because I’ll always have me, and I don’t want to have to depend on someone else for the kind of fulfilment that comes from self love. I’ve noticed in my own life, that as my love for myself has increased, my relationships with other people have improved as well. Because the more I love myself, the more worthy of love I feel I am from others, and the more I let them in, the more I let them love me. And I find I am less afraid to show them I love them back. People may come and go, but you will always have you. That, is the key to being unshakeable.
I think self love is constantly pulling yourself back from self destruction, and coming back to a place of neutrality, or even affection for yourself. For example I used to come home every single day from school, and eat a snack. That doesn’t sound too bad at first, but what if I told you I wasn’t even hungry when I ate, that I ate because I was procrastinating doing homework, and that I got a stomach ache afterwards, but continued to do it anyway? I mean I know there are a lot worse ways to self destruct, but even something like that can have negative effects. Or even things like beating yourself up if you make a mistake, judging yourself harshly like ‘Why am I so weird?’, ‘Why does my body look like that?’, ‘I’m a failure, I’m ugly, no one likes me’ etc etc.
I’d say, I used to hate myself. And I used to deny that I hated myself. I didn’t like who I was, what I looked like, how I thought other people saw me. I felt like a waste of space, and I really didn’t understand why people even talked to me at all, or pretended to care about me, because I honestly believed that nobody did. Hell, I didn’t really care about myself. I’m not really sure how I started my self love journey because I don’t think I even knew what I was doing. Maybe it started with just being kinder to myself. If I thought something like ‘I’m ugly’ I would say to myself ‘I’m not ugly, I am beautiful and gorgeous and special.’ Or something like that. I’ve been told that with every negative thought, you’re supposed to replace it with exactly 3 positive thoughts to knock it out. I learned this recently, but I guess I was pretty much doing it all along. And with being kinder to myself, I’d listen to what I felt like doing. Maybe I knew I had a shit ton of work to do, but I really didn’t feel like doing it in that moment. So I would have a break, and do something that made me feel better. And then I would come back to it, maybe a different day, maybe later that same day when I knew that I was in a better headspace, instead of pushing through it, burning out, then picking myself up from a really crappy place, leading to this kinda cycle where you feel like you have to get to burnout in order to stop working cause you haven’t worked ‘hard enough’ otherwise (how many people get this? 🤦♀️).
So I suppose for me, self love was breaking all those little habits that made me feel like I was unworthy of love and that I didn’t deserve to feel good, and changing those into more positive ones.
I started doing exercise that I actually enjoy (yoga), something which I still do every single day now to just relax. I started taking more care of my physical health in other ways, like making sure to brush my hair slowly so it wouldn’t break. I mean, all these things sound so simple, but they really add up. It’s like you’re telling yourself ‘no, I’m worth the time and the effort, I’m worth taking deep breaths and slowing down, I’m worth not pushing myself and being super self critical. I’m worth embracing my flaws and my shadow sides, and being okay with who I am right now. I’m worthy of self compassion.’
Self love is loving yourself totally; physically, mentally, spiritually. Self love is always there, no matter what you look like on that day, no matter how anxious, lonely, depressed you are. It’s the acknowledgement of who you are and what’s going on with you right now, accepting it, and loving yourself anyway. It’s patience, it’s forgiveness. It’s tender and gentle. And it’s something that comes with time. Its little hugs to yourself, and telling yourself that you’re proud of you, even for little things like for instance even writing this blog post could be one for me! Self love is the recognition and the understanding of who you are, because you are love. When you dig deep enough, that’s all there is. What I realised, was that when I thought I hated myself, it was really just my mind doing what it thought was the best way to keep me safe; it was all it knew how to do. All those maladaptive and self destructive behaviours and thoughts and actions was all my mind knew how to do at that time; it was acting out of love, in the only way it could. We are biologically programmed to love ourselves, to keep ourselves safe. It may not seem like that, but that’s all your mind is trying to do, 24/7. You acknowledge those negative thoughts, you acknowledge your mind is trying to help you, and lovingly, you can start to change them into more positive thoughts, which translate into more positive behaviours and actions. Self care is a natural byproduct of self love, but the more you practise self care, the more you can cultivate self love. It kinda works both ways I guess.
I’d say the best way to cultivate self love is to catch yourself with those self destructive behaviours. No matter how small. Let’s say your eyes get really tired after staring at a computer screen for a long time, but you really gotta finish that one thing so it doesn’t really matter how sore they are right now. Its little, but it sends a signal that will just add to other pre-existing reasons why you are unworthy and don’t deserve to feel good because you can’t even take care of yourself. In that situation, take a deep breath, realise that your work is not more important than your comfort (or discomfort), and cover your hands with your eyes, or look into the distance for a few seconds to soothe them. Then come back to your work. Self love is consistently choosing you, over anything or anyone else. Self love is there when you make mistakes, when you don’t make healthy choices. You acknowledge you acted in a way that now you regret, but it’s okay, you were just doing the best you could in that moment. Mindfulness will really help with this, because it will allow you to catch yourself in those situations where it could go either way, to take a step back and choose a higher thought or behaviour. If you want to cultivate more self love, spend more time with yourself. Do at least one thing that you love to do every single day, something just for you. It could be anything: painting, writing, taking a bath, gardening….
Also practise ways to take care of your physical body, such as eating healthy foods more often (and not judging yourself when you don’t), stretching, skincare (if you’re into that), meditation, walks in nature, drinking more water. Basically all those things we all know are good for us – do more of them. Just take care of yourself, and learn to appreciate you exactly as you are. Because there is so much to appreciate.
Question: what kind of love do you like receiving from others? Physical touch, gifts, kind and inspiring words…(basically what’s your love language). How can you give that to yourself?
I really hope this post helped you! You are beautiful and so loved, and so so worthy of your own love. Give yourself that gift of self love, nurture it, and you will feel so filled up and cherished, I promise you.
With love always,