I feel like the notion of self-love has become a big buzzword recently. To begin with, I almost found it a bit cliche and overused but over the past twelve months, I have really come to appreciate how valuable it is to love yourself.
I have come to learn that self-love isn’t standing in front of the mirror every day and loving what you see. It’s not always bubble baths, manicures and spa days (though I could totally do with a spa day right about now) it’s a process. A big, sometimes messy, but wonderful process that allows you to feel content with your choice in putting yourself first. It’s finding happiness in yourself and your own company, whilst feeling equally enhanced by another. Self-love is freeing. Here’s what it means to me and why you should let it into your life.
See also: Narcissism?
Self-love, loving yourself, I LOVE MYSELF. It all sounds a little bit narcissistic. Or does it?
regard for one's own well-being and happiness.
Narcissism on the other hand, is an excessive interest in yourself. Think Dorian Gray and Regina George. (Big apologies to my English lecturers. I never thought I’d put those two characters in the same sentence.) Self-love doesn’t even come close to proclaiming your love for yourself to the world. Self-love is in the actions and choices you make for yourself every day. Self-love is not a destination, it is a continuous journey, a practice.
Practice makes perfect
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” - Mahatma Gandhi
After a bad break-up last year, I found myself in a position where I felt like I didn’t have any worth. I think this is a situation where most of us suddenly feel like we have no place in this world without another person. And it’s a bizarre feeling. We don’t mean to pour our happiness and validation into that person, but we do, and when they go we’re suddenly in the dark and feel like we’ve lost everything. In reality, we’ve only lost sense of ourselves and it’s only through focussing on ourselves that will allow us to regain that.
For eight whole months of 2017 I focussed on myself, and myself only. And it felt good to be choosing myself without feeling guilty. It felt good to be choosing which friends I wanted to spend time with. It felt good to make choices that had me at the centre of it. Of course, we have these freedoms in relationships, but we don’t always perceive that we do.
As time went on I become much more assertive with myself in knowing when my mind and body needed a rest. That usually entailed time alone, meditation, writing or reading. It was nothing particularly drastic, but showing myself these moments of kindness when I needed it made me feel much more at ease with myself and in time, reduced my symptoms of anxiety.
I’ve said it before - but in order to be with someone else, you have to know how to be on your own. You have to love yourself in order to let someone else love you. You could land the perfect person on the planet, but they won’t make you happy unless you love yourself. It’s an inside job, and no one else can make you feel it.
Comparison is the thief of joy
“Self-love requires you to be honest about your current choices and thought patterns and undertake new practices that reflect self-worth.” - Caroline Kirk
I find it very easy in this social media dominated world to constantly question myself and fill my head with self-doubt. Instagram is the worst offender in this instance, and I find myself wondering why I haven’t got more followers, why my photos aren’t always great, why I can’t look as toned as that fitness blogger… And so on, and so on. The negative thought processes ensue.
Instead of focussing on the outside as a means to motivate myself, I try and look at myself only. For example, I measured myself six weeks after starting a new gym routine and cleaner diet. And I have made huge progress. But if I compared the results on appearance to someone else, I’d likely feel disheartened. It’s all about focussing on yourself.
Me, myself and I
Bringing self-love into your life doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as small as saying no to a social event because you need a break. It might be booking a days holiday from work because you could do with a three day weekend. My daily act of self-love is a good bedtime routine. It doesn’t sound much, but I love indulging in myself for an hour or so before bed, taking the time to cleanse my face, listen to music and read a book. It’s also going to the gym knowing that it’s improving my physical and mental health.
When I look back on how I felt this time last year, I barely recognise that state of mind. It’s through giving myself time and focus that I’ve been able to find happiness. I don’t always feel on top of the world, and that’s okay, but it is also about allowing myself the time to feel that way, whilst looking to lessen those feelings. Self-love does not happen overnight, but it is a continuous journey but oh, is it a wonderful one.