If you’re asked this straightforward question: “What is the meaning of self-love?”, a clear-cut answer your mind automatically gives out might be: “To have love for yourself…?”. And although it seems radical to think that way, the concept of self-love is considered sensitive, tricky territory. The way we define self-love and the road it takes to reach the point of having it for ourselves is so different for each and every one of us. That’s because it’s a journey! Even If the destination is similar, the process of arriving there is bound to depend on our own lives and circumstances. There isn’t rigid, step by step manuals to follow to reach self-love, although there are plenty of common ways that can help in practicing it. In the end, you choose and create the paths that suit your journey best.
Gaining Other Self’s
You’re sitting at a new restaurant and decided to order that “chili steak with white beans”. It’s something quirky, new, and unlike you at all. Yet, you ended up liking it and discovered that every time you’re out, you always like to try new things whether it’s going ice-skating like you did last week or giving a speech in public in your last summit. You gained self-awareness or self-discovery with the process of simply living life. This kind of gain can also happen in therapy settings. When you and your therapist, together start to unravel your life’s journey, you end up discovering plenty of attributes about yourself that may have always been there but needed to be reignited. And in this process of acquiring other self’s, you begin to discover what your needs are (which is part of self-love).
Your brain loves cortisol. And although cortisol has plenty of properties, it’s important to note that this stress hormone feeds on negative thoughts. Meaning that the more negative experiences are common, the more they trigger the release of cortisol in your brain in a snap. This explains why negative thoughts come more easily than positive ones and why it makes it more difficult, over time, to retrieve or even have positive ones. So, when you find yourself being asked to talk about your weaknesses, negative thoughts, or struggles in your life, the answer might come effortlessly. Which is not the case when being asked to think about some strengths, positive attributes, or needs about yourself. Reminder that this is not a rule and not the case for everyone in all situations. This all just means that we need to work even harder to discover what our needs are. Life is a process of self-discovery where we become more aware of “our self’s”, so take your time with perusing them. Here are some questions to ask yourself that can help lighten up the road to your needs:
- What would make me feel safe and secure in life?
- What would bring me sense of purpose, my goals?
- How much time do I spend having fun, do I need more?
- What are some of the things that make me happy and would like to add more of?
- How do I want to continue living my life, what kind of future do I want?
- What are the things I currently need to feel good about myself?
- What makes me motivated every week to continue doing what I’m doing?
Figuring out what self-love looks like for you
Remember that self-love looks very different on each and every person. Here are some practices you can do to get back on track with your self-love journey.
Mistakes are progress.
Life has shaped us into perfectionists, go-getters, sore losers, and so much more titles that might not even be appropriately claimed. What they have in common is the way they revolve around making mistakes and how you choose to react to them. Although different perspectives and individual differences are evident, know that mistakes are normal. Mistakes are progress. Mistakes aren’t a bad thing. So, allow yourself to fall (as much times as you need), dust yourself off, don’t be hard on yourself, and get back up and try again when you’re ready. This shows how you have mercy, forgiveness and love for yourself!
To outer and to inner. That is the question.
Taking care of your outer appearance may be important to a lot of people and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Eat well, work out, buy that skin-care routine, shop for some clothes you want, dress however you like, and do anything that makes you feel good! Just remember by the end of the day that your value doesn’t lie in how you look. That appearances aren’t everything. That you are worth so much more than how you choose to present yourself. Self-love does involve taking care of your “outer”-self, just know that you are valuable because you are you, not because of your looks.
Part of taking care and loving yourself is to know when to say no to certain situations, people, or places. Don’t be afraid to let go of toxic people in your life that don’t bring you joy anymore. If you feel heavier with them in your life, then cut off the weight. You’ll end up feeling lighter in your life’s journey; you’ll feel like you care enough about yourself that you come first! Your mental health comes first.
Your best advocate.
Trust is tricky territory too as lots of people might be struggling with the infamous “trust issues” dilemma. So, trusting yourself is challenging, yet achievable. Trust yourself to make good decisions for yourself. Remember that you are the only person that knows yourself better than anyone else, so you have the control to know what’s best for you. And of course, you are allowed to have second thoughts when making decisions, it’s part of the process. But remember that you should always carry faith not doubt and follow our hearts and gut. Be your best advocate. And when you have trust, you have love!
Seizing the imperfect moments.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a rule book to follow on how to live life to the fullest, but maybe that is a good thing! You get to take every opportunity life presents or even create your own. Self-love is allowing yourself to experience without holding back. It’s knowing that it’s very hard to know when the “perfect moment” is to do something. Seize the moment and go after those dreams and goals you have!
It’s very hard to try and resist comparing ourselves to others. Even when it comes to the simplest things, our minds just automatically begin to wander into dark places. Your success stories, your hurdles, and your life as a whole is 100% different from any other person. Even if who you’re comparing yourself with some who has the same job, house, hobbies, degree, lifestyle and even looks as you, you are still very much different. Hence, let’s try to live by this motto: “Compare yourself with who you were and not who others are!”.
Don’t feel bad for doing this à Putting yourself first! The world is full of harsh critiques, don’t put yourself in the mix à be kind to yourself! To have self-love is to be always think of yourself first. Do what makes you feel alive and happy. Thrive on the good things in life. Put limits and your boundaries if you need to. Never let anybody take your place in your own life, you are your 1st place. On that note, always be kind to yourself even if the world seems harsh. You deserve to be happy and you’re already doing the best you can.
A Word from o7therapy
Self-love rituals look different on each and every one of us. Remember that it’s a journey of self-discovery that will take time to find and unravel. If you feel like you’re struggling with the path that leads to self-love, try revisiting all the simple ways you do express that to yourself. It can be as simple as saying no to situations that make you feel uncomfortable or putting yourself fir