I’m a massive fan of self-love.
I cherish the idea of us all being wonderful to ourselves and investing the majority of our time and energy into our own selves and wellbeing. We’re all so brilliant in our individual ways and it seems a waste to forgo that chance of unadulterated self-love in favour of being awful to ourselves.
The problem is, I’m terrible at it.
There’s often a lot of pressure that comes with being told you’ve got to love yourself. I mean, the phrase “if you can’t love yourself, how can you expect somebody else to love you?” is perhaps the single worst example of what advocation of self-love should look like. It can be really scary to be told that you’ve only got yourself to rely on for validation and it can often be like trying to find a fiver that you lost down the back of the sofa three weeks ago (“I know I left my self-confidence down here somewhere…”)
Self-love takes practice. I’m aware of my own need to be kinder to myself and I’m aware of the patriarchal bullshit that keeps me worrying about my weight and appearance every ten minutes. But I’m not willing to let my own annoyance at my readiness to succumb to self-esteem issues to be another problem that I need to add to the list. Because ya know what? Self-love is HARD.
However, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make the journey to self-acceptance alone. Whilst I wouldn’t encourage you to seek validation solely from what other people think of you, I’d definitely recommend harnessing the beautiful power of your loved ones to walk with you some of the way.
I accidentally started doing this a few months ago when I first started my new job. We’re a very complimentary workplace and there’s rarely a week goes by that somebody doesn’t positively comment on your dress, or your hair, or how well you did something. We actively celebrate each others’ hard work as part of our workplace culture and it has been just a joyous habit to get into. Although I was feeling low, I started to take little pieces of these compliments home with me and reflect on them to assess whether they matched up with my own thoughts about myself. I gradually began to start looking at myself more objectively and tried to approach my quest for self-love from a perspective outside of my own (which was just what I needed – my inner monologue is a bitch).
When we’re little, we believe we can do ANYTHING. But gradually, over time, life is horrible to us in various ways and makes us start to doubt our abilities. We then internalise those thoughts and repeat them back to ourselves until we just accept them to be true about ourselves. But what if we flipped this around? What if we instead decided to cling on to the compliments and accolades and praise and reminded ourselves of that on a daily basis? I don’t remember ever having done that… but why not?! If most of what we hear about ourselves is lovely, it should follow that we’d then start to believe in ourselves a little more.
So, whilst you’re working on loving yourself, why not rope in some of the folks who make you feel wonderful for a bit of extra support? Surround yourself with people who bring brilliant conversation, who make you laugh until your stomach hurts, who will tell you the truth and will happily celebrate the things they love about you. Learn to accept compliments and apply them to your view of yourself, make an effort to remember the positivity that your loved ones bring you, and return that love and joy with them (there’s nothing like celebrating others to give you a boost).
Self-love isn’t easy but it’s definitely doable if you surround yourself with people who help you to feel wonderful. You don’t have to do it alone.
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