Getting Clear on What Self-Love Isn't
In the past few years, it's not uncommon to see someone or something telling you to love yourself more every where you look. Self-love is a hot topic these days and I love reading all about it and inspiring others to embrace yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself.
But, I’ve also seen implications that self-love is the answer to all your problems. That concerns me a bit because it’s giving false hope that a perfect, problem free life is possible if you just love yourself enough. This in turn might lead to frustration and anger when you think you’re loving yourself but your life is not perfect or problem free.
Having been on my own self-love journey for the past several years, I am the first to admit that I am completely passionate about this process and the first to shout from the rooftops that it can be life changing.
But, my life is not perfect or problem free, nor will it ever be.
And here’s the kicker…I don’t expect it to be.
Life is messy. Life is hard. Life is unfair. Self-love is not going to solve that and make your life a fairy tale.
But, what it will do is help you forgive yourself, give yourself a little latitude, be more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, allow you to learn more from challenges and negative situations, grow more, and be more in tune with what truly works or doesn't work for you.
While it won’t fix your problems, it will help you navigate through them with more strength and could help you prevent yourself from getting into some negative or challenging situations to begin with (i.e. you're likely to make better choices for yourself).
So, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on what self-Love isn’t to clear up some common misconceptions and confusion.
What Self-Love Isn’t
Being happy 24/7
Nobody is going to be happy 24/7. Not only is that not possible, I’m not sure that would even be desirable! Sadness, anger, frustration, melancholy, etc….these are all part of our emotional beings. Having the opportunity to experience all of these is actually a beautiful thing and what makes us human. Having a bad day makes you appreciate a good day that much more, so if you were happy 24/7, you’d live a pretty mundane life.
Self-love isn’t about erasing all the negative emotions in your life. It’s about learning how to better handle and experience the not-so-good times so that you bounce back quicker.
Nothing makes me more annoyed than hearing someone say that taking time for yourself is selfish. You know the advice on an airplane about putting you own gas mask on first? Well, the same applies to life!
If you take the time to take care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to take care of those around you. You will also show others that you have respect yourself which is not only a great role model for others in your life, it sets the boundaries for how others will treat you. If you respect yourself, others will likely follow suit (and if they don’t, you’re more likely to right that wrong, or remove them from your life).
@@Taking time for yourself is NOT selfish…it’s a mandatory part of taking care of yourself.@@
We tend to be our own worst enemies. We see flaws in ourselves that no one else sees and we throw them under the microscope and make them bigger than they really are. It’s no surprise that as humans, and women in particular, we don’t tend to love ourselves. If we pay attention to the media or Hollywood or social media, we’re bombarded with images of “perfection” and we compare ourselves to these images and only see where we fall short.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret…when you love yourself, you still do ALL of that. You just do it on a much smaller scale and you become more aware of it, so you catch yourself and stop those lines of thought before they go too far.
Self-love isn’t easy…it takes work (especially in the beginning!). You are basically building your strength and mental muscle to accept your flaws and live comfortably with your imperfections.
That ain’t easy, girlfriend, but it’s definitely worth it!
A magic pill or elixir that cures all your problems
I’ve already eluded to this one, but self-love is not magic, it’s not a cure-all for life’s problems. You will still get your heart broken, you will still face rejection, you will still lose out on opportunities, and you will still not reach some of your dreams. That does not mean that you can’t love yourself through the process.
Instead of feeling like ‘your life is over’ or ‘you’ll never be able to do anything’ or whatever negative thoughts that will inevitably invade your mind during those times, your thoughts will shift to something more like "…this sucks and is really hard, but I know I can get through this and I will be okay in the long run...” or “…that wasn’t the right option/person/job/etc. for me and while I’m really sad and disappointed and hurt right now, something better is out there for me…”.
Loving yourself will help you get through each of life's challenges with more strength, but it won't prevent problems or disappointments from happening.
The answer to a perfect life
Nobody’s life is perfect no matter how perfect it may look on Facebook, Instagram, or anywhere else. The first step to loving and accepting yourself is to stop comparing your life to someone else’s. People have amazing skills at hiding the bad or the imperfect and only projecting the good or the perceived perfect. When you compare yourself to that, you have no idea what you’re actually comparing yourself to!
Realize that no one is perfect, no one has the perfect life, and stop expecting yourself to have a perfect life.
@@Self-love will not give you a perfect life, but it’ll give you the ability to love the life you have.@@
A fix for any issues that need the help of a professional
Sadly, there are some phases of life, or challenges that are too deep, or even genetic situations where the help of a professional is needed to get through them and there is NO shame in that! Trying to tackle self-love on your own in those situations won’t really do much and the assistance of a professional will be needed. As I talk about self-love on my website, it is never to imply that this is the answer or can replace professional help if you are in one of those situations.
So, what is Self-Love?
Self-love is about accepting yourself as you are - flaws and all. It’s about being kind to yourself and forgiving yourself.
When you love yourself, you genuinely like yourself. It’s about not depending on others for your happiness. While others may enhance your happiness, only YOU are in charge of your own happiness.
Self-love is about making and taking time for yourself (remember…it’s NOT selfish!). It’s about saying ‘no’ and setting boundaries for yourself with others.
Self-love is a choice and a lifestyle. It’s ongoing work. Just like any relationship, you have to constantly work on it to make it work and to continue to grow your relationship with yourself.