You google it and find a long list of things that are attributed to self-love, and for the sake of it, you try them out. But they don’t make you feel the way you want them to, or perhaps your expectations were too high? Why is it so easy to spread love, but when it comes to ourselves, we’re lost in a labyrinth there seems to be no way out of? This conundrum is universal, but there’s no set of rules that one can follow to reach the gateway of self-love.
What Is Self-Love Afterall?
A buzzword that is thrown around a lot, you hear people say “love yourself more”, or that it’s critical to “love oneself” before we learn to love others. Whatever you’ve heard, or wherever you live, the idea of self-love sounds like the promised land you can never get a hold of.
What keeps you out of that land of bliss are simple behavioral things you’ve adopted throughout the years like self-destructive behavior, lack of boundaries, being disconnected from yourself, and not treating your body with care. It’s a matter of mental and physical well-being.
Selflove is a matter of consequence. It’s a really big deal and a crucial component that impacts and influences every life choice that you make: from picking a partner, choosing your career, friendships, and even the act of spending money.
It’s deeper than a state of “feeling content and happy”, it’s a state of pure appreciation that is developed over time. It’s about acceptance and being compassionate to and for yourself. It’s accepting your flaws and working on them to attain meaning and fulfillment in life.
Self-love, consequently, isn’t something you stumble upon, it’s something you grow.
Another myth to debunk about self-love: it’s not always about doing cheesy things for yourself. It looks a lot like supporting your well-being: standing up for what you need, making a healthy lunch rather than watching Netflix, setting boundaries, and more. It’s doing the unsexy but practical things that don’t always feel good at the moment. Sometimes, it’ll make you uncomfortable but eventually lead you to feel empowered and free.
What Gets in The Way?
Love is all about communicating, about learning to listen patiently. And often, when it comes to self-love, connecting and listening with your body is the map to that quest.
Ignoring what your body is saying gets in the way of this journey, not listening to those whispers. When you’re out of tune with your body, you’re more likely to indulge in behavior that numbs feelings. The farther you run from feeling, the more your disconnection. That’s when self-destructive behaviors set in, it becomes easier to sabotage your well-being.
At a time like this, approaching self-love seems daunting because it means you have to feel what you’re running away from.
Similarly, the way we quieten our body’s cries, we turn a deaf ear to our inner voice. When we prioritize everything over what that inner voice is telling you, it’ll get meeker and quieter, and eventually, you’ll stop hearing it.
The Path to Self-Love
However, self-love can become a bigger part of your life if you continue with these essential steps:
Connect with Yourself
It’s thrown around often, but the fact is that mindful practices enhance your connection with the body, Yoga, meditation, and exercising quietens your mind so you can hear your inner voice. Other mindful practices that can help you reconnect include creating art, writing, playing music, singing, or spending time in nature.
Learn to Listen
Spend a few minutes every day in stillness and silence. You’ll realize how difficult it is to sit still and do nothing, but over time, you’ll show your body that you’re here and willing to listen.
Understand Your Emotions
Our bodies speak to us with emotions and sensations, but we often neglect what’s being said. Ever walked into a crowded room and got a weird, funny feeling in your stomach? You’re getting a message, but because the conversation between your body and you are broken, you don’t know what the feeling means.
Respond With Love
Usually, when we do something wrong, our first reaction is to blame ourselves. We tend to scrutinize ourselves and treat ourselves harshly. Notice this reaction, and every time learn to be softer. Permit yourself to feel sad, lost, awkward, and remind yourself that you did what was best at that time, even if it wasn’t correct.
Feel the Feedback
After you indulge in these practices, your body almost certainly will give you feedback — either positive or negative. It’ll help you know whether you’re on the right track or going off base.
How A Self-Loving Person Acts
Sometimes, you know you want to be more self-loving, but have no idea how to start. Here are a few characteristics of self-love that you should search in yourself, and if you find something you’re not doing, then think about what you need to change:
To self-love is to commit to a healthy version of ourselves, to have a long-term relationship that serves the body. This means prioritizing needs over wants.
Boundaries with ourselves, our work, and relationships are important. Communicate these boundaries with others, so you and others feel reassured at all times.
Having Difficult Conversations
Challenging but important, difficult conversations ensure everyone will be at ease once everything is out in the open by bringing clarity.
Not Comparing Yourself to Others
It’s a part of us to resort to comparisons and self-judgment, but being committed to self-love means not comparing oneself to others. Instead, focus on one’s own life and let everyone else be.
It’s not easy to forgive sometimes and takes a deep insight into one’s emotions. But, to self-love, one must forgive — whatever that means to you.
Being Kind to Yourself
A significant aspect of self-love is learning to be kind to ourselves and understanding that we deserve the same respect we so easily give to those close to us and others.
Self-love is a journey, and often we hold back on it. If you’re doing something that makes you proud, or if you achieve a milestone, go out of the way to get yourself something nice. To spend on yourself now and then is also an act of cherishing your wants and desires.
Get yourself an art piece that you’ve been obsessing over, a customized sheet music canvas, or perhaps a vacation you want but don’t think you deserve.