What is self-love?

A guide to what it means to love yourself truly

What is self-love?

The self-love movement has been on the rise for a few years now. We have been told that love starts with us and that we cannot love others unless we love ourselves first. That is true. But what is self-love?

I notice that generally, people (and mostly women) confuse self-love with having a positive body image… There is nothing wrong with feeling good about your body, on the contrary! Loving the way you look and feeling good in your own skin is certainly a piece in the big self-love puzzle. But, admirable as it is, a positive body image is not everything self-love represents. Just because you came to love your fat rolls and your cellulite, it doesn’t mean that you love yourself. The reason is very simple: there is more to you than the physical body.

So I thought: what are some of the main ‘ingredients’ of self-love? I am listing some of these right bellow. But remember, there might be others that did not pop into my head as I was writing this, so feel free to add yours in the comments.

1

Self-compassion

“Be kind to yourself, dear – to our innocent follies. Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance. You will come to see that all evolves us.” – Rumi

Do you know how sometimes (or more times than we are willing to admit) we blame ourselves and criticize ourselves for this or that thing that happened in our lives? Do you know how sometimes we feel ashamed for our actions, for our failures, or for the things we said or didn’t say? Do you know how sometimes we judge ourself and we punish ourselves with harsh words? “Oh, I am so stupid”, or “How can I be such an idiot?”…

Forgive yourself for all those things you call mistakes. For what you call a mistake is nothing more than a lesson. Because yes, we are not always performing at our best, but when we see lessons instead of punishments and steps forward instead of dead ends, life takes a whole new turn and meaning.

Read “Don’t look back in anger! 3 types of reactions people usually have when facing regret or disappointment”

Had you known better, you would have done better… We live and we learn, so have compassion for your mistakes and your failures. They are meant to make you stronger, not to bring you down. Be kinder to yourself and accept that you are not perfect, but you are evolving. Next time, you’ll know better and you’ll do better.

2

Self-care

“Keep taking time for yourself until you’re you again.” – Lalah Delia

This is not about you spending lots of money on expensive face creams or on facials and body treatments… I mean, if you like those things and make you feel good, great, do them! But self-care is also about taking care of your inner self, not only of the outside. It is about what foods you eat and what thoughts you allow in your mind. It is about the company you keep and the energy you allow around you. And it is also about cultivating inner peace and self-awareness though meditation, therapy and all types of inner healing.

I admit that this is where I feel like I lack the most because I know that I could do more to improve my self-care routine. But hey, I am a work in progress…We all are, and we’ll always be.

3

Self-reliance

“Ignoring your intuition and denying what you know in your gut is self betrayal.” – Maryam Hasnaa

When you love yourself, you trust that inner calling and you respond to it. You will be uncompromising when it comes to what you feel and you know in your heart to be true. One who loves himself lives for himself, not for others, because he understands that he was brought in the world with a purpose and nothing and no one will stay in the way of him fulfilling that purpose. He might not even know what that purpose is, but he always trusts that, when it comes to his own life, he knows better.

Self-reliance, I find, is difficult for most people, especially because it is easier to comply and be part of the mob than standing out and doing your own thing. Unfortunately, a lot of growth opportunities and pieces of self-knowledge are lost as we try to fit in.

4

Self-respect

“When you see something that the heart can’t bear, why do you put it there?” – Shams of Tabriz

I have been told more than once that I am too picky when it comes to my relationships and that my standards are too high. But what does “too high” mean, really? “Too high” according to whom?  And what is wrong with high standards anyway? Nothing…

When you know what you need, when you know your worth, you will not settle for less, and that is a critical part of what self-love is. Of course, some people hide behind the idea of self-respect and become  self-pleasing and arrogant… Remember though, respecting yourself does not mean disrespecting others. If you are truly able to see your own worth, you are also able to see the value in other people too, it’s just that it might not be the kind of value that complements you.

5

Self-knowledge

“Knowing others is intelligence, /Knowing yourself is true wisdom. /Mastering others is strength, /Mastering yourself is true power.” – Lao Tzu

Loving yourself is a journey into self-knowledge. What makes you tick? What are your passions and talents? What are your heartfelt desires? When you love yourself, you are more open to self-discovery and self-development. Solitude does not scare you, on the contrary, you welcome it. Your emotions do not frighten you, but you sit with them and listen to what they have to say to you about yourself. While interacting with others you understand that they are nothing but mirrors that show you your real face and you welcome the lessons that come with every person you meet.

Conclusion

Loving yourself means being in a relationship with yourself (the healthy kind). How would you talk to your sweetheart? You would probably do your best to trust him… You would also probably do your best to respect his wishes and you would constantly try to know him better…

As in any relationship, you realize that in the relationship you have with yourself, things will not always work out great, but, with patience and care, you can nourish a love affair that can last for a lifetime. Remember, you will disappoint yourself sometimes, you will lie to yourself, you will let yourself down. But always try to have self-compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. If you’ve been hurt, take some time for some self-care. See your friends, spend time in nature, take a hot bath, meditate… Then get back on it, trust yourself that you can make things work (and of course you can). Decide to respect yourself more by being true to your needs, always having your well-being in mind. Nurturing self love is a life long process and needs a lot of awareness, which might not always come handy. Be gentle with yourself!

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