The word “Self-love” is everywhere; we’ve heard it so many times that it may have lost its meaning. Even so, the concept itself is critical. It’s a building block to deep and fulfilling relationships, effective communication, successful decision-making, and it puts you in touch with your passion, your talents and your life goals. If you love yourself, you can dream. You can show up in the world without the filters and masks that hide who you are.
If I asked you if you love yourself, what would you say?
“Sure. Of course, I do, but…”
And therein lies the problem. Why is it that we feel okay putting conditions on loving ourselves? My bet is that there is some being in your life that you’d love no matter what. A companion, a friend, a child, a pet… there isn’t anything they could do that would erode your love for them. We can project that outward, but why can’t we hold that same compassion, empathy, and boundless appreciation for ourselves?
The truth is that most of us don’t know how. Even with all the articles and buzz around this topic, so many of us still don’t know what it means to love ourselves and some of us aren’t even sure that it’s important enough to try.
Self-love is much different than self-care. If it was as easy as getting a massage or soaking in a hot tub, we’d all do it. The reality of self-love is a more complex and emotional journey than that. How many of these statements can you say are true for you?
· I appreciate my strengths and talents, and I’m proud to openly own and use them. They are a critical part of me and I’m not ashamed, even if my talents are unique.
· I am aware of where I am still growing as a person. I love myself enough not to give up just because the lessons are hard. I’m worth the time and investment in myself.
· I tell the world who I am every day through my words and actions.
· I ask for help when I’m struggling, because I deserve support.
· I show myself the same grace and compassion that I show others.
· I don’t pretend to be something I’m not in order to please other people.
· I know that no setback or mistake can erase the value I add to the world around me.
· I see setbacks and mistakes as an opportunity for me to learn something new and become the next, better version of myself.
· I clearly communicate my needs and boundaries.
· I take responsibility for my choices and my feelings. No one else can be responsible for my behavior, and no one else can predict my feelings.
· While I have a vision for the way I want things to be, I know that perfection is a trap that can keep me from moving forward. I can let go and move on from that which is imperfect.
· I believe that I am worthy of a happy life, and I take action to make it happen.
These are just some of the ways that self-love sets the stage for how we show up in the world. The opposite is self-doubt, concealment, censorship, fear, smallness, isolation, second-guessing, endless disappointment, needs unmet, and/or a life unfulfilled and unlived. You weren’t put here on Earth for that. Whoever you are, you deserve better than that and can have so much more.
So how do we find our way to self-love? It’s there, underneath the false beliefs and stories that stand in the way. You can strip their power away from them by proving them wrong. The love is there, behind the lies you’re telling yourself.
·No one cares what I have to say. — LIE!
I should know how to do this. I can’t ask for help. — LIE!
My life will be ruined if I make a mistake. — LIE!
It’s more important to make others happy than meet my own needs. — LIE!
You expose those false beliefs by asking yourself the tough questions, seeing what new information and perspective is revealed, and using what you learn to change your mindset, feelings, and behavior.
· Which questions above don’t feel true for you right now?
· Why do you think it’s not true for you? What is the evidence?
· Deep down, you know that statement could be true. What is the evidence that it could be true?
· What commitment would it take for you to make that statement true?
· What are you afraid of?
The truth is this:
People take their cues on how to treat you by watching how you treat yourself.
Loving yourself shows others that they can’t devalue you. It shows others that you are strong, self-aware, resilient, authentic, accountable, and ready for whatever life throws at you. If that’s what you’re showing the world, it would make sense that people would want deeper relationships with you. It would make sense that they would trust you, offer you opportunities, and take risks with you. It opens your world to wonderful experiences.
Exposing the truth of how you treat yourself can be emotionally difficult, but it is so worth it to arrive at a place where you can feel free to be the truest version of you.
So what do you think? How can you love yourself a little more today?