It’s the age-old supposed cure-all for all of life’s woes (especially involving matters of the heart): “loving yourself first.” I don’t know how many times I’ve had to hear this, but I imagine the number is up there because what I do know is how many times I’ve thought to myself: what does that even mean. Because it used to sound to me like some weird form of narcissism or delusional way of not acknowledging anything wrong you’ve done. It used to sound like it meant you shouldn’t take responsibility for yourself, or something like that. But low and behold, I’ve come to the conclusion that it actually means loving yourself because you are a flawed person, and despite the fact that you are imperfect. And while I’m at it, here are some other things that I think loving yourself really means:
1. Having the courage to forgive yourself. It means being able to acknowledge your humanity, your wrongdoing, but to not let it be a source of internal hatred. To understand that not forgiving yourself is the harshest criticism, and that nobody in your life will be able to love you until you forgive yourself for being human. Embrace your perfectly flawed self; it’s what makes the world so beautifully diverse and interesting.
2. Understanding that not your weight, nor your hair color, nor your choice of clothing, nor the funny way your stomach rolls when you slouch down makes you any less attractive than anybody else. There is not only one way to be beautiful, and loving yourself means realizing your own beauty for what it is, not in the context of how you look compared to anyone else (especially the nauseatingly perfect people in magazines).
3. That you have the choice to do what you love or to continue living a life being submissive to the expectations put on you. Loving yourself means understanding what makes your soul happy, and doing that thing as frequently as you’re able. Regardless of how much money you make, regardless of who judges you for it, and regardless of whether or not you’re wildly successful doing it. All you need to be successful is the knowledge that you are doing what you love most.
4. That not everyone will love you, and that not everybody has to. If you are being true to yourself, and somebody has a problem with that, that is their negative energy to deal with, not yours. Loving yourself means knowing that you will never have the love, praise and approval of absolutely everybody you meet, but that doesn’t reflect anything about who you are.
5. Understanding that you have to love yourself before you can love anybody else, or before anyone else can love you. A relationship filled with anxiety, self-doubt, insecurity, etc. is headed for Hell, and I don’t think that’s news to anybody. You have to feel worthy of love, and that comes from loving yourself. How is someone else going to think you’re totally awesome when even you don’t think you are? A: they’re not. The greatest thing loving yourself means is that once you do, you’re better equipped to let the world love you as well.