I have recently discovered that I don’t think I truly love myself.
I thought I did, but in my moments of heaviness, it’s harder to convince myself, meaning there are clearly doubts within me.
Here are some lessons I’ve been discovering as I explore what self-love is:
1. Loving yourself should be no different than loving someone else.
When you love someone, you want to give them the world. You want to bring them happiness and will give them nothing less than everything, yet it can be hard to feel that way about yourself. Why? Because to some degree, we may not want to accept our flaws, or knowing our flaws, we don’t think we are deserving of good things. We have to nurture a loving loyalty to ourselves just as we would with another person.
2. Loving yourself is whatever you need it to be.
It does not necessarily mean screaming “I love you” at yourself in the mirror. Loving yourself can mean sleeping early if you know you need to wake up early the next morning. It can mean pushing back personal deadlines or treating yourself to something you’ve wanted. A large part of this lesson is simply knowing to take care of yourself, because that is what everyone needs.
3. Loving yourself means validating your own feelings.
Allowing yourself to feel what you feel is important, even if it means feeling uncomfortable with yourself at times. There may be times you feel ashamed for being angry, embarrassed that you’re sad, or resentful that you’re jealous. Emotions are complex, but you need to give yourself the right to express all of them. Bottling up your feelings or convincing yourself that your feelings are insignificant never works out.
4. Loving yourself means believing you deserve to be happy.
This can be one of the hardest and longest struggles of learning to love yourself. You can remind yourself of how reliable your support system is, what a kind and loving individual you are, and a million other things, but thoughts don’t always align with feelings. It can be easy to get swept in the negatives and stop believing that you are deserving, but you are. Everyone deserves happiness.
5. Loving yourself means allowing yourself to be surrounded by the people and things you love.
Don’t isolate yourself from the people who care about you or try to convince yourself that you have to move past all hardships on your own. Learn to embrace the company of loved ones even if it can feel scary or foreign to depend on others. Allow their support to guide you as you continue your journey of self-love. Surrounding yourself with hobbies is also essential. Pull out old favorite movies or books. Keep dancing, singing, cooking, painting, or doing whatever lifts the weight on your heart.
6. Loving yourself means making yourself a priority and realizing you cannot control the actions of others.
Know that you have people you care about you, but also know that you are the only person who can fully prioritize yourself. We are all living for ourselves, yet our own wellbeing can be the easiest to neglect. Our feelings of self-love may be swayed by others, but we need to remember that the actions of others are not in our control. Outside factors inevitably impact us, but we cannot let the actions of others redefine our sense of self-worth. It can be hard to accept this lack of control, but focus on your own actions and what you can do for yourself rather than fixate on others.
7. Learning to love yourself is a scary, difficult and ongoing process.
You can tell yourself a million times that you deserve happiness yet never believe it. You may make unpleasant discoveries about yourself along the way, but never run from this exploration of self-love. While you can wear a façade of being fine in front of other people, you cannot trick yourself.
I may not fully love myself yet, but I will continue to nurture my confidence and emotions until the day I can believe the things I tell myself. I hope that you will do the same for yourself.