Self-love is all the rage now. And rightly so. Self-love is, after all, ultimately what pushes you to gain a solidified sense of who you truly are by celebrating the beauty and freedom of being true to yourself.
But I have come to realize that there is a really thin line between self-love, and self-destruction. Some of the most prevalent misconceptions about self-love are a result of how excessively we overcompensate for our lack of it. In turn, we cover it up with vanity and superficial undertones and we tell ourselves, “There is nothing wrong with putting yourself first.’ How many times are the punchy, preachy quotes presented out of context and dangerously turned into excuses for us to be shitty human beings when we feel like it?
We’ve become addicted to a pretty twisted version of self-love. A self-love that imposes. A self-love that is only active when there’s an audience. And that’s not right. Loving yourself is not be a one-time thing. Authentic self-love can’t be induced by a drug, a compliment, or a meaningless relationship.
Self-love is not a mood. Self-love is not a mask that you put on. Don’t make an ugly pit of self-loathing and hatred for the world and call it ‘Self-love’.
Self-love is not exclusive.
Be present to what you are doing and while you are doing it. Real happiness isn’t about putting conditions on what you get and what you give. “If I get that raise, I’ll be happy.” It could get awfully frustrating when things don’t go your way, but learn to know when it is time to stop, take a deep breath and tell yourself, “This is bigger than me.”
But when that happens, continue to seek the knowledge and ways that abide by your values and goals. You may not be there yet, but you will be damn closer than you were yesterday! That’s just how it is.
Self-love is not running away the moment shit hits the fan.
I have zero respect for people who claim to love themselves yet bolt the moment things get rough. Honestly, who are you benefitting by automatically ‘removing yourself’ when things are ‘no longer working’? It’s selfish and juvenile. Love yourself enough to know that you deserve better. That means: if you have a problem, learn to fix it.
Self-love is not a one-off achievement.
It is a particular way of experiencing oneself. I’ll tell you straight up: it’s a constant shitload of hard work. Life is gonna keep throwing all kinds of shit at you. The challenge is to remain moving forward when everything is pulling you back, learning how to accept facts rather than deny them. It is to continue being responsible when everything around you is forcing you the other way. How does it go: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Right? So find the beat–you’ll learn to like the song.
Self-love is not self-righteous.
Know what you don’t know, and balance it with what you do know. Tell the truth and practice what you preach—even when nobody is watching. Be comfortable with having no audience. If you need viewers to validate how you honor your commitments and the values you say you admire, then you need to wake up. You really only see what people want you to see, and the world will never run out of people who say they’re one thing and do another, but please. Ain’t nobody got time!
Self-love is not defensive.
Realize that you, and only you, control your choices and actions. You are responsible for your wellbeing, and you are responsible for the fulfillment of your goals and dreams. Understanding your own worth means knowing that not everybody will be able to see it. But when you make a decision–sacrifices and all–, that is all on you. Nobody else is ACCOUNTABLE for that. And yes, often times–whether you like it or not–you are going to need the help of other people to achieve your goals, and when that happens, learn to offer your help in exchange. “Fair isn’t everybody getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting.”
Self-love is not obnoxious.
It’s important to be authentic in how we connect with others, but it’s just as important to know that you aren’t perfect. Confidence plays a huge part in self-love, but ultimately this is what it is: “It is not ‘everybody will like me’; it is ‘not everybody will like me, but I’m fine with that.’” But honey, don’t forget: when somebody dislikes you, it is a reflection of their character. How you react to it, on the other hand, is a reflection of yours. Stand up for yourself in appropriate ways, in appropriate contexts. “Putting yourself first” does not warrant any negative judgment towards whoever wronged you.
I’m no expert on self-love, but I’ve been on this journey for quite a while now. I’ve hit a few dead ends, taken a number of wrong turns, but you know what: I’ve learned that self-love is about the willingness to own, experience, and take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions completely.
It’s tough. It’s an active job. And it is built over a long period of time through the right state of mind. But… it’s all worth it. If it isn’t built over a long period of time through the right state of mind, what would it be if not.. completely pointless.