I think the most common misconception is thinking about self-love as one thing.
The concept of self-love has never come easy to me. I find myself confusing self-love with “treat yourself” more often than I’d like to admit. Bad day? I can stop by my favorite store and splurge a little (or a lot), order sushi takeout and a bottle of strong red for dinner — we’ve all been there.
Sometimes I confuse self-love with self-care. I feel pampered when I light some candles, put on a face mask, get in the bubble bath, and read a book or watch my favorite show on Netflix. I feel empowered when I wake up with my first alarm, get a good workout in, and still have time to make a matcha latte before work. I feel accomplished when I avoid the couch long enough to cook a delicious dinner after a long day of work.
I’m starting to realize that there is another side of self-love that is equally (if not more) important and definitely more challenging.
Self-love is certainly about being kind to myself, but it’s also giving myself some tough love when I need it. When things get stressful, my natural inclination is to withdraw socially and to internalize and overanalyze everything. Although introverting in moderation is valuable to me as an only child, I’ve found that when I’m going through a break-up or miserable at my job, I’m much happier when I avoid the temptation to become one with the couch cushions, endlessly telling Netflix, “Yes, I’m STILL watching,” and agree to that happy hour or dinner with a friend instead.
Self-love is picking myself up, dusting myself off, putting on a cute outfit, and surrounding myself with people who love me back.
Throughout the past few months, I’ve found myself in a state of change, which has been causing me to feel discomfort, fear, sadness, and anxiety. Whenever I face these types of emotions, I look to grasp on to a source of comfort. Sometimes that’s a hug from mom and sometimes I find myself holding on to things that are “comfortable” but no longer adding value to my life, which can be detrimental to my future.
I was in a yoga class trying to accomplish “crow pose.” Sensing my frustration, the teacher instructed me to bring my gaze forward. At first, I told her I was scared to look forward because it made me feel like I was going to fall. She explained that: 1) it was okay if I did fall because falling doesn’t mean failing (preach!) and 2) if I did decide to look forward, I would immediately feel more balanced in the position.
Um, hello, why do I not follow this advice in my everyday life?! Here I am, looking backward at people that failed me and situations that are never going to change. If I have love and respect for myself, why the hell would I allow myself to be disappointed again?
Self-love is actively living my life. It’s looking forward into the future making the decisions that are best for me. Self-love is not holding on to the past and hoping someone or something will change in the future. It’s not all bath bombs, face masks, and matcha lattes. Self-love is knowing I can do better. It’s listening to what my body needs. It’s standing up for what I believe in. It’s knowing my value and when to put my foot down. It’s NOT backsliding. It’s holding myself accountable to let that shit go and move forward into the future.