You can tell yourself you’re beautiful all day long. You can stare at your reflection in the mirror and try and convince yourself you see beauty in your eyes, in the way your hips curve, and in your crooked, imperfect smile.
You can list the reasons you’re intelligent and hardworking. You can write down over and over and over again about how worthy you are of love until your hand cramps up. You can tell yourself you’re capable of doing whatever it is that you set your mind to.
But none of this matters if you don’t behave in a way that shows that you believe what you’re saying.
Because self-love is more than just saying nice things about yourself and spewing positivity.
It’s matching the actions to the words. If you say you love yourself but are constantly treating your body like shit, running back to people who clearly do not have your best interests in mind, overworking yourself at your job to the point of sheer exhaustion, that is not self-love.
That is self-destruction.
Because self-love is self-care. It’s doing what you need to do to be healthy and at peace, be that exercising regularly, attending all important appointments, or looking after your mental wellness. It’s not pushing these things aside in order to take care of everyone else based on the false belief that it would be selfish to take care of yourself first. You’re not being selfish for putting yourself first. In fact, you can’t really help someone else until your own head is above water.
Self-love is respecting yourself enough to say “No” at work when you simply do not have the bandwidth to do something. It’s letting yourself believe that you are still worthy of your job or where you’re at in your career even though you are not able to do it all. It’s allowing yourself to be enough despite that.
Self-love is walking away from all the toxic people in your life who do nothing but make you miserable and feel bad about yourself. It’s not making excuses for them, it’s not forgiving someone over and over again for the same shortcomings and for inflicting the same pain. It’s letting them go with dignity and knowing that it is all for the best. It’s trusting yourself to make those difficult decisions and not go back.
Self-love is accepting that you are completely and utterly imperfect. It’s allowing yourself to make mistakes and not fall apart when you do. It’s embracing the very humanity that makes your heart beat and the breath that fills your lungs up with life.
This is all not to say that the way you talk to yourself does not matter. Positive self-talk raises your self-esteem as much negative self-talk diminishes it. However, if you’re not respecting and caring for yourself, if you continuously treat yourself like crap, it doesn’t matter how often you say you love yourself.
You’ll never believe it until your actions follow suit.