If there is one topic that promises to elicit discussion, it is undoubtedly the topic of love. Either in search for or defense of, love has instigated people to face fears, suffer loss and even meet death in its name. And we hear it all the time– love of country, love of faith, love of family. But in the midst of daily life, there is one kind of love that seems to fall by the wayside. It is the kind that we often forget to talk about, and yet, also the very one that makes the others possible. It empowers, it sustains and it can be incredibly difficult to acquire.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about self-love.
To say you exercise self-love is easier said than done. True self-love requires a willingness to remain open about both the good and the bad parts of who you are, and to face that dichotomy, very honestly, each and every day.
Do you think you practice self-love? If so, here are 10 things you likely do:
1. You honor every phase of your life since each has provided space for growth.
When you find the courage to embrace every experience with equal parts objectivity and compassion, it becomes far less daunting to alter the spaces they occupy within your mind. And though it may remain a challenge at times, you have grown confident in your ability to recognize even the most cringe worthy experiences as building blocks for development. Liberating yourself from things that you may have once been saddened by or ashamed of, you have become more clear of who you are, and less shaken by the dissent of others.
2. You know that when something stops bringing joy to your life, it is time to stop pursing it.
Understanding when it is time to call it quits can be quite the challenge. However, either through time spent with yourself or past experiences, you have come to learn that no opportunity is worth compromising your happiness for.
3. You respect the necessity of quality versus quantity.
In freeing yourself from the fallacy that friendship is defined by the number of companions you possess, you have come to more deeply recognize the importance of your time and where you choose to invest it. Rather than seeking or sustaining surface level interactions for the external gratification they provide, you nurture the relationships that build you up as a person.
4. You give yourself space to cultivate and connect with you passions.
Whether it’s going to the gym, traveling or simply reading a book, you actively pursue interests and give yourself time to explore them. You understand the necessity of personal expansion and remember to dedicate energy toward the things you enjoy.
5. The opinions of other people do not define your perception of self.
You appreciate and respect the perspectives of others, especially those whom you love. However, you have reconciled it with yourself so that both praise and criticism remain of the same value within your psyche. They exist, but they do not characterize you one way or another.
6. You are not only willing to admit to your misgivings, but also forgive yourself for them.
You of all people know how truly imperfect you are. However, most days, you have given up on beating yourself down. You look at yourself the way you would look at a friend, with compassion and acceptance. Above all, you value the importance of understanding and know that some lessons can only be learned through falling down.
7. You welcome your feelings as they come.
In your eyes, running from emotion feels counterintuitive. You recognize your feelings as indicators of something deeper and use them to better navigate discomfort, contentment and everything in between.
8.You are okay with spending time alone.
Although the companionship of friends and family is something we all need, it is not meant to be had twenty-four seven. As human beings, we require space for personal time and reflection. So, whether it has been a natural tendency or something you’ve had to work toward, you have come to find comfort in simply sitting with yourself. You understand that the impulse for constant, external stimulation is one you must remedy from within, and you are not afraid to explore that experience.
9. You listen to yourself.
Mind, body and spirit- you are acutely in tune with your needs. Whether its simply more sleep or an entirely new career path, you trust that voice in your head, and actively seek to balance every facet of who you are.
10. You understand that while external love (be it familial, romantic or platonic) is irreplaceable, your most important relationship will always remain with yourself.
You have retired from misplacing the responsibility of your happiness on the shoulders of others. It is simply too important. Instead, you take solace in the friendship you maintain with yourself, and in doing so use it to bolster the other relationships in your life. Ultimately you’ve learned that contentment begins and ends with you.