As a date coach, I spend my days speaking with various women about their dating problems and their love life issues. I’m there to offer moral support, but I also give them advice that speaks to who they are and what actually works for them.
Recently, though – I’ve been feeling like a complete fraud. For years, I’ve been preaching: “you gotta love yourself, girl!” or “you got with that guy because you have low self-esteem!”
Because that’s what I thought was right.
As someone in the personal development industry, I have to call out some nonsense and I need to be honest with you right now.
This post was sparked by a documentary I just finished watching called Dark Girls. It’s about colorism within ethnic cultures and it’s astounding affects within these cultures.
I’m realizing more and more that self-love can be kind of a bullsh*t topic.
Let’s be real: We don’t wake up one day and decide: Oh hey, you know what – I’m ugly/stupid/lazy/etc.
We are conditioned to believe that because of our environment. Family, friends, classmates, media, society.
I’m amazed at how much we, in the personal development industry, can be so condescending when it comes to self-love and self-esteem.
Let’s use children as an example. If you’re a parent, you don’t tell your child: “Honey, you need to love yourself more,” or “You did that because you have low self-esteem.”
Of course not. Your child would have no idea what you’re talking about. Instead, what do we actually do?
We say things like: You’re smart. You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. You can do no wrong — no matter what Catie said, honey!
But then, what does this in turn create? False self-esteem.
We begin to believe everything we do is awesome because we’re so awesome because things are so awesome.
But that’s exactly what we do with our children. We feel we HAVE to because the world outside of our home can be cruel and unjust. But at least when we build that safe community, that safe environment in our family structure — we can equip our little ones with the tools they need to combat those negative outside influences.
So that is why I’m calling bullsh*t.
Let’s not pretend that the outside world doesn’t matter, as if we live in some sort of bubble that’s impenetrable.
Most of us are fighting daily battles and saying something like: Oh girl – you don’t love yourself enough. You’re saying that because you have low self-esteem…
It doesn’t help.
It’s like when after my mom died, people were so quick to say, “Well, Shamia — just know that everything happens for a reason, hun.” Oh my goodness, just pick up a knife and just stab me in the heart, why don’t you?! Here, I’ll lift my shirt up so you can have a better view for when you joust me with that thing.
What is “enough“? How do I know when I have loved myself enough? When I never slip up nor have a negative thought a day in my life?
Uh, no. That’s impossible. I’m human. There are going to be days where I feel like a hot mess. There are going to be days where I want to cry and lay in the fetal position.
Now does that mean I don’t have self-esteem? Does this mean I don’t love myself because not every thought I have is loving or positive?
Of course not. We all have off days.
So you might be asking: Shamia, this is the worst article I have ever read — what the hell do I do if it’s impossible to love myself, huh? The answer is simple, but it’s not easy: Self-acceptance (along with other-acceptance) + surrounding yourself with supportive people.
Self-love tends to have this air of perfectionism and over-generalized mumbo jumbo that leads to confusion or just grandiose-thinking, for the most part, which then leads to this false self-esteem.
It feels like this other-worldly concept that’s out of reach to some because it feels like you have to “fake it till you make it” and, I know as an introvert, doesn’t feel “right.”
You have to stop trying to LOVE yourself and start accepting yourself.
Start surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people.
Then tell me that your perception of yourself won’t be altered drastically. Do it. I dare you.
Life isn’t always going to give us what we want when we want it. We need to make an effort to change the things we can, but if we can’t, we still need to live life to the best of our ability. And we can’t do that if we continue to surround ourselves with people who bring us down and belittle us and we can’t do it if we’re too busy trying to chase the magical combination of “self-love” and perfection.
So instead of trying to love yourself, I encourage you to do some inventory of the people you keep around you and the things you are trying to change that are unchangeable.
Understand and accept that you’re not perfect, you will never be perfect.
And that’s perfectly okay.
Keep doing you.