What is self-love? How do you define self-love? Self-love is exactly what it sounds like – loving yourself. Loving every facet of your being, by recognizing and accepting who you are, all your weaknesses, mistakes, failures, flaws, everything and every part of you that you would have considered awful, ugly, silly, hideous or dreadful in the past or even in the present.
Self-love is holding yourself to the standard you set – if any – for your well-being and satisfaction.
I would also add some more to that. Self-love isn’t abandoning yourself for the sake of being with someone in a relationship that is unhealthy. It isn’t saying yes because you want to please the other person while choking on your will to say no and you are absolutely aware that it doesn’t benefit you. It isn’t accepting that invitation, and while sitting among your peers, and you can’t get your comfy bed out of your mind.
This is how some of us allow ourselves to suffer emotionally and mentally. Going after things that are meaningless, and don’t forget this also involves people.
If we never learn from our experiences they will keep repeating themselves until we find ourselves up against a wall scampering for solutions to our problem. If we continue, a time will come when we will encounter someone or something else that will teach us a lesson that may be worst than what we have already been through, and hopefully, we realized that person or thing was been served as a mirror to what we do to ourselves. This is exactly what I have experienced. The hardest lesson is taught in the school of life.
If you have ever had these experiences you will know that it is difficult to be in such a place. It becomes even harder when you have no support base. And I’m not talking about money. I mean, the moral and emotional support from family and perhaps even friends; who may be there physically, but nothing more.
There are people out there who stay in bad marriages and relationships despite being treated horribly. They believe it’s part of love and it’s what happens when you love someone. Then there are those who allowed themselves to be treated anyhow in common friendship because as one person said, “their friend/s have done so much for them and they must show loyalty.” This isn’t loving or respect. Every time you do this it shows a lack of control and respect for yourself.
Developing and cultivating self-love is a process. It requires a lot of work on ourselves. But first, we must realize who we are, where we are and what we deserve.
Realizing who we are: Recognizing who we are is discovering ourselves, and the importance of knowing ourselves becomes even more clearer.
Where we are: Accepting that we are in a place where we don’t belong and being conscious of the fact that we need to change that, because it isn’t doing us any good.
What we deserve: Recognizing who we are and accepting that we need to change the people we have around us because we deserve to be treated better. This is where it starts – with ourselves and subsequently those around us. This rut isn’t an easy place to emerge from.
Below, I have put together 10 rules for practising, while on your journey of self-love.
Honour your boundaries: First, you must know what your boundaries are to ensure that others don’t cross them. You honour your boundaries because you want to be treated the way you want to be treated. Being respected for being you, your values and beliefs. Remember this, if you do not honour your boundaries, others won’t. And that is not what you want, right?
Own yourself: To own yourself is to believe in yourself. Accept yourself for who you truly are. Not everyone is a role model. As a matter of fact, most people aren’t, because in more than one way we do not want to be like them.
It’s hard to own yourself in a world that is constantly trying to own you given that there is so much social conditioning around. If you really think about it, you can be owned by so many elements out there. There is much work to do in aligning yourself with whom you truly are.
When you become less perturbed, own your voice, free of expectation, grounded in yourself, self-reliant and understanding at the same time, that “no man is an island,” appreciating genuine connections, not controlled by thoughts and emotions and knowing what you want, you are on your journey of self-sovereignty.
Stop overthinking: This is, but is not limited to, dwelling on things that have already happened. You know, the ones we cannot control. How do you know when you are overthinking? When you experience repetitive thoughts – thinking about something over and over again. Dwelling on how bad you felt or what could have been, or how you should have reacted. It is never helpful. It’s not healthy, and it doesn’t solve problems.
Overthinking will leave you restless and mentally drained. It can delay your decision-making and create a lot of doubts and uncertainty in your life. It is you surrendering to the guidance and authority of others and when this happens we lose ourselves. This would mean giving in to the wants of others and prioritizing them.
Connections are good, but only worthwhile if they are healthy and beneficial to us. No one is worth losing yourself over. If we love ourselves overthinking is one of your biggest hurdles to be working on.
Connect with yourself: To connect with yourself is to be observant and mindful of what is going on inside you and know who you are. In meditation, I have truly found the importance and benefits of self-connection. It is how I begin and end my day.
I have also learned a lot from Jess Shepherd and Louise Hay. The latter is now passed. We live in a technologically driven world and so it is easy to become disconnected while losing ourselves in what is happening in society. It is important to spend time away from people and things sometimes. Spending time with yourself, journaling, meditating, nature walks whatever suits you. They help to shift your energy and allow you to be more introspective.
Build your self-esteem: Treat yourself with kindness, love and encouragement. Cultivating self-esteem isn’t easy. We all experience self-doubt. We doubt that we are and that that we can be. Where does this doubting come from? It comes from a place where we see ourselves as incapable and not having what it takes to do something. And this perspective gives us a feeling of unworthiness and devalued.
Challenge the way you see yourselves. Demonstrate to yourself that you are valued. Practice Affirmation. For example, “I love myself, I am worthy of love, I deserve every good thing” etc. If you are interested you can find many of her interesting and encouraging videos on YouTube.
Invest your time in your vision: Investing time in your aspiration shows that you care for yourself and want the best for yourself. After all, this is what anyone would do when they want to become successful.
Stop craving for things and people who are of no use to us. If they aren’t going anywhere there are no reasons to be around them. We all have our own path to walk in this thing call life. Make yours worthwhile and fulfilling.
Respect yourself: How do you show respect to yourself? What would make you respect yourself? One of the ways in which you respect yourself is by not letting others define what is right and good for you. If you are proud of who you are you will respect yourself. And mind you, you don’t have to be a scientist or someone in the echelon to feel this way about yourself.
Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. And you don’t need to be perfect to show yourself respect. It’s also being honest with yourself. Respecting yourself means defining your worth as an individual. If you don’t respect yourself you open the door for others to treat you however they may. So it starts with YOU.
Celebrate yourself: What does it mean to celebrate yourself? It is giving yourself the downtime that is needed. Listen to your favourite music that touches your heart. Going to your favourite restaurant. Get dressed for no reason. Take the time out and give gratitude. You deserve it. All this is self-love. Accept, encourage, and empower yourself.
We don’t have to always burden ourselves with the cares of this world. After all, none of us is getting out alive. That is why celebrating yourself can happen anytime for any reason. But while we live, let’s just live.