What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “self-love”?
Do you think it’s pointless or silly? Do you understand what the phrase really means?
Have you ever considered how the relationship you have with yourself might be the most damaging relationship you have with anyone? Or that nurturing the relationship you have with yourself could be the key to solving most of your problems?
In the past “self-love” brought a connotation with it of being selfish or self-centered. You may have been raised believing this, so the idea of showing yourself love might leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, turning you off to the concept.
I would argue that the way to heal a lot of trauma we may have experienced in our lives is through self-love. We all live in our heads. Everything we see, hear, or feel is filtered through our personal lens and interpreted as Our Perception of Reality. What that really means is - how you think is all about you.
Have you ever felt like you were quick to argue, defensive at times, like you have to strive for perfection at everything? Well, you share these issues with people all over the world, and you all have one common cause: low self-worth!
And you want to know why? Because we don’t show ourselves enough love!
LOVE, SAFETY AND BELONGING
Let me slow down and give you some background on some basic human needs. There are more than three, but these ones are crucial to your well-being. They are Love, Safety, and Belonging. Our worth and self- love are connected to these needs and how well they’re being met, and I’m about to show you how.
When you think about your needs, Safety might come first to mind -without it, you wouldn’t be here! Throughout our entire evolution as humans, our instinct to keep ourselves safe has evolved as we have. This mechanism used to be designed to protect us from lions or bears or other life-threatening situations. But seeing that many of us don’t encounter these situations anymore, this instinct has further evolved over time to protect our psychological well being, so when your brain perceives a threat to your psychology (for example, someone disagreeing with us - a.k.a. threatening us) you respond instinctively by defending yourself. The twist is, you aren’t actually in danger, so this response can potentially be pretty destructive. (The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer)
So why defend yourself if you aren't actually in danger? Let’s face it, a disagreement between friends, family, or even with a stranger is just that, a disagreement. We disagree with people on a daily basis, so why not accept the fact that other people may have a different point of view and move on?
I’ll tell you why: it’s because you don’t value your own viewpoint enough to feel safe, so you look to others to validate your feelings. So when you come up against an argument or a disagreement, you feel attacked and unsafe. Sound familiar?
The problem isn’t your need to be validated, however. The problem is YOU DON’T VALUE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO VALIDATE YOURSELF.
There are two more needs we have to discuss: Love and Belonging, and these two tend to work hand in hand. These needs can create people pleasers and generate the need for approval when one doesn’t have a healthy self-love practice. But think about it: why strive to please other people before yourself? Why is someone else’s approval more important than your own?
We want to feel like we belong, that’s why! And it’s common to misinterpret others’ approval as Love. Similarly, by pleasing other people you create a sense of belonging for yourself. In theory, these are great substitutes for actual Love and Belonging, but at the end of the day they are still substitutes for the real thing.
I used to think self-love meant "staying healthy". So, I took care of myself physically and I thought that counted, but really “self-love” incorporated physical and mental care. Now that I understand that, my world has transformed.
Developing a healthy self-love practice will change your life.
That’s a pretty heavy statement but I mean it. Being inside your own head and hearing ALL the thoughts, the good, the bad, the shameful and STILL showing yourself love is the type of attention our subconscious needs. We need to be loved and accepted in our deepest and darkest corners, and since we typically don’t share those with others, it has to come from us. Nobody can make us feel love the way we can make ourselves feel it.
So how do you start improving your self-love?
Easy. Appreciate yourself. Start by acknowledging all the things you do in a day. Write down what you like about yourself - better yet - write down what you LOVE about yourself. Give yourself time in the day to be you and not have to take care of others or tend to work matters. Take yourself on a date! Be kind to yourself. If ever in doubt, ask yourself, How do you show others love? and use that as a guide.
ACTION LEADS TO OUTCOMES
Yes, this all is going to feel uncomfortable. But that’s a sign you need it even more; all it really comes down to is action. Take action today and save yourself years of struggle, because like any relationship, the one you maintain with yourself will take time to nurture.
It’s a practice, but like all relationships, with consistent loving action you will feel a difference! Your fate is in your hands!