Talking about self love can bring up many different responses in people, for some it’s cringy and uncomfortable, for others its shameful and some think its self-indulgent.
It’s much more socially acceptable to criticise ourselves than it is to say something complimentary about ourselves.
There’s a perception that if we love ourselves we are big headed and egotistical.
Many of us will play it down when we are complimented rather than saying 'thank you', some people feel guilt it we do nice things for ourselves that have no value other than to make us feel good and very few of us can say we are happy with ourself as we are, right now, no yeah buts or I’ll be happy when.
Society plays a big part in this, advertising and social media can make us think we are not good enough unless we have the right things, look the right way, eat the right things, have the right hobbies and so on. We feel we have to fit in to the accepted way of being to be worthy of others love and self love.
But self love isn't about perfection or being worthy, its about loving ourselves just as we are, despite all our imperfections and flaws.
It's about loving ourselves for all of our flaws and imperfections knowing that they make us who we are.
Sound impossible? I used to think so too.
So lets start small, as this is a process, we don’t just wake up one morning and think “yes I love myself”.
One of the ways to develop this practice is to recognise how amazing we are.
Our bodies (and I’m not talking aesthetics here, but function) are amazing, they do so much automatically, breathing, growing, healing, nothing else exists to create these things our bodies just do it.
Our brains are constantly learning and adapting to new information and surroundings, we can learn new languages, learn to drive and learn to play instruments. Not only can we learn we can also create things that have never before existed.
So can you take a moment and notice all the things your brain and body have allowed you to do in the past 24 hours?
Even if at points they felt like they let you down and couldn’t do as much as you wanted, can you notice what they could allow you to do? I’m sure that when you break it down it’s a pretty amazing list. And to top it all off we then just know how to sleep to restore ourselves so we can do more the next day!
Next, can you name one thing you love about yourself?
And the key word here is about yourself, not what you own or not that you are mother or father or partner to amazing people, or what you have done, it’s about you.
It could be a personality trait, a part of your body that you love, anything…
If you’re struggling with this can you think of one thing that others might say they loved about you? If so can you tune into their appreciation of you?
Still struggling? Can you think of something about yourself that annoys you? Be it that your sensitive, have wonky teeth, or that your tired all the time.
Once you have something, focus in on that and try to notice it with a sense of compassion and understanding.
You may find that you realise that you are sensitive because you’ve got a lot going on at the moment and maybe you can love yourself for managing as well as you are, or love your sensitivity for communicating to you that actually you need to take a break and slow down.
Many of the things I now consider things I love about myself were once things that made me annoyed and feel different. My sensitivity is one of them, I used to hate it and felt it made me weak, I now see it as a gift, it makes me good at what I do and a good friend, as long as I have boundaries around it and look after myself. So if respect it, what was once a weakness is now a strength.
Loving and respecting ourselves, working with who we are and not against it is key to self love as we cant fundamentally change ourselves, we can change habits and behavioural patterns but who we are is here to stay so getting happy with it seems like a much better option.
Of course this is sometime easier said than done and if you find there are blocks with this and you need help, please reach out to a professional.
This is a process, and I am by no means there all of the time, but I’m trying and I'm me and for that I can love myself… most of the time… because no-ones perfect.
I hope you found something in this useful and if you have any ideas of things you would like to hear about in following posts or more on certain themes you can comment below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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Photo by Samer Daboul