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Radical Self-Love: How Do You Love Yourself First? 

Radical Self-Love: How Do You Love Yourself First?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase radical self-love thrown around a lot lately. More and more people, especially women, have declared that they are practicing self-love. Many have expressed that it has changed their lives. But what is self-love exactly? According to Clinical Psychologist Deborah Khoshaba, self-love is an active appreciation for one’s self, fostering actions that will bring about significant growth within multiple facets of your life. Not only will your relationship with yourself be magnified, but consistently practicing a sincere love for yourself will improve your relationship with others.

The Benefits Of Loving Yourself

Radical self-love involves proactively banishing thoughts of inadequacy and inferiority, opting instead to feel adequate and worthy. Essentially, the primary focus of radical self-love is the personal insistence on doing and saying whatever is necessary to showing yourself the utmost patience, care, concern, and appreciation.

According to Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D., self-compassion is a result of self-love and leads to increased strength, productivity and a decrease in stress. That sounds great, right? It does, but unfortunately, unhindered self-love often presents itself as a method of rebellion. Loving one’s self is not the norm, making self-love a radical notion.

Why Is Self-Love Radical?

Let’s be honest, in the media, there is rarely widespread promotion of people who believe that they are worthy of unconditional love. Not only is there a ton of advice on how to change yourself to fit into some preconceived notion of what it means to be, but there is also an over-reliance on gaining confidence through the validation of external sources, particularly, a significant other. We live in a world that tries but often falls short of celebrating diversity. As a result, there is no guidance available to empower individuals to believe that their self-worth is significant.

We are expected to love ourselves, but this is usually filtered through a lens of acceptability.  If we are deemed successful, rich, or thin, we appear to qualify more easily for humanity and blessings. We are taught to love others unconditionally, but not when it comes to loving ourselves.

Too many times, I have heard it expressed that a woman is more beautiful when she is not aware of her beauty. This has clearly affected women because according to Gala Darling, in her TEDx talk about self-esteem and self-love,  only about 4% of women would describe themselves as beautiful. It’s almost as though we glorify low self-esteem and low self-confidence, while self-love is commonly misrepresented. Those who are unapologetically confident in their self-worth, are likened to egotists and selfish zealots.

Choosing to love one’s self in the face of the world telling you that you shouldn’t, is no less than an act of radical rebellion. It’s a rebellion that I wholeheartedly believe that millennial women are sufficiently armored and prepared for. One of the most prolific quotes that I’ve come across was from Elyse Hughes. During her well-known TED talk, she said: “Every time that we put ourselves down we relinquish our ability we doubt our capabilities”

3 Steps To Loving Yourself Fully

Learning to love yourself is rewarding but can be extremely challenging. It takes a lot of unlearning. Even in the face of repeated social messages about body image acceptability. It also requires relearning more positive and proactive strategies.

This will by no means happen overnight nor is it a journey that has an end in sight. You are going to trod down that path of self-love and positive affirmations, sometimes alone. Sometimes this journey will leave you with a few cuts and bruises from stumbling. It is important that you continue in spite of it all.  You deserve to live your best life.  

The following is a list of mindset shifts to help you join this journey of radical self-love:

  • Learn to forgive yourself– We’ve all been there. You mull over a mistake you made, often thinking about what you could have done or said differently. The thought that we somehow caused this on ourselves plays over and over, pulling you deeper into a hole of self-loathing. The truth is, you might be right, but the point is you cannot go back and change anything. The past is only a place you can go back to in your memory. You have to forgive yourself, for everything, for every single mistake you have made big or small. If it makes you feel better, write an apology letter to that person who you feel you may have wronged. Or don’t. It’s completely up to you. At the end of the day, you have to just let it go. 
  • Learn when to say no – Often people feel guilty for not being able to help their friends or acquaintances. We tend to take on more stress and responsibilities than what we can manage, often neglecting our own needs and happiness. Only you know how much you can take. It is a slippery slope glorifying the idea that the most stressed-out person is the one that works the hardest. We use excessive stress as an indicator of whether or not we are working hard enough. This can be a dangerous way of thinking. Excessive stress is harmful to your well-being. Find ways to avoid being run-down. This is where self-care comes in and the art of taking breaks becomes important. You don’t need to do it all. Rather, you need to live your truth. 
  • Practice Self CareMany of us are skilled at caring for others. We know what they like and what they don’t like. We are always ready with a solution for when our loved ones are run down and unhappy. Unfortunately, many of us do not take this approach to ourselves. Practicing self-care can start with a focus on yourself, and an active self-reflection of what it is you like, dislike. It’s also good to consider your wants and needs as well. Find out your deepest fears and your greatest dreams. Self-care can be anything from getting adequate sleep and eating foods that are good for you, to engaging in exercise.

Gala Darling created her own self-love manifesto and this includes positive messages like being thankful and optimistic as well as being open and true to yourself. What would be in your self-love manifesto?

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