Self Love: Love Yourself Before You Love Others
Romantic movies haven’t seen big box-office success in a long time. Maybe that’s because our generation has accepted that the fairytales that we spent forever hoping to experience didn’t really show us the truth about love. I spend my days perusing the never-ending lamentations of my peers about their lonely futures on Twitter and most of them, myself included, seem to have one thing in common. We love the idea of loving someone else, but many of us have never truly learned to love ourselves.
While I am intrigued by the idea of being loved and giving love, it is difficult to form a connection with anyone. These days I roll my eyes at anything seemingly-suitable partners utter. I explain to them why my insecurities won’t allow me to give them a chance. It is quite clear that my reluctance and my overall approach to romantic relationships have been one of dismissal.
It has become obvious that the idea we have of love in the year 2018 is unhealthy. After all, how can one find love in someone else without first acknowledging and working on loving themselves?
The Critical Inner Voice
Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. Throughout our lives, many of us engage in tumultuous relationships with our thoughts and insecurities. This allowed us to believe we are undeserving of the love we so truly deserve. Insecurities affect us negatively based on past experiences such as trauma, failure, rejection, and toxic environments. Despite the facade of confidence that we display on a daily basis, whether on social media or in our physical environments, many of us suffer from the crippling anxiety that latches on to us when our insecurities hit.
According to Dr. Lisa Firestone, co-author of the book, Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, there is an internal dialogue that accompanies our feelings of insecurity. In the book, she wrote, “The critical inner voice is formed out of painful early life experiences in which we witnessed or experienced hurtful attitudes toward us or those close to us. As we grow up, we unconsciously adopt and integrate this pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others.”
Affirming Self Love
The battle with my insecurities started at a very young age. I was always too dark, too loud, too skinny, and then later in my life, too fat. I would constantly tell myself that I was undeserving of love, whether platonic or romantic. Growing up in Jamaica as a young dark-skinned woman only served to teach me one thing – this society was filled with a large percentage of dark-skinned individuals who were lacking in love for the skin they were in. I fit myself into the mold of the loud, black, Jamaican woman.
My battle with anxiety only intensified and exacerbated my struggle with being able to love myself. Subsequently, I found myself unable to love all the same. Even now I am unable to build lasting relationships with friends or partners. At some point in all my relationships, I convince myself that these people will soon realize my flaws and they’ll be gone as quickly as they came. My journey is one that will take me on a path where I am more accepting of myself. I want to be more open to self-appreciation, and less critical of myself and the parts of me that make me insecure.
Learning How to Love Yourself Again
The journey to losing insecurities and gaining a new outlook on the love you deserve may be a long one. However, it is a journey worth taking and one that can only lead to personal gratification and fulfillment. My go-to list of self-love tips is one by Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. called The Seven-Step Prescription for Self Love summarized as follows:
- Become mindful: Know what you think, feel, and want. Be mindful of who you are and not what others think you are.
- Act on what you need rather than what you want: Self-love is saying no to destructive behaviors and bad habits no matter how comfortable you are doing them.
- Practice good self-care: Take care of your basic physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs. Eat well, exercise, get some rest, and engage in healthy social interactions.
- Set boundaries: Give yourself a limit. Know when to say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Protect yourself: Be mindful of the negative energies and individuals that situate themselves in your life. Better yet, get rid of them!
- Forgive yourself: We tend to be very hard on ourselves. Accept that you are human and imperfectly perfect. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Note: There is no such thing as failure, only lessons learned.
- Live intentionally: Live each moment true to your purpose. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you at the moment. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention. Feel good about yourself when you succeed.
Remember self-love is not being selfish. It is not being boastful or narcissistic. It is being kind to yourself after not being able to know kindness. You are empowered by doing whatever makes you feel good, despite the noise from the crowd. It is housekeeping for the soul and adding new love songs to the playlist you have made for yourself. It is, in its essence, finding and knowing peace within yourself because after all, “Only if you find peace within yourself will you find a true connection with others”.
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