Wow that’s a big title. Not really any other way to put it though.
Loving ourselves is the single most important compulsion in life… And of course the toughest. Self-love is what allows us to find joy, hope, love, kindness, health.
Thing is, there’s a lot in the way of this all-important process.
- How can I love myself without being selfish?
- Shouldn’t I seek to love God/the Universe/my children/my spouse first?
- Isn’t that conceited, to love yourself?
- How can I love myself if people hate me?
- Why do I need to love myself if I’m already a good person?
The real thing is, it ain’t that complicated. Humans are born intellectual, emotional, social mammals. That means there’s a lot more to us bouncing around on Earth than just finding water, warmth, food and bukkit-nekkitness.
We think all sorts of things, feel all sorts of things, and do all sorts of things… About and around other humans.
And that makes stuff complicated. Because other animals are pretty much just driven by survival. Life is wildly simple, because animals are constantly looking out for themselves. But can you imagine the hotmessdedness that would follow if animals had self-esteem issues? Got jealous? Were manipulative, insecure, proud?
But for giggles, I’m picturing a lot of awkward body coverings, lots of hunger, sickness and death. Oh wait.
Sadly those are human challenges.
I say all that to say we were made to be happy, and self-love is what makes us happy, pure and simple. It isn’t enough for us to just be surviving. So how do you learn to love yourself?
Well, you have to be willing to try.
Just like we can’t talk to a person if we don’t open our mouths, we can’t change anything about ourselves if we don’t go about it intentionally.
Self-love is not conceit, selfishness, or sacrifice. Those are all subtle symptoms of self-hatred in fact. When we love ourselves, we’re tapping into the element that really makes us human.
I’m not perfect, but I love me some me. And I know figuring out who you are and then letting yourself fall in love with that you, works.
1) Figure out what you do and don’t like. It can actually be incredibly challenging to do this. I find when it’s hard to make a decision, it sometimes helps to sweep the really obvious non-options aside, layer by layer. Eventually you narrow it down to your answer. Make lists to carry around with you so you can keep track of likes and dislikes. Sounds silly, but would you fall in love with someone who has no personality, no personal interests? You need to know these things to fall in love with you, too.
2) Figure out what you are good at, and what you’re not good at. This can be especially hard if you’re not used to tooting your horn. Remember there’s a difference between humility and self-deprecation. The latter is a form of self-hatred. No likey. So. If you don’t know what you’re good at, start small and pay attention. It may be making a mean cup of coffee, triple-bypass surgery, changing diapers, drafting legislation, or putting a smile on someone’s face. Equally important, is acknowledging what you aren’t good at without cursing yourself. That will quickly turn into a pity-party. Self-lovers don’t have time for those.
3) Figure out your body. Become accustomed to being in tune with your body. Pay attention to the way you feel, physically and emotionally after experiencing certain activities, meals, exchanges, clothing, footwear, weather, etc. As we age, we grow comfortable with minor aches and pains, subtle imperfections in the ways our bodies function. We also overlook our physical strengths as they are overshadowed by dislike of our weaknesses. The truth is, no matter what age, we should live free of pain, fatigue, and sickness: We should view our bodies as healthy, beautiful, fully-functioning tools.
Now for the love crash diet:
When you have these areas pretty clear, start feeding the likes and strengths constantly.
For the dislikes and weaknesses, you can do a few things depending on where you are in your life. You may choose to steer clear of them altogether, starving dislikes and weaknesses. Only thing is, there’s probably a deeper reason you don’t like or aren’t good at certain things.
So ideally, you want to explore that, asking why and as needed, seeking professional help.
Por ejemplo, do you not like waking up early in the morning because your childhood conditioned you to hate it or because you find birds chirping annoying? Is your medical condition truly irreparable or will nutrition and lifestyle changes improve or eradicate the sickness? Are you a weak public speaker because you lack self-confidence or because you have never felt called or inspired to lead?
This ain’t gon’ be pretty. There may be sacrifice. And chances are there are lots of missing hugs, snuggle time, and tickling behind the things in life you feel negatively toward.
And on that note…
There are a couple more areas to dig into so you don’t have a fleeting, shallow love affair with yourself. How awful would it be to one-night stand yourself?
Not really. Anywho, there are goodies that will seal your marriage to self in love which I’ll share in a separate post.