It seems like everywhere you turn these days, people are talking about self-love. “You need to love yourself more.” “How do you expect anyone to love you if you don’t love yourself?” “You need to practice more self-love!” But what does the phrase self-love really mean? It is a term that in my opinion is thrown around way too often without a clear explanation of what it truly means.
When going through my personal growth experience, I would hear it all the time, and honestly, it became a trigger word for me. I always thought, “I do love myself! That is why I am so frustrated when people don’t treat me the way I believe I deserve to be treated! I think I’m really cool, so why can’t others see that?”
Well, luckily for you (and me), I am here to clear some things up. I am going to explain to you exactly what self-love really means from my perspective and how it can show up in your daily life.
Self-love is walking away from people and situations that cause you internal turmoil. Self-love is treating yourself as someone who you care for so deeply and would do anything to protect them. You wouldn’t stand by and watch someone yell, berate, and manipulate a child, so why would you let someone do that to you?
Self-love is choosing to go through the uncomfortable growth instead of giving into instant gratification. Sometimes after a breakup, we want to run back to that person. We miss them; we want to tell them about our day. We fight the urge to text them because all we really want is comfort from them, but by doing so we only prolong the hurt and ignore the reasons we had to leave in the first place. Choosing to love yourself enough to sit in the uncomfortable, to know that this too shall pass, will only benefit us in the long run. Moving forward is a choice, happiness is just a state of mind.
Self-love is saying goodbye to people and things that hold you back from being your highest self. This is a hard one, especially when you are a compassionate, empathic person. Rarely do we ever want to leave someone behind or have to say no to things that once brought us comfort. But when someone or something is getting in the way of you being the best version of yourself, you will need to let It/them go. Your highest self will never steer you wrong. It may be painful for now, but in the end, it will be so worth it. Guaranteed.
Self-love is giving yourself grace for when you screw up. None of us are perfect. We are human and screwing up is a part of the human experience. If we got it right 100% of the time, we would not be living, we would only be moving through the motions. The most self-loving thing you can do is take a moment to get honest with yourself, see where things went wrong, accept the decisions that got you to that place and make a game plan to move forward. It is okay. Do not let this stigma of “self-love” make you think that if you loved yourself enough then you wouldn’t make mistakes. Love yourself enough to accept your flaws and learn to get up after being knocked down.
Self-love is choosing yourself every single day. A favorite quote of mine goes, “You are the only one who has woken up with yourself every single morning and the only person who will go to sleep with you every single night.” This is a beautiful reminder of why we need to choose ourselves above all else. That doesn’t mean that you need to be so selfish you no longer take care of your family and friends, but it means to make sure that you are not taking from your cup more than you are putting in. You need to make sure your mental health is a priority; if you’re suffering, then eventually so will your loved ones.
Self-love is making sacrifices for yourself. When we get caught up in relationships, we are willing to make ourselves uncomfortable for the other person’s happiness, but are you willing to do the same for yourself? You would sacrifice sleep to see a new fling, but would you sacrifice sleep to wake up early and work on your goals?
Self-love is a very personal journey. Growing up, not a lot of us were taught how to practice it. Actually, quite the opposite—many of us were told to be a good boy or girl and to not rock the boat, which resulted in a bunch of people-pleasers. Self-love should be the most intimate thing you hold with yourself. Everyone’s path will look different and everyone’s choices are theirs to make. Don’t let toxic positivity keep you from healing, and don’t let other people’s versions of self-love stop you from finding yours.