To Live Your Best Life, Love Yourself More
Happy Valentine’s Day to you.
Have you ever stopped to think about what it really means to love yourself? For some of us, the idea of self-love can seem like a foreign concept, something that we don’t fully understand or that we struggle to put into practice.
Yet it is critical to survival! The reality is that loving yourself is one of the most important things you can do—both for yourself and for those around you.
So let’s say you agree with this premise. Now what? If you read the typical advice on how to love yourself, you might go away thinking that all you need to do is book a bunch of massages. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with spa appointments.
True self-love, however, is more about self-acceptance than self-care.
In a post from last year, Learn to Depend on Yourself, I wrote:
When I look back at some of the hardest moments of my life, I see a common thread: I always hoped that someone else would come along with the solutions to my problems.
In fact, I didn’t just hope, I expected this person or people to appear. I assumed that if I just tried hard enough, all while waiting impatiently, sooner or later everything would work out the way I wanted.
This is in fact a true story. And I did in fact get better, at least once I learned to stop looking externally for my own validation.
So if you too want to practice self-love in the form of self-acceptance, I have a couple of suggestions.
First, embrace solitude. Make peace with who you really are, not the version of yourself you adapt to others.
Second, pursue self-care in a way that makes sense for you. I learned long ago that what makes me happy is not necessarily the same as what other people enjoy. I also learned that some of what might be healthy for others is unhealthy for me, and vice versa.
Third, allow yourself to feel negative emotions. Rather than trying to suppress or ignore these emotions, allow yourself to fully experience and process them.
Why is this so important? Because emotions don’t just disappear if you push them away. One way or another, they’ll resurface, and often in ways that can hurt you. So give them space in the first place! Just tell yourself you’re allowing these hard feelings to come up because you care for yourself and need to process things well.
Fourth, offer yourself compassion. Recognize that perfection is an unrealistic goal. Try to be better, sure, but try more to accept yourself now.
Learning to love yourself more may lead to you loving others more, too. But don’t think of it as a means to an end. Think of it as: you are worth loving, for no other purpose besides the existential one.
Images: 1, 2, 3