Sometimes I can’t help it. I hear ‘self-love’ and my eyes roll.
Kinda sounds like bratty entitlement... right?!
As suspicious as it can sound, know that Self-love is crucial! Happiness doesn’t stand a chance without it.
It’s only a lack of understanding and misuse of the term why it has a bad rep in many circles.
Here’s my take on what self-love IS and IS NOT.
1) Self-Love is NOT Manicures, Pedicures and Massages
Manicures, pedicures, bubble baths and weekends away are lovely but Self-pampering is NOT an essential part of loving ourselves!
Not everyone is in a position where they can afford such luxuries! Your income or free time is no indication of self-love!
Many people pamper themselves in replace of loving themselves and wonder why it doesn’t really help them feel better.
Self-Love is not how well or how often you’re able to pamper yourself,
it’s knowing that you do indeed deserve to take care of yourself and to be taken care of. Because you're amazing and worthy and that’s all the reason you need.
If you’re already winning the pampering game but not too sure about self-love, check in with inner dialogue when you’re not meeting your own standards in life. How do you respond to your perceived failures? Do you take care of your emotional needs even if you don’t like what they are? Always always try to be kind and gentle with yourself.
2) Self-Love is NOT selfish.
It appears selfish sometimes because of people using self-love as an excuse to act anyway or do anything they want regardless of the impact it has on others.
True self-love is the furthest thing from selfish though.
Debbie is a client I’ve been working with for a few months. She’s 60 and only now wrapping her mind around the idea that she should be kind to herself. For her, it’s always been squashing her needs in favour of others.
When she felt hurt, she told herself to get over it.
When she felt down, she forced herself to ignore it and be positive.
When she felt lonely, she built up walls to protect herself.
When she felt sad, she wore masks of who she thought she should be.
Debbie never took the time to acknowledge how she really felt and and as a result couldn’t express her feelings. She very often ended up hurt, sad and frustrated.
Thankfully, she is now realizing that her feelings matter too! She deserves kindness, empathy and compassion also! She’s learning to be her own best friends.
Self-love IS realizing that your feelings matter too!
Image a little 6 or 7 year old inside of you that sometimes feels hurt, rejected and scared and needs you to take care of her. Start to cultivate a relationship with yourself where you have the freedom to be completely honest with yourself without judgment or criticisms.
3) Self-Love is NOT an excuse to never grow, change or evolve.
”That’s just the way I am. Deal with it.”
Lol. This has me chuckle. That’s just narcissism wrapped in a new package.
Denying your weaknesses, defending your limitations and simple bad behaviour is what it’s always been - immature and annoying.
Self-love IS a about GROWTH! Not ignorant stubborness. It’s honesty, acceptance and ownership of your weaknesses and limitations.
For me it meant accepting I was insecure, jealous and defensive (gulp) and doing a great job of pretending that I wasn’t. A break up in my late 20’s had me for the first time see who I was in intimate relationships. I was passive aggressive and had been blaming my partners in not so obvious ways. Moody-ness, coldness and basically a whole lot of attitude whenever I was unhappy. Here’s the kicker – I didn’t wrap it in a cozy blanket of self-love and demand that all my partners accept my moodiness and habit of detaching – I saw these things and made a commitment to self growth.
We do ourselves a huge disservice when we declare “That’s just the way I am and I’m going to be that way forever.”
Catch yourself anytime you hear yourself saying “That’s just the way I am” ask yourself if that ‘way’ is helping or hurting, both you and others and if that ‘way’ is aligned with your ultimate values and the life you are trying to create. If not, then growth is on the horizon and you have some uncomfortable accepting to do.
4) Self Love is NOT an excuse to make bad decisions.
This is why self-love gets dismissed as silly, woo-woo or hippy dippy.
Many of us can’t understand someone quitting their job without any sort of plan…
Or people that say no to hard-work in favour of an opportunity dropping in their lap…
Or the people who sit around doing nothing but thinking about a large cheque miraculously making it’s way into their mailbox…
Self-love It’s not an excuse to make bad decisions!
It IS knowing that your decisions don’t need to be accepted by or pleasing to everyone around you.
The only person you owe an explanation to is yourself. Outside of marriage or other long term committed partnerships, your decisions don’t need a stamp of approval - not by well meaning family members or friends, not by society and not even by your own inner-critic. When you are ready to make changes in your life it may not make sense to the people around you. Sometimes you’ll be accused of making bad decisions because others don’t understand or agree with your thought process - that’s ok! They don’t need to understand. As long as it makes sense to YOU.
That’s not the same as making impulsive decisions that put you or the people you love in harms way. At it’s root, self love is taking care of yourself - that means thinking about your choices and attempting to make good ones!
Don’t make decisions that ultimately hurt you. Do make decisions that support your highest good. Even if other people don’t understand and even if that means accepting that life isn’t always going to be peachy.
5) Self Love is NOT sugar coating everything so that you feel good.
It’s not throwing around positive affirmations.
It’s not pretending there isn’t a problem.
It’s not doing a half-assed job and saying "Well, I did the best I could”.
It’s not ‘Icing on top of a mud-pie’.
It’s not lying to yourself.
It’s also not being hard on yourself.
It’s not focusing on everything you’ve done wrong.
It’s not never seeing your accomplishments.
It’s not never allowing yourself to feel good.
It’s not never giving yourself a pass.
Self-love IS realizing it’s your job to genuinely encourage and speak kindly to yourself.
The whip is never better than the carrot.
The relationship you have with your Self is the most important relationship you will ever have in your life.
Like all relationships, kindness, compassion and honesty are essential.
Sugar coating the uncomfortable truths in your life means they’ll never go away.
Happiness, however, won’t come if you’re unkind to the person you spend the most time with in life – You!
• Start a daily practice of encouraging yourself and noticing your accomplishments, no matter how small!
• Ask yourself how you’re really feeling and don’t be afraid to feel bad. Emotions are temporary and soften with our acceptance of them. From that place of honesty, you can take real and effective action and create the life you want.
Self-love is important. Super important. Like it can change the world kind of important. Please share this and spread the word! Let’s be an example for others and show the world that real self-love is the furthest thing from selfish and annoying and in fact, takes a tremendous amount of courage, wisdom and determination.