We hear these phrases quite a lot in our environment: "Love yourself", "Be kind to yourself"or also on the top list "Love yourself first". Self-Love is seen on many social media accounts, motivational speakers make their living with it and tons of books are written about a mindset towards appreciating yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. For me the idea of self-love was for years very abstract. I just couldn't take it seriously and when friends were talking about it, I was perhaps even giving a 'whatever' nod while rolling my eyes. At that time, it was easier for me to smile about something which sounded very spiritual and so I continued my path of ignorance and self-destructive behaviour. It took me a lot of life-changing books, intense yoga and therapy sessions, and most importantly, getting away from toxic environments, to fully understand that I needed to get real with myself and make drastic changes. Happily, we human beings can progress, and at some point it hit me how to finally FEEL self-love.
I love you, but I love myself more.
For some people it might sound egoistic and self-centred to choose yourself first, but no, it’s not. Self-love lets you feel your inner beauty rather than defining your worth by others. Self-love allows you to honour who you are and take care of yourself while appreciating your strengths and weaknesses. Let's say, you're in a relationship. Loving another person is something deeply amazing, but in order to have a stable love relationship it's important to know your worthiness, to appreciate yourself and set clear boundaries on what's good for you. The idea that the love of another human being is bringing you the love you're desperately looking for is just simply wrong. It's not gonna happen. This feeling of worthiness and appreciation is already within you (I know, it sounds 'abstract', but it's true).
Difference between Self-Love and Narcissism
There is a big difference between being self-fish and putting your own needs above everything and everyone else and being kind to yourself and appreciating who you are. While narcissists tend to get positive feelings through external factors like compliments on their looks, clothes, love partners and so on, someone with a balanced self-love finds affirmations within herself/himself. Through a healthy love to yourself, you preach empowerment instead of letting other people down or take pleasure from judging or criticising the ones around you. Well, the line between self-love and narcissism is quite thin, and there are different forms of a narcissist person, watch more here.
So, you wanna know how to really practice self-love on a daily basis? Let me show you:
Setting boundaries is one of the most important tasks to genuinely enjoy life. This implies learning how to say NO (work you don't want to do, events you don't want to go and so on) or saying bye to toxic people. A toxic person could be one of your friends, a family member, your partner or even a boss. Try to reduce the contact to this individual or if necessary get rid of someone who is manipulative, judgemental or not caring. Nobody needs those kind of folks in life. (Note: better no friends, than a bunch of frenemies).
Get in touch with your past
People experience different forms of trauma throughout their life and also process them in different ways. They might deal with depression or eating disorders, or have difficulties to speak up for themselves. Though by trying to numb and push traumatic experiences away from you, those intense experiences will get their way eventually back into your life. No matter how. It takes courage to deal with trauma and it's a lot of work. But there exist self-support groups or psychotherapists who are trained to support you along the way. For more on the topic of mental health, check out Gurls Talk - a platform focussing on a safe conversation on mental health issues, founded by model Adwoa Aboah.
Embrace your strengths and weaknesses
We all have our ups and downs. We all make mistakes and have flaws (hello, we're human beings), still each and every person has unique skills. How about pointing out your strengths instead of being focussed on what went wrong the other day? How about what you like when you look in the mirror instead of what you think is not defined as beautiful by the society standards? Perhaps you're a great listener, very caring for the people around you and your smile is literally killing? Embrace what you can and who you are, reflect on all those things you've already achieved in life (personal and professional), and also acknowledge those flaws which make you the person you are.