Recently, a friend and I were having a really great talk about how we each happened to have developed some of our destructive self-talk habits and the belief that it was, essentially, sinful in the worst way to care for ourselves. Particularly, how self-love in any form was seen and taught as the most egregious form of pride in the circles of influence we grew up in.
Through twists and turns along the journey of life, and the experiences and influences that shaped who I became as an adult, I learned to make sure that I denigrated myself at every opportunity because anything other than that would be prideful and selfish. Taking time to pursue things that I wanted to pursue which wouldn’t bring a direct benefit to anyone but myself was the utmost in prideful vanity and therefore strictly outside the scope of the narrow, acceptable little box I was to fit into. Absolutely everything must be done, thought or said from the narrow confines of that little box.
I accepted this as truth and thereby greatly contributed to my own eventual fall into depression and illness. It took years of circumstantial build-up for me to get to a place where I had the courage to wrestle with where I found myself in life, who I was and, most importantly, who I wasn’t.
At any rate, the whole ‘love yourself’ movement, if we can call it a movement, seems like the ultimate endeavour in selfishness and vanity for those of us who have grown up with the ingrained belief that in order to be a good person one must never frivolously entertain such selfishness as loving oneself.
I’d like to suggest that in order to be an emotionally healthy and secure person, you need to love yourself.
Let me explain. You shouldn’t be ‘in love’ with yourself. I don’t believe that loving yourself means that you need to be obsessed with yourself, or selfish, or vain.
I believe that what loving yourself boils down to is choosing to look for the things about yourself that are good and positive and developing the habit of focusing on and developing those aspects of yourself, and making that the central part of yourself that you allow your inner voice to speak to you about. Does that sound like a selfish, vain and prideful endeavour? It sure doesn’t to me. It sounds like a recipe for setting yourself up for prime emotional health.
Honestly? I think that people tend to build their lives around either positivity or negativity. Their whole belief system is developed around an inherently positive or negative view of themselves. Negative people approach their lives and their views of themselves from an ‘I can’t’ and ‘I’m not’ headspace. Positive people approach their lives and their views of themselves from an ‘I can’ and ‘I am’ headspace. Negative people nurse self-hate and positive people exercise a healthy level of love for themselves into the fabric of their lives.
Whether or not you agree with me, I do hope that you will be inspired to rethink what you believe about yourself and about what loving yourself means. I truly believe that taking care of yourself is essential to be the best and most healthy you.
Ready to take a step in that direction?
Some simple things you can do to help you get started toward a healthier self-view:
- Go look in the mirror. Just look; don’t talk. Don’t tell yourself anything at all about what you have convinced yourself you are seeing. Just look with a completely still inside voice and accept that this is the exterior canvas your soul is embodied in. Be totally accepting of it. There are lots of external habits and practices you can incorporate into your life to make some changes on the outside but the first step you have to take is just accepting the house that your soul lives in. You don’t need to pretend you’re seeing a picture of perfection – you just need to quit hating on yourself.
- Develop self-talk habits that are framed in positivity. You don’t have to lie to yourself in order to love yourself. In fact, that’s highly absurd! If you have problems, it’s a kindness to yourself to admit it. However, developing positive self-talk habits means that you can accept where you are, accept it as your reality but to not beat yourself up over it constantly. Guess who never gets over something? The person who keeps on living in that headspace where they just beat themselves up over their hangups. It takes positivity to overcome negativity; love to overcome hate; light to beat out dark. This is true for interpersonal relationships, it is true for humankind in general and it is true for you and your own inner dialogue with yourself.
- Do one thing for yourself this week that makes you happy. Maybe it’s a bubble bath in candle light, or a coffee date with a friend, or buying yourself a pretty new dress, or putting on a coat of mascara and a dab of lip gloss, or going for a hike. Pick one thing that makes you feel special and pampered, however small, and do that for yourself. Then make special things that make you feel like a special person a regular part of your life. You can probably find a very small thing to incorporate into your self-care routine on a daily basis. Maybe even just a special moisturizer you can use after a shower. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate or expensive – it just needs to be something that will make you feel like you are a person of worth because you are.
We live in a world that is filled with broken humanity. So many reasons contribute to that fact and there are certainly no easy answers. However, I believe that we can each take control of our emotional wellbeing and we can choose to mend some of that human brokenness by choosing to mend some of our own brokenness. As that clichéd adage says, we can ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’.
Now go and have a look in that mirror, literally and figuratively. 🙂 And remember:
Tell me how you feel about the whole ‘self-love’ idea and what you do to take care of yourself.