Self-Love: What is it Anyway?

January has been designated Self-Love Month. How would you define self-love? How do you know you’re doing it right, or even working toward it? These are the questions I was asking myself before I wrote Choosing Me Now.

I know what it feels like to be in love with someone—the butterflies in my stomach, my fluttering heart, my excitement when the phone would ring and it would be him. I’ve never felt that way about myself. I don’t make myself giddy, but does that mean I don’t love myself? No.

Loving yourself is accepting the person you are, knowing you aren’t perfect and being satisfied anyway.

Accepting the Person You Are:

There’s usually no shortage of people telling you what’s wrong with you and what you should do in your life. It begins with your parents: “Don’t do that. Do this.” Then the honor moves on to your teachers and religious instructors. Then your friends start telling you what you are supposed to do, and the list grows until you can’t tell where everyone’s expectations of you end and where you truly begin. 

If you have self-love, you will ask yourself, who am I really? To love yourself, you must know yourself. To know yourself, you need to spend time with yourself. During that time, you need to explore what you like, what you don’t like, how you want to contribute to the world, who you want to do that with and how you want to be in this world.

Experiment, play, create joy, learn, laugh and love—such experiences will help you uncover who you truly are, away from the noise of everyone else’s expectations of you. Once you know yourself, you will want to accept yourself as worthy.

You have value and worth as a human. You are here to learn from and to teach others. Sometimes you won’t even know what you are teaching but people are learning from you, nonetheless. Sometimes you will do things that have positive outcomes, and other times, you will see you’ve made a mistake. But understand that a mistake is only a mistake if you fail to learn its lessons and adjust for next time.

Accepting yourself means you know you are always doing your best to get what you want at any given moment with the information you have available to you. When the outcomes aren’t what you expect, you have the opportunity to learn and do it differently next time.

Knowing You Aren’t Perfect:

I hate to break it to you, but no one is perfect, not even you. You will come to understand that you aren’t always right, you don’t always have the answers, and you can royally mess things up. When you have self-love, you know you will sometimes be responsible for things you didn’t intend. You will know your intentions and forgive yourself when things don’t always go as planned.

This is where you practice some self-compassion. Ever notice how we are harder on ourselves than anyone else? Accepting that you aren’t perfect can help you engage in self-compassion, thereby increasing your level of self-love; holding yourself to impossible perfectionistic standards will only create self-hate and demoralization when you can’t reach or maintain that level of perfection. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend who has come to you for comfort after making a mistake.

Being Satisfied Anyway:

When you have self-love and things go wrong, as they sometimes will, you will know to look for the GLOW—gifts, lessons, opportunities and wisdom—in the situation. If you can make restitution, you do. If you can’t, apologize, fix what can be fixed and learn so the situation doesn’t repeat itself.

If something happened because of someone else, you recognize their humanness, too, and understand that they are also doing their best to get what they want at that moment. If they have hurt you in the process, forgive them. That doesn’t have to mean you give them another opportunity to hurt you. When you love yourself, you find your genuine squad—your people who allow you to feel connected and safe. When people repeatedly hurt you, you can choose to cut them loose. In the process, you will connect with others who see you for who and what you are without apology. This will work to your advantage when you possess self-love.

If you’re looking to delve deeper into the idea of creating a loving, caring relationship with Self, check out my book, Choosing Me Now. It has detailed instructions on how to do just that.

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