Power of Self-Love
Self-love is a state of mind in which we appreciate our own being: mentally, emotionally and physically. It means we respect ourselves for knowing what our needs are and how to take care of those. By loving ourselves, others may perceive us as selfish because we stop sacrificing ourselves or we simply stay true to ourselves by pursuing what is important to us or gives us joy. Self-love is a healthy respect toward ourselves, regardless of how it seems to others who might devalue the power of self-love. It holds the key to better mental health.
The source of self-love comes from within. It is why we say ‘self-’ love. Despite the simple yet self-explanatory name, we all have a tendency to look outwardly. Our tendency is to outsource love in order to feel secure rather than trying to be self-sufficient in providing the love we need to ourselves. It is true that when someone, especially loved ones, expresses their love to us, we instantly feel happiness, joy, fulfillment, and completion. In the same way, a compliment by others can make us feel so good that it boosts our confidence in one second. When put this way, outsourced love sounds like a better option than insourced self-love for building ourselves up, doesn’t it?
When we look around us, an even easier and accessible way to gain some quick attention is social media. We post a photo of our most beautiful self on Instagram and use the number of likes to confirm our outer beauty. If we possibly possess something appealing to others, we emphasize it on the post to gain more attention to make ourselves feel better. We use the number of likes and followers on social media to validate our self-worth. The higher the number hit, the higher the instant confidence boost and we feel good about ourselves.
Why outsourcing love does not work
The above mentioned two examples at first seem like good and convenient sources to fulfill our needs and to build our happiness around them. However, the question is, does outsourced love truly meet our emotional needs and provide lasting peace, joy, and happiness?
Indeed, these feelings of love are incredibly powerful. However, what if we lose the source of love or what if it changes form? People that have issues or problems are often unable to provide exactly what we need to feel loved and supported. At the same time, the social media crowd can be fickle. Social algorithms change. Filters remind us that we are not being truly authentic.
When we lose love, we frequently experience feelings of loss, rejection, grief, resentment, disappointment, hurt, sadness, anger, and even hopelessness. In other words, the feelings of peace, joy, happiness, confidence, a sense of self-worth and security rely upon someone else’s responses. We may end up feeling insecure as the source might find us not as appealing today. Feelings of constant insecurities and worries fuel the onset of anxiety and depression disorders.
Social media may trigger self-doubts about self-worth by comparing ourselves with others. Constant comparisons lead to feelings of insecurity, depression, and anxiety.
If we build our self-worth on how many likes we get on social media posts, what would our self-worth be when we have less engagement on a post today? Are we unworthy or unlovable if we only got 10 likes over 100s? Are you not good enough today, because someone was not in the mood to talk to you? The answer is NO. Your self-worth stays consistent. Therefore, outsourced love and attention may give us a temporary boost to build our self-worth and confidence in order to gain mental health, and wellness. However, to achieve long-term mental stability through peace, the only reliable source must come from within.
To gain peace and love, we need to build ourselves upon unshakable ground that is only found inside ourselves and is easier than trying to find it somewhere else. Investing in ourselves is always a wise choice, and being self-sufficient in providing the love we need to feel happy to ourselves is necessary to improve our mental health and wellness.
Is self-love a choice or a necessity?
Self-love leads us to respect ourselves enough to speak positively and kindly to ourselves. When we do so, we feel much more relaxed, calm, less anxious, less stressed and peaceful. On the contrary, self-hate leads us to treat and speak to ourselves negatively and unkindly. It makes us attack ourselves; cast harsh judgement on our own mistakes; and be impatient with our own progress. This leads us to feel irritated, frustrated, anxious, stressed, worried, nervous, jealous, insecure, angry, and resentful. Of course, those emotions crash our self-worth and confidence. These emotions may fuel the onset of some mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Are we happy to feel these emotions? The answer is NO. Do you want to live free from those emotions? What if self-love was a solution to these various emotional issues? Then, self-love is a necessity.
Self-love can be misunderstood as being conceited, narcissistic, vain or even a form of vanity. However, let us be clear, self-love is not an ill-behavior. It is a result of simple respect for yourself: be true and kind to yourself, knowing what you like and your needs; to take care of your own needs as well as to value yourself and your needs more highly than others.
To help prevent you from imagining yourself as a narcissist, when you prioritize yourself, imagine a 5-year-old child living inside of you. When the child is hungry, would you leave the child unfed in order to please someone else’s needs? When the child is tired, is it OK to keep the child up until late to make someone else happy? When the child is getting hurt by someone, would you continuously allow the person to harm the child? How would you respond to a 5-year-old inside you? You may easily dismiss your own needs, but can you respect the needs of the 5-year-old inside of you?
Where and how to start
So, where and how do you begin the work of self-love? When we start our day with negative views towards ourselves, our antennas are tuned to see more negative things about ourselves throughout the day. Instead the following examples are ways to practice self-love:
- Acceptance: Speak to yourself with love and kindness. This means accepting yourself as who you are and what you are capable of today. So, no more harsh judgement and criticism for everything you do and see in yourself
- Boundaries: Set healthy boundaries which include, but are not limited to, phone usage, relationships, and work
- Communicate: Speak up for yourself and your needs. It is even OK to say, “it is difficult” and ask for help or let another person know how you feel
- Do’s and Don’ts: Do things that you like and feel comfortable with. It is OK not to do things you are not comfortable with in order to please others. This helps you to prioritize yourself and your needs, which means simply being true and kind to yourself before others
- Exercises: Small, but regular exercise gives you the energy and focus you need in order to do more things you love and enjoy
- Food: Eat well, especially whole foods and always remember to nourish your body as your body is your ultimate asset
- Good: Always be good to yourself by being mindful and slowing down to enjoy what is around you through the 5 senses of taste, smell, sight, touch, and sound
- Health: If you remember any of these letters, make it health. This encompasses all of the above through nutrition, sleep, hygiene, time with loved ones, regular and gentle exercise, and down time
Today, we may not be perfect at practicing self-love. But practice with conscious effort makes a difference and can significantly impact our future mental health. So, take a moment to take these A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H reminders with you, and remember these 8 keywords when you are making everyday decisions.
A – Acceptance
B – Boundaries
C – Communicate
D – Dos and Don’ts
E – Exercise
F – Food
G – Good
Can you commit yourself to being kind, patient, and your own best friend for at least 7 days?
Please tell me what you feel after the 7 days. I hope you feel different mentally, emotionally and spiritually by practicing self-love.
If you would like to continue improving on your own negative self-talk, negative thoughts, or self-downing habits and would like to increase your ability to love yourself unconditionally, please call me at Chicago Counseling LLC to set up an appointment and get started!