Self-Love Means Prioritize-You: How Can You Start? — On The Forum
Self-love is something I had to teach myself.
I grew up with my mom’s side of the family, filled with a love that was nurturing in many ways. As I started coming out of my adolescent shell, however, I started feeling suffocated by this nurture.
My way of seeing life differed significantly from theirs, and I felt conflicted for many years by this realization.
Where it all accelerated
A two-year trip to Egypt that began in August 2015 allowed me the breathing room I didn’t know I needed. It nudged me in the direction of self-reflection.
I returned to the U.S. in 2017. The anxiety that had prompted me to leave a couple of years earlier resurfaced. I began flirting with the idea of returning to Egypt in 2019.
A mix of excitement and fear plagued me for months. The bulk of this fear was about my choosing a life that my family perhaps wouldn’t understand.
I made the move to Egypt in November 2019. Despite numerous tears and some stumbling blocks, I’m happy with my choice.
The experience of confronting my desires with my family’s vision brought me face first with the idea of self-love.
A couple of definitions
From Psychology Today “[s]elf-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.”
Lifehack defines self-love as it “not […] being self-absorbed or narcissistic, [that] it’s about getting in touch with ourselves, our well-being and our happiness. We practice self-love so we can push through our limiting beliefs and live a life that truly shines.”
What does this mean?
Choosing self-love for me has certainlt meant pushing through my limiting beliefs and understanding what makes me feel content. This confidence has grown through the actions I’ve taken in favor of my well-being.
Simply telling yourself — “l need to love myself” — isn’t enough. It’s not easy to grasp.
“What does loving myself look like anyway?”
Self-love = Choosing Actions That Serve Us
Being happy takes work! The results, however, proof that choosing self-love is the solution to a lot of the pain that we feel inside.
Why loving yourself is so important
Does reading the word “self-love” turn you off?
Maybe it sounds superfluous, a term only applicable to the highly sensitive, those pushed around by the circumstances of life.
You’d rather be told to toughen up. I certainly felt this way a few years back.
The longer you embrace self-love, the more you understand that it’s not about forgiving yourself for being weak.
Quite the opposite. Self-love is what pushes you to stand up for yourself. You’ll demand more from you and those around you based on your self-perceived value.
Focusing on self-love is necessary
Self-love induces courage — the courage to pursue what make us feel fulfilled.
It helps us build peace of mind. The knowledge that you’re being your authentic self discourages you from diminishing your inner strength.
In your career / work
Constantly practicing self-love empowers you in your professional life.
In my case, fear and doubt often made me play small in my work life. Acknowledging my value through self-love work has prompted me do show up more confidently.
Of course, we must be aware of both our strengths and limitations.
The better you understand the value that you bring as a professional, the less likely you’ll allow scarcity mentality to call the shots in your career.
In your romantic relationships
I’ve struggled with doubt and self-confidence for as long as I can remember. I can say that self-love has made a positive difference in my relationships.
Embracing self-love means focusing the bulk your energy on yourself. It’s about letting go of expectations regarding the other person’s feelings and actions.
It’s empowering because it allows for a more authentic connection. You’ll be less drained by focusing less on making things happen. You’ll be more in tune to what feels good to you. The decisions you make will allow the relationship to unfold more naturally.
In your other relationships
Self-love is critical in our other relationships as well.
Looking back at my family relationships, I see that i strived to fulfill their happiness above my own.
Sacrificing most of my time, energy, and focus for my loved ones, I thought, would make me feel fulfilled. What I didn’t understand until much later was that in doing so, I suppressed my desires.
When looking at your own family relationships, do you find yourself constantly blaming them for your unhappiness?
If so, I would encourage you to instead think about what role you’ve played in this dynamic.
At a certain point, we must have the courage to express ourselves authentically. We will spend most of our time alone. It makes sense that we strive to please ourselves more than we do to please others.
What happens when we don’t embrace self-love?
Though challenging at first, acting through the lens of self-love is rewarding.
But if you’re still struggling with the idea, thinking of the consequences of NOT embracing it might compel you towards doing so.
Self-Love and Self-Esteem
Self-love is a critical component of building self-esteem.
Self-esteem is about loving the person that we are. It’s showing up in the world with our shoulders held high because of it.
Low self-esteem impacts all areas of your life. It does so because by not seeing your own value, your actions will lack confidence. This, in turn, will diminish your value in the eyes of others.
It’s a feedback mechanism
A fascinating aspect of self-love is that it acts as a feedback mechanism, either positive or negative.
The more concerned you are with getting the love and attention from the outside world, the less you’ll get it. That’s because you’ll begin focusing less on yourself, not placing your value high enough for people to see.
But, if you forget about pleasing the world around you, you’ll concern yourself with seeing your own worth and value. You’ll give yourself love instead of seeking it from the outside. This will raise your value in the eyes of others which will make them value and love you more.
Your self-esteem will be much higher.
How can you start loving yourself more?
Hopefully, it’s clearer why self-love is so important.
How, then, do we start loving ourselves more, especially if our self-esteem is already pretty low?
Look within at first
It’s so tempting to look for validation from the outside world.
It is also extremely draining. Self-love is truly about looking within instead of turning outside for fulfillment.
Self-love grows through action. Our actions are informed by our thoughts and feelings. Ideally, your intuition will play an important role in the decision-making process.
The great thing about your intuition is that it taps into something within you that you may not consciously understand.
When we’re lacking in self-love, we’re usually not taking action from a place of intuition. Instead, we act from a place of confusion and the need to people-please.
Trust yourself more
Listening to your intuition will become a habit. Subsequently, you’ll begin to trust yourself more. You’ll see that the actions you take and the decisions you make will lead to positive outcomes. This is because they’re true to your inner being.
Take more risks
This trust that you’ve learned to build within yourself will give you the courage to take more risks in your life.
Risk goes beyond listening to your own intuition and stepping away from your destructive patterns of behavior.
Taking risks that challenge you beyond your comfort is a key to growing your self-love.
This could mean leaving your current career to pursue something more compelling. Maybe you want to experiment with the way you look. Or maybe you want to travel to or move to a completely new city or country.
These are all things I wanted and did — things that at first, the people closest to me didn’t understand. However, and despite the fear that I felt, taking these risks has proved tremendously rewarding.
Embrace your mistakes
Once you understand yourself more, you’ll have a better sense of which risks are worth taking, which losses are worth enduring, and which wins are worth striving for.
Along the way, you’ll endure pain and doubts, and you’ll make many mistakes.
Living is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth, and there is never really a final destination. Viewing your mistakes as learning opportunities instead of irreversible set backs will give you much more confidence.
By appreciating your authentic self, and seeing the fruits of your actions, the positives will outweigh your mistakes in the long-term.
It’s an individual journey
In the process of taking bigger risks, my faith in myself has grown. I believe I’m much more capable of achieving bigger and better things in my life.
My eyes are open to greater possibilities. My previous mistakes have been important steppingstones for becoming the person that I am.
And I am extremely proud to be that person.
This doesn’t mean that everyone has to take the exact same risks. On the contrary, taking risks requires authenticity and honesty with yourself. That’s why trusting your intuition is key.
Be mindful of your thoughts
It’s important throughout the process to be mindful of your thoughts.
No matter how hard we try, the doubts and insecurities will always come back to pester us.
Learn to pay attention to the negative thoughts. Practice different ways to manage them (e.g. meditation, therapy, exercising, journaling, etc.).
I can’t promise they will go away. However, learning to manage them will decrease their hold on you.
Learn to accept that you’re alone
Learning to be alone is an essential component of self-love. At most times we crave the attention of others. Of course, relationships are a critical component of life. Without them we would suffer.
The problem comes when strive to make others act and feel how we want them to. This causes a lot of pain because we can’t control other people. Working on self-love will help you become more comfortable with this fact.
Don’t allow yourself to be inauthentic
There are so many ways we are inauthentic with ourselves and our desires.
In my case this meant forcing myself to care for and spend time with people who I could no longer relate to, both friends and family members.
This was immensely draining.
I had to fight against the idea that I owed loyalty to a person just because we shared the same blood. This made me realize how much I was holding myself down in order to please those who I thought I needed to please.
Being authentic might mean choosing the career path or lifestyle choices that resonate with you, even if those closest to you might not understand them.
In the end, growing in your self-love will allow you to express yourself more genuinely. You’ll try new things and will be more honest about your feelings and thoughts.
Self-love, in my opinion, is a true reliever of suffering.
What do you think about the concept of self-love? Is it something that you currently struggle with, or have you started practicing much more often? Share your thoughts!
Originally published at https://ontheforum.com on April 24, 2020.