In a day and age where social media motivates everyone to be self-help, thought givers - conversations on self-love are had often. I, for one, have spent years writing about and reflecting on the subject while simultaneously embarking on my very own journey of self-love. And because of the drastic developments of technology and social media; people have, or think they have, a solid idea on what self-love consists of. They think they have it all figured out. I know that at some point, I thought I did, too.
But the truth is - just as the concept of love alone does not entail a solid definition, self-love doesn't either. It is sporadic. It does not carry one universal definition. It varies from person to person. It is not stable, it is not fixed. And I fear that the impact of social media has led people to believe that it is.
How I love myself or learn to love myself, will often be significantly different than the way you do. What may work for me, may not work for you. For that reason, taking the methods used by other people, WITHOUT consistency in the stability of knowing that it may not work for you, can be detrimental. That's not to say that gaining insight on other individuals ideas on what self-love is, is all bad. On the contrary, it may benefit you in many ways - so long as you keep the fact that there's a chance it may not work in the back of your mind.
Self-love is not always pretty. It's not consistent. And it's NOT as easy as some influencers make it seem. With that being said, self-love is critical to your well being as well as the well being of those around you. The following consists of some ideas/questions I've compiled for myself over the years of figuring out what self-love means to me.
I would say this is by far one of the most important things when it came to myself and that is to ask myself: how do I practice justice and fairness with myself? Do I reflect on that at all? I'll be honest, it often crossed my mind but I never sat down with myself and reflected on it. And for the longest time, even when I was conscious of the self-neglect I imposed on myself, I didn't take much initiative in letting that neglect go. Even today, it's something I greatly struggle with due to the habits I've built with myself over the years. In working towards practicing justice and fairness with myself, I began forming a list of questions that I would reflect on every time the initial question came up:
- Do I listen to my body when it tells me that I have pushed it to its limit for the day, week or month?
- Do I appreciate myself and give my self the credit I deserve when needed?
- Do I do what makes me happy, often and regardless of what others expect of me?
- Do I hold myself accountable?
- Do I acknowledge my wrongdoings and take initiative in mending them?
- Do I check in with myself often enough to acknowledge my triggers and find ways to dissolve them faster?
- Do I place the barrier of self-pity and self-empathy needed to keep myself in check?
- Am I just as kind and loving to myself as I am to others?
- Do I place relevant barriers between myself and others to control needless expectations and control mechanisms?
- Do I speak my mind when needed or do I lead myself to suffocate?
After countless sessions of giving myself the time and space I needed to efficiently reflect on these questions - I concluded that I was pushing myself beyond limits and I seemed to appreciate neither my body or my mind enough to take care of them the way I should've been. That for the longest time I had trained my subconscious to believe I was undeserving of the things I have earned. I was giving 99% of my energy away to others and leaving none for myself. I wasn't holding myself accountable in that I allowed myself to lack in the effort needed to accomplish my goals due to outside noise. I was not placing barriers between myself and others, leading me to become more vulnerable to control and manipulation imposed onto me by others. I lacked self-appreciation. Worst of all, I allowed myself to suffocate in retaliation of not speaking up for myself when I needed to (this happened very often). I neglected my self-happiness for others, and I failed to differentiate between self-pity and self-empathy, leading me into a spiraling circle of not knowing how to navigate accountability for myself. The danger in this is that accountability is the backbone of everything I mentioned. If one can't hold themselves accountable, it becomes more difficult to resolve the rest of the problems.
In navigating the points I mentioned above, I came to learn that my lack of self-love stemmed from self-neglect which was caused by different elements I had struggled with in the past. This can look different for everyone. It can range from anything such as childhood experiences/truamas to present day experiences and thoughts. I recognized that one of my biggest obstacles was 'blockage'. Blockage in that I was unhappy about several things that stemmed from the expectations that other people had/have of me. Once I figured that out, I had to start working on getting rid of all of that blockage. This consisted of asking myself whether I was being honest enough with myself, as well as the people around me, or not. I also concluded that I had to unlearn certain things, a concept I've been hearing plenty of lately. Unlearning certain things is key as those very things you may 'think' you believe, could be the very things causing that unnecessary blockage. To maintain all of this, I had to get myself used to:
- consistent, raw, and honest self-reflection
- highlighting what's important to me, often
- being conscious of when I need to be re-energized through asking myself where I'm lacking energy and why
- holding myself accountable (#1 key)
Have I entirely overcome these forms of self-neglect? No. I remain to be a work in progress, just like most people are. As I mentioned earlier, getting rid of these habits and fully maintaining self-love for yourself is not easy and not always consistent. You are going to have bad days, you are going to fall, and you are going to face plenty of obstacles. After all, you're still human at the end of the day. The key to all of this is to be conscious of what areas you lack in and how you self neglect in order to figure out ways to take yourself out of it.
A lot of times the missing link is simply not knowing what you need to work on but once you figure that out, it gets better. Your mind and body are a world of their own. Just like in the real world, you can't figure out where to go without knowing how to read a map. Take initiative in learning about yourself. Learn what your triggers are, hold yourself accountable, and do it with a partner if it helps.
I hope you were able to reflect within yourself through my own experience of struggling with self-love. I would love to hear from you. What have you struggled with on this journey? What has worked for you in resolving these struggles?
Till next time,