How To (Really) Love Yourself
by Self Space
If you’re feeling like your mind needs a cuddle, we've got you. Our friends at Self Space who promote and facilitate everyday mental maintenance have put together a really great guide to loving yourself (including the messy bits).
These go way deeper than the usual:
1. have a long bath
2. do a facemask
3. go for a walk
Obviously those are great too but as these unprecedented times are becoming like, very fucking precedented, and we’re all missing friends and family, we need to step in and give some extra love to ourselves. Not just for Valentine$$$ day but for life.
It can be great to have alone time, to have a bath, to cook ourselves a nice meal for one, but this isn’t self-love, it’s more self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Self-love, on the other hand, is inextricably linked to self-esteem, it being: our ability to see ourselves as a flawed, imperfect individual and still hold ourselves in high regard. Self-love is the ability to not fall into a puddle of shame or self-hatred even when we mess up. It’s trying new things knowing that we could fail, without thinking of ourselves, therefore, as failures.
Self-reliance is often something we develop because we have to. It can end up becoming second nature and can be a great skill that helps keep us going when we’re out in the world on our own. But when it comes to self-love, it can often feel more challenging and if you’ve ever found yourself in a spitting rage after seeing a quote inviting you to manifest an abundance of self-love - you are not alone. It is hard work and we don’t learn to do it alone, unlike the usual narrative we see often.
We are all incredibly complicated and complex.
Our thoughts and feelings don’t always come to us clearly labelled, ready to be named out loud to a loved one looking on at us in absolute confusion, wondering why we are in a funk and being standoffish.
Sometimes our emotions can hide in our stomach, jaw or fists, tightly wound, knotted and sticky. They come out in our bodies and come out in our relationships, and it serves us to give ourselves a break for this.
When we treat our emotions like enemies, that’s exactly what they start to feel like. Feeling shitty is not a sign that we’re doing life wrong. Difficult emotions are a part of our contract with being a fully feeling, messy and complex human being. When we invalidate or judge our own emotions, we strip them of their ability to teach us. To love ourselves is to allow space for all of this, without rushing to our emotional exits.
“Love yourself”- we hear this a lot. When was it decided that we must love ourselves all by ourselves? In a
world that so relentlessly tells us that we aren’t good enough (for that job, to be seen, heard and validated, for that relationship and so on..) — we set ourselves up for failure when we try to make self love a one-person job.
Start with self-compassion, a bit of empathy and gentleness towards yourself and work your way up from there. Any kindness that you show your loved ones when they make a mistake, try to mirror that with yourself. It takes constant work.
Know that self love isn’t just saying yes to things that we enjoy, it’s saying no to things that you don’t serve us. Is that thing you're doing self-care or self-sabotage? Are you not responding to messages because you’re holding a boundary or are you not responding because you are withdrawing and isolating? Just like every other skill we have to learn, it takes practice and constant work.
We all struggle loving ourselves, trusting others, coping with our emotions, communicating effectively, understanding ourselves, honouring our potential and feeling relatively authentic, confident and unashamed — and we beat ourselves up for not nailing these things 100% of the time. If we let others into the less filtered parts of our lives, we would notice that we’re not alone in any of these challenges.
Know that self-love is less about the ability to withstand loneliness or establish independence and more about awareness and acceptance of our incompleteness and imperfectness. Loving ourselves doesn’t have to be a radically individualistic pursuit. It’s about letting others love us even when we feel unlovable, because their version of us is often kinder than our own.