Hey Psych2goers! When you think of people you love, who comes to mind? Maybe your close family, relatives, significant other, or friends. But what about you?
Self-love is so important to live a happy, healthy life! Unfortunately, it is still often overlooked and misunderstood. In a world that grows more demanding, stressful, and complex day by day, self-love might not be on the forefront of your mind. We hope with this article, you’ll understand a bit more about self-love and incorporate it more into your everyday life, if you haven’t already.
With that, here are 8 things you need to know about self-love.
1. Self-love isn’t a linear process
The process of loving yourself might have ups and downs. On this journey, you will probably have days where you feel great, energized, and positive. But also know that there will be days where you don’t, and that is more than okay.
Even when you consciously practice self-love, you may sometimes feel grumpy, tired, anxious, sad, lonely or defeated. On those days, remember that you are human, in the process of growth, and allowed to feel the full range of emotions on any given day. Life is hard, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the bad with the good. Part of loving yourself is feeling and expressing these emotions without criticizing yourself.
Self-love is a complex process, full of leaps forward and steps back. Embrace every step of this journey. Remember that each day you choose to keep going, and choose to love yourself, you’re making amazing progress, even if you don’t feel it.
2. Self-love isn’t a rapid process
Think of the people you love most. Did it take some time to love them firmly and completely?
When you begin to learn how to love yourself, it may take some time for you to feel it. Understand though that similar to loving other people, loving yourself is a process and journey. It may not happen overnight, and that’s okay! Try not to dwell on your flaws, and instead, view them as beautiful traits that make you the unique, wonderful human that you are.
3. Uncovering the sources of healing can be difficult
How many of you are in the process of emotionally healing? If you are, you should be so proud for taking the steps to heal; it isn’t easy by any means.
Like self-love, healing not only takes time, but is so complex. To unravel up to years of potentially buried trauma can be daunting. If you become overwhelmed during this process, you aren’t alone. Digging deep and healing from not only past wounds, but also potentially recurring ones can be an overwhelming process.
Know that part of self-love and self-care is knowing when to step back in this healing process. Though it may be tempting to keep pushing, remember that to love yourself is, in part, to acknowledge your own boundaries. This is especially important in healing, in order to avoid uncovering memories and moments in ways that may wound us further.
4. We are conditioned by society to believe that self-love is selfish (not true!)
How many times have you stepped back from a commitment and instantly felt guilty? How often do you say no to someone and feel self-absorbed? Feeling this way is normal and totally understandable, because society has led us to believe that prioritizing our own needs is selfish.
This isn’t true though! Despite everything that society has told you, taking care of your own needs is one of the most important things we can do. Your health and happiness are yours to protect and maintain. Taking steps to do so is never ever selfish.
5. Self-love is important because it opens even more doors for you to give and receive love
Have you heard the phrase “Love yourself first”? It’s true.
The way you love yourself shows others how to love you. According to Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist John Kim from Psychology Today, forming a healthy relationship with yourself, full of care, understanding, compassion, and, yes, boundaries, will help you achieve that kind of relationship with yourself and others (Kim 2018).
6. Self-love means giving permission to accept your own compassion
Have you noticed the negative connotation that surrounds self-compassion, perhaps disguised as making excuses or “feeling sorry for yourself”? The truth is though, that one of the greatest sources of strength is being able to move through life being kind and compassionate to your own experiences.
We have this unfortunate quality to automatically blame ourselves when things go wrong, especially in effort to be understanding of other perspectives (Formica 2013). If we didn’t get a job or get in somewhere, we tend to believe that we weren’t qualified enough. If a friend is mad at us, it is our nature to blame ourselves first, rather than objectively examining the situation. This could lead to lower self-esteem, more negative self-talk, and even self-loathing if it goes unchecked a little too long.
Self-compassion lives inside of us and is bursting at the seams. Rather than suppressing it in favor of others, the more we consciously accept the understanding and kindness we want to offer ourselves, the more our self-esteem and confidence will grow.
7. Self-love means following the yearnings of your own heart, even if that’s not what others want
Have you ever felt obligated to do something in favor of others? Take up a certain hobby or go down a certain career path?
While this complacency might seem to resolve differences and issues in the short term, it may leave you unfulfilled later on. Remember that part of loving yourself is giving yourself the right to follow your own dreams and your own heart, no matters what others say. Those who may judge you or impose their dreams on you also have their own chance.
Passion is one of the strongest, most beautiful emotions ever felt. That which makes your heart sing is yours to cling to. Do yourself a favor and tighten your grasp. You deserved to feel happy and fulfilled no matter what anyone tells you.
8. Self-love isn’t always fun
Sometimes, self-love is hard. It’s doing what’s best for you even if it doesn’t necessarily excite you in the moment.
Self-love can be going to bed early when you know tomorrow is an important day, choosing to stay in one night to finish an assignment, setting and respecting your boundaries, refusing to do something for someone you love, and more things you might not describe as joyful. Sometimes, in order to love yourself, you have to prioritize what is best is for you and make sacrifices. The sheer ability to do this confirms just how much you have your best interest at heart!
We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about self-love. How do you practice self-love? Let us know. Thanks for reading!
- Formica MJ (2013, April 19). “Self-Blame: The Ultimate Emotional Abuse”. Psychology Today. Enlightened Living. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/enlightened-living/201304/self-blame-the-ultimate-emotional-abuse
- Kim J (2018, February 19). “You Have to Love Yourself Before You Can Love Someone Else”. Psychology Today. The Angry Therapist. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-angry-therapist/201802/you-have-love-yourself-you-can-love-someone-else