‘Selfish’, ‘self-absorbed’, ‘narcisistic’ and ‘ego driven’; often the responses or feelings highlighted towards the concept of self-love. For many of us self-love is a distant and unimaginable notion, with societies general view on it being a little skewed/completely and utterly wrong.
You’re not the best person in the world and you certainly aren’t better than anyone else, but thats ok. Self-love isn’t about putting yourself above everyone else, but about accepting yourself for who you really are; going deep into all aspects of you, and enjoying it. Perhaps a little creepy sounding, but its really the only thing that makes any sense. Imagine your best friend, or someone you’re really close to; now imagine not having ever gotten to know them, to understand the type of person they are, what they enjoy, what upsets them, makes them laugh or smile, or what their true interests are; this wouldn’t make much sense right? Pointless in fact, the friendship wouldn’t be a friendship, no enjoyment had, just hours of time spent with a complete stranger. Now, imagine never asking yourself these questions, spending your whole entire life merely existing, being a complete stranger to yourself.
This inquisitive understanding of yourself, is self-love, a push to genuinely understand who you are, believing in yourself, continuing on to ensure you make the real you, truly happy and complete, being rid of the unnecessary ego you carry with you each day.
To some extent we all practice the concept of self-love, whether we are aware of it or not. For self-love to be investigated and practiced you must start from the true basics of what you need, the fundamentals of life; the necessities living as a human being. These including; a healthy diet, enough sleep and healthy dose of exercise each week. With a bad diet clogging up our brains and lack of sleep slowing it down its impossible to motivate yourself to exercise, and leading you to be unable to appreciate yourself and whats around you. Living in a blur, a constant haze.
Self-love is an act of truly looking after yourself, nurturing all aspects of the self. It’s so easy to continue to do the same things week in, week out, with the majority of society living similar lives, partying, drinking, working, complaining about being hungover; it doesn’t leave much room to investigate your true self. Your genuine interests? How do you fulfil these? What creative outlets do you have? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
None of these questions above ask if you are good at any of the things you come up with, and it never should. If you enjoy doing something or find something interesting, never stop because you won’t make any money from it, or because you’re ‘bad’ at it, why would that even matter? The majority of things I love to do i’m quite bad at or they simply aren’t admirable, but they make me happy and I can’t just ignore that. My paintings will never make money, my rock collection will never make me cool, my photos will never be in a gallery and I will never be looked up to as an explorer. But, I simply do not mind. As long as I know I like doing them I will continue to do so; and so should you! Clearly not so easy in practice with all of societies judgments on everything we produce, do, say or show, putting a downer on what it is you really enjoy, expecting a profession at the end of whatever it is. But always remember; it doesn’t matter. Judgements will only limit those holding them and street cred isn’t real. Perfection doesn’t exist, we were made to make mistakes, so lets make them.
Of course, self-love isn’t so simple if you have a pre-existing self-destructive nature of mind, of which i’m sure many of us have, including myself. With a lot of self-talk aimed at your negative attributes its often difficult to look into what you truly enjoy doing, because you don’t feel you deserve it or you just simply aren’t good enough. This fuelling a downwards spiral of negative thoughts, coming to the conclusion that you are worthless and bad at everything you do, but I guarantee this isn’t true. If you focus on your basic needs you will be able to think more clearly and more freely, able to make good decisions and become able to manage these thought processes. Meditation is one thing everyone should at least give a go, (apps such as calm or headspace) helping you understand yourself more, not chasing after every thought and seeing yourself and life in its true nature. Self-love, if genuinely sought after pushes you to be you and to trust yourself in everything you do. You will not turn into a ‘perfect’ individual who is now instantly amazing at everything you do socially or intellectually, but you will accept yourself for the real you and know that you have got this.
All of this self-loving wouldn’t make any sense if you were to continue to surround yourself by rotten eggs. Your energy and time is precious, so do not waste a second! Although it may be difficult to begin with, you’ll soon be able to realise who actually brings genuine goodness into your life and who sucks your energy dry. There’s no need to completely cut people out but just put restrictions and boundaries, no animosity needed. Seek after your interests and people who make the most sense will appear through the cracks.
Along side all of this is the necessity of gratitude. Without the appreciation of all that exists around us or within, we would miss so much. Each day taking time to consider the things we’re grateful for, the people we are grateful for and what we are appreciative of ourselves, can go a long way in increasing positivity and a better, clearer headspace for the rest of the day.
Self-love doesn’t boost your ego and close you off to others, its brings you within yourself so you can open up to those around you, to those who love you the most. Thus, resulting in stronger connections and a happier you. Choosing to continue to live with yourself as a stranger is a waste of not only your time, but everyone else’s around you.
– Evie Pardoe
Photo – Stefano Dili
- Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Ricard Matthieu
- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Riponche