It’s an issue most of us experience throughout life: estranged partners, snarky bosses, bored co-workers, aloof family members and back-stabbing friends.
Our desire for love, attention, approval, and acceptance from others seems to be embedded into the very fiber of what it means to be human. And yet more and more of us are starting to realize that waiting around for our entire lives groveling at the feet of others isn’t time well spent.
Welcome: the self-love movement. Even the very thought of “self-love” send shivers down our spines because it is so foreign to us, and yet it makes so much SENSE on a visceral level. And yet despite how appealing learning how to love yourself more is, it seems like a Herculean task in the face of the lives we have built for ourselves.
For example, how can you learn how to love yourself more when people label you as being selfish and neglectful? How can you learn how to love yourself more when your environment is positively toxic and depressing? How can you learn how to love yourself more when you have no positive role models? How, how, how?
In One Paragraph: What is Self-Love?
In short, self-love is complete forgiveness, acceptance, and respect for who you are deep down – all your beautiful and hideous parts included. When you love yourself you take care of yourself, you honor your limitations, you listen to your needs and you respect your dreams enough to act on them. When you love yourself, your happiness, health, and fulfillment are all of the paramount importance because you realize that without loving yourself, you will never be able to genuinely love others.
How to Love Yourself More in an Age of Naysayers
On an unconscious level, most of us hear the same things in society. These subliminal messages sound something like this:
- You have to make people like and accept you – just like us.
- You have to put others’ needs above your own all the time with no exception – just like us.
- You have to conform to the status quo and fit in – just like us.
- You have to be unhappy and discontent – just like us.
This last one is strange, isn’t it? But the reality is that most people don’t truly like being happy: instead, they prefer comfort, stability, security, and control. This child-like mindset is precisely what makes (most) people so hesitant to support your self-love journey because it directly contradicts what they have invested so much of their effort into comfort and mediocrity.
The truth is that when you start practicing self-love, you become a social heretic. You stick out. You stop fitting in. You cease being one of those misery-loves-company pack members who thrive on self-pity and cynicism. And suddenly this puts you in a very uncomfortable position, a position where you have to choose between taking the narrow path, or the wide, easy path.
Some of us give up. Others of us persist, but end up withering under the weight of social pressure. But then some of us continue on that lonely path, being comforted by a few on the way, but otherwise battling against the constant onslaught of “you’re not good enough,” “you should be like us,” “you aren’t worth it,” “you’re so selfish.”