The term “self-love” seems to be trendy these days. And for some reason, we (or maybe it’s just me), can’t write it without a hashtag. Probably because its prominence was started in the era of vast social media use. Which also might stem from the endless debate of social medias’ toxicity.
Obviously self-love spans beyond the world of social media. A lot of things in the world nowadays make it hard for us to love ourselves, or rather, make us forget to love ourselves. Let’s not talk about how without the ability to love ourselves we might not have healthy relationships with others. Let’s just focus on the fact that this life is hard it is on itself, we don’t need to be too hard on ourselves too.
I know sometimes it’s really hard to practice self-love. What comes more easily, at times, is self-criticism, self-doubt, and lowered self-esteem. Or even, sometimes we think we love ourselves, but our actions towards ourselves are usually the opposite. That is why, first, it is important to be mindful and evaluate, whether we’ve been nice to ourselves.
When is the last time you tell nice things to yourself, like “I’m proud of you”? Now, when is the last time to criticize yourself (“Why can’t you do that simple task? why are you so stupid?”).
Let me answer those questions, there’s not a day passed without me being critical to myself. I’m constantly feeling not enough. Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not inspiring enough, not interesting enough, etc.
That’s the byproduct of growing up in an environment that sees self-appreciation as a form of arrogance. We are taught to not praise ourselves in the name of humility. So when things are right, we don’t really acknowledge it as accomplishment, but when things go wrong you have to find somewhere to blame and more often than not its yourself.
But that’s okay.
A lot of times we can’t control what we are feeling, but by being mindful about it we can react properly. After we are done criticising ourselves, take one step back and ask ourselves, is what we think of yourself was right? Sometimes it’s not. But even if it’s right, so what? If we can change it then go do it, if we can’t we must learn to accept it as a part ourselves. Show ourselves some compassion, remember the things you’ve done right, and give yourself that long-overdue appreciation.
Practicing self-love might not really easy at first. But we don’t have to jump the gun and be on a full-on self-love mode after decades of self-criticising and self-loathing. That’s why I said “practice”, because we do it one step at a time, slowly and gradually. We might never reach the full-on mode (I’ve personally come to believe that there’s no such thing a perfection) but the objective is getting better each day. There’s no need for a finish line because it’s not a race.
Self-love can be practiced by doing small insignificant things every day, that we sometimes think are trivial.
There are several self-love practices that I have been doing, if you need some ideas on how to start, these things might come in handy..
be comfortable in my own company
If there’s a world champion of #SelfLove in this category alone, I’d definitely win every year. One thing that I really proud of myself is my ability to be comfortable in my own company. Of course, it’s nothing major but hey, remember, small things.
Start doing activities that you usually need company for, like eating at the restaurant, going to the cinema, or even traveling. When you do that, really take the time to evaluate how you are feeling and what you really like from doing that alone. You might be surprised at how much you enjoyed it. But if you’re not then that’s okay. You don’t have to push yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, but don’t dismiss it before you try.
focusing on the essentials
I found that I could be a people-pleaser sometimes and a lot of the time it cost me my sanity. Isn’t it ironic how I try so hard to please others when I fail to be nice to myself? After a life-changing event, I then decided to focus on the essentials. And what are the essentials? Things that make me happy and the things I care about, of course!
By focusing on the essentials, I also learn to say no to things that don’t fall into the essentials category. If people at the office trying to ask you to do stuffs that are outside of your job description and in no way contribute to your goal, say no. If people ask you to go out when you feel like staying home, say no. It’s might be hard at first but it’s also so simple.
If you’d like to tap into this essentialism into more details, I really recommend this book by Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
be mindful of how I treat my body
Loving ourselves doesn’t mean that we have to do everything that we want. Eating recklessly, for example, it’s not self-love. Although it feels like it. Giving ourselves rewards in the forms of delicious food are of course okay, but too much of it might risks our health.
Loving yourself means taking care of it, by eating healthily, exercise regularly. That’s why I’m being mindful of what I put into my body. Of course, I indulge myself with a cup of boba from time to time, but I keep track of it so as to not over-consuming it. It’s not to keep a nice appearance but to preserve my health.
Instead of focusing on your flaws or imperfections, begin to appreciate your body and treat it with love and respect. Nourish it with good foods and exercise.
Having a positive body image is self-love. But so is investing in long-term health.
Self-love starts with self-like, and self-like means acceptance, compassion. The practice only takes doing small things every day, but consistently. And don’t let anyone tell you that self-care is selfish. It’s not selfish; it is essential.
Tell me, what’s your self-love practice?