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 grovelling 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 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.”
Loving yourself, TRULY and UNCONDITIONALLY loving yourself in this era, is a breathtaking accomplishment. It is a rare achievement that many claim to have developed, but few have actually achieved. Here are a few tips you can take away from this article that I have personally learned on the-path-less-taken:
1. Learn to be discerning and say “NO, that’s not true.”
You will hear a lot of things on your path; some consciously and some unconsciously. You will be told that your body isn’t slim enough, your face isn’t pretty enough, your personality isn’t charming enough, making mistakes is unacceptable, taking care of your needs is selfish … yadda, yadda, yadda. Not all of these untrue and unhealthy perceptions will be immediately obvious. Some of them will creep into your mind and belief system, polluting your self-perception. In fact, many of these toxic perceptions probably have already.
Not many people talk about discernment when it comes to learning how to love yourself more. “Discernment” is largely a dull-sounding word, but it is SO important. For instance, how can you tell truth from lies without learning how to be discerning?
To learn how to be discerning you need to question everything. Yes, this can be tiring, but it is worth every ounce of your effort. Why? Because being discerning will help you to sort through a lot of mental rubbish, antiquated beliefs and harmful ideals. Learning to say “NO, that’s not true” helps you to discover what the truth actually is. And the truth is always grounded in unconditional love.
2. Realize that other people are scared and in pain.
How can a person who only knows conditional love give you unconditional love? That’s like expecting a baby to climb a mountain. It doesn’t happen, and it can’t happen. Therefore, what is the point of mourning the impossible? What is the point of getting wound up and unhappy over the people in your life who not only don’t support you, but also speak against you? Their very actions speak of the abject lack of true love they have experienced. Isn’t that so very sad?
Most people not only don’t possess unconditional love, but they’re also caught up in an Underworld of fear and pain. This fear and pain is sourced from the illusion that they are separate from life – that they are humans having a life experience, rather than Life having a human experience.
Once you realize that people are scared and in pain, it takes out the sting from their disapproving stares and mistreatment of you. Once this realization hits you, you stop reacting to their negativity and start feeling compassion for them – and it is this precise compassion that befuddles them and sometimes is enough to motivate them to try the same path.
3. Realize that how other people treat you is a reflection of how they treat themselves.
It hurts to be the only one in your social circle trying to take responsibility for your life. It hurts to be rejected by your friends, family, or both because you are taking a different path. Learning how to love yourself more undeniably HURTS BADLY sometimes, and other times it feels blissful and wondrous. But if there is any lesson you can take away from the way people treat you, it is this: their actions often mirrors how they treat themselves.
Do you think that a person who mistreats you thinks they are superior to you? That is illogical commonplace reasoning. More often than not the answer is “No.” They mistreat you because they are threatened by you in some way, shape, or form. Unless they are clinical narcissists or psychopaths, most people are deeply insecure and fearful. The more you go against the grain, the more threatening you become to them. Understand this, and your path becomes much clearer.
What is your experience with self-love? I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired, challenged and comforted each time you drop by and leave a comment, so I’d love to hear your story below.