When you think of what you love, do you think of yourself?

We’ve all experienced or at least been exposed to some form of love; the love between two partners, the love a mother has for her child, the love shared by two best-friends, or even the love between a man and his dog. Aside from the good feeling that love embodies, it has the ability to heal. Seems kind of far-fetched doesn’t it? I mean come on… love is just a feeling after all. But think about the first time you ever scraped your knee and it hurt so much, but the moment your mom came and picked you up all that pain minimized. Or the time you experienced your first heartbreak, you thought you met the love of your life but then just like that you lost it. Ok, there’s no way love can heal the pain of losing your first love, which is a fair assumption but now think about what came after. You felt broken and unloved, but if you were fortunate enough your friends and family took that opportunity to remind you of all the reasons why they love you and soon your lost love was refilled by and with love from your friendships and family. That’s the power of love.

Love is amorphous, allowing it to manifest in many different forms. However, when you think of the different forms love can exist in, how many of you list self-love? From the very first day we all set out on this quest to find love and we endlessly try to search for it in every experience and everyone we come across failing to recognize that the love we need to survive has always been within us. With a boundless amount of love to offer to the world we seem to encounter a shortage when it comes to giving it to ourselves. Reluctant to engage in self-love, the infinite nature of love becomes finite. Why? Because the idea of self-love is so foreign to us. Throughout our journey to find love, somewhere along the lines we fallaciously defined love as an external entity. We taught ourselves that the only time love can exist internally is by the means of being linked to an external source. So when someone else evokes the feeling love within us or the love we experience for someone else.  A misconception that an external source creates the foundation that internal love must exist on. Preoccupied with this idea of constantly loving others and being loved by others, none of us have ever gotten an opportunity to take a step back to discover the self-love within us that we mistakenly locked up and shoved in a corner of our hearts.

Despite it being hidden and locked away, glimpses of self-love will always find a way to radiate from within us. That time you walked away from a toxic situation despite how painful it was? That was self-love. The time you failed and didn’t let that failure define you? That was self-love. The time you let go of a painful memory because it hurt too much to hold on? That was self-love. The time you followed your heart regardless of what other people thought of you? That was self-love. The times you picked yourself when no one else did? That was self-love. And all the times you were true to yourself and your right to be happy? That was self-love. Not just that, every time you treated yourself to your favorite dish cause you had a bad day, or took yourself shopping you unknowingly did it out of love for yourself. Hence, self-love is more attainable than you might think because a lot of us have been practicing self-love and we didn’t even know it. So I guess the question isn’t how do you practice self-love but rather why you should practice it.

Well for starters, when your definition of love is contingent on the presence of an external source you open the doors to the possibility of getting hurt. Because what happens when that source that aroused feelings of love within you is removed? You’re left upset and disappointed. Experiencing life through the lenses of love is so much more different than experiencing life through the naked eye. Think back to a time where you felt hurt and betrayed because you were denied the love you felt someone owed you, how’d that make you perceive your surroundings? Did you think life was unfair, did you feel as if everything you’ve worked for all of a sudden wasn’t worth it, and most importantly did you view yourself negatively and deem yourself unlovable all on a basis of being rejected one of the many forms that love can present itself in? Love can change the way we perceive the world, but by relying on an external source to feel loved we only intermittently experience life with an esteemed sense of self and strength to tackle our hardships because the minute our source of love is gone, so are all these positive attributes helping us navigate through life. And that’s the thing, love is amorphous but a lot of these different forms don’t promise consistency in feeling loved but by practicing self-love you can always assure that you will feel loved. That’s why it’s so important to consciously practice self-love, because as long as you’re alive, you will always exist and so you will always be able to count on yourself.

 

Through practicing self-love you experience greater life satisfaction; by appreciating yourself you appreciate your life, making you more aware of the beauty of it and helping you instill a more positive attitude towards the future. When we love someone, we value him or her for who they are as a person, similarly when you love yourself, you being to appreciate little detail that makes you who you are, including every flaw and every negative experience. It also inclines you to want to take care of yourself, which results in making healthier life decisions, removing yourself from toxic or stressful situations, and resolving or offsetting the occurrences of mental health issues. Furthermore, having a positive relationship with yourself allows you to deal with the adversities of life more effectively, because by feeling good about yourself you’re able to convince yourself that you’re strong enough to go through whatever life throws at you and you’re aware that better days do exist.

So why not live for yourself rather than for someone else. It all starts with a shift in defining love as an internal rather than an external entity. Instead of envisioning someone else when you hear the term “love” envision yourself. Change the way you talk to yourself, replace your negative thoughts with positivity. Change the way you see yourself, instead of focusing on all the things you would change focus on all the things that make you unique. When someone we love fails, what’s the first thing we do? We tell them to never give up, that mistakes are bound to happen, and that they help us learn and grow as a person. So the next time you fail, remember that. If you treat yourself how you would treat someone you love, you’ll never need to rely on the presence of someone else to pick you up when you fail, cause you’ll always have yourself.

 – Harveen, Volunteer 

References:

G., W. (2017, August 31). The Importance of Self-love. Retrieved April 21, 2018, from https://www.brookhavenretreat.com/cms/blog-22/item/2977-self-love-important