What is Self Love?
By Milly Hailstone
Ever since I heard of self-love, I’ve had a hard time describing exactly what it is. I see lots of Instagram posts promoting self-love, and telling everyone to love themselves more. But, what these posts are missing are practical actions. What exactly can you do to love yourself? Today, we’re going to find out.
Like the great Ru Paul always says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
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Cocky or Confident?
As a child, I learnt to tear myself down through the fear of being seen as cocky or arrogant. I didn’t realise there was a difference between being cocky and confident. I think it’s terrible that a child could have this impression, and how this misconception can shape a person. I think I’m not the only one that grew up not loving myself because of this self-limiting thought.
In England, we love to complain. It’s almost like a competition of who has got it the worst. We get a weird gratification from being mistreated or unlucky. So, I’ve decided it’s time for an attitude makeover.
The Breakthrough You All Need to Hear
I asked around in a Facebook group to see if anyone could offer up some perspective, and the answers were all I hoped for and more. I had a breakthrough moment when some responded to my question: WTF is self-love? She said, “How do you treat people you love? You speak kindly to them and take care of their needs. So loving yourself means treating yourself the way you'd treat someone else you love.”
This made me think of times when I’ve looked into the mirror and unleashed insults on myself that I’d never dream of saying to somebody I didn't like, let alone somebody I love. Then, I realized this must be something a lot of others do - destroying their own self-esteem. It made me think of playing the Sims when you’d get your Sim to compliment themselves in front of the mirror to increase their confidence points.
I used to laugh, but now I think it might be legit. So, next time you are looking in the mirror whilst cleaning your teeth, say something nice about yourself instead of ripping your appearance or intelligence to shreds. Be your own cheerleader, because it’s way better than being your own worst enemy.
Taking control of mental health issues is a big task for me. A while ago I was allowing my anxiety to control me, I didn’t realise that the situation could flip 50/50. But, as soon as I began to take control of my head, everything got a lot smoother and I felt so much stronger. For me, just the realisation that I have the power to break these invisible chains is enough to crush the metal. You are not your anxiety disorder.
So, WTF is self-love?
It means just that... loving yourself.
Once you decide to treat yourself like somebody you love, you’ll begin to follow certain actions that are good for you and stop giving in to bad habits that don’t serve you. Things we can all do to promote self-love include:
- Meditating: If you’re feeling kinda crappy, meditation is a good way to clear out your mind. You can hush the voices and thoughts that stress you out. I’m currently using an app called Insight Timer which has tons of free meditations. It covers beginners, guided meditation, and more spiritual themes.
- Eating Healthily: It’s important to get all those vitamins and minerals you need to get your body working properly. An awesome way to do this is to learn how to cook meals from scratch. Cooking is literally a life skill, and if you know you can make some delicious grub you are far less likely to binge on a takeaway. I’ve also cut down on sugar, and quit coffee to help lessen my anxiety.
If you're vegan, and this counts for newbies and Lv 1000 vegans, you need to have a few great cookbooks on your shelf. Thug Kitchen is full of tasty recipes and explains exactly how to eat right on a plant-based diet. I also must recommend Avant-Garde Vegan's brand new cookbook called Vegan 100, this guy is fairly new to the vegan YouTube scene but he is killing it.. and er, he's pretty cute too.
- Respecting Yourself: We respect and look up to celebrities and public figures without question. But, what if we started to think about ourselves this way instead? You are the only person that can do you. You are unique and amazing. You deserve all the respect in the world - it’s about time you knew that.
- Saying No: THIS! This is huge. A good friend of mine once said to me “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm,” and I was SHOOK. I’m a doer, a giver, and sometimes I let people take advantage of me or put others first because I don’t feel important. But, this solid piece of advice made me decide that self-love isn’t selfish!
It’s ok to say no to something you don’t want to do and it’s ok to say no without explaining yourself. Remember that.
- Creating Space: To me, this means making time for yourself. Give yourself space away from your busy schedule. Create somewhere in your home you can to spend me-time. For me, it’s the bathtub. I’m a water-sign so I need to get fully immersed in the wet stuff to get grounded. I light candles (check out these gorgeous soy aromatherapy ones from Wax and Oils), take some deep breaths to relax and read a book. Take some time for yourself today. I'm currently working my way through all of the Game of Thrones paperbacks in anticipation for Season 8. I won't last a year without my fill.
- Listening to Ourselves: I spent a long time not looking after myself properly. For years I had super bad habits that I knew I should stop, but I didn’t listen. It was easier to lets these habits win because I thought fixing them would be ‘too hard’. Often I thought that I didn’t have the power to fix it.
If you want to love yourself you need to commit to it. It won’t happen overnight. But, listen to yourself and your body.
This might be different for everyone, but if you aren’t sure where to start, these seemingly small tasks are a good place.
Maintaining this awesome behaviour is also key to your growth. It might take some time, but once you become comfortable in your mind and body your life will become amazing.
Let yourself be confident, let yourself be brave and let yourself grow. By choosing to not love yourself you are stopping yourself from having the life you want, so today I’m asking you to make a new choice.