Ever heard the new age mantra ‘self-love is the best love’ or ‘I am enough’. Personally, I agree with both. While I was struggling with mid-life crises, I was introduced to the art of self-love by a dear friend. Not only did she teach me how to love myself but also she made me realize the importance of self-love.
It is a new ideology, and not everyone would agree with you when you tell them you are learning to fall in love with yourself. But I guess, it's okay as long as you do fall in love with yourself. So what exactly is self-love? And how do you come to love yourself?
Loving ourselves may not come easy to all. The fact is, doing something for oneself or thinking about ourselves first has always been labeled as being selfish. So, before you start your first lesson in self-love, you’ll have to unlearn some old beliefs. It is only when you are open to the idea of falling in love with yourself, shall you actually fall in love with yourself.
What is Self-Love? And Who Can Learn The Art Of Self-Love?
Any form of love begins with acceptance. So self-love is self-acceptance. The day, the minute, or the second you accept the flawed and imperfect you with the same grace as with which you accept the goody-goody you, know that you have stepped into the arena of self-love. Understanding and consciously taking care of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of your body then become the way of life.
You don’t have to be an adhyatmik guru to fall in love with yourself. And it isn’t rocket science that would be hard to learn. It only takes ‘you’ to realize the importance of loving yourself. That means anyone who can love others can definitely learn the art of falling in love with themself without feeling guilty.
Is Self-Love And Staying Positive The Same Thing?
Some people believe loving oneself means staying positive all the time. Love is a feeling and positivity is an intention. Just think, how many times a day you have anger episodes, mood swings, and the worst-case scenario when your happiness depends on kicking some idiot's ass. I am sure we all have that one person in our life whom we dream about beating the shit out of.
Anyways, what I mean to say here is that you may be a mad cow one day, but you may still be in love with yourself. After all, the first step to loving oneself or someone else is accepting them as a package of flaws, imperfections, and goodness. So, if you are ready to accept someone else when they deserve to be loved the least, you should be ready to accept your lesser self equally. You can be disappointed, upset, feeling dejected, or have negative thoughts about something or someone but can still be lovable. Your feelings and thoughts aren’t sinful. They are a natural human reaction to any comforting or uncomforting situation.
So, the point is you cannot be positive all the time but you can still be worthy of your love any time.
Give A Thought And Understand What Does Self-Love Mean To You?
Loving oneself isn’t being selfish. Rather it is a way to stay happy, share joy, motivate oneself, and inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle. I strongly believe that we can love others truly only when we know how to love ourselves first.
No two human beings are the same and so how we perceive self-love can also vary in thoughts and actions. Here is a list to help you figure out what self-love may mean to you:
Not ashamed of your flaws
Prioritizing your time
Saying no when we really feel like saying no
Pampering ourselves with a coffee date, spa date or just staying in bed a little longer than usual on some days.
Asking for me-time, away from spouse, kids, and family, without feeling guilty.
Taking care of your health
Making lifestyle changes
Pursuing your dreams whatever it takes
Being true and honest
Do not shy away from asking for help if needed
Forgiving others for your own peace
Valuing your time and feelings
Learning from your own mistakes
Not afraid to let go of toxic people
Now, let’s skip to the best part.
How To Love Yourself Without Feeling Guilty?
When we are in love, we are open to all the possibilities that life has to offer. But to avail, everything that life has to offer us, shouldn’t we learn the art of self-love first. I learned this a lot later in life but the fact is, the world will treat you as you treat yourself. So, always put yourself at the top of the list and treat yourself, your health, your time, and your feelings with respect.
Here are 6 ways to get you started in practicing self-love:
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean you disrespect someone. It just means that you respect yourself a bit more, and if someone’s toxicity or negativity is affecting your mental health or your emotional well-being, you limit their presence in your life. You have a choice, either let other people control your life or take control of your life.
Making Lifestyle Changes
If you feel you are munching junk food all day, begin by switching over to a healthy diet. Have one day in a week as a cheat day if you still can’t give up on eating junk food altogether. Take baby steps. Starting to love yourself is a new concept for you, so don’t be in a hurry to write your love story. There’s no rush. You may also include, exercising, yoga, walking, Zumba, or any other routine to keep your body stay healthy and in shape.
Saying No Isn’t Selfish
I am sure, like me, you too have spent half or more than half of your life saying yes to people when you have wanted to say no. It’s fed in our brains and most of the time we have done so without thinking twice. But now that you are aware that saying no is self-love and not being selfish, start afresh. If the guilt monster still haunts you, start by saying no to small things, like, can you pass me the remote, or can you answer the doorbell? We never felt guilty saying no to our siblings, right. And who else is closer to us than our brothers or sisters. If you can say no to them without feeling guilty then other people will also, eventually, align with your choice of saying ‘no’. They are nice, you are nice, but saying no when you want to say ‘no’ is also nice.
Set An Hour Of Me-Time Everday
We can not be full of energy all the time. We need a break from time to time, whether you are a stay-at-home person or working offline jobs. The hustle-bustle of the day can leave you exhausted. You may be a party animal but there are days you may feel like taking a break from friends, booze, and loud music. Do it. Take a break, set an hour of me-time, if possible, every day to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. That’s your time, use it as you like, read a book, watch a series/movie, sleep, listen to music, paint, walk, exercise, do yoga, meditate, or best do nothing at all. Just sit and get lost in the moment. This is called loving yourself without feeling guilty. This one’s the hardest to crack but the most satisfying. Try it!
Respect Your Feelings
This is a big one. When you are sad, you are sad. When you are angry, you are angry. When you are upset, you are upset. We all need time to process our emotions when something unexpected happens to us or when things do not go as we would have liked to see them go. It is normal to go through the roller coaster of emotions, as long as we are in control of our feelings. So, rather than feeling ashamed of your negative feelings, respect them because they are also part of the process of healing. Something that is broken or hurt needs healing. Happiness, excitement, satisfaction, and pleasure do not seek healing. Only our negative feelings crave to be healed. Learn to respect yourself at your worst than criticize you for being in that tough place. There are enough people already to do that job for you. So chill and live!
From childhood, we are taught to learn courtesy. We are told that it is impolite to refuse at people’s faces. No, it isn’t. Keeping them under the false impression is wrong. Lying to them in the name of courteousness is wrong. If you cannot help someone, or feel forced/obliged to do others a favor, be honest and straightforward by telling them that you can’t or you won’t. No explanations are required. Just an honest yes or no. People may not always be happy with your response, be honest anyway. Remember, at the end of each day you are answerable to yourself and not them. You won’t have to sleep under the weight of guilt, anger, or frustration. Being honest is a perk when you begin to fall in love with yourself.
Slowly and gradually will come a day when you’ll master the art of self-love. And that day would be the beginning of a new you. You will be able to love others without expectations, forgive more and stay happy, joyful, and carefree.