Loving other people isn’t always a walk in the park, but generally, even if the actions of love are difficult, we know roughly what to do:
- We see the positives in them
- We’re interested in what they think, say, and do
- We respect them and arew concerned for their wellbeing
- We seek out things that will make them happy
It sounds simple, and when it’s someone we love intensely – say a partner or a child- these steps fall into place with little or no effort. It’s literally easy to love them – we may even find that it brings us energy and joy.
But what about loving yourself? That’s slightly harder.
Do you see the positives in yourself?
Are you interested in your own thoughts, words, and actions – or do you bore yourself?
Do you make that little bit of extra effort to look after your own well-being?
Do you use a sense of self-respect to hold yourself to high-quality, dignified standards of living?
Do you seek out things that make you happy, or do you just make do?
It’s normal to find it’s harder to love yourself – because the denial and story telling that’s part of loving another can’t be done so easily inside your own head. With our spouse, we may ignore their bad habits or explain away the parts of them that we don’t admire. We can’t do this to ourselves though, because our critical inner voice doesn’t let us. Whenever we do something fun, it’s that inner voice that whispers we can’t do this too often. When we indulge, it’s there asking if we really do deserve this.
If you’re nodding along because you have a critical inner voice that’s running rampage, then the idea of self-love might leave you snorting with incredulity and raising an eyebrow as you say “ha” in a deadpan tone at your screen. But here’s something more manageable:
Liking or loving yourself doesn’t have to mean reciting affirmations in the mirror each morning, or taking yourself out for solo dates, or changing your thought process so much that you feel like a whole new person. Self-love, like any other relationship, relies on one thing: the firm belief that you are in it for the long-haul. Which of course, you are. You’ll be you for the rest of your life, and that’s a damn long time to dislike anybody, especially yourself, am I right?
So you can start today by getting your head around the fact that you are in a permanent long-term relationship with yourself, and working on the smallest bit of acceptance that you can muster.
One strategy for doing this, is to focus on just one area of yourself that you accept fully – be in your work ethic, your ability to plan ahead, or your laugh. Choose something you are 100% at peace with. Then, pay attention to how that peacefulness feels. Check in with yourself if you have felt anything even slightly similar in other areas of your self, or other moments during your day. If so, congratulations, you’ve just become aware of this self-acceptance slowly spreading out into other areas.
Try to focus on just one different area of self-acceptance per day, for a minute if not more (You can break this down into a few really short chunks if you like). By the end of the week, you’ll have accrued 7 minutes of peace that you didn’t have before. If it doesn’t sound like a lot, I dare you to sit still in silence for 7 minutes and debate ALL your self-acceptance in one go! You’ll either realise you need to keep working at it, or you’ll feel wonderful afterwards.
Just as acceptance of others is the route to truly loving them, so self-acceptance is a route to loving yourself. You don’t have to make it complicated, or an exercise in embracing your inner hippy (unless you want to). Make self-acceptance work for you, and you’ll notice so many other things fall into place.
Have you had a powerful moment of clarity or realisation around self-love or self-acceptance? Share it with us below.