ME, MYSELF, AND LOVE
BY VICKY MCFARLANE
Can you see beauty everywhere except in the mirror? Do you automatically respond to compliments from others with self-deprecating comments? If this sounds like you, don’t worry – you are not alone.
Unfortunately, in many cultures, we are conditioned at a very young age to believe that self-love is selfish, and one of the last things any of us wants to be called is selfish. The resultant learning of this early conditioning may be carried into adulthood, and could be the root cause of many mental health issues including low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
Self-love, or caring for oneself, respecting oneself, and knowing oneself, as described by psychologist and social philosopher Erich Fromm in 1956, is in fact the opposite of vanity and is the foundation for an abundant life. It is not only a desirable quality to have, but also a crucial element if you would like to live a life of contentment and happiness. Studies have shown that possessing little self-regard can lead to depression, an inability to reach your full potential, and can negatively impact the quality of your relationships. In particular, people that have little self-love tend to have difficulty developing loving partnerships and often times tolerate abusive situations and relationships.
Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.
– William Shakespeare
It makes sense that in order to be able to truly love another person, you must first know how to love yourself. After all, if we do not value ourselves, how can we ever value someone else?
If you are ready to turn your life around and give yourself the love and support you deserve, read on.
The road to self-love is a rewarding journey, and the destination is blissful acceptance, contentment, and the discovery that you can be your own best friend. Let’s get started.
The first thing you can do is to stop comparing yourself to others in a way that makes you feel inferior. Anytime you compare yourself to another person, you are actually seeing something inside of you that needs to be acknowledged. Instead of sliding into jealousy, envy or bitterness, turn your comparison into inspiration. Reach out to the person that you are comparing yourself to and tell them what inspires you about them. When you reach out in inspiration you are opening your heart and performing an act of self-love.
Feeling better about who you are as a person also means talking to yourself respectfully and rationally. You wouldn›t speak harshly to your best friend, so don’t do it to yourself. Talk gently and rationally to yourself and take the time to feel gratitude for everything you have, and everything you are. Think about all that is working in your life, everything you do well, and take the time to thank yourself for it.
Do things that you are good at. Self-mastery is the ultimate self-esteem booster, and self-esteem and self-love often go hand in hand. If you enjoy art, paint a picture, if you feel alive when you are playing tennis or baking cakes then do that. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, just make the time to do it.
Live in the present. Holding on to your past can stop you from moving forward. Although we may do this as a way to protect ourselves from hurting, it is really only holding us back from accepting and loving who we are. I realize that this is easier said than done, however the quicker you ‘let it go’, the faster you will be on the path to self-love.
Most importantly, remember that taking loving care of yourself is self-responsible not selfish. Taking responsibility for your own happiness is not only your right, but also your responsibility! Promise yourself that from this moment on you will treat yourself with compassion and gentleness, and be your own best friend!
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