In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and the media encouraging materialism and the need for another’s love, I thought it was important to remind you of the most important love: loving yourself.
As social creatures, we have been taught since birth that our happiness relies on the approval and love of others, and if that is not the case, we are fundamentally wrong. We require the love and approval of our parents, our teachers or bosses, our friends, and most importantly, our significant others. We are told that if we do not receive this love, we do not deserve it and there begins the vicious cycle of self-loathing and feeling unworthy.
What nobody tells us is how important it is to accept and love ourselves. We can only truly love others if we love ourselves, but loving ourselves in a world where everything around us can seem to encourage the opposite is possibly the most difficult aspect of becoming our fullest selves. Therefore, from my extremely inexperienced and under-qualified viewpoint, I’d like to share what I have learned on my journey of self-love thus far.
1. There is no such thing as a perfect human being; embrace your flaws.
We are told to look and act a certain way and believe certain things to be true in order to be accepted. Self acceptance, however, can only occur when these ideals are abandoned and we realize that we must embrace our flaws instead of hiding them, that we must change ourselves for for our own satisfaction and not the approval of others.
We are imperfect beings; we fail, we cry, we doubt and all of this lies behind every success. Embracing these flaws and failures is the key to learning to love ourselves as imperfect beings.
2. Allow failure to be the fuel for success.
There will undoubtedly be failure, as with any other journey, on the journey to self-love. I think one of the most important components to being successful in self-acceptance is not only accepting but embracing failure. Understand that a single failure does not define a person, and that no matter how many rock bottoms you hit there is always a way back up. Inevitably, we will not always be successful, but we can allow our failures to determine how far we will go to achieve success.
3. Define yourself.
This may seem trivial, but in a society where media distorts our perception of what we want and where our goals and limits can seem spoon-fed to us by society’s standards, it is difficult to differentiate between what you believe and what you are told to believe.
Exploring what you want or enjoy and the way you define yourself is infinitely valuable. How can you love yourself if you don’t know who you are?
4. Nurture yourself.
Be patient with yourself, and make time for the things you love. Invest in your passions and enjoy your own company. It’s much easier to love yourself when you love your life, too.
5. Don’t overthink it.
Success is relative to ability, happiness is relative to capacity, and it is important to remember this and understand your own abilities when growing towards self-love. Not everything has to be perfect, and not everything will be. Loving yourself does not mean denying imperfection, it means embracing it. You do not have to love every part of yourself or your life to love yourself. Embrace your unique situation since your life is yours to own.
Love is such a beautiful thing, and loving yourself is possibly the most beautiful and fulfilling of all. Happy Valentine’s Day, reader!