Photo by The Gender Spectrum Collection
As mentioned in my previous blog post, I did not have a lot of emotional support growing up. This caused me to develop poor self-esteem; I would often berate myself for my mistakes and shortcomings, even though I understood that no one is perfect. The expectations I set for myself were unreasonable, and it wasn’t until I moved out to pursue higher education I learned that self-love is the most important kind of love. Self-love has helped me develop into a confident adult, and I now recognize it as an important factor in growth and recovery.
Self-love is a skill in the same way learning to use Excel is a skill. It’s not one you can put on your resume, but it’s just as important as any skill you would share with a potential employer. Someone who has high confidence in their self and abilities has self-love and is more equipped to face obstacles. People with low self-esteem see mistakes and challenges as fodder to punish themselves or a way to justify their lack of self-love, fueling their self hate.
Love cannot only come from other people; love must also come from within. We love our friends because we see all their best qualities. They may also make mistakes, but they are our friends! They make us happy, help us with our own challenges, and build our self-esteem. They love us the way we love them because they see these good qualities, too. There is no rationale for denying ourselves the same kind of love.
All skills require training, and developing your self-love won’t happen overnight. The first step to developing self-love is actively combatting self-hate. When you make mistakes or fall short of meeting your desired goals, be mindful of your thought patterns. Even the people you love make mistakes, so how are you any different? Was there something you should have done differently or wish you did? Make note of that and move on. When you put yourself down, you are discouraging yourself for not meeting your expectations. This can deter you from challenging yourself or developing your skills. Identifying these negative thought patterns will make it easier to love and support yourself.
Once you have begun to control negative thought patterns, it becomes easier to encourage and love yourself. This can be done in many ways. Most people see treating yourself as a form of self-love, but “purchase therapy” is not always in everyone’s budget. Take pride in your achievements, no matter how small. Even if other people are further along in their personal progress, that should not negate the progress you have made for yourself. Everyone has different limitations, and this is an important thing to remember in your journey to greater self-love. When you notice areas for improvement, be encouraging to yourself and set reasonable goals. If you set goals that are not achievable or time-based you may feel as though you let yourself down, so be conscious of how realistic your goals are. There are many ways to love yourself; use these ideas as a jumping platform.
Looking at self-love through the dimensions of wellness, self-love affects numerous areas. When we have high self-love, we may exercise more confidence in decision making and completing tasks. Confidence makes people more social, outgoing, and ambitious. This can be great news for occupational wellness, social wellness, and of course emotional wellness. High self-esteem can draw more people to us because our best qualities are shining brightly. Ambition that comes from self-love may also encourage us to enhance our intellectual wellness so that we broaden our horizons by reading new books, or attending events we may have otherwise had no interest in. When we are succeeding in these areas of wellness, other areas of wellness are likely to benefit as well.
It is hard to recover from our mistakes and stress when we expend resources to push ourselves down. Self-love does not come after recovery, self-love is recovery. You do not need to do or be anything to be deserving of respect and care. People may come and go, but you will always have yourself. Be your best asset and you will be amazed by what you are capable of!