It’s 2019, and the media is overflowing with images featuring charcoal face masks, dreamy bathtubs filled with petals, fresh manis, and poolside drinks — all in the name of self love and self care. As a generation, we have learned to splurge and pamper ourselves to then call that self love. Been there! I, myself, am guilty of unwinding after a long day with a warm bath or going out for lunch with a friend when I am feeling stressed, because, well, #selfcare, #selflove. We can all agree that these things work. Nothing wrong with that; except that’s not what self love really is.
Here’s the thing — humanity is currently undergoing a massive, collective change.
You might have felt it! We are evolving towards a new way of being that is focused on personal growth and healing, rather than personal judgement and fear. Society is learning to become a little more selfish with its space and time, and as individuals we are beginning to understand that this selfishness is vital for our transformation. We are setting boundaries, we are meditating, we are taking care of our souls, we are focusing on healing past trauma. It is beautiful.
This is essentially what self love is actually about — not bottomless brunches and fresh pedicures, but about investing in the wellbeing of our future selves.
It is about doing the hard, dirty, and uncomfortable work of seeing ourselves for who we truly are, and loving ourselves enough – even when it is hard to – to work through our bullshit. Read that again. Self love isn’t, “I love myself because I feel beautiful/smart/fit”; it is “I love myself even if I don’t feel beautiful/smart/fit; and furthermore, I will do the work it takes to get there, because I am worth it”.
When you truly love yourself, your insecurities won’t cloud you. Your ego will not get in the way. Your past traumas will not trigger you. As a very contemporary example, imagine you are in the process of getting to know somebody, when suddenly they stop returning your messages. In today’s hookup culture, ghosting happens often. What do you do? Your feelings of rejection will come up, and you might feel disappointed, but this won’t trigger you. This won’t paralyze you. When you love yourself, you do not need another person’s attention or validation to feel fulfilled. You feel so whole in your own love that another person’s lack of it will not unravel you. You will text them “have a good day” without expecting a response, because you won’t need one. Then, you will move on because you are confident the right person will come along. You won’t doubt your own shortcomings and you won’t make the rejection about yourself. There is no fear. There is no self-doubt. There is no anger. That is self love at its finest.
Acts of self love can also be as simple as getting around to finishing a school project that’s due soon (because procrastinating is an act of self-harm), or as grand as investing in a therapist or counselor to help you through your healing journey. Anything you can do that will help you become the person you want to become, is fair game.
As an assignment, I want you to think of something that triggers you — is it rejection? Loss of control? Cheating? Weight gain/loss? Think about where this trigger comes from, and love yourself and be grateful for having this trigger — it’s yours, and it will help you grow. Then, recognize the ways in which it is not serving you anymore, and start to consciously work on releasing it every day. Baby steps.