I don’t think I heard the phrase “self love” or “loving yourself” until I was in my twenties. I would guess this is why in the past decade we have seen such a boom in media encouraging us to do just that, “love ourselves.” That being said, self love is not a new concept, one of my favorite Oscar Wilde quotes happens to be “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
And even though I truly believe Oscar Wilde’s words to be true, it gives off the feeling that loving yourself is as easy as loving someone else. In my experience, that just has not proven to be true. I had even started to get discouraged by the everyday difficulties of loving myself. And then recently I stumbled on a great lecture by Alan Watt’s where he stated, “loving yourself is as difficult as kissing your own lips.” (Now, go ahead and try to kiss your own lips, I know you want to try.) This is the first time I had heard someone state how seemingly impossible it is to love yourself. And as I digested the words that were said, I started to cut myself some slack.
It is easy to forget that your relationship with yourself is STILL a relationship. All those things you do for the people you love, you can do them for yourself too. That also means those challenges and downs that you work on with other people, you also have to do for yourself. The same relationships patterns apply. For me it is “cut and run.” That is my biggest relationship pattern, and it actually starts with my relationship with me. How can I expect to break this pattern with others if I can’t break it with me?
So, where to begin? How about first saying it is okay to get mad at yourself or have negative feelings towards yourself? I think I spent more time feeling bad about feeling bad about myself, and that just turned into an endless cycle of negative thoughts. So recently, I have allowed myself to indulge in a little self criticism, but only to the extent where I can acknowledge the real issue and move on. A simple yet kind of shallow example would be that as we continue to experience winter, I have increasingly been feeling frumpy, which at times escalated to just feeling downright ugly. Instead of just feeling worse about having these thoughts, as deep down I know I am pretty, I allowed myself to accept the fact I felt ugly. And then, I was able to ask myself what the bigger issue was. It turned out I was neglecting beauty in my life, not only in me but in the world at large. As I have started to add beauty to various parts of my day and life, my own attitude towards myself has started to change.
Self love is definitely a process, and not an easy one. It takes just as much work or even more as any other relationship you have. That means, those dates, those presents, those kind words, those critical words that you say to your loved ones…you should also remember to do and say them to yourself. You can’t beat yourself up about getting angry or sad with yourself, you do it with everyone else and it all usually works out doesn’t it?? All relationships are about balance. You can’t just treat yo’self every day and you can’t analyze yourself to pieces on a daily basis. You need both in moderate amounts. Either extreme will inevitably work against your own notion of self love and growth. We are all different, and what works for me might not work for you. There is no cure all to learning how to love yourself. It is a give and take like any other love relationship. So take it slow and have patience, this is a lifelong romance we are dealing with.