What is "Self-Love" anyway?
It seems to be a trend these days. Make more time for YOU, put yourself first, devote time to taking care of you. For some, this is embraced with open arms, and for others, it's a whole new realm of perspective that might feel different, uncomfortable, or even selfish.
Before we dive into the big myths, I want to breakdown Self-Love for you into a series of bullet points that describes what it means to incorporate self-love into your life.
Self-Love is the process of:
Giving yourself permission to put yourself first
Relaxing more and worrying less
Letting go of shame, self-punishment, self-sabotage, and other mindsets that make you feel worse
Being honest with yourself without judgement
Creating an inner confidence that acts as the foundation for moving forward toward your goals
Loving yourself based on who you are, not the opinion of others
Creating long-lasting positive habits
Taking time to acknowledge how you feel
Pausing to notice your surroundings
Finding ways to be more present in your life
Learning more about who you are at your core
Making decisions based on your own core values without wondering if they are the "right" ones
Learning to work through self-doubt and develop more compassion
Finding ways to take more time for self-care
Creating alignment between what you stand for and the actions you take
Shifting your mindset in order to experience more positive thoughts and let go of negative ones
Developing an awareness of how you feel, why, what triggers things within you, and learning what you truly desire
Building and maintaining motivation and self-discipline
Permission to do things that serve you and no one else
Empowering yourself through small actions and thoughts
And so much more
I'm here to dispel some of the biggest myths about self-love and talk to you about why it's not just a trend, and something that could change your life in major ways.
Myth #1: Self-Love is Selfish
As women, we grow up thinking of others before ourselves. In many ways, we grow up as the "caretakers" of other peoples emotions, feelings, and very hearts. We are taught to be aware of all of these things and perhaps we naturally notice them as well. But at the core, we can develop dependent tendencies, meaning our own moods, feelings, and emotions can be deeply impacted by the actions and thoughts of others without regard to our own wellbeing or own wants/needs.
Sometimes this can go unnoticed for years or decades, it becomes a habit that we don't notice until all of the sudden we feel burned out, mentally exhausted, or don't know the last time we truly did anything for ourselves and no one else.
We tend to think that self-love is "selfish" because it goes against an ingrained mindset. We worry that if we focus on ourselves more than anyone else, that we won't be able to provide support, love, and care to others. The truth is that taking care of YOU first gives you the opportunity to give more to others.
Myth #2: Self-Love is a Form of Vanity
Many people assume that self-love is all about "look at me look at me!" But this couldn't be further from the truth. Self-Love isn't about calling attention to yourself from others, it's about GIVING yourself attention so you can give more to your life and the ones around you. There can be a lot of hesitancy about self-love especially when images of narcissism pop up. Narcissism is defined as "excessive interest one's self or physical appearance." So what makes self-love different? Self-Love means taking CARE of yourself, which is a huge gift to others. Self-Love is the act of giving to yourself, where narcissism is the act of taking from others in an attempt to make yourself feel better. Vanity stems from a place of "I am better than..." where Self-Love says, "I am important" and therefore provides you with the mindset to treat yourself and others in the same ways.
Myth #3: Self-Love Takes Away the Ability to Be There for Others
This is actually the exact opposite. The more we are able to make ourselves a priority, the more we are able to be there for others. There's an analogy that works well here. You cannot pour water into someone else's cup if yours is empty. We cannot truly give if we feel empty or exhausted. Well, we CAN but there are consequences -- like big bouts of resentment. Think about the last time you had a weekend or some time to fully recharge and relax, chances are going back to work felt easier, dealing with hectic life chaos felt more manageable, and so on.
Myth #4: Self-Love is Egotistical and Self-Centered
Self-Love DOES mean thinking of the self but there's a huge piece here that differs from being egotistical or self-centered. When we think of ourselves in a light that says we are "better" or more "worthy" than others, we lose the ability to extend lovingkindness to both ourselves and others. Self-Love is the process of granting ourselves compassion and when we do so and truly believe in nurturing this mindset, we extend that compassion and understanding onto others as well.
Myth #5: Wanting More Self-Love is Weak and/or Arrogant
"I don't need to work on self-love because I'm not or I don't have......" This is a common statement I hear. It's a lot like saying "I don't need to workout because I'm already in shape." Both actions involve a process, something that is never "finished" or "completed" because they are habits, mindsets, and actions that take consistent and continual effort to be felt and noticed. Wanting more self-love in your life does not mean you are weak or need help in a sense that makes you "less than". Wanting more self-love means you want to feel more fulfilled, less drained, and more inspired and motivated to take on each day.
Myth #6: Trying to Cultivate more Self-Love Means I Don't Care About Others
It can be hard to take a step back (and sometimes away) from diving headfirst into the roles we play in other peoples lives. I already hear your thought process, "Sarah, I can't just stop being involved with my husband, girlfriend, kids, or family...." and you're right. Self-Love doesn't mean you have to "stop" being there for others but it does mean that you need to make time and reprioritize how you treat and take care of yourself. For example, instead of doing everything for everyone else at dinner time, you start to ask for help where you need it. You realize it doesn't have to be your complete responsibility or role to take on everything all the time. Another mindset shift is being able to say "no" when you need some time to yourself or want to do something else. Acts of self-love aren't always grand or extravagant, sometimes they are so subtle others don't notice them but we feel them in big ways.
Myth #7: Self-Love is only for people who are having a hard time in life and feel desperate
What if I told you that sleep was only for people who don't drink enough coffee, that workouts were only for people who want to be in the Olympics, or that cake was only for people that had "earned" it? You'd probably tell me to go step on a lego and think my logic was flawed. Self-Love and care works the same way. Everyone benefits from being true to themselves and living a more authentic life. Everyone can feel the joys of taking time to relax and unwind, get help and support when they need it, and dive into passions that bring pure happiness. There isn't a person out there that doesn't feel good when they know they are cared about from the inside out.
Now that i've walked you through some of the biggest myths about self-love, I hope you know that it's for everyone, and most importantly it's for YOU. The actions and mindsets of Self-Love can be different for everyone but they also carry common themes and barriers.
Before you go, take out a pen, or a list in your phone, and write down 3 small things you could do today that would make you FEEL amazing. Don't worry if they can actually happen or not, just jot them down. Feel free to share your answers in the comments below.