what self-love looks like

We all want to love ourselves better. But, what does having love for ourselves even look like?

I would like to believe that I’m a pro at loving myself, as self love is a skill I’ve worked really hard at. One thing I do believe is that I’ve watched people at different points in their life journey struggle with and even go against loving themselves. I think I’ve seen people lose themselves so badly that self-love is no longer in their vocabulary. They no longer know what it means. I’ve gone through similar experiences. There have been times in my life that I’ve thoroughly disliked myself. Sometimes it stemmed from the way I thought I looked, to the ways in which I was different from others, to the question of whether I was even able to be loved. I still struggle with these subjects from time to time, as we all do at one time or another.

What does self love even look like? What does it mean? After all, we’re all such different people.

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Well, I consulted our good friends Merriam and Webster to find out:

self love (n.)

an appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.

These are some truths I’ve seen in both myself and others when we’re showing ourselves love.

SELF LOVE EMBRACES OUR POSITIVE QUALITIES.

This is already a tough one. Think about the last time someone gave you a compliment. Did you accept it, or did you insist that you’re not really that attractive or talented or good at that skill? Unfortunately, we’re taught to deny our positive qualities, at least in front of other people. Loving ourselves means that we acknowledge we are inherently beautiful AND intelligent AND worthy. This idea expands to embracing our differences. It’s a wonderful thing to know you bring something to the table that only you can bring, and vice versa. When we’re able to love our own qualities, we can better reveal them in others.

SELF LOVE KNOWS WHEN TO SAY NO.

…on a big scale and a small scale. Self love looks like a backbone. Saying no tells people what we will and won’t tolerate. Our words and our actions are a manifestation of what we believe, and acting in a way that mirrors what we believe feels sooo good. The sense of empowerment I get when I actually voice disagreement with another person is huge, especially because ya girl HATES conflict. On a smaller scale, I’ve started to say no to going out with friends when I would really rather be the grandmother that I am and stay in to read a book. It isn’t that I don’t want to spend time with my friends, but rather that downtown night life isn’t really my scene and occasionally stresses me out. Honoring what I want in small instances has been a good way to practice putting myself first.

SELF LOVE GIVES US TIME FOR OURSELVES.

This one is also tough, because we really only have time for so much. However, I’m such a huge believer that dedicating time to ourselves puts us in a better position to dedicate time to others. Having me time, especially in times of extreme stress has made me a better friend, more supportive sister and a more selfless stranger. That age-old phrase about not being able to pour from an empty cup is TRUE, y’all. And guess what? The more unselfish love we pour into our own glasses, the more we can give to others.

SELF LOVE MEETS US WHERE WE’RE AT.

…and this is where I’m at right now. I am trying my darndest not to compare my journey with everyone else’s. While it’s great to have aspirations and ambitions, in order to love ourselves to the best of our ability, we have to love ourselves as exactly who we are right now. For me, the hardest part about this requirement is that I have to own that despite my failures and my shortcomings, I am still worthy (and you are, too). I have to give myself the time to transform and become better without expecting myself to make it all happen in five minutes. I could really get better at giving myself some grace. At the same time, self love isn’t only about making ourselves feel good. Though I might not yet be where I want to be, I still have potential, which means I have some work to do. This unique combination of giving ourselves grace and keeping ourselves accountable for where we’re at is a balance. Balance can be hard. But balance is that thing we’re all chasing, right?

To love ourselves is handy in that way. It pushes us toward a better existence.