Understanding Self-Love

They say love yourself first before loving someone else. It sounds pretty rational, doesn't it? Though it's not that easy to do. So, does it mean that you are doomed to be alone "forever"?

No, it doesn’t. Because you can practically have romantic relationships at any condition, the question is not about the presence or the number of relationships, but about its quality. But now I want to talk about something different: for quite a long-time I couldn’t really understand the term fully until I started thinking about how I perceive love for another person. For me, loving someone is to genuinely care, respect, help in growth, treasure, be kind and supportive, be affectionate, and be dependable for this person. I would call those the pillars of my definition of love. Later on, I was amazed when I finally realized that everything that I listed above and many other things that I think are expressions of love should also be applicable to me. That is what self-love really means.


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Hazal Ak/shutterstock

Why Self-Love Is Important

To love is to care about the mental and physical well-being of a certain person, be it a mother, a kid, a close friend, or a lover. Naturally, you would want him/her to be comfortable, safe, and happy. If we truly do love someone, we wouldn’t let ourselves hurt this person in any way, like lying, criticizing, letting down, disrespecting, or betraying.

It was also somewhat painful to realize that to some extent we ‘sin’ doing these things to ourselves, and it’s getting worse when these actions are becoming common in our behavior sometimes unconsciously. For instance, when we talk negatively and criticize ourselves even for small mistakes that we would normally let another person get away with. Rumination of our drawbacks and failures and a constant feeling of not being good enough are affecting our self-perception. When we neglect self-care and what would be best for us, we gradually lose respect towards ourselves and start to dismiss our inner voice and distrust our judgment, we start to feel unsafe, abandoned, and not being able to rely on ourselves. We basically create an enemy within us and it is soul-destroying to live within these conditions.

Why do we do this to the only person that will be by our side till the end? The reasons differ, sometimes it is a troubled childhood, or maybe a normal childhood but with some negative experiences combined with wrong parenting methods, failed relationships or friendships, or any other unpleasant experience. Or some people are just naturally melancholic, and as humans are amazingly complex, there can be many roots for such behavior. Doing all these things we certainly do not feel secure and happy. And it is hard to expect something good from the outer world if we have such a destructive inner battle.


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How to Love Yourself (Actually)

We should try to be a friend to ourselves, perhaps a friend we’ve always dreamt of. Therefore, let’s bring warmth, safety, and care to the only person who stays with us. Let’s get to some gestures of self-love you can start implementing now, those are self-care ideas based on five love languages by the famous Gary Chapman that I find extremely inspiring and helpful.


If physical touch is your love language you could try:

  • Wearing cozy and appealing clothes;
  • Creating a relaxing skincare routine;
  • Dancing, working out, stretching;
  • Booking a massage or a spa day.


If words of affirmation are your love language you may want to try:

  • Listing things you like about yourself;
  • Practicing positive or neutral self-talk;
  • Eliminating self-criticism;
  • Journaling;
  • Listening to good news;
  • Affirmations


If your love language is acts of service you may try:

  • Booking a therapy session;
  • Tiding and decorating your home environment;
  • Cooking delicious and healthy meals;
  • Scheduling health check-ups.


If quality time is your love language you could try:

  • Reading a nice book;
  • Watching a movie or playing games;
  • Practicing meditation and mindfulness;
  • Prioritizing a healthy sleeping schedule;
  • Going for a walk;
  • Making time for hobbies.


If your love language is receiving gifts you may try:

  • Buying yourself flowers;
  • Treating yourself to a trip;
  • Investing in yourself, education, or hobbies;
  • Buying something you’ve wanted for a long time;
  • Ordering takeout.


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Self-love is not a panacea for all the challenges that everyone faces on their path. But it will be easier to overcome difficulties with it, as well as to experience happiness and other pleasant feelings to their full potential. I want to emphasize once again that this is not only about problems in romantic relationships, they can be anything like a random unfair clash with a stranger or an unpleasant job interview. When you love and respect yourself, it will be easier for you not to project other people’s issues onto yourself and protect yourself. Protect and comfort your inner little child and be sure that no matter what, you will never be alone, you will always have yourself.


Illustration: tannikart/shuttertock


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