Self-love is often described as living at your own pleasure, arrogance or selfishness. This is not true: there are many meanings to this feeling, and it is almost the most important thing in life.
WHAT IT IS
We’ve all heard how important it is to love yourself, but what does that really mean? It’s more than wearing fancy outfits and wearing expensive cosmetics. It’s a broad concept that combines many meanings, material and spiritual. There are many well-groomed and beautifully dressed people in the world who have no idea what true self-love means. There is no selfishness in it – only kindness to others, because the one who loves himself does not shift his problems to others.
The perception of such love is laid down in childhood and is most often formed unconsciously: we internalise it by observing those who bring us up
Sadly, many people desperately fight for success, recognition and happiness, but fail to realise that it all starts with self-love. We cannot truly love someone until we learn to love ourselves unconditionally. It’s simple: you can’t give someone else what you don’t have yourself.
This kind of love is made up of four aspects: self-awareness, self-esteem, self-respect, and self-care. If even one of these falls out, it means we don’t love ourselves very much. Let’s look at each of them in more detail.
This is about the ability to control your psyche: to recognise how thoughts influence emotions, and those, in turn, influence actions. Can you identify which thoughts cause anger and make you act impulsively? Where do they come from and what explains them? Why did you act this way and not the other way round? The same goes for joyful feelings. Why are you having fun? This is what it means to look at yourself from the outside to understand your state of being.
Self-awareness is the key to emotional intelligence
Identifying the cause of anger doesn’t mean you can stop being angry, but it can help you react smarter or not at all. People with high emotional intelligence have the same emotions as everyone else, but they know how to manage them. This includes avoiding situations that trigger unwanted feelings and reactions. When it is not possible to smooth out a conflict or avoid it altogether, self-awareness allows negative energy to be redirected in a constructive direction. One way to develop this quality is to keep a diary of thoughts, emotions and actions.
Because there is constant misfortune in the world, we unwittingly focus on the bad news and transfer all the negativity onto ourselves without wanting to. We are born with unlimited potential that lasts a lifetime. Everyone has it, only some people use it and others don’t notice it. Self-esteem – our attitude towards ourselves, and very often not the best. The reason for this is past bad experiences that we have lived through but have not been able to let go of.
Adequate self-esteem lies in the ability to see your best sides (after all, there is good in everyone)
If you are trying to rebuild your self-esteem, set aside an hour to think of all the times you have succeeded at something and the people who have thanked you. What if you think you’re worthless simply because you don’t know your worth? Self-esteem has no criteria: you don’t have to achieve anything to value yourself. You are you. Your virtues, talents, good deeds are all evidence of your worth.
High self-esteem is the realisation of one’s worth, regardless of achievements and outstanding qualities, but self-respect is tied to them. The exercise mentioned above raises self-esteem, but it also works to build self-respect. When the former increases, the latter will follow.
Self-esteem depends on three factors:
- how much we were loved as children,
- what our peers have achieved,
- and what we have achieved compared to our parents.
This includes being at peace with ourselves and being happy with who we are, where we are and what we own. If you want to respect yourself, improve your self-esteem. Remind yourself every day that you don’t have to answer to anyone for how you live your life.
This aspect has more to do with the body, although it is not the only one. Self-care involves everything we do for our health: taking a bath, eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water, resting and pampering ourselves. It has other forms too: the music we listen to, the films and programmes we watch, the people we interact with.
Taking care of ourselves is pretty simple. Start here and you will learn to love yourself little by little
Ask yourself as often as possible: “What would someone who loves themselves do?” Ask this question whenever you have to make a decision, simple or complex. This simple exercise comes with one hint and one warning.
Hint: trust your instincts, your ego knows what it needs.
Warning: you may not like what your instincts are telling you, and that’s fine. But keep going nonetheless. Good luck!
WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE
The path to this love lies through confronting one’s inner “demons”. It is not easy: not everyone dares to have a frank conversation with themselves. Dependence on others and habits forces us to compromise – to exchange unconditional feeling for short-term pleasures. This is why it is so difficult to love ourselves: we have to get rid of specific inclinations and even people.