What even is self-love?
Okay, so a lot of mental health and wellness have been preaching self-love in the form of face masks, good-smelling candles, and bath bombs.
Aside: (Is that really good advice or just companies wanting us to think we need this stuff? — food for thought)
While l like a good smelling candle just as much as the next person, I think it is important to talk about self-love as a responsibility. Why? Because it will literally change your life experience.
First, let’s define self-love. Well, let’s define love.
The dictionary definition is great: an intense feeling of deep affection
Love is a feeling, an emotion. This means that it is created by our thoughts. In order to feel love for someone, we need to think thoughts about them that create the feeling of love. Do you love some people and not others? It is because of the thoughts you think about them.
For example, if you think: My parents have always supported me and done their best for me. I love them so much, I’m so grateful to them.
If you believe this thought, you’ll feel love.
When you think about someone you love, you feel the love, not them. We are not carebears who can shoot love out of their hearts at other people, and the other people are then changed. When we feel love for someone, we are feeling it, not them. This is an important distinction because we don’t always think about it that way.
Self-love then would be that feeling of love being caused by the thoughts you’re thinking about yourself. So why is self-love so hard and confusing? Well, to be honest, we usually have a pretty low opinion of ourselves. The number of people who think they’re unworthy and not good enough is staggering.
Beliefs about yourself are subconscious and largely hard to uncover. When these beliefs are subconscious we often skip over the thought entirely and just have an emotional reaction to whatever circumstance triggered the belief. When this happens people usually blame their circumstances for them feeling a certain way, and I want to offer that if the belief isn’t there, then that circumstance wouldn’t make them feel that way.
For example, if they believe they are inadequate and someone makes a criticism about whatever it is they are feeling inadequate about, it is likely people will blame the person giving the criticism for making them feel that way.
However, if the criticism doesn’t resonate at all, we are usually unfazed. If someone tells me they think I’m way too tall, I would sooner think they were insane rather than feel self-conscious. I’m not insecure about my height, so if someone says something about it I’d probably just think it was weird.
But if someone tells you you aren’t good enough to do something, and you hold that belief as well, it is a fast downhill descent into negative emotions. Self-love comes from your opinions about yourself.
Your opinion of yourself is the MOST important. And that is great news because it is the only one you can ever control. You always have the last say in what will make you feel bad. Self-love is created by you and felt by you, based on the thoughts you think and believe about yourself.
If you don’t have great beliefs about yourself, that is totally okay and very normal, we don’t want to layer shame and guilt on top of all of this. Just being aware is the most crucial step to begin working to think and believe things that move you in the direction of loving yourself.