Self-love is Simpler Than You Think
The phrase self-love can feel so woo woo, so self-helpy. It might make you cringe, or bring up feelings of resistance. The problem with doing so is that, while the phrase sounds a bit silly, if not puzzling, bringing up more questions than answers, the actual act of loving yourself is central to your overall happiness satisfaction with your life.
So, what is self-love, really? And why does it feel feel so complicated, like we need to repeat one thousand affirmations and buy yourself flowers? The truth is, it's not about looking in the mirror and manufacturing false feelings of adoration or self-aggrandizement, or turning away potential partners out of some ill-conceived notion of nurturing precious alone time, but rather, that you accept yourself wholly and completely: your body, your relationships, your level of success in life, how much money you have, where you live, and all of the other details about your life that you use to make yourself feel bad.
You see, if you replace the word love with acceptance, or allowance, this makes the notion of self-love a lot more approachable. To love yourself simply means to stop rejecting all of the various parts of yourself (and your life), everything you have linked to your identity. As you all of these parts - your age, intellect, the choices you've made, etc., you learn to treat yourself with kindness and without condemnation.
Self-love, at the very core, self-love simply means self-acceptance.
There is a voice in your head that likes to point out what you are doing that is right and what you are doing that is wrong, where you deserve praise and where you deserve punishment, and that voice can be abusive. It congratulates you when we eat steamed broccoli and kale and beats you up when you grab a bag of Doritos and a Coke. It has decided that in order for you to be worthy of love, you must meet certain criteria, and the criteria is likely to change over the course of time. Just when you think you're on track, it decides that there's something else you need to do, be, or have, to be worthy.
This voice steals your joy. It creates an unhealthy narrative about the story of your life, saying things like I need a better job; I wish I had a new car; I should own a house like my friend Ted. Worse still, it creates an unhealthy narrative about who you are: My thighs are too jiggly, and my nose is too big; I'm not talented enough; I talk too much when I'm nervous.
It berates you in a fashion that you would never accept from anyone else, and it's so easy to let your internal dialogue go off the rails and fall into negative mind chatter.
So here's the key: What if self-love is as simple as following up every judgmental thought with one of acceptance?
For example: Follow up the thought, My nose is too big, with, My nose is just fine the size it is. Give yourself permission to think any thought - positive or negative - but always follow it up with a thought of self-acceptance.
This is the practice of self-love: interrupting the loop of negative mind chatter with thoughts of allowance and non-judgement. It's as simple as that. Initially, it may feel challenging to choose new thoughts, but with a little bit of willingness and practice, you'll find yourself thinking more positively about yourself without any effort.
As you learn to accept everything about yourself you will be amazed at how much more peaceful and content you will feel, and how others will begin to accept you, too. Self-love simply means that everything is okay. You are okay, and nothing about your life needs to change before you can accept that as the truth.