With having just brought in the new year (can I still say happy new year?), resolutions are a favorite topic. With “go to the gym” and “read more books” making the list again, this year, some might find “gain self-love” a new goal. Self-love is a hot topic, borderline cliché, more and more these days. With celebrities ditching makeup (see: Alicia Keys) to hundreds of YouTube videos advocating for its importance and how to gain it. I’ve watched a few of these videos and using what I learned from them, as well as my own experiences on the topic, I compiled a few steps crucial to attaining that famed self-love.
There’s no guide
This one always trips people up. So, the title was a little misleading, but, at the same time, not exactly. Realizing there’s no guide is a step itself, and a very important one at that.
We’re so programmed to look to others for answers, to look for steps on how to do something. We carry the answers to virtually any question we may have in our pockets. It’s become our nature. So it’s no surprise “how to gain self-love” pops up in our web history from time to time.
I learned from experience that self-love is active. It’s in the actions you take, the people whom you surround yourself, the standards to which you hold yourself, and more importantly, the decisions you make. Self-love isn’t something that one day you wake up with and all of a sudden the sky is bluer and the grass is greener. It is something you constantly refer to in your everyday life. It’s in your willingness to eat healthier and exercise. It’s in the mental health day you decided to take from work, those bath salts you bought because you really want to start taking baths, that friend you decided to cut off because she became a little too negative for your taste, or that glass of wine after work. What I’m trying to say is self-love is something you exercise; it’s when you make decisions that benefit you and your well-being. They’re not always easy, but once you find the courage to make them, you notice how your life gets a little bit better.
Keep in mind that I don’t have it perfect, I’m still living and learning, so what I say isn’t the end all, be all; it’s simply what I encountered and what I want to share. Which brings me to my next point: self-love is continuous.
If you’ve been following along with my first point, then this one should seem quite obvious. Step-by-step guides and self-help books make self-love seem almost like a tangible object. Something you work toward and then “gain” and it’s all over. But if self-love is active, then that wouldn’t quite line up, right? Right. Self-love, once you’ve learned what it is and how to practice it, emerges in nearly all aspects of your life, for the rest of your life. So ditch those articles and videos that imply that self-love is something you work on only to keep in your pocket one day and go about your life. It’s something that you must continuously refer to in your everyday actions and interactions.
The way I see it, practicing self-love is the step that makes all the other self’s possible: self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, etc. Which is what makes it so important. How to gain these other “self”s is another article altogether but I can assure you, making the decisions that benefit your well-being is almost always going to be step number one.