“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky
Love yourself, they keep telling us. If you don’t love yourself for who you truly are, how can you ever learn to love someone else wholeheartedly and justly? When we are content with our own person, we exude that contentment and positivity to other people; which draws them to us.
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But how? All of this is much, much easier said than done. How does one accept themselves, flaws and everything; and find contentment in their own being? We live in a world where there is no dearth of people ready to eloquently point out our flaws and put us down. In a place like this, it is rather difficult to embrace ourselves without being dejected and depressed due to our glaringly obvious flaws, both physical and otherwise.
What exactly is self-love?
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One could say that self-love is a state of complete Zen. One is unperturbed by external negativities and can focus only on the positive. It is a state of complete self-awareness and self-acceptance. We are fully aware of our flaws and have the maturity to accept them as they are, rather than cribbing or trying too hard to change them. Self-love is when you don’t have that constant feeling of dissatisfaction; when you don’t want to constantly crawl out of your skin because you are so disgusted by everything that you stand for; when being in your own company liberates and pleases rather than suffocates you to the point of emotionally feeling asphyxiated.
Learning to love yourself means learning to love all your inner demons. When you can see past their ugliness and find beauty amidst the scars. Yes, your nose is crooked; your teeth aren’t perfect either; you hate how sometimes you talk too much and too loud; you’re sometimes shallow and an overabundance of so many things that you loathe about yourself. But all these things make you the individual that you are and make you one of a kind.
How to learn to love yourself?
It is obviously not as easy as it sounds. Most people find it easier to love others than to love themselves. They’d rather devote their life to someone else than face their own demons and take up the struggle of rising above them. Instead of being that missing puzzle piece that completes our jigsaw puzzle of a soul, we look for replacements in other people. And when they fail to live up to our ideals of them, we are left broken hearted.
To love yourself is to be a wholesome individual; most importantly, a happy one. Learning to love yourself requires conscious effort; it is a process that requires time, patience, and determination; we can’t possibly learn to love ourselves over a day’s span. There wouldn’t be so many unhappy souls in this world if we could. There are certain steps that one has to take (and master) before they can learn to truly love themselves.
Be truthful to yourself.
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Before setting out on this journey to learn how to learn to love yourself, we have to first be true to ourselves. Stop running away from yourself and your problems. We tend to surround ourselves with a myriad of distractions lest we fall into our own company and are forced to face ourselves. We build up lies, excuses and lull ourselves to sleep with their false melodies. Believing in an untrue version of ourselves becomes easier than dealing with all that mess lurking behind the shadows.
But the truth is that you cannot possibly love yourself if you aren’t true to yourself. You have to face your fears, your flaws; everything about you and your life that is disconcerting to you. Face them like you would embrace an old friend. The unpleasant aspects are nevertheless components of you, and their existence needs to be acknowledged before they can be worked upon.
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Get to know yourself.
How can you love yourself if you don’t know yourself? We have a tendency of building walls around us and constantly being on guard lest people see our true faces and are put off by it. We are so scared of being rejected that we’d rather live under the illusion of being someone we’re not than be our true selves. We are so deeply invested in putting up this façade that we lose our true selves in the process.
It is about time you start tearing those walls down and stopped hiding who you are; if not from the whole world yet, then at least from yourself. You owe yourself this much. Get ready to do some proper soul searching, and you’ll be positively astonished to find so much about yourself that you didn’t already know. Segregate some time off for yourself and indulge in activities. You could start writing a blog or even a diary or painting or learning a musical instrument or even just going on walks alone. Only then will you truly know who you are and will be one step closer to your goal of learning to love yourself.
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After you’ve unleashed all the truths about yourself (and your life) and neatly arranged them in front of you like fresh laundry, it’s time to accept them. Self-acceptance paves the way for self-love. When we love someone, we don’t incessantly try to change their inherent faults, do we? We learn to love them; we adore their minutiae idiosyncrasies and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Then why is it so difficult to have a similar outlook towards yourself – you are, after all, the most important person in your life. You are flawed and that’s okay; your life may be going in unwanted directions, and that’s okay too. Take a deep breath. Accept things for what they are. This will help you cope with things a lot better. Tell yourself, “This is who I am, and I am proud of it.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that one should stop from growing. Change makes us evolve and the process of evolution is perpetual. Fix things that you think need fixing. Improve on certain aspects of yourself which you think will change your life for the better. Don’t do or believe in things just because others around you are urging you to. The people in our lives have a multitude of opinions about us, and in most cases, these are far from the truth. Don’t let others’ perceptions of you define who you are and who you want to be. They don’t know half the person that you are and the things you are capable of. Wear yourself proudly like the jewel that you are, and don’t be afraid to dazzle the world with your impeccable shine.
“You fool – you are afraid of being alone with your own mind. You just better learn to know yourself, to make sure decisions before it is too late. Your room is not your prison. You are.” – Sylvia Plath
Stop wallowing in your insecurities and self-doubt.
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Yes, we all have our own set of insecurities. No, that does not mean we have to keep obsessing over them every waking minute of our lives. Your insecurities are just an insignificant aspect of you, not worth wasting a minute over. We are all so much more than our insecurities. Focus on your positive elements – your talents, your hopes, dreams, and your desires. Learn to work on them instead of tormenting yourself constantly with the negatives. We all have our dark places, but we also have that light within us that is strong enough to expel these shadows. Search for that light, it’s there somewhere hidden underneath the veneer of all that murkiness.
Self-doubt is the greatest enemy of creativity. While it is perfectly okay to remain grounded, often our greatest creative geniuses fail to see the light of day because we are just so immensely unsure and distrustful of our abilities. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Appreciate the good things about yourself, and those which aren’t as well. Learn to find that silver lining, we all have one. We all make mistakes and we all deserve second chances. Don’t be afraid to give yourself that second chance, you deserve it just as much as the next guy.
Surround yourself with the right people.
Once you’ve completed the task of self-acceptance and self-appreciation, you now have to move on to the next phase of this process. Surround yourself with the people who will love you for who you are and nothing else. Beware of people who love not you but the idea of you. They’ll try to project this idea onto you and expect you to conform to them. Don’t. If someone cannot accept you for the person you are within, they don’t deserve a moment of your time. You need people who will uplift you with their warmth and acceptance. People who care about your well-being and whose presence will stimulate your personality to evolve further are the kind of people you must cherish and try your hardest not to lose. Toxic relationships will only hinder you from embracing your real self and will hold you back from moving forward.
An important point here is that, in order to find these people you need to be like them. Fill yourself up with kindness and love to the brim. Let the warmth explode out of you like butterflies breaking through their cocoons in springtime. Self-love also entails the ability to love others wholly and truly, without expectations of any sort.
Live life the way YOU want to.
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Again, this is easier said than done. We are all bound by a string of responsibilities and duties which we must uphold as members of this society; but amidst all the mundane chaos, it is essential to take a breather now and then, and to live a little. You don’t need to go on financially impossible and physically taxing traveling sprees to find your true self like they tell you in the movies. Simply sitting on your balcony with a cup of hot chocolate can do the job as well. Learn to savor each moment. Make it a point to do those things that make you happy and content with yourself.
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Step out of your comfort zone once in a while. That is where all the great things in life are happening. This is something that I’ve been trying to live by, and so far the results have been pretty good. It’s nice to sometimes try new things and have experiences you wouldn’t normally expect yourself to have.
Be proud of the person you are growing up to be; be kind to the person that you once were. We’re often our harshest critics, looking back at our past selves with disdain and embarrassment. We forget to notice how far we’ve come ahead and don’t give ourselves that much-deserved pat on the back. And that is what self-love is all about, and that is how to learn to love yourself – wholly and completely.
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