The importance of self-love is something often lauded but hard to achieve. When you’re swimming against the tide of years of low self-esteem, it can feel like a losing battle.
But it’s a battle that’s worth fighting. When you learn to love yourself, some amazing things happen that will transform your life. But it's not always clear what it means to "love yourself," so here are 5 concrete things that happen in your life when you love yourself.
You stop worrying about other people’s opinions
Growing up, we all experience that deep anxiety about what other people think of us. At best, it’s annoying, and at worst, it’s downright crippling.
But the best cure for that anxiety? Learning how to love yourself. The fear about what others think of us is borne of a subconscious dislike of ourselves. We lack confidence in who we are — in what we wear, what we sound like, what we look like, how we behave.
When you learn to love yourself, all that melts away. You know that you look beautiful, dress like a queen, and act like one too. So why do other people’s opinions matter? You’re out to impress no-one but yourself.
You don’t need a partner to make you happy
Have you ever been having a great time at a family event — especially a wedding — only for some distant aunt to come over and ask why you haven’t got a partner yet?
The sympathetic gaze, the condescending hand on the shoulder, the “you’ll find someone, I’m sure” — I think we’ve all been there.
But when you learn to love yourself, rather than those people feeling sorry for you. Instead, you feel sorry for them.
Gone is the desire for a significant other to validate your existence. You validate your own existence. You come to the realization that relying on someone else for your own happiness is a fallacy — and it’s the best.
You become more comfortable with your body
Our bodies are often a flashpoint for our self-loathing. There’s so much pressure from the media to look a certain way. If we perceive ourselves as falling short of that standard, it can dramatically impact our mental health and self-esteem.
But when you love yourself, you reject that impossible body standard. You embrace your body for its uniqueness, and it’s liberating.
Of course, fighting against media portrayals of body images is nigh-on impossible. Thankfully, there are pockets of resistance that combat this.
The personal care brand Dove is one such example, with its Real Beauty campaign that challenges traditional standards of beauty.
The Life After Birth project is another beautiful example of this in action. Pioneered by Canadian underwear brand Knix, the project celebrates women’s bodies after birth through photos. It shows postpartum bodies as they truly are, praising their natural beauty.
Brands like these are fighting the good fight. When you learn to love yourself, these campaigns eclipse the negative media stereotypes and it just gets easier.
You value time alone with yourself
For many of us, alone time is abhorrent. It doesn’t just mean being alone with yourself and your negative thoughts, but it also (wrongly) means that other people don’t want to be with you.
But this is a false idea propagated by bad ads, social media, and the worst chick flicks. It’s simply not true that being alone is a bad thing. In fact, it’s refreshing and deeply liberating.
Loving yourself means loving time alone with yourself. And to be honest, it’s the best. Watch the films you like, listen to the music you like, eat the food you like — what’s not to love?
You get rid of the negative people in your life
In life, there are negative people that masquerade as friends but who are, in fact, out to simply knock your confidence and bring you down.
In the Bridget Jones films, these people are described as “jellyfish”. Spending time with them is “like swimming in a lovely warm sea, then suddenly something stings you and next thing everything is back to normal except a bit of you really hurts.”
Naturally, these people should play no role in your life. But when you don’t love yourself, you cling to these friendships for validation, even if it’s at the expense of your self-esteem.
Loving yourself gives you the courage to jettison these friends. You realize you don’t need them in your life, and you’re able to avoid them, ignore them, or simply tell them how you feel. It might seem a big deal at first, but soon you’ll start to enjoy a life without the frequent stings of your jellyfish friends.
Learning to love yourself is easier said than done. But it’s something worth striving for, and it starts with being aware of the relationship you have with yourself. Thinking of the examples above, have you experienced any of these? Are there any areas you'd like to cultivate more?