Self love takes practice. It’s not something that can happen over night but something that seems to develop and strengthen over time. It’s not something that you can convince or tell yourself you feel, it feels far more subtle than that. It’s not something that is easy or simple or absolute but ongoing and unfolding. It can feel like a long road sometimes to get there, and maybe life is all about loving yourself deeper and deeper and more and more. And on that road, it’s really ok to stumble along the way. We judge ourselves for having doubts. We tell ourselves we are weak if we feel insecure. We think there’s a problem with us if we don’t ooze self assurance and confidence all the time, in every situation. But there really isn’t.
We might be used to ignoring ourselves, and find it hard to honestly see what we want and need and how we feel. Sometimes it can just be hard to even find where we are, who we are. And we judge that too. We think it’s a weakness if we aren’t 100% aware of our whole selves all the time, if we don’t know ourselves. But why is that a negative thing? Why can’t we embrace the mysterious part of ourselves and accept that there could be more to discover, uncover, become aware of.
We are told to love every part of ourselves but that can be really hard. Even on a purely physical level thinking about your body, it can be hard to love every part of it. Yes I can practice and really send love and compassion and kindness even to my hips, they still are hard to really love and not wish they weren’t mine. But then maybe self love is really forgiving yourself for feeling that way. For acknowledging it, not pretending that the feeling doesn’t exist but accepting it and being ok with yourself for it.
We are told to practice self care diligently but sometimes it can get militant and we have to do this exercise class or drink that green juice or practice this meditation or go to this sound bath and if we don’t then we don’t really love ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be forceful, it can be gentle. We can learn to give ourselves what we want and need gently, not based on what we should do or what other people think self care looks like but based on what we actually need at a specific time. Im going to go out on a limb here and say sometimes that might look like having a drink with a friend in a bar rather than killing yourself on a stationary bike.
There are no rules or rights or wrongs when you care and love for yourself. It’s on your own time, in your own way. It feels incredibly personal and the more you can shut out other people’s advice and what they think is best for you the better, because you want to find the way to do it just for yourself.
It’s also easy to focus on all the ways you don’t love or care for yourself or all the things you need to improve but you probably don’t give yourself much credit. Choosing satisfying jobs, finding close friends and allies, wearing clothes that make you feel good, exercising in ways that connect you with yourself and your power, eating delicious food are all ways in which you already do love yourself every day.
Self love doesn’t have to be loud or external or proven to anyone else. And it’s ok that it is hard. Of course we expect a lot of ourselves, we are our biggest critics and we are also aware of our potential and want to be the best we possibly can be. And it’s ok to sometimes lack confidence and self belief.
Maybe it all starts with an acknowledgement of your self. Where you’re at. How you are. Acknowledge yourself as a whole human, good and bad and everything in between. Acknowledge that here you are, breathing in and out, with needs, desires, faults, strengths and weaknesses. That you are complete and whole in every moment, whether it’s pretty or ugly. That wherever you are, you are fundamentally ok and even if you can’t feel it, completely deserving of yours and others’ love. And fundamentally, be patient with yourself, let it unfold, let yourself evolve. Don’t compare yourself to others and accept everyone’s journey is different. and that sometimes the road to self love will feel easy and sometimes it will feel hard. And find peace with that.