10 Things I love about me
“Self-love”, “Love yourself”, “Self-love is the best love”, “Me before anyone else”. Scroll through Instagram and wish you get a penny for every post you see on the subject and share half of the millions you make once you’re done.
A lot of importance has been placed on self-love and I am completely for it. I think the world would be a better place with more people practising self-love and improving their mental health in a healthy way. But here’s my problem with the entire narrative about it on Social Media — No one really addresses the hard parts of it. Yeah, like everything else in life, self-love doesn’t come easy to. You can stand in front of a mirror and proclaim your love for yourself. You may feel good about it for a couple of minutes. But your mind immediately darts back to inquisitive neighbourhood aunty mode picking at every single flaw you have and hate every single thing you do — and you continue doing it despite hating it. It’s like your body is on autopilot and you cannot stop, and no amount of “I love yous” in front of the mirror can solve it.
I was stuck in this toxic pattern of toxic positivity turning into intense self-loathing for the longest time and it took me to pretty dark places, and trust me, you do not want to get there. So, consider me the silent, weirdly intimidating character in every thriller movie that knows the dangers of going into the haunted house or jungle but will open up about it only at that point of the movie where the characters cannot go back. Or for a simpler analogy, as someone who’s been to a metaphorical ‘prison’ and doesn’t want people to go to prison, ever.
There are quite a few things that might be stopping you from loving yourself. Let’s break it down, I’ll add in bits from my journey as a testimonial because the marketer in me is petty like that, and see how after reading this, you can get to a place where you can start your journey.
You’re either not self-aware, or self-aware but in denial, or self-aware but just won’t do anything about it. Self-awareness is key to self-love because:
1. It tells you what your positives are, preserve and continue working on these
2. It tells you what your negatives are and where you go wrong. You can work on defeating these.
The reason you tend to fall back on the pattern of self-loathing is that you’re still doing/thinking/saying things that make you hate yourself. Dissociate for a second(No, not as a coping mechanism, but as an experiment) — Look at yourself from a third person’s perspective. Look at yourself as someone you want to love. You see that there are qualities in the person that make them worthy of your love, but you also see the other qualities which make you want to turn around and run all the way up to the North Pole. What do you do in this situation? Answer that for yourself.
Now, stop dissociating. Back to reality. When you proclaim your love for yourself, you are trying to accept yourself for who you are, taking all your positives and flaws in stride. But here’s the catch — you also confuse your self defeating behaviours and toxic patterns for ‘flaws’. They are not the same. Spending that extra bit of cash unnecessarily isn’t a flaw — it’s self-defeating. Procrastinating on that deadline when you know it’s going to make you anxious later — that’s self-defeating. Going back to comparing yourself to someone you on social media — well, you get the idea.
My journey began when I realized I had to understand what my self-defeating behaviours are. I did it through therapy, by reading certain books about my condition and a lot of journaling(Like, pages and pages). Why? because to remove a tumour, you first need to know where it is in your body. It also helps you understand what is in your control and what isn’t. It helps you address the issue. And knowing why you do certain things helps a great deal in helping you stop them.
In my case, I have a mood disorder. I have anxiety that at some points, has been debilitating where it locked hands with depression and kept me chained to my bed, unable to move and waiting for the terrible feeling to pass. This in turn caused me to procrastinate, engage in patterns and behaviours that eased the pain and offered comfort as a source of immediate gratification, and in general, left me unpleased with myself. I knew I had to address this. And I did so, with medication. And that was just the beginning. I also started following other practises that helped with anxiety, like meditation.
The next step is to understand what you really want and need — what your ideals and goals are. It doesn’t have to be magnanimous. Just a roadmap for how you want your day to day life to be. Painting an image of your ideal self, the person you want to be. I can’t expand on this because people are different and we all have different versions of this person in our minds. But it is important to understand this- because that is the person you are going to love.
Patience and Consistency
The next part is hard. But that’s where the fun is. Most people expect to transform into an extremely confident, self-loving version of Harvey Specter overnight. But they know that it doesn’t work that way.
The human condition is to avoid pain and seek pleasure. And toxic patterns set in because you get this pleasure immediately, no matter how unhealthy it is.
The journey to self-love doesn’t happen in a day. It can either be a long flight, a train journey, or a 5000-kilometre road trip varying from person to person. But if you do it right, it will be a beautiful journey.
Once you know how you can be a better version of yourself, write down an action plan as to how you can get to be that person. Are you someone that has been binge drinking despite not liking it and wants to stop and be healthier? Write down an action plan for yourself. Stop drinking, start working out, start meditating, and make sure you are consistent with this. Celebrate the small wins and pat yourself on the back for it along the way. These are the little spurts of self-love that you cultivate, and with enough consistency, it will become a habit. Developing the patience for this journey can be rewarding because you discover new things along the way, you unravel more positives, and you will find yourself beating negative patterns that have been troubling you for long- no matter how big or small — and the rush that gives you is brilliant.
This article either made a lot of sense or no sense at all. If it’s the former, I’m sorry for wasting your time. If it’s the latter, all the best!