I’m reminded of my most favorite quotes as I write down this piece.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And, if not now, when?”Hillel – 5th Century Religious Leader
The quote summarizes the need to self-love not only as a form of fulfilment but also as a path to self-happiness. Even the Buddha is adamant that everyone deserves love and affection, and it starts internally. Many psychologists argue compassion and self love form the basis of better mental health and limiting the chances of depression.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to recognize that you only got yourself. Therefore, when doubt sets in, remember to affirm your worth, value and appreciate your uniqueness.
What’s self love?
In the modern society, self-love is equated to generic activities such as bubble baths, long walks, a movie night and such. While these are integral aspects of self-care, they highlight a slice of self-love. On a deeper level, self-love is the ability to hold self in highest regard, trusting in one’s abilities, asserting boundaries and a general connection to one’s holistic existence. Once these aspects are integrated, the same energy is transmitted in interactions with others without overriding the need to put self-first, at all times.
Does self-love make you happy?
We need to demystify the myth that self-love is selfishness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prioritizing yourself means building resilience and opening new horizons to view your life decisions. Research indicates that failure to love yourself erodes your happiness; leading to increased stress and anxiety. Putting yourself last increases chances for exploitation, developing anger issues and depletion of energy levels.
Imagine this scenario
That the world currently exerts more life pressures on all of us is indisputable.
Take that your day starts with preparing for the day ahead. This means getting up early, spending some time with loved ones such as kids before they go off to school, among other activities. Whether working from home or in the office, you put in the hours, and clear the standard workload. It becomes a cycle and then you begin feeling burned out. You cannot ask for a vacation or a few days off because that can be upsetting to the rest of the team. At times, you feel that your voice doesn’t county anyways. Who cares about your needs?
Your spouse and kids need your attention. Plus, your best work buddy is going through some life stresses and you feel obligated to be there to help him deal with it. Admirable, right? Meanwhile, the pressure builds up internally and there is little you can do since it seems everyone needs you. Depletion, frustrations and anger are manifest and eventually, you become toxic to the very people you wish to protect and love.
A dark hole…
Then you find yourself in a dark hole; unaware of the darkness engulfing your world. Unable to neither go back or forward, enslavement to this world of deep resentment and inability to sincerely connect with others develops. Fearing being branded selfish; you push your needs to the periphery.
That’s why self-love is critical. Getting to the desired self-love level and striking a balance with the competing needs takes time and consistence. As a matter of fact, self-happiness is cherished irrespective of what’s going on around. Ultimately, as Dalai Lama advises in his book ‘The Art of Happiness’, happiness is the purpose of our existence.
Benefits of Self-Love
Besides reducing stress and anxiety as mentioned, these are some of the reasons why self-love is a necessity on the road to happiness.
1.Liberates our insecurities, comparisons and inadequacies
It’s often said that comparison is the thief of joy. In this world, there will always be a better or worse person than yourself. Make peace with that and appreciate your gifts and achievements. Even people with seemingly perfect families, luxurious vehicles, fashionable clothes and body shape fight their battles. Focus on things that serve your life, and build on that.
2.Resilience in challenges
No one anticipated how the world turned out after the pandemic struck but so is life. Unpredictable. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism summarize suffering as a way of life. As long as you live, you must suffer. The degree varies. Of importance is that with self-love, you forgive yourself quicker, stretch our limits and view suffering as lily pads to spring to better levels.
3.Build better relationships
Through self-love, we demonstrate to others how to view, handle and love us. When we openly disrespect ourselves, the same is translated to those around us. Iron sharpens iron. When we feel disrespected, we examine our self-love and using the standards we’ve set for ourselves, take appropriate actions. Don’t be a people-pleaser at the expense of your own peace of mind. Putting standards and values to define your interactions with others is neither selfish nor arrogant; it’s a path to happiness.
4.Boosts your confidence
Developing confidence while all you do is self-criticize is almost impossible. Truth is, people with low self-esteem lack in confidence. They become pushovers, people-pleasers and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Therefore, start by self-love through affirming your abilities and when you fail, be compassionate with your inadequacies. That way, you’ll become a better and more confident version of yourself.
Best Tips to cultivate self-love
While no accurate formula exists to a journey of self-love; follow these scientifically proven facts to self-love.
1.Investing time in self-care
which means deliberating setting aside time to engage in activities that boosts your self-understanding and inspires you to a better life. Such activities include reading a book, yoga classes, and meditation.
By realizing that failure is an everyday reality. We win some, and lose some. However, always lose with gratitude. Embrace the lessons and focus on improving your future rather than regretting the past.
3.Give yourself compliments often
4.Accept your flaws and imperfections
5.Pursue your passions
6.Spend time with people who make you happy
7.Do things that make you feel good
8.Live in the present moment
Lastly, learn to say NO to people. I like the modern trend where activists affirm ‘NO’ is a complete sentence. Take a leaf from these sentiments and stand your grounds whenever you feel violated or exploited. Don’t cede grounds for anyone who doesn’t prioritize you!
Listen to yourself
It’s easy to get caught up in what other people think. We all want to be liked and accepted, so we often put our own desires and opinions to the side in favor of fitting in. But at what cost?
True happiness comes from within. It comes from being true to yourself and listening to your gut. When you do what you really want to do, and not what others want you to do, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities.
Self-affirmation is key to following your gut. When you believe in yourself, you are more likely to take risks and pursue your dreams. So instead of second-guessing yourself all the time, try to give yourself some credit.
Of course, it’s not always easy to listen to your gut. Society tells us to conform and fit in. But if you can tune out the noise and listen to your heart, you’ll be on the right track.
So don’t be afraid to love yourself first and foremost. When you do, everything else will fall into place.
If the push comes to shove; ALWAYS CHOOSE YOU!