The journey to self-love is probably one of the most arduous journeys a person can embark upon. You never make it to this destination in a day, you can make daily choices that exhibit your self-love whilst on this journey, but it takes time to fully love yourself. It takes you making a host of mistakes and repeating some, it requires that you fail, it requires that you try again after you fail, it requires that you learn how human you are, but I think the most important requirement of all on this journey is learning that in spite of everything, you are required to forgive yourself.
Forgiving yourself seems like quite an interesting concept, I know for me I didn’t understand until around 22. I would beat myself up over mistakes and let them cloud my mind and stifle my actions. I would stress myself out over myself until I became physically ill. It was such a vicious cycle.
True self-love can also be quite difficult to identify because most people believe that they truly love themselves. However, a large indicator between the differences of perceived self-love and actual self-love are in a person’s actions toward him or herself…
- I love myself, BUT I’d rather feel unfulfilled and unhappy in a relationship and give my all to a man who I know doesn’t feel the same way about me.
- I love myself, BUT I will put my health on the back-burner and continue to eat unhealthily and not work out.
- I love myself, BUT I spend time with people who don’t enrich or enhance my life in any way.
- I love myself, BUT I’d rather change myself to suit other people.
- I love myself, BUT I won’t stand up for myself.
- I love myself, BUT I’m so scared of leaving my comfort zone I’d rather live in fear.
All of the above examples are choices that I was making! And if I’m perfectly honest, are still trying to stop making, mostly the unhealthy eating and not working out one and a small portion of living in fear. The point is that all of the negatives that I was exhibiting didn’t have anything to do with actual self-love. My perceived self-love led me to love myself conditionally. What I mean is I loved myself most when others were happy with me or when others made me feel validated or when I made others feel comfortable.
Did you notice a trend in that last sentence? Check out how many times I said the word “others”. Others, others, others. This journey is about SELF-love. No “others” need apply.
So often we tend to base how we feel about ourselves on how other people feel about us. That is the road to self-destruction, not self-love. No matter what you do in your life you can’t make everyone happy, you can’t please everyone. So equating your self-love with other peoples’ opinions of you is pointless whilst on your journey.
Now this is where things that can get tricky. It’s not that certain peoples’ opinions shouldn’t matter to you, they should. Yet, actual self-love won’t be destroyed by a differing in opinions. Perceived self-love will be shattered by differing opinions. The objective in finding actual self-love is loving yourself through the storms and all of your personal ups and downs.
On this journey you do not become immune to making mistakes, but you do hone the skill of learning how to rapidly forgive yourself. Now, don’t allow the ability to forgive yourself to become a double-edged sword in your life. This is similar to people who do bad things and use praying for forgiveness as a justification every time they commit a bad act. Utilize the ability to forgive yourself as a reflective tool. Learn from the mistake, try to understand the mistake, ask what made you feel compelled to commit the mistake. What was your motive? What was your expected outcome? Who was hurt by your actions? Do you feel hurt by your actions? It is important to ask yourself these questions when you make BIG mistakes. For the most part, little mistakes such as doing something incorrectly or making an honest error I’d say just chalk up to being human. Forgive yourself quickly and move on.
Big mistakes are the ones that you more than likely don’t feel good about before you make them. Big mistakes are the ones that seriously hurt other people. Big mistakes are the ones that make you question yourself or doubt your ability at effective decision-making. We all make them. Part of making these mistakes is because you’re human, but another large portion, and the portion that warrants deep reflection, is what made you feel so motivated to do it? The answers behind your motives might be ugly, but they can also help you see the error of your ways so you can avoid repeating those big mistakes.
The journey to self-love requires you make a pit-stop, perhaps a long one, at “Accepting Responsibility and Taking Accountability” for your actions. If you don’t own up to the mistakes that you’re making, you con yourself into believing that there is no rhyme or reason behind your decisions and that excuses for them will actually stick. Nope, doesn’t work like that. Not owning up to your actions or decisions makes you destined to repeat them. Many people think ignoring their mistakes makes them go away, it doesn’t. You can’t move forward with your life until you take responsibility for yourself. Actual self-love in this situation means finding comfort in the fact that you’re human and that you’re going to make big mistakes, but that you’re strong enough to admit to them, forgive yourself, and move on. Perceived self-love sees owning up to mistakes as an admittance of imperfection.
As you can see this journey to self-love has the potential to be a long one, but it is most certainly a journey worth making. The decisions that you make to show actual self-love versus perceived self-love will undoubtedly be incredibly difficult at times. Though, the most amazing thing about this journey is that once you fully commit to it and commit to making those difficult decisions you will come to realize that those tough decisions aren’t so tough and you acquire more strength throughout the journey.
Actual self-love is being strong in your faith (faith being your ability to believe that amazing things can happen on this journey), committed to the act of loving yourself, a desire to be of positive service to others, knowing and loving yourself despite how others may feel about you.
Every journey, long or short, only requires the first step and a commitment to see the journey through until you reach the destination.
I believe in you. Do you believe in you? Go ahead and step on your faith and take that first step. =]