As I write this I am sipping tea from my favorite mug. The front reads “YOU SHOULD GO AND LOVE YOURSELF.” It was a Valentine’s Day present from my best friend (and an obvious Bieber reference).
Full disclosure, I struggle with self-love. I always have. I preach on it with my friends when they are too hard on themselves but I don’t always put in the practice for myself. It feels foreign to me. The idea of putting myself on such a pedestal leaves me ridden with guilt and anxiety.
But maybe that’s not what it means.
This came to mind after something one of the facilitators said in group the other day. She was explaining self-love in a way different than I had ever thought about it before.
The [body image support group] facilitator, whom we’ll call Alicia, described self-love in a different way; a more wholehearted and grounded way. It’s not about putting yourself on a pedestal. That’s not love. It’s more than that.
Have you ever been in love? Chances are that special person was far from perfect. They had flaws and faults and mistakes. Did that change how you felt about them? Of course not. It wouldn’t be love if it was that fragile. It could be lust, or infatuation, or anything else, but it couldn’t be love. Love doesn’t give up that easily.
NEWSFLASH: Self-satisfaction is NOT a prerequisite for self-love.
Alicia told us that self-love is about more than liking yourself: it’s about unconditional acceptance of ourselves, even the parts we don’t like. It’s about having days when we don’t feel fabulous and knowing that it’s okay. It’s about giving ourselves what we need no matter how low we’re feeling. It’s being aware of our imperfections and not letting them stop us.
It’s not about putting ourselves on a pedestal; it’s about looking ourselves in the eye right where we are.
This is still very new to me, but I think this way of looking at self-love will make it a lot easier for me to put into practice. I know it’s a process. I won’t wake up one morning and all of sudden be hopelessly in love with my own person. It takes time. It takes baby steps. It’s about forgiveness and patience and perseverance.
I’ll leave you with a Bible passage that defines true love. Social media paints a picture of self-love that looks a lot like flawless selfies and self-satisfaction, but that’s not what true self-love is about. It’s about all these things:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.-1 Corinthians 13