A Question on Self-Love.
A couple of weeks ago, I was out with an old friend. We were catching up when he says to me, “If I were to ask you to list the things that you love, how long would it take you to say ‘myself’?”
Whoa. Shit. Good question.
I feel like this could be confusing, and it isn’t as black and white as I perceived it. Possibly re-framing this into two questions would be more beneficial, depending on context. I think if someone were to simply say, “List the things you love,” the average person wouldn’t even think to name himself or herself because they are not a thing.
If you were asked this, maybe you wouldn’t list yourself because the question is verbally set up as naming external things. Or maybe you did think about naming yourself, but you didn’t know if that would be allowed. Since you weren’t sure, you didn’t want to ask, because if you asked you may fear being judged. And even worse, if you said myself, you may be perceived as being arrogant. Feelings of judgment, fear, shame, and embarrassment might arise.
Why is this? Why are we fearful of admitting that we love ourselves? Why is there such a taboo around self-love? Why do we get that uncomfortable feeling when we say we love ourselves, maybe even feeling like we shouldn’t have just said that?
My friend’s words stuck with me. I have thought about it almost every day since, trying to remember times in my life where I would have a different answer to the question.
However, in the here and now, I am a 24-year-old graduate student who is in the middle of a deep grieving process and trying to recreate her life.
After thinking about it for a few seconds, I replied, “Honestly, probably number one or two.”
It actually wasn’t the answer I thought I would give. Given the details of my current life, being depressed, at times suicidal, disassociated, and completely overwhelmed, it doesn’t really sound like a person who puts self-love at the top of the list. However, it is the truth.
Loving myself has saved my life. And not only that, it has enriched it. So much so that I make an effort every day to give myself compliments, do things that make me happy, and stay as resilient as possible, even in terrible circumstances.
Life doesn’t have to be easy or fun or good to love yourself. That may be what is so great about it. I believe it is all about attitude. There is always an upside, even if you can’t see it in the moment. When you feel like you can’t move on, keep your head up, and if you feel like you can’t lift your head, keep walking.
Just. Keep. Going. Because you are worth it, I am worth it, she is worth it, he is worth it.
You have something no one else does, I guarantee it. Whether it’s a special talent, an invention, or the way you make your grandpa laugh, there is something you should love about yourself.
Self-love is the foundation and core of life. Self-confidence, self-worth, and self-respect all make up the abundance of what self-love is all about. The exact definition may vary from person to person, but it holds tight to those three values.
I hope by now you have put on those shoes and asked yourself the question: How long would it take you to say ‘myself’?
Now I want to ask another question. You love yourself, okay, but how do you show it? How do you show that you love yourself on a daily basis? What actions are you taking to show self-love? You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?
As mentioned before, when I was asked the original question, I thought about the different times in my life where I wouldn’t have had myself so high on the love list. It is number one or two now, but it wasn’t always this way.
I would describe myself as a confident, resilient, gregarious, and outspoken woman. I have experienced a good amount of physical pain and emotional pain, traumas, heartbreak, and disappointment. So as the person writing this, it is not to say I am always loving myself and certainly not expressing the actions of self-love.
When I felt suicidal, that wasn’t very self-loving, When I pushed myself to the point of exhaustion, that wasn’t self-loving. When I ignored my symptoms of my very active Crohn’s Disease, that sure as hell was not self-loving. However, self-love got me through all of that. Because I knew I was worth something and I am strong enough to fight for what I deserve.
I deserve life, and that is self-love.
Self-love is something we deserve. It is a human right that unfortunately not everyone has.
It takes work. It takes self-reflection and a self-inventory. It should not be something we take for granted, yet it shouldn’t feel so completely out of reach as it is for so many people. It should not be embarrassing or shameful. It should not be rebellious to have self-love. We should question that.
We should encourage others to love themselves without getting confused, thinking that loving others can take the place of loving themselves. This is a common misconception that can have serious consequences.
You deserve to be loved by yourself. When you do, there can be a great feeling of empowerment and happiness that can only come from an internal love. It might be one of those things where you know it when you feel it. But don’t be afraid to start taking action to get there and show yourself some love.
Maybe you will start small and give yourself that Netflix break in between homework assignments. Or maybe you will tackle something bigger like following your dreams.
Whatever you choose, I urge you to ask yourself the question: If I were to list the things I love, how long would it take me to say ‘myself’? Do this every year, every month, every day. Keep your self-love in check.
Take my word for it. When you love yourself, the world is a much more beautiful place. And when you find that self-love, don’t be afraid to share it and set an example. Scream it from the rooftops without shame or fear of judgment.
I love myself!
And I want everyone to know it.
Arielle Sokoll-Ward LGSW holds a Masters degree in Social Work. She has started a chapter of a grief recovery support group for people who have lost a loved one to drugs or alcohol. She enjoys traveling, writing, and public speaking, and is on the journey to find human connection and meaning.