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It’s another Valentine’s Day and it doesn’t have to be about coupled love. It can be a lavish celebration of the self instead. But what makes loving yourself so difficult ?
It’s the month of love ! And we believe it’s important to reinforce the idea of loving yourself. The idea of self love.
Self-Love and Loving Yourself
Self-love is often defined as the great respect and appreciation for oneself that can be developed by nurturing one’s physical, psychological and spiritual aspects in life. The caring and loving of oneself differs for every individual as everyone has different views on what love is and what it means to be loved. The similarities don’t stop there either as you will see as we go in deeper into the mere basics of self-love.
But if self-love can be so obvious, why is it so hard to love yourself?
1. Stigma surrounding it
Upon looking up the term “self-love” on Google, people are immediately shown an excerpt from Wikipedia that states its polarity as both being essential to the human psyche and “as a moral flaw”, likening it to being selfish. If you were to look up the synonyms of the term, Thesaurus.com will show the word conceit, narcissism, vainglory and vanity displayed as its most relevant synonyms, with modesty as one of its antonyms.
Although their validity can be a subject of question, they will no doubt be engraved into people’s minds, making it difficult for people to acknowledge their need for it beyond selfish desires.
2. It’s part of the process
In addition to previously being wrongly stigmatized as a form of a selfish act, it is much like every other formof love in that it takes a process and can even have its ups and downs. When it comes to humans in general, conflict happens and can result in the feeling of hostility towards the other party. Self-love mirrors the same attribute in a way that we can get beaten down and tired from the outside world, resulting in us becoming hostile to ourselves.
3. Past Experiences and Negativity Bias
Our backgrounds hold a very prominent position in our lives as it overtimes shapes who we are and as such, any situations in the past that have made us feel previously unlovable can prevent us from feeling like we are worth loving afterwards. It even goes deeper than our own personal experiences as even when we feel like we’ve grown past it, certain words, places or even sounds can trigger the previously dormant emotions and memories.
Genetically, we can even pass down the emotional baggage from our parents who had to go through less than fortunate experiences in the past. This is what scientists call negativity bias and is described as a trait of human evolution that has kept us—as a species—alive, through shared fear. There are different types of negativity bias and even ways you can combat them, the article “What Is the Negativity Bias and How Can it be Overcome?” from positivepsychology.com further elaborates on that in great detail, with additional resources to back it up.
4. External Conflicts
Somewhat similar to the previous point, having conflicts that are outside our own internal struggles may lead to us feeling like we aren’t worth loving. For whatever reason the conflict may occur, seeing the situation as it is realistically is may be a great first step towards healing.
Small Steps To Loving Yourself (Again)
Like love, it cannot be rushed and may take a while to go from feeling nothing, to being completely enamoured with someone.Although it may sound relatively easy to some, it can be especially difficult for others who may have to start with a place of self-hatred.Before learning to love yourself, you must first learn about yourself; what do you need? What do you like? Etc. It also means acknowledging who we really are as people, before moving to the step of self-acceptance. If someone’s hurt you, or even if you’ve hurt someone, it is important to see the situation as it is and create closure to the whole case. You may not be perfect, but you are enough in the grand scheme of things.
Due to the varying upbringings people have, there are also different ways in which a person can love and be loved. This is called a love language and although it is mostly put in a relationship context. There are five commonly known languages so far which are physical touch, quality time, services, words of affirmation and gift-giving.
Learning what your ideal love language can be a great step to knowing how you can show yourself some love. For example, if your love language is quality time, you can take a day off, a full uninterrupted nap or meditate as some ways to start loving yourself. This article on Discovering Your Self-Care Love Language from My Beautiful Mess is a great resource for examples of self-love you can apply to your own routine.
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