// Sustainable Self Love
"How am I gonna love me when I don't even like me?"
A blog on manifesting 'sustainable self-love'
Self love seems to be everywhere these days. If we could just love ourselves, so much else in our lives might balance out. It also seems to be something we feel is in our control while much of the world, and the terrible things that happen in it, certainly are not.
Yet, self love can also feel like this elusive cure all, that’s close but never really at home. Is being over joyed to be you even sustainable? Are those who outwardly show all their self love actually compensating for insecurities they don’t want to face or acknowledge?
Could not feeling ‘self love-y’ enough actually make us feel bad about ourselves?
Self love being so hype right now reminds me of this endless chase for happiness that has permeated self help. We can become so fixated on happiness, we end up miserable as we try to do everything in our power to be “happy” when true goodness in life is more about accepting the bad with the good, and aiming for contentment rather than more positive affirmations and motivational speeches.
In my own life, I’ve struggled with depression (hello irrational thought patterns and self loathing) and eating disorders which gave me a pretty deep disdain for my body even though my body had nothing to do with my other mental health issues. For most of my life, self love peaked at a “you’re ok” and even that was a feat. If I could wake up and say, 'you’re ok as you are now, and as you might be at any other point’… I was winning. It was less self love and more acceptance grounded in reality. Any progress was good progress those days.
So I get it when people think "how can I love me, when I don’t even like me?" Sometimes liking ourselves is tough, and I’m not just talking about accepting our bodies as they are and making peace with our body when it doesn’t meet the standards we have conditioned ourselves to think are the only worthy way. Often times we make mistakes. We act in ways we don’t like. We think terrible things about people we say we like. We fuck up, and as humans, we will continue to fuck up. These issues are very human qualities that make endless and unbounded self love even harder.
We also can love ourselves and continue to do things that are damaging and unhealthy to our bodies and our souls. How many of us know things, people, and places that are not “good” for us, but continue to do them? If only we could up the self love, wouldn’t this type of behavior go away?
This is where it is time to ground things in reality. Radical acceptance is where the most progress can be made. By admitting all the things we do poorly or that we don’t like. Admitting how we are, just as we are, and not hiding our shadow selves away, gives us a new found freedom to accept ourselves. Full whole people also have bad days, and bad qualities. Full whole people find self love not in only being good or great, but in being honest. Shift the thinking from critical and self judgmental to understanding...and a more sustainable form of self love starts to emerge.
To understand, we must as ourselves why. Why we are as we are, and what these thoughts and feelings are coming from. I find this much more productive than slapping on a bikini, posting a pic, and getting some fleeting validation that many can write off as true self love. We have to heal what is inside first. By finding understanding, we can start to forgive ourselves and really unpack why we do things we don’t like or act in ways we don’t like. This holistic approach creates space for being human.
Of course there are quicker ways to foster self love on bad days. Make a gratitude list, journal, talk to friends who lift your spirits, do things that make you feel good about you. But I often find the best things I can do is to accept insecurity, uncertainly, and embrace the imperfect parts of myself as I continue on the path to better. Even if I don’t like something, doesn’t mean I can’t accept it. And just because I accept something, doesn’t mean I can’t work to change it.
This also allows me the time to re-focus on things I do like, but more so on the ever-present fact we are actually worth loving just as we are without having to do or be anything. Understanding and appreciating oneself coupled with knowing we are all worthy just as we are, is one of the most powerful things we can do (and helps prime us for sustainable self love.)
So maybe this wasn’t a bullet point list of ways to love yourself more. There are plenty of those a google away if you need.
This is to tell you it’s ok to just be ok.
This was to share that not loving yourself is more normal than you think, and even the most self love-y types aren’t that way with every ebb and flow of life. Self love isn’t easy. It takes showing up, and asking yourself uncomfortable questions. It takes being truthful to yourself.
This is to encourage you all to find acceptance, and a peace in the chaos that are our thoughts and feelings by way of understanding. To remember that the journey is as important as the destination, and that a life lived reflectively is a life lived effectively. Make peace with yourself through compassion, acceptance, understanding... and self love might not seem so far away, even on the most not-likable days.