The term ‘self-love’ has become an increasingly popular topic in magazines, articles, and everything in between over the past few years. And, as a result, bath bombs, face masks, and nail polish line the walls of just about any grocery or convenience store you walk into. When I first learned the term “self-love,” I totally thought this was a way to indulge in my every whim and get away with it by crying “I’m doing it because I need to love myself!” Whether it was eating an entire box of chocolates, binging on Netflix for two days straight, or ‘treating’ myself to every-other-day shopping sprees, self-love was the label I easily gave any behaviors that might be frowned upon or judged.
What I had to learn the hard way, however, was that these little activities done in the name of self-love were actually causing the opposite: self-loathing. Did I feel amazing after eating three king-sized Kit Kat bars? Nope. Did binging my brains out on trash TV make me a better person? It’s doubtful, although I do consider myself a doctor now (thanks, Grey’s). Did buying anything and everything I wanted make me feel good? Maybe for a second, until I checked my credit card bill.
Society feeds us the idea of self-love to sell us things. Whether it’s that cake-batter bath bomb that sits in your cabinet for years or a weekend cruise you just had to take but came back weighing 12 pounds heavier and miserably sun-burnt, there’s no doubt you were sold these ideas as a form of “treating yourself.” And, who can resist a good-old fashioned pampering that society so easily labels as self-care? Not me, for one.
Not until I figured out that my self-love tendencies were hurting me rather than helping me grow and feel my best as a person. I learned the hard way that self-love isn’t always easy, and it’s absolutely not always fun. Think about it – if you love your kid, are you going to let them binge on TV 24/7 and eat junk food all day just because they want to? Probably not, because even though you want them to be happy, you know that those things aren’t going to better them as a person or even give them immense satisfaction down the road. For me, self-love is almost treating myself like my own parent. It’s taking into consideration my needs and wants and figuring out what’s going to benefit my life in the long wrong, not just in the next 15 minutes.
Here are a few ways I show myself love today:
I do the hard stuff – This one is super important in my life, because I’m the kind of gal who loves to take the easy way. But, whether it’s in the name of self-love or not, the easy way doesn’t get me very far. Doing the hard things in life is what helps me grow and feel good as a person. Whether it’s talking to my husband about something that’s bothering me or keeping my commitment to get dinner with a friend when I’d rather stay home and read in bed, the hard things are what make me a stronger and more respectable person at the end of the day.
I work out – I don’t work out to lose weight. I work out because it makes me feel good. But, working out is hard and it takes time and it involves getting all sweaty and pushing my body’s limits and being uncomfortable. Skipping a workout might seem like a form of self-love (and if you truly need rest it absolutely is), but for me, skipping out on something that makes me stronger and feel better is just the opposite.
I say no – I used to be the kind of person who would say yes to anything, only to dread whatever commitment I made immediately after. I thought a good person was someone who was up for anything. I thought I would be a better human being if I was as social as possible. Turns out, as a hard-core introvert, saying yes to everything only made me feel horrible. Nothing makes me feel guiltier than cancelling plans, so why would I agree to something that I don’t want to do only to make myself feel worse when I turn around and try to get out of it?
I make time to relax – My brain goes about a million miles a minute, and there is constantly something I want or need to do. But, if I never slow down and only focus on my to-do list, I end up burnt out and hating my life. My idea of relaxing is curled up in bed with a book (I’m not a huge fan of bubble baths), so I make sure I have at least an hour a night to do this.
I eat healthy – While a pound of chocolate always sounds like a good idea in my head, once that pound is in my body I’m not going to feel so fantastic. Making the decision to eat healthy isn’t an easy one. It requires time (meal prep) and discipline (see above-mentioned pound of chocolate). But the healthier I eat, the better I feel. And the more love I show myself.
How do you show yourself love?