In this modern world of Self, individualism, self isolation, selfies, and #selflove etc, are there any differences? I propose that there are. Many individuals on Twitter for example, will frequently post about #selflove. But what does that mean? Is it a term for giving oneself love, telling oneself "I am beautiful" "I am worthy" " I am loved..." "I am strong.." or any of the many mantras people will use. Is it taking a glam selfie, with or without the filters, the running a candlelit bath, that quiet walk alone out of the home office, away from the partner or kids etc..…. Or is self love, in reality a glib phrase used to help us just feel a bit better in the moment? On the other hand, what about loving oneself? Is it just semantics really?
Some individuals would say that they are one in the same, and that self love is the same as loving oneself, and we are just splitting hairs, or playing with semantics. However, many others (including myself) say they are different. Self love is more about the feel good factor within the moment, those new shoes, the ice cream, the sunset walk, dancing to favourite music. However, like so many things in life they are transient, fleeting and do not change our lives in any significant way, for any period. In order for our lives to be changed, we need to love ourselves, and that is where the journey begins.
In order to love oneself, we have to begin with honesty. Look at the past, the successes, the happy memories, our upbringing, those that have influenced our lives, (and No, I am not talking about the social media influencers), family, peers, schools etc., for positive or negative.. We need to look at the failures, the poor choices, paths we have walked thus far, a time to be Honest and True. Only when we can see "Me" warts and all, can we begin to work out who we are. Yes we are a product of our past, and our present whatever that entails. The issue is, can you love 'You', behind the make up, clothes, and all the transient trappings of life. If Not, Why? Do you dislike the person you are, do you regret choices/decisions, do you dislike what you have done to others, or failed to achieve, have the comments of others lowered your self esteem, have you been hurt, damaged, affected by others in your life? The truth is; you can not change the past! However, we can love ourselves Despite the past.
The past is a medal to be worn with pride, a war veteran will wear his/her medal with pride, why? Because it shows they survived the traumas of war, the pain, the suffering, the damaged caused or received, the innocent/innocence taken. They tell of the horrors, the truths of these times, not to glorify them but rather, so others can see what has happened, and how it changed them, and then learn their lessons. So too, we need to bare our past as a medal, being honest, sharing the horrors and the victories, only when we can do that, can we begin the journey of knowing ourselves. When we know ourselves and who we are Now, can we love ourselves, irrespective of the medals we wear, because the lessons from our past path can be used to construct and inform our future. There in lies the challenge. YouTube is full of 24hr challenges, challenge this, that challenge etc. even my 10yr old daughter likes to emulate these and come up with her own (safe ones thankfully), but all of these challenges are again transient, short term goals. Yet, Life is not a short term goal, it is a pathway of numerous challenges, decisions and outcomes.
So our first challenge to loving ourselves, is, we need to accept ourselves, know our value as a person, even in the pain we have value, the pain, the past, the successes all give "me" value. What lessons have "I" learnt, what can I do with this. That is the second challenge in loving ourselves; What will I do with me, the lessons learnt from the medals I wear? Will I let them effect me with a negative outlook and perspective on life, will I distrust everyone, rely solely on self, embark on a self destructive path, negativity, self isolation, addiction a total focus on "Self". Or will I allow my self to be stronger (Not harder/tougher), but rather in character and ability to make the right choices, not those of peer pressure, societal norms etc. Also, to gain from the wisdom of experience, and to seek to build on the knowledge and lessons, and then to share that, give to others, after all "it is in the giving that we receive".
We can choose to demonstrate that our past can define me for the better, to motivate, to encourage, to point out a true path, to lay aside the falsity, and the masks we frequently wear, and Be Real. We need to find real friends, individuals who will allow us to be real, to weep when needed, to fall and fail at times (as we all will, as the path of life is not smooth). To rejoice/celebrate our achievements, and be there irrespective of how often you text, call, go out, and so on. For many this can be found in belonging to a faith group, for many of the historical religions instruct people to be accepted for who they are, then and now, see their current value, and they can then help with the rebuilding, supporting and guiding oneself on the path of Life. Spirituality is an intrinsic part of self.
So how do I love myself, 1) Accept and acknowledge the truth of the past, Wear the medal with pride. 2) Learn the lessons and build upon them, be more giving, rather than looking to receive. 3) find that inner sense of belonging, find 'real friends', even open up the spiritual, seek and connect. Be Real, be who You want, be open, and learn to trust again.