Written by Shanali Jarvis
What Is Self-Love?
If you had asked me before if I loved myself, I would've said, for the most part, yes. I liked myself, thinking that I’m a nice, approachable, relatively smart and thoughtful person.
But when on my own, or whilst lying in bed, negative thoughts like ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I don’t deserve it’, ‘I’m just not pretty enough’ and continuous doubts in my ability to be or do something I wanted would often creep into my mind; making me realise that I was really far from loving myself in the true sense of the word.
Having read around the subject many times, I have found that the word “self-love” is actually multi-dimensional, and as such, perhaps it is easiest to understand what it is NOT first. What it is not? Self-love is not selfish, it is not egotistical, and it is not narcissistic. It is actually quite the opposite of all of these things.
Self-love acts as a pre-requisite for caring for others around you; without taking care of your whole self and your needs first, you may not be able to give you and your loved ones the best you have to give, emotionally or physically.
Giving yourself up for others whilst neglecting your own mental and physical well-being can result in you feeling burnt-out; coupled with possible emotions of anger, self-doubt, dissatisfaction and sometimes even resentment to those closest to you. The physical impact that this can have on the body can also have a negative outcome, with it known to increase internal levels of the stress hormone - cortisol. This can inevitably show up on your skin in an adverse way too.
Benefits Of Showing Yourself More Love
Being kind to yourself first has been proven to have a wonderful array of benefits for the body, mind as well as the skin. In fact, loving yourself more has been shown to positively correlate with:
- Increased happiness
- More optimism
- Better recovery from stress (and therefore more inner peace and emotional well-being)
- Better adherence to healthy behavioural changes, such as diet, exercise or skincare rituals.
- Lessened skin issues or flare-ups such as acne, rashes, rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema.
The Four Dimensions Of Self Love
This is the start of your self-love journey. If you are new to exploring your self-awareness, then to explain it simply – it’s about knowing who you are, recognising what you want and need; it is the foundation upon which you start to love yourself.
Learning to meditate (by taking a few minutes to observe your thoughts without judgement), writing your thoughts and feelings down in a daily journal, as well as starting to note the decisions that you take (i.e. using a more mindful approach to decision-making) can all help you to become more self-aware.
At the core of it, self-care is really about honouring your own, personal needs. For most of us, however, this seemingly obvious dimension of self-love does not come easily. We can sometimes neglect ourselves without even being aware of it. That is why we all need to find a version of self-care that works for us.
In order to help make it easier – try to define what it actually means to take care of yourself in terms of your wellness, health and happiness. Make sure to create a realistic list of self-care rules that work for you – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Self-compassion is a somewhat deeper dimension of self-love; one that requires you to treat yourself with unconditional kindness, on a daily basis - especially in those moments when you find yourself struggling.
Three fundamental aspects that you need to understand to have self-compassion are:
As noted above, being aware of how you feel is important. Recognising how you feel whilst you are suffering, however, is necessary to treat yourself with kindness. Suffering may either be caused by something that happened to you (for example, you were hurt emotionally or physically); or by something that you felt you have done (for example, feeling like you’ve made a mistake, or whilst experiencing failure). It may feel easier to be more kind to ourselves mostly in relation to the initial instance described, but when we feel that something is caused by our own doing, it’s very difficult to convince ourselves that we are worthy of compassion.
Understanding the shared nature of suffering
Pain is inevitable and something we all experience to varying degrees, at one point or another. No-one is protected from this; but everyone is worthy of compassion. So, once you understand that we all share some sort of suffering, as we are all equally deserved of compassion, it gets a lot easier to overcome harder times.
Reacting with self-kindness instead of self-judgement
When facing life struggles, or personal mistakes, treat yourself with the same kindness, concern and support that you would do a good friend or loved one as this really does help view yourself with less critical eyes.
Being aware of the basics of self-compassion can help you create a kinder response to situations when you experience any kind of emotional pain or struggle.
The fundamental points for this to remember are:
Remember to be mindful of any self-suffering.
Remind yourself that suffering is inevitable, and that you are inherently worthy of compassion.
Hold yourself accountable and work out how you may have contributed to the issue.
Make a decision not to assign shame, hate or pity to yourself and instead give yourself the compassion and what you need right now to take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
Take the necessary action to work on a solution and move away from any pain.
Self-worth – the fourth dimension of self-love – encapsulates the ability to value, respect and accept yourself unconditionally; it is about who you are within this moment, and stems from an intrinsic feeling of worthiness.
To help you with this element of self-love, here are our self-worth guidelines:
Stop comparing yourself to others and judging everything that you do.
Challenge yourself to lessen negative talk and thoughts.
Treat yourself with unconditional compassion and care.
Trust yourself and your body to know what is best for you.
Respect yourself enough to go after what you want to in life and quit what does not serve you (whether this be a job or a relationship, for example).
Have courage to believe in yourself whole-heartedly.
At Blushed by Five, we believe that looking after your whole self is the first step to self-love and acceptance. We have redefined what it is to love yourself so that it includes the different dimensions associated with self-love.
Our Definition Of Self-Love:
"Being kind to yourself; treating yourself with the compassion, respect and care you deserve and making the continued choice to accept your inherent, unconditional worth as a human-being."
Here are just a few ideas for how you can start “doing” self-love in a fun way:
- Cook yourself a nice meal or do some baking
- Paint (or do any other type of art that you enjoy and express your creativity)
- Write (you can write poems, a book, or keep a daily journal)
- Read your favourite book (and yes, it can be that love story you love so much!)
- Watch a comedy
- Give yourself a manicure
- Give yourself an at-home facial pamper
- Go for a yoga class or find one to do online
- Go for a walk outside
- Listen to your favourite music
- Play with your pet
- Do nothing (yep – just sit, or lie down and do absolutely nothing for a few minutes.)
So, make sure you give yourself permission to do the things you enjoy. You don’t always need to do things that make sense, or that are meant to 'build your career'. Spending time doing other activities just because you like them are equally as important!
With love - BBF x