I’ve been hearing for years, “you must love yourself before you can love anybody else,” and “self-love is the most important kind of love.” But, what does it actually mean to love yourself?
The way I see it, before you can love yourself, you have to like yourself. You must become somebody with traits you admire and qualities that you see as valuable. Loving yourself means developing yourself into a well-rounded individual that has strong interests and hobbies. It means having goals that motivate you to spring out of bed each morning (or at least walk with a slight bounce each day).
But loving yourself also means doing things for yourself. Think about it: if you’re willing to make a sacrifice for a loved one in your life, why aren’t you willing to make a sacrifice for yourself. But, you may be inclined to ask, “how do I make a sacrifice for myself?”
Think about it this way: have you ever woken up at say 5am to drive your significant other to the airport because you know it’ll make their life easier and therefore make them happier? Sure, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s worth it to make them happy. Likewise, loving yourself means making sacrifices now for the sake of making yourself happier in the future. It can begin with very simple easy tasks.
For example, I love myself enough to make my bed every morning, because I believe at the end of a long day, I deserve to climb into fresh, crisp sheets. It feels better at the end of the day for me to get into a made bed, rather than an unmade one. I make this sacrifice every morning to make myself feel better at night, because I’m worth it.
But loving yourself also means bigger things than that:
Self-love is doing what is hard now to make life easier and more enjoyable later.
Self-love is turning off the TV and going for a walk because pondering your own life is more important than losing yourself in somebody else’s.
Self-love is walking away from an unhealthy relationship because crying now on your own accord is better than waiting for somebody else to make you cry.
Self-love is reading the New York Times in the morning because being informed is better than sleeping on the train into work.
Self-love is taking night classes because having a challenging and fulfilling career is worth more than sticking with a job you don’t enjoy.
Self-love is knowing how to stop after a few beers because being tipsy is more fun than making a fool of yourself and being hungover the next morning.
Self-love is tipping the pizza guy (or girl) an extra dollar because the feeling of generosity is worth more than an extra buck.
Self-love is also fully understanding who you are and who you want to be. Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk said through his character Tyler Durden, “you are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your f***ing khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
The approach was a bit of tough love, but if you dig deep (like, really deep) you could loosely argue Durden’s message preaches one of self-love. The world will probably fail to see you as anything different or extraordinary, so it’s up to you to find your own worth. Value comes from within, rather than from your job and the money in your wallet. For example, while the world probably doesn’t care that I’m writing this blog right now, I care about it and that’s all that matters (though if you were to share it on Facebook, I wouldn’t be opposed).
That being said, self-love is about what you do. Your car and your khakis do not create you, it’s your thoughts and your actions that make you who you are. You are the collection of unique thoughts, ideas, and experiences rattling around in your head. You are how you spend your days.
Do you want to spend your days idling and waiting to be loved by somebody else who sees your worth, or do you want to go out, seize your worth and not give a damn about what people think of you? What are you doing for yourself to make you love yourself?
[Featured Image Credit: Paul Cleary via Flickr]