SELF-LOVE: Why is it important to love yourself? My search for true love…

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Do you love yourself? We often hear the term self-love and self-care bandied around like it’s just a trend… but how important is it to love yourself? Here I question whether I love myself and why my big goal this year is to find love (in lots of ways). 

The bible says ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But my friends adapated this for me to ‘Love myself as I love my neighbour.’ I have spent a lot of my life loving others deeply, trying to please everyone, care and challenge myself to continue with being treated badly because I thought it was what I deserved. I wasn’t just bullied and abused by a number of people, I was bullied and harmed by myself. I would never dream of treating another human being as I treat myself and yet for most of my childhood, teen and some of my adult life (until recently),  I have been my own enemy. 

Whether that be through self-harm, eating disorders, negative self-talk and literally feeling ashamed of who I was as a person but most ridiculously I loathed my appearance (to the point I didn’t want to live anymore).  Even in my late 20s, as a mum-of-two daughters I hated who I saw in the mirror. I knew I had to somehow work out how to love myself. At first it was for them but actually I need (ed) to do it for myself. 

I had been in a series of toxic realtionships, people often treated me as I felt about myself because they could get away with it, I thought I deserved to be treated badly and then I couldn’t understand why anyone would love me. 

But I had a real awakening last year, almost as if I had been born again after nearly dying. 

At first, I went back into old coping mechanisms of alcohol, disordered eating and abuse. But luckily my resilience to challenges is a lot better these days (after a lot of therapy, time with good people, soul searching and focusing on faith and my home). 

But on my journey of self-growth I do still get knocked a lot as I try to love myself without truly believing I am worthy. That said, I am stubborn and as I have set my main goal to be to live a life of LOVE this year (and always) I have to practice self-care, I have to surround myself with cheerleaders (who are there through the good and bad), I spend most my time with people who have similar values which helps to fuel me to face the people I struggle with! That said, it hasn’t been an upward trajectory and only this week I was nearly knocked off track.

So my life coach Carron Cummings (and one of my soul sisters) asked me (in my hour of need) to answer this HUGE question: 

Why is it important to love myself? 

So I have been thinking a lot about why I believe in self-care and self-love… and what it actually means to me. It is easy to harp on about it… but I really do need to practice what I preach! 

  1. I wouldn’t go as far as saying nobody would love me if I didn’t love myself as I don’t agree with that philosophy. But there is some truth in terms of who you attract and who you allow to take up your space. When we don’t like ourselves it can be hard to spot disrespectful or abusive behaviour because we think that is all we deserve. However once I started to get rid of negative people (or lessen my contact) and spend time with supportive positive people, the better I started to feel about myself and the world! My close circle started to make me believe I was of value and “fearfully and wonderfully” made rather than the “disaster” that other people tried to have me believe. 
  2. My own self-talk rubs off on others e.g. I try not to talk about diets in front of friends or my daughters… I even made a 40-day self-care challenge (get the free plan here) to try and focus on positivity rather than diet talk especially around certain times of year such as Lent/Easter/Summer/Christmas… 

3. It’s not productive to NOT love yourself: Now as a busy single mum to two… I am all about productivity and the power of it! Work smarter not harder and all that! And let’s face it, self-loathing and over analysing of our flaws is not productive! It will not serve us in anyway. Putting ourselves down is a waste of time. This is a note to myself too! We (including me) waste so much time.

4. We have to build ourselves up so we can help others. I believe it is my life’s purpose to be a campaigner and to use my platforms to speak up for others who are not able to. But I have to be in a good place to be able to do this. I have to feel ‘filled up’ to be able to help others as best I can. I also can inspire more people, the happier I am in my own skin. 

5. It makes you more resilient.  “I get knocked down but I get up again!”… The more I love myself and value who I am as a person, the more resilient I am to challenges and the more able I am to ‘bounce back.’ 

6. I will be truly HAPPY! My main goal in life is to feel happy, content and to live a life of love. But how can I do that without loving myself a little? 

7. Forgiveness sets you free: I truly believe in the power of forgiveness. And I have worked so hard to forgive people who have done wrong to me (and when I say wrong, I mean even the people who have done awful things to me). And that is not just for their benefit it is my own. BUT, this question got me thinking… how come I forgive some of the most treacherous things that have happened to me and yet I don’t forgive myself for extremely mild ‘wrongs.’ And to be truly free I need to forgive myself and stop blaming myself. So whilst I love the image of a Japanese cracked pot fixed with gold, an even more beautiful image is that of a new tree growing.

8. Guilt Vs Shame: We have a real problem these days of millennials (including me if I scrape the age bracket!), feeling shame i.e. they are ashamed as who they are as a person which to me is much worse than ‘guilt’. As guilt tends to be about our actions rather than ourselves as human beings. I realised up until this year I felt deep shame about who I am and my past when actually my scars, are a result of trying to cope with the wrongs of others and make sense of them. I have started to try to be kinder on myself. And even when I slip into bad coping mechanisms (nowhere near as bad as before), rather than beat myself up, I try to recognise the next day and tell myself: “Wow you were really hurting then. But you deserve that punishment.” And at first I didn’t believe it but …RITUALS = RESULTS. And I am sure you’ve come across Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave)… I found that by berating myself further I was actually getting trapped in the cycle again and it wasn’t helpful. So acting out of love for yourself really does have LOTS of benefits!

9. A LIFE OF LOVE: Back to where I started in this blog post, is my goal at least focus this year (and forever) is to live a life of love. I love my friends and family deeply. But to truly live a life of love, I can’t just hope on another to love me, I must believe I am worthy, I must believe that I am loved and most of all to live a life of love, I need to love myself.

SO… Now you have a think…

Why it is important to love yourself? 

Here’s even more why I practice self-care…

My search for love… of myself:

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