Self-love and its importance is not a new conversation. You search the term on Google, and the results are endless. We still wanted to take the time to share our thoughts on the subject, and what better time to do that on Valentine’s Day. We often get so caught up in loving those around us that we forget the most important person, ourselves. Self-love goes beyond the acts of self-care we make time for. We see these two used interchangeably, but they are not the same. An act of self-care can be part of self-love, but there is more to it than that. Self-love is not always easy. It’s about forgiveness, acceptance, a release of expectations, and care. It takes all of it together to love yourself in the way you deserve.
We will preface this and say these are our thoughts. This isn’t based on psychological research. This is based on life experience. The struggle to see ourselves in the way our loved ones do. Like a relationship with others, the relationship with yourself ebbs and flows. Some days loving ourselves is easy. The days where you have it all together aren’t the challenge; it’s when nothing is right, or even the days that just happen that challenge our love.
So, what do you do on those challenging days? The days where your inner bully comes out and says all the things you don’t want to hear. The first thing to do is listen. If you shut that voice out and ignore it, it’s still there. When you maintain and build your self-love, think of yourself as another person. You wouldn’t ignore a person if they were upset, so don’t ignore yourself. Listen to what that inner voice is saying, and know what it says may not be true. Get beyond the words and listen to what it is really asking for. We spend so much time-defying that inner voice. We do things that, deep down, we know we don’t want to do. We don’t do something we really love to do. We don’t listen. When we stop and listen we can create a dialogue.
Once that dialogue starts we may realize our inner self is still holding onto stuff we thought we had put down. The time you messed up at work, the time you didn’t take the chance, the time you raised your voice. Our inner self holds onto all this baggage, and until we forgive, accept, and release our expectations of ourselves we can’t lighten that load. We have to forgive ourselves for making mistakes. What’s done is done, holding onto it creates a rift. Sometimes, it’s a perceived mistake that comes from high expectations that we have put on ourselves. We have to accept where we are right now and work on a path forward. It takes self-reflection, it’s not always pretty. We have discovered opening this dialogue more regularly makes it easier. Instead of handling it when it reaches a boiling point, we maintain open communication. That is an act of care.
Sometimes the inner voice is being a bully because it is simply tired. It wants to do something fun or take a break. This is where acts of self-care play a part. When that voice comes out of nowhere in the middle of the afternoon asking for ice cream, get it ice cream. You don’t have to treat your inner self like a toddler. Say yes, get ice cream. Do things that make you happy. Self-care is an act of self-love. Take yourself on a date, buy yourself a gift, talk about your dreams and goals. Allow space for care but know that it takes all the pieces to maintain a healthy, loving relationship. You need the hard conversations and reflection for care to work. Don’t use self-care as a band-aid for what it is you really need.
So, we have all this and still haven’t answered why self-love is important. First things first, because you deserve it. You deserve to be loved unconditionally, especially by yourself. It’s important because when we love ourselves deeply, it makes it easier to love those around us as well. When we work on a relationship with ourselves, we develop communication, forgiveness, and acceptance that translate outwards. By loving ourselves, we open ourselves up to receive love differently. Love is all around us. We have to believe it to see it.