“I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.” ― Maya Angelou
The month of February is often associated with love. We celebrate love in our significant relationships yet do we take the time to honour the relationship we have with ourselves? Self-love is a very complex emotion which is at the core of how we ultimately feel about ourselves. Now to be clear – I’m talking about true unconditional love for yourself.
I find that self-love is often confused with self-care. Both are beautiful but not the same. Self-care is about acts of kindness toward yourself. It certainly is very important to nourish yourself – however, a massage or warm bath, as lovely as they are, don’t necessarily translate into pure unconditional love.
Like everything on this journey of life, self-love begins with awareness. We are very complex beings. Our life experiences shape who we are, along with our thoughts and beliefs. Recognizing your thought patterns is really a key part of beginning to love yourself in a deeper and more meaningful way.
My very first life coach, Lisa Garber, was the first one to introduce me to this concept. I was part of a group coaching program and she asked us at one point if we love ourselves. I still remember to this day how I brushed it off and thought – of course I love myself. I’m positive, confident and not destructive toward myself, So yes, I love myself.
It took me years to really understand the question and to peel back many layers of programming. I was able to recognize that my self-love came with some serious conditions.
I loved myself so long as…
- my body was a certain weight
- my house was organized
- I was cooking delicious healthy meals
- I was basically a “perfect mom” & “perfect wife”
Pretty sure you get the idea. Through awareness I began to recognize how judgmental the voice in my head could be. I also began to understand that I was not the voice in my head. And further to this, I understood that my worth was not determined by any accomplishment. I was worthy simply for being me.
We live in a world that loves perfection. Yet this strive for perfection is not healthy. It usually is the result of low self-worth which feeds this cycle of self-criticism and judgment.
Self-love and self-compassion go hand in hand. Part of loving yourself is becoming your own friend. As you become your friend, you begin to know yourself in a deeper way and this allows you to truly nurture yourself in meaningful ways. This is where self-care comes into play. Connect to the feeling of love behind your self-care and it takes on a whole new meaning.
Self-love is not about doing what is expected of you. Self-love is about being true to who you really are and honouring what makes you feel alive with joy. It’s a process. The most important relationship you have is your relationship with yourself. Strong and loving relationships require attention and dedication. Keep asking yourself this one simple yet powerful question – How can I love myself in this moment?
True unconditional self-love means just that – you love and accept yourself for all that you are with no conditions.
You are worthy.
You are perfect just as you are.
What a radical and beautiful concept.