The concept of self-love can feel complicated. When we put our own needs above a family member or the needs of others who are important to us, it can feel selfish. What if we began to consider our own happiness just as important as those we love? What if we challenge the questions, “Is self-love selfish?”
The Concept of Self-Love
By definition, self-love is the regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. This is very different than being selfish or narcissistic which is having an excessive interest in yourself.
Self-love is self care. When we focus on having a healthy relationship with ourself, it can be the greatest gift to the people who mean the most to us.
What is an example of self-love?
There are many ideas when it comes to self-love, and they can be different for everyone.
Some simple examples of self-love are:
- Learning to accept yourself just as you are
- Setting healthy boundaries
- Prioritizing your needs
- Treating yourself like your best friend
- Making your physical health a priority
- Learning to dismiss negative thoughts about yourself
- Learning how to forgive yourself
Self-love can benefit several areas of our lives
When we begin our self-love journey and take small steps forward to focus on these acts of self-care and self-love, it can make a huge difference in our emotional health, mental health, personal growth and physical well-being.
I believe when we learn how to love ourselves well, it’s the best way to learn how to love others well, too.
Self-love isn’t selfish
Self-love can feel selfish. But it’s actually a selfless act.
It is difficult to set boundaries, to say no, to focus on our happiness when we feel like we are letting others down. But, let me ask you this important question…
What if you put your oxygen mask on first?
What if you quit putting everyone else in your life on your list of priorities ahead of yourself?
What would you do with your time?
What could you accomplish?
What would you make time for?
and most importantly…. How would you feel?
Self-love doesn’t need to feel like a selfish act. When we unapologetically care for ourselves, we give others permission to do the same and take steps to move in the right direction as well.
Self-love will feel like second nature in time. It takes patience and grace as you start focusing on your own needs. You’ll learn that when you consider your own needs, you don’t feel resentful of those in your life who depend on you because you have filled your own cup first.
You’ve heard it before, you can’t fill from an empty cup, and it’s true.
If you are a Mother, I think it’s very easy for us to put our interests as secondary and focus on others’ needs first. This isn’t the only way, and as Mothers, we don’t have to assume that this is the way that we all have to feel forever. We have the opportunity to teach the younger generation to do it differently. That it is ok to love yourself AND others, we can learn to do both.
When you begin to love yourself, the benefits are endless. So many good things can come out focusing on taking better care of yourself.
- Healthier relationships with healthier boundaries
- Less negative feelings about yourself and others
- Increased motivation towards things in your life that bring you joy
- Better sleep because you are focused on your physical and mental needs
- More energy because you feel happier in your life
- Less stressed because you genuinely feel more positive about things
Self-love is acknowledging your needs, not necessarily your wants, and working towards personal growth instead of sacrificing your needs to make other people happy.
We all want to love our people. And we want to love them well. I understand that concept completely.
The problem becomes that we focus too heavily on making everyone else so happy that we put our own interests and our own worth beneath our loved ones worth and interests. This leads to low self-esteem and other negative consequences because we spend so much time making sure everyone else is cared for.
This is your reminder that YOU are important.
YOU are worthy of amazing things.
YOU are unique and special and deserve happiness just as much as the amazing people in your life.
You might be saying to yourself, “I have no idea how to start on this self-love journey.”
It can feel scary to begin setting boundaries and asking yourself what you need to do to cultivate self love. The good news is it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, in fact, it can be totally free.
Simple and free ways to practice self-love
- Express gratitude– Get a gratitude journal and jot down what brings you joy and commit to finding more joy in the ordinary.
- Get enough sleep– When we are sleep deprived, it effects so many facets of our life. Tune into this episode of the Love Your Body Well podcast to learn more about how important sleep is!
- Self-care practices such as taking a bath, painting your nails, going on a walk, exercising for enjoyment, calling a friend, getting out in nature, sewing, playing your favorite sport, gardening, reading a book, scrapbooking, listening to music… I could go on and on. Self-care doesn’t have to be fancy massages and pedicures and weekend trips… though those are all nice, too!
- Remove toxic accounts on social media– unfollow any accounts that make you feel like you need to be thinner, richer or prettier. Seeing these accounts that make you feel negative every single day take a huge toll on the way you feel about yourself.
- Begin to meditate or focus on breath work. When I make time to focus on relaxing my mind, my body follows suit. I started with guided meditation because I was intimidated to learn to meditate on my own. It’s been so helpful. There are so many resources for breath work as well, including this amazing podcast episode with Andrea Arlotti.
- Organize spaces that feel chaotic. When our environment feels disorganized, it can trickle into our thoughts. Pick a closet or a room, and start de-cluttering and see how much more free you feel when you are done!
- Spend quality time with positive people. The people we spend our time with can make a huge difference in how we view and take care of ourselves… choose wisely.
I promise you have enough love for yourself and for your loved ones.
When you find yourself in a better place mentally, it will strengthen your relationships and is such a powerful tool you can use. My hope is that you begin to take small steps in healing the relationship you have with yourself, and it will begin to help you see life in a more positive and gracious way and in turn strengthen the important relationships you have in your life.