Self-Care / Coffee Break

When self-love seems difficult, start with ‘self-like’

. 5 min read . Written by Nruthya Johnson
When self-love seems difficult, start with ‘self-like’

Do you love yourself unconditionally or are you normal like the rest of us?

No, really, think about it. Do you enjoy spending time with yourself? Are you happy with yourself and everything about you? Do you really like yourself? Or do you think that you always fall short, that you often make mistakes, and that there’s a laundry list of things you would change about yourself? Read on, because this pep talk is for you.

Why is there so much pressure to love yourself?

With everyone telling you that you’re not as good as the next person or that you’re incomplete, it’s not easy to even like, let alone love yourself. And it’s not just you. The vast majority of people feel the same way, especially since the pandemic started. This has become more rampant with capitalism telling us that you’re not worthy of love unless you stock your shelves with skincare or other healing products. That if you don’t put on a sheet mask or drink green juice everyday, you’re not loving yourself enough.

If capitalism isn’t tooting the horn for self-care, then social media ‘gurus’ are. With dedicated pages presenting ‘you just need to love yourself more’ as the end-all solution to every problem in the world — mental health issues, body image issues, and possibly even to end world hunger and poverty. It’s one thing to actively look for advice on loving yourself or improving yourself. It’s another to have every single person shove the toxic positive solution of self-love down your throat.

Marketing campaigns that advocate buying products that companies confirm will fix you, or social media accounts that stick ‘love yourself’ on every boo-boo isn’t self-love.

The idea of self-love is to essentially give yourself the love you were denied. To unlearn the problematic notions that had you believe that you are only your insecurities. You don’t have to radiate love for yourself 24/7.

How to indulge in self-like when you can’t self-love

Considering you’re the person you spend most of your time with, it’s about time you at least started liking yourself. Baby steps, right? And here’s how you can do that:

1. Embrace your uniqueness

All the things that set you apart from others is not a bad thing. Nor do you need to hide certain aspects of yourself. Liking everything about you at once can be too much, so go easy on yourself. Go for one particular thing — your jokes that most people find cringe, for example — and sit with it for a few weeks, or more time if you need.

The important thing is that you don’t need to entirely fall in love with yourself on day 1; that is next to impossible.

Liking yourself is a process, and you can’t rush it even if you wanted to.

2. Focus on the haves, not the have-nots

We all visualise a perfect image of ourselves or what we ought to be. But the truth is, no one meets their expectations of perfection. Society’s constant reminders are one thing, but with you constantly judging yourself and everything about you that you consider flaws, it can be hard to start loving yourself.

So instead of focusing on what you don’t have or what you think you must have to be accepted by others, try focusing on the things that you do like about yourself.

It’s good to aspire, but don’t be in a rush to change everything about yourself.

3. Be more selfish

We don’t mean for you to become mean and start your evil underground empire, but start prioritising your needs and wants. This can be especially hard if you’re used to pleasing everyone and trying to make them happy.

Whether it’s strict work boundaries or even your reluctance to listen to your nosy neighbour who seems to have an opinion on everything about you, make sure that your needs are met and you get a chance to like yourself.

4. Celebrate even the small wins

We’re assuming you’re not the Queen of England, and that you have a considerably normal life. With the constant need to be first or put your best foot forward, it can be easy to focus on your increasing list of improvements. But take some time to think about all the things that you do well naturally.

Whether it’s a manager who compliments your work, or someone who brings up one of your unique talents during a meeting, remember to cherish those. Use them as reminders that you’re not entirely as bad as you think you are. A promotion or getting married aren’t the only things to be celebrated. If you spoke up during a meeting to give your opinion, good for you.

5. Quit comparing yourself to others

You don’t have to compare other’s successes with yours or be at par with them. You are on your own path, and you will get there on your own terms. Don’t compare your worst to everyone else’s best.

Instead, focus on what you have control over and work towards the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Stop caring too much about what other people think of you. What matters is what you think of yourself.

6. Lower your expectations

If you feel that you need to be perfect all the time — and constantly work to be perfect-er — then you’re bound to be unhappy with yourself. If society doesn’t dictate unrealistic expectations, then we do. And then we fail to meet them, naturally.

So, instead of aiming for the stars, aim for the stairs — they’ll get you to a higher level at a more realistic pace.

You know what you’re good at. If you don’t because you’re busy being unhappy with yourself, talk to someone you trust who will remind you of your great qualities and set your expectations accordingly. You don’t need to have it all figured out today. If you get there in five years, that’s just as good.

7. Befriend yourself

If you find yourself constantly bashing yourself, try being a friend. Most of us wouldn’t talk to our BFFs the same way we talk to ourselves.

So remind yourself that you are worthy, and shower yourself with love and praises like you would with your best friend. Listen to yourself like you would with a friend, and tell yourself nice things. It isn’t rocket science but it isn’t entirely easy either. But don’t worry, you’ll get there.

Sometimes the magic of who you are wears off, but that’s okay. Don’t define yourself by your mistakes or flaws. You are made of something beyond that.

Life is too short to live by constantly navigating through flaws and being unhappy with yourself. If you feel like there is no end to the negative thoughts, know that you have everything within you to pull yourself out of it, with a little time and patience.

So on days that you feel you are unlovable, try being likeable.

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