It is more or less common knowledge that western societies capitalise on people’s, and especially womxn’s, self-hate. As a result of this, it is far more socially accepted to openly hate yourself – than it is to express that you like, or even dare to love, something about yourself. How sad is that? …that it seems more normal than not, for a womxn to dislike herself/themself? And, this usually goes so much deeper than “just” hating your body and the way you look. The dislike of oneself is more often than not so deep rooted and covered up, that we might not even be aware of how much it is actually impacting us. We are used to not feeling good enough, so we don’t even acknowledge it as a real problem. But it is, it is a problem and we are not supposed to… or at least we don’t have to, feel that way about ourselves. So, let us have an honest conversation about this, an honest conversation about self-love and what it would mean to love ourselves – unconditionally.
We often talk about self-love as a concept, how it’s #goals and all that – but do we really know what it means, to truly love oneself? Because, from where I’m standing, most of us still seem to be on implicit diets and out of breath chasing next years “beach body” which we so strongly believe will make us feel worthy, seen and valued. We strive for perfection and we consistently beat ourselves to the ground when we do not reach those unrealistic goals of being flawless. I see you, scrolling through Instagram for the fourth time in half an hour, unconsciously searching for the next person to compare yourself to. I see you, because I do it too. Then, we convince ourselves that the pain inside can be fixed with what today, seems to be the go-to definitions of self-love and self-care – a facial, fillers and manicure… Don’t get me wrong, I love taking care of my skin and painting my nails in various vibrant colours – but these things alone, should not be mistaken for self-love and self-care. It also has to be about your inner self. It has to be about who you are, how you feel about yourself, how you act towards and speak about – as well as to – yourself. And, we should strive for it to be unconditional – with or without the perfect skin and beautiful nails. All of the external things that we tend to attach our self-love are things that fluctuates, but your worthiness of love should stay the same and at the highest level possible. We are all loveable independently of anything else and it is time that we start to believe that. Trust me, I know this is extremely hard and even though I believe in it to the very core of me, I also know that this kind of love is so much more challenging to find – than the one on a surface level. Of course it is, because you have to break down all of your limiting beliefs about yourself and step out of your comfort zone. That’s right, self-hate is extremely painful but it also functions as a comfort zone because we’re distancing ourselves from feeling vulnerable. “If I hate everything about myself, no one can tell me something negative about me that I already didn’t know or said first” – right? Or, “If I tell others that I’m not happy with my body first, they don’t even get the chance to judge me – I’ve already put it out there”. Right again? Working against these things that we’ve implemented into our belief system is challenging and we will have to break down all of our walls and start building new ones for real change to happen. This will take time, but it will be worth it because to truly find that unconditional love for yourself will be the best investment you have ever made and everything in your life will shift for the better. Let me tell you a snippet from my own journey towards finding this.
About two years ago, I hit a point in my life where I felt so indescribably tired of not loving myself unconditionally. It impacted my wellbeing, my relationship and my friendships in a very negative and destructive way. I had spent a lot of time reading, learning and most of all thinking about self-love up until this point, but still, I kept on falling back into the deep hole of self-hate. I asked myself again and again – “Why can’t I seem to love myself, unconditionally?” I couldn’t find the answer then, but today I know that the problem was that I was stuck in the thinking process of self-love without taking it any further. I was also holding on to my limiting beliefs around this subject, on a deeply unconscious level. A limiting belief is something that you once decided was true about yourself, that is prohibiting you from fulfilling your full potential today. One of my limiting beliefs was that I was not good enough and therefore didn’t deserve to be loved – not by myself, and not by anyone else. It wasn’t until I came across a very powerful podcast earlier this year, in which they were talking about limiting beliefs, that I had a realisation – an aha!-moment if you’d like. I began to explore my limiting beliefs and used different tools to loosen them up. I also learnt that, in order to prove a limiting belief wrong, you have to start bringing the things you want into your being. “You have to be the change you want to see”. It made so much sense to me and I started to understand where I’d gone wrong. I had been identifying so much with my thoughts and feelings that I had actually inhibited myself from being someone who loved herself.
From unlocking this door, other pieces started to falling into place. I had previously come across the beautiful book called All about love by bell hooks in which she presents love as a verb, as something that you do and practice rather than something that you just feel. In this book, bell hooks writes “…we would all love better if we used love as a verb”. <<Verb; a word used to describe an action>> She also refers to Erich Fromm who defines love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” He continues: “Love is as love does. … Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action.” Although I’d read these words long before, they started coming back to me with a whole new meaning. I felt as if I understood the concept on such a profound level that I could not ignore my new learnings. After this shift, I have actively brought self-love into my being and my actions ever since.
Now, I am not saying everything shifted over night – but since I cracked the code which for me was to acknowledge my limiting beliefs, reframing the meaning of love and becoming the change I wanted – my self-love has grown so much stronger and deeper. I think it’s easy to fool ourselves that external things will make us feel better about ourselves – but, they won’t, at least not in the long run. So, unlock your limiting beliefs, start using love as a verb and practice doing it with full intention of bringing it into your being. You CAN be someone who loves themselves, unconditionally.