I’ve come to learn that self love is a topic that is so uniquely demonstrated through each and every one of us. However, no matter how each individuals self love practices look, it is all connected through the feeling of genuine, authentic, unconditional love.
For a lot of us, we often think we are practicing optimal self love yet it is simply conditional love. “I’ll love myself when I have this cute shirt” “I’ll love myself if I could just get rid of this acne” “I’d love myself if I were stronger”. We are always on the search for an external influence to determine how we feel about ourselves. Before you start to feel attacked or anything, know that majority of the time, we aren’t even aware of this! We easily get super caught up in the vision of how we want things to be and how lovely this will feel, which is good to practice but not live in and dwell on. This practice being visualization; and the key to this practice is where your focus lies. Are you more focused on the fact that you don’t have what you’re dreaming of and feel like you can never have it? Or are you more focused on cultivating these feelings that having these dreams will bring you, where you’re so in love with the idea and you will do absolutely whatever it takes to achieve this? As you can imagine, one is much more beneficial than the other. The very simple answer being when we focus on what we don’t have or want – we get more of exactly that. When we focus on what we do have and want; bingo, that’s how you got it.
How does this tie into self love? Now, apart from visualizing what unconditional love for yourself may look like (yes this means genuinely loving yourself even without that cute shirt or with those seasonal breakouts) – your instinct becomes to judge yourself when you begin to visualize what this may feel like. We judge when we get caught up in focusing on what we don’t have or we judge when we’re transitioning out of our less than ideal habits – which in turn keeps the conditions on this self love.
Breaking this cycle doesn’t involve judging ourselves more for getting into it in the first place (*note these cycles can last days, weeks, months, or hours; depending on your level of awareness and genuine forgiveness). Breaking this cycle involves the simple, yet incredibly powerful act of forgiveness.
What Genuine Forgiveness Taught Me About Authentic Self Love
When you feel wronged by someone, the process looks a little something like feeling angry/upset/hurt, communicating this to the other person in a respectful way, the other person may apologize, we forgive, and move on. You learn this in kindergarten or earlier stages if your parents role model this – so this isn’t new information. In fact, one of the main pieces of marriage advice is forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness toward your partner (in a mutual exchange) allows the relationship to thrive and creates space for love to grow.
However, despite years and years of being taught to forgive other people for their wrong doings; we are not taught how crucial it is to forgive ourselves. The most important relationship you will ever have in your life, is your relationship with yourself. Let’s apply the advice for a thriving marriage, to our personal relationship; genuine forgiveness toward yourself. This allows the
relationship to thrive and creates space for love to grow. Think about that for a minute, in relation to how you view and love yourself.
All of your shortcomings, embarrassments, struggles – anything you’re still holding onto that might make you feel bad about yourself; right here, right now; I want you to forgive yourself. It is okay. We all make less than ideal choices; but the choices you make going forward don’t have to reflect or even relate to your past choices. It’s okay to move on from that and make a different choice next time. Even if you may not know what the best choice would be, try whatever you feel may work positively.
If you feel called to do so, write these down. Write down everything you feel bad for, everything you don’t like – then crumple it up or shred it, burn it. Get rid of it all and let go. You are free to choose differently. Before moving on, write down what it is you do love, what you are happy to have, what you are willing to change – see this from loving eyes. Eyes that don’t judge, as you’ve forgiven.
For me, this wasn’t an overnight process. I made it a daily practice of mine to remember to forgive and let go. To see myself with love as I would want someone else to if I were to struggle. Consistency is key, as with every other process in life. Sometimes you get knocked of track and sometimes you forget that you’ve fallen off and need to get back on. Sometimes this track will change; sometimes you’ll need some external support and it’s 100% okay to reach out and ask for that from a trusted, loving source. Everyone’s journey to this will look completely different. I’ve included some practical steps to developing self love to include into your routine if you need some ideas or guidelines to find what works for you 🙂
Since a lot of this has to do with frame of mind, the easiest for me is reminding myself to treat myself as I would want a significant other to treat me. When I am sad, I would want to be comforted instead of attacked or blamed. So, knowing this I can do something for myself that brings me comfort. Being supportive to yourself in a way that also is challenging to you is a type of self love that is unconditional. We always want the best for our partners; to support them where they are at, but also encourage them to keep doing better? Showing this to yourself is a literal game changer because then suddenly you start to feel loved, you start to show more love to other people, you start to feel more confident in yourself, you’re productive, you start to forgive yourself more easily, and in turn forgiving others and showing more compassion – thus, opening the doors to receive more compassion, understanding, support, and love.
Genuinely forgiving myself taught me what real love feels like; and let me tell you – the type of love you’ll feel from yourself will not compare to the love someone else can give you.
This taught me to build my own confidence.
This taught me especially to forgive other people.
This taught me to understand other people.
This taught me to love other people.
When your cup is full, you’re able to pour some of that love into other people. This love will become a healthy, mutual exchange.
Try it – forgive yourself; you deserve it.