It's a phrase that for some brings to mind entitled millennials (bullshit), candle-lit baths (truly excellent), and that really sensitive person at uni who gets a teacher fired because they don't like something the teacher said (unfortunately that last one is legit).
But don't let a bunch of bottom feeders on Reddit convince you that self-love is selfish, or worse yet that it doesn't matter.
Self-love isn't about sticking your head in the sand and pretending that there are no problems in the world. It isn't about thinking only of yourself and becoming so massively ego-inflated that you can't fit your giant head through a regulation doorway.
It's about facing your challenges with kindness and compassion— not just toward others, but toward yourself, too. It's about not wallowing in shame and telling yourself that you're worthless when you experience a failure or come up against hardship. It's about filling up your own cup (aka: taking care of yourself so you don't end up burnt out and hospitalized) so you can fill up the cups of others (aka: help out your friends and family when they're having a shitty time of their own).
It's about acknowledging that your imperfections don't make you any less of a person worthy of respect, kindness, and love.
So without further ado, I present...
4 Things self-loving people do:
1. They are kind to themselves in words and thoughts
Yeah, it's definitely easier said than done; nonetheless, scrapping negative self-talk is one of the biggest parts of the self-love journey (and it is a journey, not a destination. You will succeed, fuck up, succeed, fall down, and get back up again day, after day, after day).
What is negative self-talk? It's that little voice in your head that says:
"Why bother? You're pathetic, and useless, and you screw up everything you do. May as well quite now and save everyone the embarrassment."
Which is blatantly untrue, because you're awesome, and I know it, and you'll know it soon, too.
The self-loving person works to treat themselves as thought they were a dear friend— and good people simply don't call their friends pathetic or useless.
2. they work to forgive themselves when they slip up (and are not so kind in words and thoughts)
Beating yourself up for beating yourself up over a failure is a Crazy Carpet down a slippery slope (remember those things?). We all fuck up sometimes, we all have moments where we revert to old habits in moments of crisis. The self-loving person acknowledges that these moments are sure to happen on the self-love journey, but they don't invalidate the journey.
Remember that's it's not the absence of shitty-thoughts that makes you a self-loving person— it's the ability to apologise to yourself for them, and get back on track without resentment. Past screw-ups do not invalidate future attempts.
3. They extend kindness to their bodies
Yes, this is a general statement. No, I'm not hating on folks who aren't able to be as active as they would like to be. No, filling your body with ho-hos doesn't count as self-love.
The self-loving person does the best that they can, when they can (and understands that some days, an hour-long workout simply isn't in the agenda).
When you're feeling your worst, heading out for a simple walk is good for the body and the brain. Logically, I know this, but my husband still basically has to drag me out the door. I've given permission for this, because despite my protesting, I thank him every time after we've gone about a block and I immediately feel better.
The self-loving person doesn't restrict calories unnecessarily, but they also do their best to put good food in their bodies, and to make healthy-choices when and they can.
4. They say 'no'
For those kind-hearted, empathetic people out there, helping people out is what they do— sometimes at the cost of their own wellbeing or happiness. The self-loving person knows that they cannot help others without first taking time to take care of themselves— kind of like how they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before your kiddo. You can't help anyone if you're unconscious.
If you're faced with a barrage of requests, saying 'no' to some of them will help you to say 'yes' to the ones that really matter— the ones where you can make the biggest difference, that are most fulfilling to you and those around you. Pushing yourself to your limits isn't helping anyone and will only foster resentment.