What is Self Love?
As I searched the definition of self-love, many of the answers were not entirely complete. A lot of them had very negative associations. Like being conceited or loving yourself too much to the point of pride and arrogance. Or taking advantage of others to benefit yourself or “self-love that shut out everyone else”.
But that it not what I mean by self-love.
It’s not about being vain. Or only thinking about yourself or filling up your ego with pride. It’s about honouring every decision you make. It’s about being your own best friend. Holding your own hand and walking gently through the journey of life. You need self-love. You need to love yourself. Your soul craves it. Your mind flourishes from it. And your body feeds on it.
If your looking to change your life, THIS is where you begin. Don’t believe me? This is how my life looked without self-love:
-I would desperately hang onto people for their attention. Even though they were morally destroying me, I would cling onto them because I so badly wanted their approval. At the time I would not admit it to myself that I was so needy. I wanted to look ‘cool’ or be listened to and as a result I would do things that were so desperate. (It’s embarrassing thinking about it.) I would create all this unnecessary drama just to be listened to. I was so vulnerable. Easily fooled and mislead by people.
At the heart of it all, I was just a young girl looking for love and acceptance. Isn’t that what we all want?
-I would work so hard because I didn’t want to be poor. I had an irrational fear of poverty. For that reason I worked so hard, did jobs that didn’t fulfil my passions so that I could have the money. I also began to scrimp like a crazy person. So every time I was out for a latte, I’d be thinking ‘I could save money by doing this at home’.
-I would punish myself for committing a sin. I would punish myself by missing meals. As odd as that sounds, when I did something wrong, instead of gently picking myself up, I would get angry and then resolve to miss a meal in order to control my nafs. Looking back, I don’t exactly know how that works? 🙂
These are just a few examples of how I didn’t love myself. I was constantly looking outside myself for love, for reassurance and acceptance. And as you’ve seen, that was reflected in my behaviour. I kept looking outside of me, when I really only had to look within.
It’s much harder that way. Begging for people’s attention was much easier than sitting down and looking within myself. Punishing myself by forbidding meals was less scarier than facing the truth of my own reality: that I was desperate for love. Desperate for attention. Desperate to be known and recognized.
When I learned about self-love all of this changed. I learnt that for me to get all the love and acceptance in this world, I need to give that to myself first. It’s not going to happen the other way round. (And when I finally did, I no longer cared about receiving other people’s approval.)
I needed to love and accept me. Just the way I am. No more scolding at myself, getting ridiculously angry or over thinking over a genuinely, petty mistake. No more playing small and hiding my personality. No more worry. No more ‘what will she say?’ or ‘why did she do that for?’.
So how do you cultivate self-love?
Only you know your intentions. The Prophet peace be upon Him said: “…Indeed actions are according to their intentions…”. (Bukhari) Every action you take, ask yourself why are you doing this? Are you trying to show off because you feel inferior to other people? Are you trying to desperately please a person even when your gut tells you there not worth it? Are you over working because you’re so scared of being poor? Or are you over working because your friends have so much more than you and you feel the need to match up to their standards?
What areas of your life do you lack self-love? What are you doing out of fear instead of love?
When you do things out of fear instead of love, that is an indication that you need to fill up your self-love tank.
2) What does love look like?
If you loved your body, would you exercise out of fear of getting fat? No. You would exercise because you love the rush and feeling you get from it (or any other positive reason). It’s your turn to change things around. In step 1, you identified the areas of your life which need more love.
So what does love look like? Does it mean removing damaging people from your life? Does it mean loving and blessing your food? Does it mean not over thinking and being too critical of yourself? List below…..
3) What makes you feel alive?
For some its nature. For other’s its beauty. Yet some prefer cooking or even hitting the gym. What gives you butterflies in your stomach? What gives you that tingling feeling inside, that makes you so grateful and excited to be alive? For me it’s nutrition and nature. I love, love, love cooking and eating healthy, nutritious meals and being in nature. That last one just does it for me. When I’m climbing mountains, walking in nature or going out at night – it gives me so much bliss and joy. I feel connected and grounded with the earth beneath me. It gives me so much excitement. In doing all these activities, I subconsciously fill up my self-love tank.
When I fill my life with love, with activities that stimulate my mind, with prayers that quench the thirst of my soul, no longer do I look outside of myself.
Now it’s your turn. How can you love yourself more? What ideas can you implement into your life right now? And where are your living from fear? As soon as you acknowledge it, change your intention. Come from a place of love not fear. And what does that love look like? Please share your answers and comments below. I am so grateful for hearing from you.