Self love: regard for one's own well-being and happiness, respect towards self, achieving good self esteem and self confidence.
I think there are many reasons why self love is hard to reach. Some are more personal than others but I think there is one element that is very important: our environment! Indeed, it can be difficult to love yourself, because too often we live in a parallel world with a parallel self. A “self” who is built more on the expectations of others than on our own reflections. (You may want to check out Donald Woods Winnicott, who developed the notion of "self" in a very interesting way).
Cultivating a sincere love for one’s self is demanding! And we are taught not to love, but to be loved. Expectations and presumptions are constantly created, increasing the weight that we already carry on our shoulders. And I noticed that we are very active in the game of expectations. We tend to anticipate and predict our behaviors!
We are continuously influenced by our family, culture, and society, which undeniably have a huge impact on our thoughts, our choices and our behaviors. Then we feel completely lost, asking ourselves these questions: “Do I do these studies for myself or my parents?” or “Do I really want this job, or just the status it will provide?” or “Do I really need this or is society imposing it on me?” And the list of questions continues, combining the growth of frustration.
I find it so weird how often we hear about self-esteem, self-confidence and self-love, how meditation and introspection bla bla bla, are promoted to us. Meanwhile, we are reminded that the fulfillment of our obligations - towards society, our friends, and our families - must be our priority! In theory, it's all about: “Take your time honey, do it for you.” But as reality catches up, it’s more about dedicating our lives to the rest of the world. And if we don’t we must be ready to face backlash, misunderstanding, blaming, shaming, etc…
Often we fear not being or doing enough, we fear disappointing people more than we fear disappointing ourselves! And I feel like that’s when you know: you’re on the wrong path. We should put our needs first. I realized that it doesn’t make any sense to be good to everyone but yourself! Also there are so many things we do because we think that’s what we should do or be. Everything we inflict on ourselves so as not to be perceived as too sensitive, too vulnerable, not intelligent enough, not open enough, etc., these are the things that take us away from our true nature. And how can we love ourselves if we don’t know ourselves? Then how can we know ourselves if we never let our self be? We are trying very hard not to break, even though everybody will at some point. And actually I feel like it's one of the inevitable ways to have a break through. It’s necessary to end this idea that there’s only one way to live and to be happy.
I realized, that most of the time we may not let others destroy us, however we are certainly doing it for them. Build your own worth, on what you want, what you need. Not what others want you to be. We have given too much importance to certain things, giving them the power to dictate not only how to live, but also how to feel! “I didn't get this job” = I am not enough. “I got cheated on” = I don't deserve love, etc.
Those events do not define us! It's how we deal with them that will. It is what we build in us that should be our indicator: not a salary, not the number of diplomas or conquests, not these standards that our society imposes on us. We need to remind ourselves that our society doesn't care if we are happy, as long as we are productive. So we live in incessant comparison, with others but also with the person we think we should be!
Maslow’s theory of needs :
Maslow enlightens our needs and, surprise, being valued is on the list! I actually believe this theory is one answer to why self love is hard to achieve. The feeling of accomplishment is the key to well-being but how can we achieve tranquility and self-love if we entrust the key to someone else? Today it seems like the only way to feel accomplished is by being cheered by others. However, that will never be completely the case. For while some will applaud, there will always be detractors, and even so that is not what should be our first source of motivation. What other people think matters obviously, but shouldn't count more than what we think of ourselves! (https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html)
I think we tend to neglect the weight that our environment has on us. Which is crazy, because most things are governed by it; the way we perceive things, for example. And not acknowledging this weight, or the expectations it bares, damages the notion of self, and the notion of self love.
One way, if not the best way to achieve self love, is to cultivate self preservation. We actually have to nurture our identity. Finding what it means to be ourselves, alone and also in community and society. We must learn to maintain a balance and not put too much on our shoulders. Our first goal should be embracing our whole self, searching, creating peace and progress. The (re)construction of our soul should be what matters most. The idea of perfection should get lost, far away, along with the idea to be like someone else. And the energy we put in to fit in should be redirected towards something more noble, and we should only look for places we belong to. Be great in our own way, because even though our society is not our best ally right now, we shouldn’t give up on ourselves!
Quotes to live by :
“My life is not for someone else to accept- I don’t need you to accept me.” - Dominique Jackson
“If you live for people's acceptance, you will die from their rejection. Don't ever lose yourself in a bid to find someone else's acceptance and don't wander away from yourself to get close to somebody else.” - Lecrae