If I had £1 for every time someone said “you need to love yourself before you love someone else”, I’d never need a job again. Although recently finding out this advice comes from RuPaul, it is a mantra I have had thrown at me from everyone, and it’s quite annoying if it’s all you hear without knowing how to make it happen. I hate to admit it, but looking back, I wish I had listened.
It’s easy to reject this advice because of what we all conceive to be self-love. I am no expert on this, but I interpreted not completely loathing myself as close to loving myself as was possible. Sure, there were things about myself I didn’t like way back when, which would imply I didn’t love myself fully, but I honestly thought this was as good as it would get.
There is also the perception drilled into us from a young age that loving yourself is arrogant or big-headed, which all of us have been told at one time or another. Admitting you are talented at something or love an aspect of your personality makes you a bad person, at least from my experience. However, I promise it is an important step in life, whether fresh out of a break-up or just in need of a little confidence.
Without self-love, it’s harder to notice red flags and be critical of your standing in a relationship. It is so important to understand what is right, what is wrong, and what should be changed. In the past, I have been so swept up in relationships and simply just happy to be there, to the point that I didn’t notice red flags and essentially didn’t care about the problems. It should not be like that, don’t do this. If you have achieved self-love then you should be, truly, in tune with what you deserve, and well-equipped to spot when you are better than the situation you’re in.
Self-love is not just about confidence and awareness though, it’s about damage control. Picture the scene, you’re in a relationship with a love of your life (notice how I didn’t write “the” love of your life, there will be another), with everything you have ever wanted and more, and then one fateful day it all ends. Now what? If you don’t love yourself or have confidence in yourself, skills and abilities, then what do you have? Drastic, I know, but you need to be secure in yourself to survive and thrive no matter what. Feeling like you have nothing is not fun (speaking from experience here), so any preventative measures to stop this from becoming a reality are worthwhile.
The most important step in loving yourself, I would argue, comes with realising you are yourself, and you cannot or will not change for someone else. A partner or another person not liking an aspect of you is their problem, not yours. An ex-partner of mine consistently told me I was too loud, rowdy and outgoing, and I needed to tone this down. I took it to heart, became very shy, and put myself in a really bad place mentally because of it, but that’s a story for another time. Now, I look at the same personality traits of mine, unchanged by their opinions, and I see them as some of my favourite things about myself. I am not loud or rowdy, instead, I am lively and charismatic. I am outgoing, but that’s a good thing. I am a big personality, but I would not have a circle of friends around me without being like this. Catch my drift? Everything you might not like about yourself can easily be twisted into a positive without actually having to change yourself at all. It just takes a little work.
Moral of the story? Well, there are multiple things to take from this. If you receive advice along these lines, please listen. It will only help the healing, as annoying as it is. We are all on the tiring journey to loving ourselves one way or another, but I promise it’s a worthwhile journey.