When I started to talk about loving ourselves and loving our bodies, I would often hear things like:
“Well isn’t that a bit arrogant? To love your self?”
This makes me smile, but I also feel a little sad, because in our society we have been deeply conditioned to think of self-love as a negative and undesirable personality trait.
So many of us think of self-love and immediately associate it with arrogance, egotism, cockiness and vanity.
We often link self-love to qualities that we deem unappealing or even cruel—maybe we knew someone who we considered to love him or herself who was mean, unkind and made others feel small.
So what do we do? We make ourselves small.
We start to believe that to be small and dislike our self is to be a humble and likable person.
Because, forget love, if we were to actually even like ourselves for what we look like and who we are, we might not be accepted back into the fabrics of our life as we know it.
Our friends and the people around us might tear us right back down:
“Hang on a second, what makes you so special?”
To hear a woman speak positively and kindly about her body is a wonderful yet rare thing.
Instead, we continue to dislike who we are and what we look like, staying small and never feeling good enough.
The kind of self-love that I advocate so strongly for is none of the above.
The kind of self-love I advocate for is, instead: self kindness, self compassion, self trust, self belief, self reassurance, self respect, self forgiveness, and heart-centred
I have never met a person who truly loved themselves in this way and was not also kind, gentle, compassionate and caring toward others.
Loving ourselves helps us lift others up, not put them down.
Coming from a place of love also means lending a greater understanding to our self and others.
We accept that we are going to make mistakes, so we can be gentle and forgiving to our self around this. This enables us to be gentle and forgiving when others do too.
The kind of self-love described in this article to begin with, ironically, isn’t self-love at all. Arrogance and superiority does not stem from love for oneself, but from deep-rooted entrenched fear.
If someone acts self-important or cruel in this way, it is often because when we dig right down, underneath it all, they do not feel worthy.
Underneath this mean and smug exterior often lays insecurity, unhappiness or even loneliness.
Instead, we can choose love over fear. Real love.
We can choose to love ourselves so strongly and fiercely.
To remind ourselves every day, of the amazing, smart, kind and capable beings we truly are.
And it may feel strange at first.
We may start to notice inherent patterns of self-criticism or feelings of self-doubt that can rise up.
Sit with it. Stick with it. It will come.
An individual who can practice true love for their self, is a powerful cause for change in this world.
The time is now, and it starts with us.
Author: Caitlin MacKenzie
Editor: Emily Bartran