What is self-love?
The definition I have found is – Be kind to yourself, appreciate your uniqueness, accept your imperfection, have a positive image of yourself…basically is to look inside and put your happiness and well-being a priority in life. I guess in such a demanding society that we are living in now, no wonder the concept of self-love is becoming so attractive and maybe even deem important.
*Side note: Self-love should not be confused with self-care (eat healthy, exercise, hygiene, reduce stress, get enough sleep).
There was a girl, who tried to please everyone; tried fitting in her group of friends; tried to be like her crush’s dream-girl; tried to be her parents’ expectation; tried to be the “successful-person” that everyone’s talking about; tried to be someone else because the society doesn’t accept who she was…etc. She thinks she has so many imperfections that she is never enough. That girl was me. Of course, I crumbled. I broke. I knew this way of life is killing me slowly so I turn to self-love. I did everything I can to recover, to build myself up and be kind to myself. I felt better and even great. But it was not sustainable. Not because self-love doesn’t work, but because our current concept of self-love is flawed.
I used to think that it is important to practice self-love because even Jesus stated in His second greatest commandment – “Love your neighbour as yourself”, right? So…if I don’t know how to love myself, how am I going to know how to love others? But somehow, this is contradicting inside me. My brain says yes, that’s logic! My heart says God’s love is sacrificial then why is this sound self-centered?
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:2-4)
Why people can’t really self-love? Not because they don’t love themselves, it is because they don’t understand the true meaning of “love”. We don’t need to teach us how to love ourselves, we were born to always put ourselves above others. Humans become naturally self-centered when sin came into the world. The good news is humans are redeemed, we can finally know and receive the true source of LOVE.
How do I really practice self-love?
1) Know my identity.
We often identify ourselves from our origin. When someone hates something about themselves, it may be because of where they come from. We buy in to this ideal image that everyone should have. But the truth is everyone is different – we have different family background, different physical features, and different personality. But you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. To know our identity and our destiny, we must look to our Creator. You are what He says about you, not everybody else (that includes yourself). Replace any wrong perceptions of being human. By knowing who you are, it gives you security, it gives you a sense of self-worth.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)
So what you should know:
1 – God loves you deeply.
2- You are precious, you have hope, you have potential.
That realization that someone loves me so much, has transformed me. I am not a nobody. I am loved by God (who never fails) and my status is a princess to the King of kings:
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12).
Have you seen or heard before that someone “glows” because he/she is loved deeply by another person? That’s the concept of love. We can never really “love myself” because love cannot be self-produced. Even if you “can”, it’s not true love. True love comes from God. Not because He created love, He is love!
“Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).
2) Accept & forgive myself.
This step should come after the first point of knowing who you are. Even if you don’t believe in God, you should know there is at least one person on this earth that loves you for who you are (if you think really hard). Even with all your bad habits, and the times you hurt them, they still accepted you and loved you. I think the most common reference would be your parents.
They may say, “You have a serious short-tempered problem and you hurt us, but you are still my family”. If someone could forgive me and accept my imperfection, why am I not accepting myself?
List down the things about yourself that you don’t like (eg: I’m fat, short, too shy, not creative enough) and a list of things you like about yourself. If you look closely, there are things you can actually improve (given some time) and things you can’t, (like physically short) in the “I don’t like about myself” list. You need to accept that we are all not perfect and if you want to change something about ourselves (for better), we can! And what about all those things you like about yourself? That’s your uniqueness, acknowledge it, be grateful for it!
Same way, forgive yourself for your past mistakes, past experiences. For we have been redeemed. When God says you are forgiven, you can take His word. The weight I’ve been holding on my shoulders just fell off when I received this truth.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22).
I practice self-love by believing that I am a work in progress. As long I’m breathing, I have hope. I remained grateful for who I am, where I was and have hope for where I will be one day. God’s word is true and powerful. God says “we are more than conquerors”, “I can do all things”, “I’m the head and not the tail”, “I’m a world-changer”, “I will be transformed to be more like Jesus – kind, faithful, powerful, influential, etc.” Whether you call it an affirmation or what I call it as prophesy – speaking positive words and believing in it can do wonders to our well-being.
“God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;” (Romans 4:17)
When Ben Carson’s mom believed in her son and keep reminding him that he is smart, he can do anything he sets his mind to, Carson grew through barriers and became a renowned neurosurgeon. That’s the power of belief, hope, faith. We can always have hope in Jesus. When I was struggling to accept my flaws, my fiance (now) told me he believed in me. I had a breakthrough and so grateful for who I have become today.
♥ ♥ ♥
Therefore, instead of looking inward to practice self-love, try looking upwards to God who loves you and knows that you are a child of God. This practice of self-love will keep you grounded and healthy, but not selfish. It keeps you positive, motivated and even spread love to everyone else.
All this is my experience of discovering self-love. How about you?