No, seriously. Think about it. Have you loved you, lately?
Here’s the deal. I spent a lot of time thinking I knew all about self-love because I’d spoil myself with money I didn’t have on products I didn’t need from Sephora. I spent a lot of time thinking loving myself meant splurging on a pair of $200 jeans (even though they were two sizes too small for me, and I’d have to lose a bunch of weight and bone density to fit into them.) I spent a lot of time believing that self-love could be bought — ordered online from a swanky retailer in AUS, costing me a leg and an arm in shipping, but hey, that’s (self)love baby! It wasn’t. What it actually was is lingerie that sat in my drawer because I never felt like any occasion was the right occasion to wear it. (True self-love would have been wearing it anyway, just for me, because it made me feel good.)
From the outside looking in, things probably looked gravy, baby. Like, I was going on lots of dates, always wearing new clothes, my liquid eyeliner was always on point (even if it took me 37 minutes in front of a mirror just to paint two single lines), and I did whatever I wanted, on my own terms (like eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), because I was the boss of my own life.
Except, during that time, I was also binging and purging in private, picking at my nails til they bled, sleeping in because what was the point of getting up? And fat-shaming myself under the fluorescent light of my bathroom. Self-love? More like self-loathing.
And while my intentions were good — I was trying to find happy and be happy — they were ill-directed. I was looking for (self)love in all the wrong places — in other people, in products, and in material items. I was looking for self-love in the bottom of a Slim Fast.
The truth is, I spent a lot of time thinking I was loving myself up, but not actually doing the work of loving myself IRL, at all.
So let me ask again. Have you loved you, lately? And I’m not talking about the faux, self-loathing kind of “self-love.” I’m talking about the un-judgemental, the forgiving, patient and optimistic self-love. The real self-love that can’t be bought online, in a store, or from another person.
Self Love 101: In order to feel the results, you must do the work.
What does that mean?
It means changing your mentality.
Instead of thinking, “Gawd, I hate the way my arms look in this tank,” try, “my arms are perfect exactly as they are, this shirt just isn’t right for me."
It means silencing your inner mean girl.
Instead of listening to that voice in your head that says, “you can’t do that,” or “you’ll never be good enough,” listen to your inner optimist that tells you, “yes you f*&king can.”
Spoiler Alert: You can literally do anything. And I don't mean that in a cliche, fluffy way. I mean it in the true sense of the sentiment. I would know. I wrote a book despite my bitchy inner mean girl.
It means disregarding your insecurities, rewriting the story in your head and acknowledging all that you are — right here, and right now.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Self-love is all about appreciating your own unique brand of beauty, recognizing your myriad gifts, and honoring yourself. This can be hard to do when you’re not sure where to start, or when you’re blinded by society’s definition of worthy.
So, start at square one. Put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and write down everything you love about yourself. Save the modesty.
Pro tip: be mindful of what you focus on. Self-love isn’t just about body image, or what’s on the outside. It’s also about taking notice of what’s on the inside, what your unique talents are, and the irreplaceable space you take up in this world.
Read your newly penned love list anytime you need a boost, and add to it often.
Need help? Phone a friend. Ask your BFF what she loves about you and use her answers as a jumping off point for realizing just how incredible you truly are. (I do this all the time with my brothers — mostly, I’m just fishing for compliments but calling it self-love.)