Oh let me count the ways…in which I don’t love myself. There is an abundance of self-help articles telling you How to Love Yourself in 10 Steps and How to Be Your Own Best Friend, and that’s great. But here’s the fine print: No one can teach you how to love you except you.
Self-love is a continuous journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance but I found myself having a difficult time with both, feeling as if there was a roadblock between my intentions and my hardwiring. Turns out that roadblock was created from subconsciously combining self-love with conditional love, where the level of how much I loved myself depended on my ability to continuously meet certain conditions.
I attributed my sense of worth to the amount of success I achieved in society’s standards.
I based my level of attraction on the amount of acknowledgement I gained from others.
And I gained confidence from the possession of external items.
These three pillars became the foundation of my self-love.
This vicious push-pull cycle grew into a life filled with “I love you” one day and “I love you not” another. What I would later come to realize is that it was impossible to sustain a constant level of self-love when the foundation was built upon pillars that would always be impermanent— society’s definition of success, standards of beauty, and acknowledgment from others.
So when I was put in a position where I could no longer meet any of my self-love conditions, all three pillars came tumbling down in one fell swoop. My self-love turned into self-hate because I had no idea how to love myself when there was nothing physical to attain. This internal war lasted a couple years until I realized that I do not have to like everything about myself to be able to love myself unconditionally.
So where I am now? Trying to shift the conditional to the unconditional. First, by acknowledging that self-awareness is half the battle. Then, by starting to find the parts within myself that I already love and remembering to complement myself about them. Lastly, by acknowledging the parts that I despise and learning to send even more love to those areas (because they need it more).
I am pushing forward remembering that external things are forever fleeting but the love I have for myself should never be.