I spent more than 20 years at war with myself. I hated who I saw in the mirror. I cycled through eating disorders and was diagnosed with clinical depression. I hated myself. The person I saw in the mirror was disgusting to me.
That was then. I’ve come a long way since those days of self-sabotage. Today I love myself and practice kindness from the inside out. It took the understanding of what self-love wasn’t for me to reach the real love and respect that can only come from a dedication to being true to yourself.
Self-love has nothing to do with vanity or superficial undertones. It has everything to do with respect, self-actualization and choosing joy for yourself and your life. Self-love is possible when we understand what it is not.
Here are seven things self-love isn’t:
1. Self-love is not conditional.
Sometimes we put conditions on the love we give and receive. We say things like, When I get the raise, then I will be happy. When I hit my goal weight, then I can find The One. When I x and y, then I can z.
This actually prevents you from feeling joy in the moment. If you're waiting for happiness to come to you, you're putting conditions on your own joy. Practice feeling happy in the moment. That's real happiness.
2. Self-love is not soaked in vanity.
You may have met that person who was stuck-up, cocky or made you feel as though he was better than everyone else. That person, who is vain, conceited or stuck-up, is just hurting. Usually those people are insecure and alone. If you know someone who is egocentric, this is not self-love. It is a cry out for love.
3. Self-love does not disregard others.
Putting yourself first is about honoring yourself and your needs. But when you do this by disregarding others, you are sabotaging relationships. Walking all over people to get ahead, or never apologizing for your disregard is not self-love.
4. Self-love is truly compassionate.
Self-love gets a bad rap because some folks often think it’s selfish. Real self-love is of service to others. But if self-love is opportunistic, greedy, inconsiderate and self-seeking, it's a false representation of real love. Don't be fooled by the inconsiderate one who puts their needs first, sacrificing everyone else.
5. Self-love is not defensive.
Self-love is open, honest and accepting. The person who truly loves himself or herself has nothing to prove. Self-love is unconditional and comfortable in its own skin. When someone lashes out or tries defend her actions or beliefs, it reveals her fears and insecurity. Real love has nothing to hide or prove.
6. Self-love is not running from problems.
Some people who claim to love themselves bolt when things get tough. But removing yourself from a situation that no longer works without addressing the root cause is like putting a Band-Aid over a broken leg. It’s a temporary fix that causes heaps of permanent damage in the long run. People who love themselves also respect themselves enough to know they deserve better. But they address the root cause of the problems.
7. Self-love is not over-giving.
Real self-love is honest and introspective. It understands and is compassionate but, make no mistake, it is not over-giving. People who genuinely love themselves know how to say no, and they take time to find balance and joy.
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