Self-love and the Journey
What does it mean? What does it look like?
Is it putting yourself above others? Is it authentic confidence in one’s self?
How do we get it? How do we build it?
I think it links closely to self-care. In an obvious way, self-love is loving oneself---but we all know we “technically” can’t define a word with the word itself.
To me, self-love is the conscious act and choice of appreciating what makes you who you are. Self-love is having an authentic confidence and it is also knowing one’s worth.
When we truly love ourselves, we know what we desire to cultivate within ourselves as well as what we desire to be surrounded by.
I think self-love can be expressed in a million ways. It goes hand-in-hand with self-care. When you love something, you take care of it. When you love yourself, you take care of yourself. Self-love is being kind to yourself, but not letting yourself off the hook.
I think, genuine self-love lives in a constant awareness of what is oneself. When we love ourselves well, we empower ourselves to show up better for our world, our dreams, ourselves. Self-love isn’t an excuse to not do relationship or community well. Self-love isn’t an excuse to build walls and isolate yourself. No. Self-love is an invitation to invest in you, so you can show up and do things well.
What does this have to do with the journey though? What is the journey? To answer the first, I think it has a lot. To answer the second, we can say the journey is life, encompassing the highs or the mountaintop, the lows, and the tender space (the in-between/valley). If you missed it, last week I shared my thoughts and feels on tender space.
You see, I think it is easy to love ourselves when everything is going as planned---when that dream comes true or that opportunity opens up (the high). We celebrate our moment, patting ourselves on the back. However, I find, the true test of self-love is when we are in the lowest of the low or maintaining in the mundane (the tender space). When things aren’t popping off like fireworks. When that project didn’t go as planned, when opportunities seem to be locked away---It is there I have found, my love for me is challenged.
A few years ago----3 to be exact, I realized I wasn’t a huge fan of myself when I was only at 50% or lower. I wasn’t my biggest cheerleader when things got hard or messy. If I wasn’t at 100%, I didn’t like me. I shamed me for feeling the feels be that disappointment or comparison or fear or sadness. I rushed to try and make myself “perfect” and not messy. I didn’t like feeling messy or in progress. I’ll never forget the moment God called me out on that. He placed that mirror in my face and I realized it—that I conditionally loved me and that was not ok.
Even now, three years later, I still struggle with it. Am I better than I was three years ago? Maybe. But I still have so much room for growth in this area. Now, I lean more into my messy spaces. I don’t shame myself as much, but somedays I don’t always win in this area.
All that to say, I truly believe how we love ourselves---the way we talk to ourselves matters greatly in the journey. It matters in the high moments of life as well as the low and in-between. We are often our biggest critics and our lack of kindness to ourselves can hold us back. In this pursuit of simple living and intentionality, I find it is vital that we love ourselves well; that we are intentional with ourselves and our space. But what does this look like? I’m not going to pretend that I have the road map for this because I think every journey is unique. But here are three things I think self-love looks like in the journey:
1. Self-love looks like getting to know YOU
How do you like your eggs? Random question right? Not so random when placed in context.
I’ll never forget the day I was asked this question. I was sitting in the living room of friend’s home in Northern California. It was a fairly large group of us and one of my closest friends was leading out a discussion. Pretty sure the conversation was centered around being connected to our hearts. Either way, she ended her piece referencing Runaway Bride (one of my FAVORITE Julia Roberts films), where---if you don’t know---Roberts’ main character didn’t know what she did or did not like. She just took on whatever the guy she was dating enjoyed and near the end she ventured to figure out what she liked. ANYWAYS, all that to say, my friend asked us, how did we like our eggs and for me---that began a beautiful journey of figuring out me.
So, ask yourself---how do you like______? Fill in the blank with anything. Remember, self-love looks like you knowing you in every season and space. Because, as life unfolds and seasons shift, we evolve and it is always good to check-in with yourself and discover what is new or the same.
2. Self-love looks like emotional and mental awareness
I shared this in last week’s post on self-care, but, now more than ever, there is an awakening to emotional and mental awareness and care. I see that my generation has tapped into something so vital. No longer are we okay with covering things up and keeping it pretty. We hunger for something authentic and real. We see and experience the affects of depression and anxiety. We acknowledge the role of trauma in how we respond to the world. In all of this realization and discovery, we want to be and do better.
As we lean into this wave, I feel that self-love looks like emotional and mental awareness. It’s knowing our boundaries and our needs. It’s expressing and fighting for them. It’s been unwavering in protecting and cultivating the culture and atmosphere we wish to build and create. Again, this is not an excuse to build walls or to do relationship/community poorly. Rather, it is an invitation to bring your best yourself. It is an invitation to knowing you more deeply and healing wounds that hold you back.
3. Self-love looks like accepting you but not enabling you
I said it earlier in this post and I’ll say it again, “Self-love is being kind to yourself, but not letting yourself off the hook”. Self-love and self-acceptance go together. I think we all now that. When we love someone, we accept them---flaws and all. Kindly note, however, that this does not mean we enable unhealthy or harmful behavior or habits. When you truly love and accept someone, you don’t let them stay in their mess. You call them up and out.
I think it is the same for us with ourselves. Whether anyone accepts us or not, we should accept ourselves and the things that make us who we are—even our areas of growth. In that same breath, when we truly love and accept ourselves, we aren’t okay with staying in our mess. We aren’t okay with feeding the unhealthy and harmful habits. We call ourselves up and out. We get that counseling, we have that confrontation. We check ourselves and work to be and do better.
Is it easier said than done? Sure! But, when you tie in being emotionally and mentally aware with accepting yourself but not enabling unhealthy and/or harmful behavior and habits, I think we take really big steps to loving ourselves well and living full lives.
Self-love and the Mountaintop. Self-love and the Low. Self-love and the Tender Space. Self-love in each space is vital and needed. It is a journey. I don’t think there’s an “arriving” moment, because we evolve. With each new season and opportunity, we journey to discovering a new part of who we are. In that discovery, we are invited to love ourselves in a new and deeper way.
All this to say, whether you are living in the greatest moment of your life (the mountain top), pressing through the lowest of lows or trying to maintain in the mundane (the tender space, the in-between), do what you need to do to love yourself better in the space you are in.
Let’s talk about it!
What does self-love mean to you? How do you pursue, cultivate or maintain genuine self-love?