Self-love and Change
We all assume we love ourselves - but how do we really know that we are loving ourselves? Is loving yourself bubble baths and take away dinners every night or is it early morning exercise routines or is it both? Is it believing in yourself and going for what you dream of or talking yourself out of it to spare yourself the embarrassment of failing, or is it both?
Love is a noun, it’s also a verb so it has to do with beliefs as well as actions. One definition of love strikes a chord with many of us. If you are a Christian you will probably be familiar with it.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This beautiful description is often cited as a guide for loving others but is rarely applied to one’s self because that would seem self-centred or even selfish. But I want you to know this - loving yourself is NOT self-centred or selfish. It is actually a foundational requirement for loving others and for facing all that this world will hurl at you.
If you still need convincing, here is a good reason why you should love yourself.
How did you come to exist? It was not by accident but by divine design. You were created by God and He declared everything He made as good. If you agree with this truth, you have no choice but to agree and that you are 100% lovable. We are all 100% lovable. Our lovability is not determined by the way other people perceive or treat us but on this fundamental fact - that we were created by God.
If you believe this, then you will be willing to love yourself and in respect to the examples given at the beginning (takeaways, exercise, pursuing dreams or not) you will give yourself what you deserve with the long term view in mind. Loving yourself is almost like parenting yourself. Most parents will give their children treats, but will also discipline them and most importantly will have the long term view in mind of raising a healthy, whole and independent human being.
Loving yourself is NOT an afterthought, it is not a thing you do after you get tired of loving others but it IS the foundation of everything you do. We all know that you cannot give what you do not have and you cannot fill anything up from empty. So you have to love yourself first, before you are able to love others.
When we love ourselves it can be an attractive quality because it is probably the most powerful emotion God has given us.
Loving Yourself through Change
The common view of Change is out with the old, in with the new. The key to loving yourself through change lies in challenging that view. You need to adopt new beliefs about change. Instead of seeing change as going from a bad/good place to a better place, we need to see it as growth. Just like we grew from childhood to adulthood and transformed. One stage was not better or worse it was a natural progression.
Once you’ve got that down, you need to commit to enjoying the journey - don’t be in the negative space. For example if you want to move to a new home, it's no good berating everything about the home you currently live in. It's negative and not helpful, because what you focus on, expands. If you want to lose weight, it's no good vilifying your current weight because you are probably only going to shame yourself and not motivate yourself.
Another thing to note is that the person you were is key to being the person you are becoming - like both sides of the coin. For example, I was painfully shy growing up and only in adulthood did I start developing my voice. Sometimes my inner critic tries nags me about starting late and how I should have done this sooner but reflection has helped me see that being shy as a child IS key to who I am today. It made me more observant of people and improved my ability to read non verbal cues and decode interpersonal connections.
If you are changing in an area of your life where you feel you have made mistakes forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for the things you didn’t see or do as well as the things you did. Our actions are a reflection of our knowledge, be gracious to yourself and give yourself a change to do better now that you know better.
Self-love is not a new age term neither is it a selfish idea. It is rooted in our identity. Just as our love for people is often tied to who they are to us, our love for ourselves is tied to who we are in the world - human beings created by God. Our thoughts are the birthplace of our actions so it is important to examine what we believe about who we are and how we treat ourselves especially when we are going through change. Our beliefs about change also affect our experiences and helps us to transcend from merely tolerating the change to growing and thriving through it.
Photo by Content Pixie