Self-love is an art that many of us struggle to master. It involves the ability to appreciate, accept, and prioritize oneself. While it is essential for a fulfilling and healthy life, many people struggle with it due to societal pressures, negative self-talk, trauma, and past experiences. By practicing self-awareness, compassion, and acceptance, individuals can learn to cultivate a strong sense of self-love that empowers them to lead fulfilling lives. However, this is not without consistent effort on one’s part.
The way we perceive ourselves is heavily influenced by our experiences and my childhood experiences had a huge impact on my sense of self-love.
Growing up, I experienced a great deal of abuse. The trauma I experienced caused severe damage to my emotional well-being. As a result, I suffered from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and feelings of unworthiness. I became a very cold and guarded person as a means of survival. And as I aged, I didn’t know myself, I didn’t try to.
The pain and hurt that I experienced lingered on for years, making it hard to form healthy relationships with others, especially myself. For a year, I lost hope. Lost hope in my life and all the possibilities that could be. Overwhelmed with grief, I wrote a poem about ending it all. I know it’s selfish, but at the time it seemed more appealing to leave everyone and everything behind. And not because I don’t appreciate my beautiful family and amazing friends, but because I wanted my pain to end. When you spend the majority of your life fighting for basic needs, you can break down, no longer seeing a clear view to keep fighting. That’s how I felt at the time.
It wasn’t until I reached my 30’s, that my journey to self-love began.
I asked myself “With all you have endured, do you really want to spend the rest of your life unhappy?
“Never knowing peace, never knowing what a happy life could be?”.
From that day forward I understood that in order to see change, I need to go within myself and….. Heal.
First I began to tackle the negative intrusive thoughts with self-care and compassion. I’ve always had a bad habit of thinking the worst, especially of myself. Expecting the worst was my defense mechanism and I rationalized this toxic trait without realizing how much damage I caused myself internally. Once I realized that my negative thoughts are a hindrance to my growth as a person, I began to practice gratitude and positivity. I learned to envision having a happy and peaceful life and when the negative thoughts would start to creep in, I would immediately banish them.
Moreover, I began to concentrate on what I excel at and establish limits. Kindness towards myself became a priority, characterized by tolerance, empathy, and care. The habit of harsh self-criticism, especially in times of mistake, was left behind. I discovered the importance of declining activities that do not bring me joy or benefit me.
I also set boundaries with people who bring drama and negativity into my life. As a result, my mental and emotional health improved tremendously as well as my life. I can happily say for the first time, I am experiencing true happiness and peace.
The art of self-love is essential for our well-being. It involves accepting ourselves, setting boundaries, forgiving ourselves, and practicing positive self-talk. By practicing self-love, we can improve our mental and emotional health and live happier, more fulfilling lives. So go ahead, and start practicing the art of self-love today!