The worst advice I’ve ever received was “just love yourself” Uhh, thanks, because I’m actively just trying to hate myself over here.
Here’s the problem with this advice. Too often we think of loving ourselves as a final destination, as if you flip a switch and suddenly you’re transported to some magical island of enlightenment and relationship bliss. The alternative is feeling ashamed—as if you’re not strong enough, or working hard enough, to get there. This mentality does more damage than it does good.
Loving yourself is not a destination. Loving yourself is a muscle you build.
Maybe ‘love’ is too overwhelming of a word. Perhaps you’re fresh out of a breakup, or feeling down about life, and to imagine being loving in such a time of hardship seems impossible. That’s okay.
If you can’t do ‘love’ right now, maybe you can try self-kindess. Because you can be hurting, and still actively choose small decisions rooted in self-kindness. And it’s a choice you get to make, every single day. And in every day, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of moments where you can ask:
Am I being kind to myself right now, or not?
You also get better at it the more you practice, which is really good news! When we approach self-love (or self-kindness) as a way of living, rather than some elevated state of being, we can choose at this exact moment to start.
The more you choose acts of self-kindness, the more it becomes habitual, and it all adds up, like putting coins in a piggy bank. Even if you miss a few days, it doesn’t negate all the coins you already saved up. Just focus on putting in another self-kindess coin in the bank, and then another one after that.
If you are wondering how you can start, I recommend starting a daily practice of self-care. This is something you do to nurture yourself, something you know is healthy for you in the long run. That might be starting a gratitude journal, or taking 15 minutes to listen to a guided meditation, or proactively doing something that helps you grow.
When you grow, you feel good about yourself, when you’re stagnant, you feel bad about yourself. So take a class, listen to an audio book, do something, anything on a regular basis that makes you grow. You can grow your skills, your intelligence, your awareness – whatever it is, just make it a habit to make evolving an intention, not just a byproduct of life.
Remember, even you reading this list is an act of self-kindess. You’re clearly curious to learn, grow and be happier, and that’s a fine start. Don’t beat yourself up if you forget to meditate or if you fall back into an old habit, the whole point is to try your best. Be gentle with yourself along the way.
Here’s to kindness,