It seems like so many are looking for love in clubs and cafés, while overlooking one of the most important places– the mirror.
This may be shrugged off this Valentine’s Day as you see countless Instagram posts of couples exclaiming their affection for each other. A romance between two people can be special, but as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
The journey to self-love is not an easy one, but it is vital for a happier and more fulfilling life. For me the path was troublesome at times with harsh self-criticism, low self-confidence, and teenage acne. The only affirmation I received came from outside relationships.
One tough lesson I learned is that your validation should never lie in another human being. This was made clear to me after the end of a relationship. It wasn’t the nicest way to learn about self-love, but the message has been forever cemented in my spirit.
When you’re in love, you seek to please the object of your affection. And when this love is also directed towards yourself, the same applies. Since reaching a place of acceptance and love for myself, I make better decisions. This is reflected in my pursuit of goals, who I surround myself with, and how I carry myself. I choose to go after things that will make me happy; I choose to surround myself with those who are kind and inspire me; and I choose to walk with my head high, even on days when I’d rather just crawl back into bed.
If you consistently make poor decisions in life and love, what message are you sending yourself? You deserve to reap the benefits of healthy choices. This comes from self-love.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that, “Love is patient and kind.” In order to truly love yourself, you need to exercise patience. Progress is a daily effort, not a race. Understand that growth is not always linear. Sometimes you fall back a step, but as long as you keep learning from mistakes, you can continue forward stronger than ever.
I don’t always do or say the right things, but I refuse to beat myself up over it. This is where kindness comes into play. Why is it that we can easily show compassion to others, yet we are often our harshest critic instead of our biggest cheerleader? Be nice to yourself. Accountability should also apply to your accomplishments, not just your mistakes.
And speaking of mistakes, 1 Corinthians 13 also says that love “keeps no records of wrongs.” Forgiveness is also crucial in this journey. Holding on to what you should or not should have done in the past is a heavy burden that no one should bear.
Self-love is more than telling yourself how good you look before a night out. It’s more than the feeling you get after a new haircut. Unlike love between two people, you can’t hide or sugarcoat your (sometimes messy) truth. You know all there is to know about you. And choosing to love yourself in spite of that reality is worthy of a Hallmark card in the Valentine’s Day section.
— Tara Pook