“To thine own self be true.” –
Let’s be honest, how many of you can say this statement represents our life? Are you being true to yourself, or are you living a façade? Most of us are the latter, but swear we’re living in the former…especially in the sector of self-love. Now hear me out, ladies! We have a very warped perception of the true definition of self-love. We’re led to believe that it means having our hair laid out, nails on point, toes on fleek (do people even still use that word?!), body snatched, and clothes cycled out every season for the latest trends. While this may be a 100th of a 10th of 1% true, it is by no means an honest measure of self-love. It may be a representation of your Love Language, but self-love is on another level.
First, let’s break down the two words (thanks, Merriam Webster!):
Self: the entire person of an individual
Love: unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
Combine these two and you have the overall meaning of self-love: the act of being unselfish, loyal, and benevolently concerned for you. That sounds good, right? Is this really all there is to it?
In a word…no.
Self-love is so much deeper than a combined Merriam Webster definition. It goes beyond the physical appearance and resides on a deeper, cellular level. How we think…how we act…how we treat ourselves is an indicator of how much – or how little – self-love you possess. The way you carry yourself in person and in private are a direct reflection of how you value yourself. Before we dive in to what self-love is, let’s clarify what it is not.
Going back to my examples, these are not true signs of self-love. Yes, we all want to look good and personal care is a must, but that doesn’t equate self-love. In fact, we as women are notorious for using our outer appearance to hide our feelings. If we feel our body isn’t up to par, we wear clothing that hides our shape. If we dislike our hair, we cover it up with wigs and weaves. If our skin is less than perfect (God forbid we have a pimple or scar) we cover it with make-up. We look great on the outside, but it’s only to cover up the emptiness and inadequacy we feel on the inside. And who causes these feelings? Family? Friends? Lovers? The media? We can point as many fingers as we want, but the bottom line is WE are the cause of these feelings. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt stated this truth some decades ago and she was spot on. We’re so concerned about how appealing we are to others so THEY will love us, that we neglect to love our natural self. What do we end up doing instead? We hide behind the disguises of painted nails, false hair, compromised complexions, and uncomfortable clothing – all for the sake of love.
Ladies, this is not true self-love. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good so long as you’re doing it for YOU and not THEM!
Here’s what real self-love looks like. It’s proper rest and nutrition. It’s laughing and smiling genuinely because you’re happy with yourself. It’s complimenting other women in a positive light. It’s living the life that you desire. It’s being grateful for everyone and everything in your life. It’s spending quality time with yourself doing what you love. It’s practicing your beliefs. It’s being you…unashamed and unapologetically!
When I first understood self-love I was on the other side of the spectrum. In fact, I was so far on the other side I didn’t even bother to hide it. My focus was on everyone else: kids, family, not-so-significant others. Everyone got a piece of my love except for me. As far as receiving it…that was a foreign concept. Do you know what it’s like to never be told that you’re loved? That you’re beautiful? That you are appreciated? Now imagine that being your entire life. Growing up, these words were non-existent. It was just assumed, I guess. So, of course, the first time someone told me they “loved me” I was ecstatic! I didn’t bother to think if they were telling the truth or why they said it in the first place. I don’t even think I knew what the word “love” really meant. I was just so enamored a the fact that someone finally – FINALLY – told me they loved me. Too bad that person lied…and so did the next one…and the next one…and on and on and on.
It would take years of disappointments, let downs, and false illusions to finally accept that none of these claims (made by not-so-significant others and friends) were true. It would take just as long to rebound from the hurt and confusion it caused me to feel. If they never really loved me, did that mean I was unlovable? Did I even know the true meaning of love? Again, it would be years before I finally GOT it.
You see, where most of us as women go wrong is we look for others to love us instead of learning to first love ourselves. In order to love ourselves, we need to know ourselves. In order to know ourselves, we need to spend time within ourselves. Only then are we capable of self-love, and it isn’t until we master self-love that we are truly able to love others. Otherwise, we’re simply lost souls seeking a “feeling” that we think is love, but we’re not quite sure because we don’t really know what love is ourselves. Once we get that understanding, we become force to be reckoned with!
This week, I want you to spend some time defining self-love. What does it mean to you? Are you living out the true meaning of self-love, or are you covering it up with distractions and illusions to mask the pain? What will it take to improve your self-love? Share your story below. This blog isn’t just about me…it’s about US! Look for the video blog expounding on this topic in a few days. You can view my current and previous videos here.