Some Thoughts on Self-Love

Is self-love really egotistical and selfish or is that a lie we're told?

Photo by Samantha Mackulin

Recently when looking up synonyms for the term Self-Love on an online thesaurus, I was disheartened to find that the only results that appeared were the words egotism, conceit, narcissism, vainglory and vanity. Such Negativity. From this exercise and further research, I came to the conclusion that under general consensus, it is ‘bad’ to love yourself. I say bullshit. On the contrary, learning to love yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself, others and the planet.

But why is it that our lack of confidence is not just allowed to breed, but encouraged? And why does this destructive way of thinking seem to fit so snuggly into the mechanics of modern-day society? -Because in the name of capitalism, low self-esteem is needed
(That’s not okay). Commercial advertisement would cease to function without our insecurities. We are told directly that whatever we have, be it body, diet, car or lifestyle, it is not sufficient. We need more, bigger, better, stronger. If we accepted ourselves as okay, much of commercial business would collapse. Insecurity is self-destructive, but (and with reference to Naomi Wolf) a quietly mad population is a tractable one. It is not just advertising that prospers from and encourages low self-esteem; on reflection, there are many other contributing factors. Not a day goes by where we don’t see an advert, film or piece of writing that portrays romantic attraction as the be all and end all. -Just to be clear, I am not denying that love is a wonderful, magical thing which can play a significant role in enhancing our happiness and self-perception- BUT this is not all we are being taught, we are learning that we cannot be validated as beautiful
human beings without the consent of a romantic partner, our inner and outer attractiveness is not real unless stated by an other. The tree never fell because nobody heard it. In a feverish urge to be accepted, we engineer ourselves into ‘their type’. In reality, what people think of us is irrelevant (within reason; of course you don’t want to completely alienate yourself), what I am saying is that lovers come and go, some people like us, some people don’t, but it is you who has to live with you 24/7 and there is no reason why you should not be loved unconditionally, by you, 24/7. We are all equal and all beautiful.

With self-love comes a love for others and empowerment, all are symbiotically linked. But what happens when there is a fundamental lack of empowerment? More often than not, from the offset, the education system teaches us to be followers rather than leaders. We are not taught to be innovators or agents of change. (this is arguably being enhanced by the internet, but that is another debate). What will happen to our planet when everyone thinks it will be fixed for us, what happens to the state of our confidence when we feel so removed from the ability to create change? Of course, there are millions of amazing people across the globe producing positive change every day, but I think this number could be both higher and on a more personal level; we need to know that there is always possibility for positive growth in our own lives and minds. The messages we are being taught state otherwise. As aforementioned, our lack of confidence and empowerment provides fuel for the teaching that we are followers, not leaders. This, in turn, benefits hierarchical based politics- “we are looking for a saviour”. Without individual empowerment, when will we work horizontally, as a community, benefitting from each other’s knowledge? When will we veer away from capitalism and embrace and nurture ourselves and those around us?

Everyone has a right to have confidence in their abilities, voice their opinions and know that fundamentally they are
good enough. But how do we transcend external pressures? Here are my (humble and arguable) top tips:

1. Give yourself a shiny! (Praise yourself [for pre-Cbeebies readers])
Cliché and obvious, but praise yourself every day and stick with it. Self-affirmation. It works. We have all done a lot of cool
stuff in our lives don’t cha know?

2. (Warning: another cliché) Step out of your comfort zone.
It’s not that bad and it will give you more confidence for the next time you take a risk and you will grow like a beautiful
flower!

3. Try not to define yourself by the way others see you.
Read the book ‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger. It’s good.

4. Be grounded in nature
The fragility in our confidence can come from reliance on artificial and insubstantial means of defining ourselves, far
better to be grounded in nature, where appearance and money are irrelevant. We are part of a wider system.

5. Let your voice be heard
If you are feeling particularly politically or personally un-empowered, do something that makes you feel good, makes
you come alive. What do you believe in? Discuss it with friends, share opinions and knowledge. Conversation is an
untapped resource.

6. And finally… listen to what Jake Bugg says and write a note to yourself.
Nobody gets enough post these days; send yourself some reminding yourself how marvellous you are, even if you don’t
believe it at first. You could even put stickers on it!