Reetika Gupta-Chaudhary looks at how to improve yourself, connecting with yourself, and how to implement self-love.
When you hear the word ‘love’, there may be a lot of people you might think of, such as your mother, your partner, your kids and maybe even your neighbour, but the last person you think of is yourself. Self-love is about connecting to your innermost needs, celebrating the freedom of being you, accepting and honouring who you truly are while dropping your judgement and resistance towards yourself.
It includes not just the way you treat yourself outwardly, but also the inner thoughts and feelings (conscious or subconscious) you hold about yourself. For example, if your best friend wasn’t performing well in his exams, what will you say to him? Will you tell him how useless he is and that he should give up on his exams or will you ask him not to lose hope and carry on trying, but at the same time advise him to look after his health?
Now imagine yourself in a similar situation, if you are performing terribly in your exams, what would you say to yourself? Will you feel upset, angry or disappointed with yourself? Will you be able to forgive yourself for underperforming? Will you still look after your personal wellbeing (by not overstressing)? The truth is that almost all of us fall victim to destructive self-pattern, where in the face of challenge we either seem to go into a state of depression or start doing some other form of self-harm, for example indulging in unhealthy eating habits. Most of the time, a challenge usually leads us to lack of trust in ourselves, and hence to depleted confidence.
Loving oneself has often been confused with being narcissistic, but there is a clear difference in loving oneself and being a narcissist. A narcissist is someone who is self-obsessed and lacks empathy for others, but on the other hand a self-loving person is happy and fulfilled and is ready to give love, care and attention to others. Why is self-love important? Have you ever felt used, unappreciated or undervalued? Imagine you wish to help a member of your family, a friend, or a distressed client and you always put these people’s needs before yours. How long will your efforts last before you feel exhausted and out of energy? Self-love is basically the source of all love and energy that you wish to provide to others.
If you don’t work on keeping the source alive, feelings of wanting to do things for other people will soon turn into regret, expectation and anger. You will start feeling that other people have been misusing your kindness and then become the big trap in which we all tend to fall. We all start feeling like someone else needs to fulfil our needs just the way we are fulfilling other people’s needs.
This vicious circle of dependency leads to more and more sour relationships in our life, and we are always expecting other people to meet our mental, physical and emotional needs. How do you know if you truly love yourself? On the face of it, everyone thinks that they love themselves, but in essence we are always putting ourselves in low priority by doing or not doing certain things because we are worried about other people’s opinion.