How to Love Yourself in 5 Questions
My world changed the day that someone told me I could be awful and ugly and still be worth loving. It’s not that I think I am those things, but until then, I didn’t realize I had been loving myself conditionally.
Now when I challenge my negative thoughts, I always add that to the end. “I’m not bad at everything, people don’t hate me, but even if those things were true - I would still be worth loving”. The more I repeat this to myself, the more I can love myself through the things I cringe about.
1. Do you have conditions for loving yourself? What are they?
The thing I’ve since learned is that this helps me love other people too. It helps me stay away from knee-jerk reactions about people being good or bad, and it helps me love people when they’re harmful and at their worst.
This is important to me, because I believe in transformative justice. Loving someone who’s being an asshole is one way that we make space for accountability without turning it into punishment. I’m not saying that I love every asshole I know, just that sometimes it feels like an either/or choice and I don’t think it always has to be. Loving myself doesn’t mean loving everything I do; knowing that helps me keep loving other people without needing to downplay their mistakes.
2. Who else does self-love help you show up for?
Sometimes trying to love myself feels like an exorcism. Ripping off everything I’ve tried on and screaming at myself in the mirror - it’s not always mindfulness or self-care that gets me out of those moments. Sometimes it is, but more often it’s something guttural, intense, physical.
Instead of reining it in or challenging it, I’ve learned that loving myself is a process of letting it out. Screaming, smashing, typing, running, crying, fucking, singing, breathing deep. I know that hate lives in my body no matter what my mind says, so I’ve got to shake up my body to root it out.
Then I can close my eyes and listen inwards, feel deep in my belly. If I trust enough that it’s there, sometimes I can feel self-love wanting to pour out of me. The trick is learning how to tap it like a Maple, how to let it flow without getting in its way. It’s a process of drowning out everything that tells me I can’t love myself until..., then saying the biggest fuck you by doing it right now.
3. What do you need to let go of to make room for self-love? How do you let it out?
When I don’t know how to receive love from myself, I start with a wound that’s not too deep. Like the time a sales clerk told me she thought the ring I was trying on was too thin for my finger - I was annoyed because I liked the ring, but also because I felt neutral about the size of my fingers before that moment.
So that’s one place I start, trying my best to radiate love on to that one finger. Moisturizing the knuckle, appreciating the wrinkles, being grateful for the things it does. Once that’s easy, I move on to something harder.
4. How do you love yourself? What actions can you take that help you feel loved?
There’s an upward spiral to self-love, where the more you practice loving yourself, the more you love yourself, the easier it is to practice, the easier it is to feel... It’s an everyday practice that builds up over time.
For me, loving myself is raging about the world instead of raging at myself. It’s understanding that my head leads me astray, not my heart. It’s digging into the crevices of my life to heap love on to my most shame-filled moments. It’s excavating every ounce of self-love in a world that wants to keep it buried.
5. What does it feel like to love yourself?
This post was written by Sam Whittle.
This is the second blog post for our 2019 Summer of Self-Love! Every week for 12 weeks, we're sharing questions, activities or ideas that we hope will help you fall more in love with yourself this summer. You can find our first post here, or sign up for our Summer of Self-Love Newsletter here.