Nobody really teaches us how to love ourselves. Sometimes, our deepest hurt and pain becomes our greatest teacher that we deserve better love. Other times, seeing others being kind to themselves can be inspirational enough to make us want to draw the same love towards ourselves. But whatever it is, I have come to learn that there is no absolute nor a one size fits all formula on how to learn to be at home with yourself.
It took me 6 years of being in an amazing relationship with an awesome gentleman to realize that I didn’t know myself. I bet you are confused, so let me break it down for you. The last 6 years, I have spent it with someone that valued me at the core of my being; a respectful and a loving guy, a textbook definition of the perfect guy. For the longest time, however, I held on tightly to the idea that I needed to always have someone around to make me feel loved. The thought of having someone validate me and constantly remind me of how much loved I am, gave me comfort but the honest truth, I sought deeper levels of love from others out of fear that if I ever lose them, I will lose myself. I was afraid of being alone. Outside of my loving relationship, I was just a girl scared of her own company. One morning, while having a one on one pep talk with myself in the mirror, as per usual ( BTW: Am I the only one that talks to themselves every morning?), unprovoked, I asked myself these triggering questions: “WHO AM I”? “Who am I outside my relationship”? Pierced by my own conscious, I broke down. To be quite frank, I didn’t have an answer. I probably didn’t want to know too. Months and months of contemplating with myself, I finally made a conscious decision to go find myself…Alone.
It is easier to feel loved when we are surrounded by a loving environment; easier to feel confident when we are often validated in our being, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having all that. Hear me. But what happens when we reach the end of our ditches, when we sit in places of pure silence and stillness, where the only words we hear and the feelings we feel are those that echoes from within and back?
I thought I knew how to love myself until the love I was used to no longer existed. Weeks of being on this brave journey of self -discovery and self -love, I soon realized the journey was not as exciting as I had anticipated. Suddenly, fear clouded me. “I messed up”. “I messed up big time for leaving”, I thought to myself. Before I knew it, I was back at square one in another relationship, doing the very same thing that I needed to change. Still WAITING on to be LOVED. When my last relationship finally ended, with a broken heart, I knew I needed to work on myself. FAST.. And so I did. For the first time in my 13 years of dating (I definitely qualify for a relationship veteran package ha-ha), I stopped searching for HOME within others and elevated the foundation of home within myself.
Often, we give others the tedious job of loving us. We await others to show love to us. We seek what love looks like based on the narrative of those we love yet we can’t define love for ourselves. We want others to compliment us. We long to hear them continuously utter the words and prove their action of love to us, yet we often struggle to show love to ourselves. We are harsh on ourselves with our words, our thoughts, our decisions and actions towards our being. We are our biggest critics and tear our being down, yet act so surprise when others revert back the energy we so often give to ourselves. We often seek external validation and use it as a measure of our worth. We enter a place where we want to be accepted, to be validated and reassured that we are worthy of love. Well, God is love;love that is perfect and in abundance and because he resides in us, we are all capable of loving, including ourselves.
I frequently ask myself, “what is Self-Love”? Personally, I have come to learn that Self- Love is an act of forgiveness. Forgiveness that you give to yourself for the way you that you showed up because you didn’t know better and sometimes, even when you knew better, you didn’t do better. Self- love is about finding wholeness in your individuality and authentic-self and being aware of who you are. The beliefs about yourself, the thought around your Identity and the deeds you do to yourself and permit others to do onto you. The act of loving yourself, is no child’s playground but once you get a glimpse of what it means and run with it, it can change the trajectory of your entire life
The definition of self-love is subjective. Choosing to love yourself looks different to different people. It differs from season to season, even within the same person. We are ever evolving beings. To those in toxic relationships and friendships, self-love could be the courage to finally step out of the toxicity. To those overworked and tired from their jobs, self-love could be a day off to unplug and rest. To some, self-love is about buying that item you always wished for. To others it may be a disconnection to a memory, a thought, a traumatic event, a place or even a person. To those in spaces that don’t hold room for them to speak, self-love could be finding your voice again in areas that try to shut it. To others it could be celebrating yourself for whatever “small” or big wins you have achieved in your life. Sometimes, self-love could be going back to the gym after a pattern of unhealthy eating habits and other times, it could be seeking help, going to rehabilitation center or to finally look yourself in the mirror and not resent the reflection of your being. Self-love could simply means setting out boundaries to maintain your peace and all that flows through you. Other times, it means chasing your dreams even with doubt and fear lingering in your mind. Some days, loving yourself means breaking down the walls you have built around yourself because of past hurt and letting people permeate their genuine love on you.. Self-love can be tangible efforts, a feeling or decision but the greatest act of loving oneself is the work that you do on the inside that makes you to fully know and understand your true being.
Returning home to yourself means you need to unclench your fist and let go. To let go of what used to be, to let go of the hurt, the pain, the doubt, the fear and of everything that hinders you from truly tapping into who God initially had in mind when he created you. Redefine what selflove means to you in the season that you are in.
Being at home with yourself doesn’t mean all days are glamorous, nor does it connote that you will always feel on top of your games. Some days you will feel that you still doubt, shrink and question your being. It is perfectly okay to not feel the love for yourself every time but do not overstay being in there. Some days you will run back to the same mistake that you vowed and thought you were strong and smart enough to ever go back to. Understand that the act of loving yourself is not a destination. It is not a place you work towards to and arrive. It is a continual journey of intentional self-discovery, on an intimate level and being deliberate about it. It is a process that fluctuates and differs with the seasons of your lives. Hold room and space for such days. Do not be hard on yourself
Self-love is not based on the act of self-centeredness; A deliberate act of feeling more powerful and dominant than others. Loving yourself is not about consciously hurting others and making them feel inferior about themselves. HELL NO! Loving yourself is about accepting the Love of God that flows from a place of joy, peace and good deeds. A love that binds and does not tear. A love that builds and not destroy. Self-love is about being whole in your individuality and that when people decide to leave or an event doesn’t go as planned, you are still able to process the emotions and not allow yourself to be defined nor reduced by the events of your life. It’s about finding fulfillment in who you are. As you learn to love yourself, it is imperative to understand that you don’t need to take love from yourself. Fill your love tank as much as you can, and then the overflow of that love is what you give to others. You are your NUMBER ONE priority.
Self- love begins at the place of self-awareness. Awareness is a derivative of knowledge; knowing who you are. Kofi Ann once said “Knowledge is power”. I say, “knowledge of your True self, is where your power begins”. Go out there and create a HOME for yourself first. A safe home that allows you to be the real you, where your vulnerability, fears and all that we hide from society is welcomed. You Deserve a good HOME