Original Link : https://medium.com/swlh/self-love-is-not-arrogant-a9f130455181
Or cheesy. Or selfish.
This summer has been a time of self reflection for me. Intense, uncomfortable, extensive reflection. It wasn’t the most fun when it was happening. But I’ve walked away a wiser person.
And one of the most important things I realized about myself this summer is that I’ve never loved myself. In fact, I’ve spent most of my life in varying states of self loathing.
It’s not like I didn’t know that I felt this way before now. But it’s like I never saw a problem with it. And it wasn’t until I actually gave myself some compassion and kindness and — sometimes I still hesitate to say it — love that I realized how unhealthy my former state was for me.
For one reason or another, I grew up thinking that to love yourself (or even like yourself) was an arrogant, boastful way to be. To love yourself, you surely had to think really highly of yourself and that’s just conceited and egotistical, I used to think.
I actually thought it made me a better person to not love myself. As though there was a nobility in hating myself. Like it made me more righteous as a person.
I’d downplay any compliments I received. I’d never give myself credit for any accomplishments. It makes me so sad to realize this but I don’t think I’ve said a genuinely kind word to myself in over two decades.
I don’t know exactly what happened along the way to make me like this but it’s been my natural state for as long as I can remember. And when I finally woke up to this truth over the summer, it honestly broke my heart.
The day I finally let go of this negativity came after a few consecutive days of physical and emotional discomfort. I went through some kind of burnout over the summer and it brought me to some of my lowest points.
In the middle of this rough patch, as I was driving to work one day, I began to feel sick again and to fight off the panic that usually accompanied this (I get health anxiety) I tried to find something positive to focus on. I’d been meaning to practice more gratitude so I tried to find things to be grateful for. As I mentally rattled off a list, at some point I thought — I’m grateful for my body.
Out of nowhere, I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude wash over me. I found myself placing a hand on my heart and whispering “thank you” to my body. To myself. To my very cells.
Day after day, for weeks now, my body had fought the pain and panic. My mind had struggled every day but after every breakdown, it had pushed me back up. I had fallen apart and felt so broken and cried my heart out again and again but every single time, I eventually picked myself up and moved forward.
How could that not be worthy of love? How could that not warrant some kind of appreciation? If a friend of mine had been going through something like this, I would’ve heaped praises on her. Why didn’t I ever do that for myself?
Being a person of faith, I’m grateful to God, first and foremost. For this body. For patience. For goodness. So before any compliment I pay to myself, I am grateful to God for my blessings.
But I realize now that it’s not noble to hate myself or deprive myself of compassion. It’s disrespectful. To my blessings and to me.
And in a way that I have never experienced before, I now appreciate myself. I love myself for being exactly who I am.
I now try to tap into that sense of compassion as often as I can. And if you’re someone who has spent most of your life in a state of self loathing, I urge you to put aside everything you think you know about self love and try it. Just once.
Maybe you’ll feel cheesy or uncomfortable for a bit. But do it anyway. Push through those feelings until you reach a moment of true self compassion.
And if after that you want to go back to self loathing, go for it. But try it, just once. It might change your life.
Even if nothing external changes, life becomes instantly better when you become your own friend. And to befriend yourself, you must first love yourself.