“It’s not your job to like me. It’s mine.” ~Byron Katie
Self-love is a word that gets used a lot. Overused, in fact.
The pressures and associations around the phrase “self-love” are immense. At school, we actually tore apart girls who loved themselves, as if it was such a bad thing. As teenagers, we saw self-love as big headed and arrogant.
If only we knew the harm that we were doing, not just to others but most of all to ourselves.
So how about we begin with self-like?
I definitely felt that I had to try to get people to like me when I was growing up. I wanted to fit in, I definitely didn’t want to embrace my individuality; all I wanted was acceptance.
But I now understand that those desperate attempts to make others like, and love me, were actually a reflection of what I needed to learn for myself.
Fast forward to over a decade later and this constant struggle appears to have reached a crunch point. My inability to love myself has caused huge problems in my relationships, both with myself and with the people I care about.
I can’t even begin to think about practicing self-love, because in all honesty, I struggle quite a lot of the time to even self-like. The pressure of consistent self-love is way too much for me to handle right now.
How am I expected to really truly love myself unconditionally? Love my wobbly bits, love my dark thoughts, love the fact that I sweat profusely during every type of exercise, love the times when I eat a bar of chocolate, just to get an instant hit of pleasure, love the fact that at times I can be a real scaredy cat?
How am I supposed to do all of this when a lot of the times I can’t even like these parts of me?
And so the self-like process must begin.
Take Self-Love Away
If you are in a place of self-loathing and self-hatred right now, take self-love off the table altogether. Don’t pressure yourself into unconditional love, because the very fact you can’t force it upon yourself will only frustrate and hurt you more.
If you put too much emphasis on love right now, you will simply end up suppressing the intense resistance that comes up and burying it deep within, only for it to rear its ugly head at a later date. Liking you right now feels a little more attainable than love.
Add in Self-Care
For a long time I thought that by doing things that fell into the self-care category, I was showing myself love. It was, in fact, a very important first step, but I deluded myself into believing that self-care was the same as self-love.
Self-care is vital because it helps you to start believing in your own worth. But it is far easier than self-like or self-love, which makes it a great place to start.
By starting to implement self-care practices—such as eating well, taking time to exercise, booking yourself a massage, and looking after your appearance—you are giving yourself the amazing signals that you are worth it.
Begin to Implement Self-Acceptance
Accepting where we are right now is absolutely imperative in our quest for self-like. And that doesn’t mean when you get your ideal job/dream body/loving partner/lottery win. It has to happen in this very moment.
If you don’t accept yourself now, you still won’t accept yourself when you do get the ideal job/dream body/loving partner/lottery win.
I am the biggest I have ever been in my life. I look back at photos and pine for the body shape I once had; however, I didn’t love myself then either. So I realize that the solution is not in a dress size but in accepting and liking myself no matter what I look like.
Accepting that where you are right now is okay is incredibly powerful and an integral part of learning to like yourself. You don’t have to love where you are; you just have to be okay with it as a starting point.
That doesn’t mean you have to stop striving for more in your life. But if you can like the place you are in now, then you are far more likely to love the way your life evolves.
Embracing Your Darkness
Unconditional self-like comes from embracing your darkness as well as your light. That means your fears, your worries, your doubts, your body shape, yes, even the things that disgust and disappoint you about yourself. They may not be pretty, but they are part of you.
We can’t simply banish these feelings away and shower them with positive affirmations. We can’t hide away and use avoidance tactics in the hope that they will go away. But we can accept them and start to gently tweak the pattern of thoughts that come up.
When we feel on purpose, self-like becomes a lot easier. When we are living our lives in a way that satisfies and fulfills our creativity and our wishes, then we can begin to like our life from the inside and the outside.
Think about the things that you enjoy doing. What brings you joy and makes you feel fulfilled? You don’t have to know what your life purpose is right now. Just by allowing yourself the chance to implement more of these things into your daily routine, you might start to really like that life.
Self-like can start with the tiniest of steps—simply admitting to yourself that you have done a good job, or that there is even just one part of your body that you like. It isn’t an overnight transformation, but I do believe that it is the very first step toward learning self-love.
Can you be brave and find just one thing to like about yourself right now?