Why Self-Love Is So Instrumental In Becoming Your Best Self

by Caitlin Jill Anders

It's not easy to love yourself. You’d think it would be, but it’s not. We struggle with self-love constantly.

Honestly, it’s understandable. We spend all day with ourselves. We're with ourselves every waking minute, even the minutes in dreamland.

We're all we've got. We’re stuck with ourselves. It’s the same reason why we sometimes get frustrated with our family members and significant others: We’re around them so often, it can all get to be too much.

It works the same way with our own selves. Sometimes, we're just so sick of ourselves.

We spend a lifetime learning how to love ourselves. It’s our main job in this life. We search for self-love in other people, in our professions or in validation from the world.

In reality, self-love can only come from within. Maybe that seems straightforward and obvious, but it's easier said than done.

How do we learn to love ourselves?

Stare in the mirror. Your tummy is bouncy and your forehead is pimply. Your back is flabby and your head is full of reasons why these are things that are wrong with you. You look at your paycheck.

You're not making as much money as your best friend or as much money as your dad was making at your age. You feel like a failure.

You haven't done enough, changed anything or made someone want to love you forever. You don't feel as smart, as put together or as determined as everyone else around you, and you don't know why. In fact, you don't know much of anything.

You are trying to love yourself, but you are also trying to make the world love you; these two goals aren't working in tandem with each other.

You're not succeeding at making the world notice you, so your heart says, "Maybe I shouldn't love myself yet, maybe it's too early for that. Maybe I should save that love for when I've earned it."

No one has to earn it. We all deserve self-love. Always.

The journey to love ourselves is not easy. We have flaws; we make mistakes. Sometimes we think terrible things. Sometimes we are so selfish.

We don't know what we're doing, and we desperately wish we did. We shouldn’t wish that though.

Part of learning how to love yourself is learning to be OK with not having a f*cking clue in hell.

You realize that when you're with someone romantically, you take on who he or she is; you become a theatergoer, an intellect or a musician’s groupie.

You're trying to figure out who you are by taking on the roles available around you, and that's okay. You wonder if maybe this means you’re not your own person, but it really means you’re many possible people.

You’re still trying to learn who you are.

That’s okay. That’s okay. Repeat that to yourself until you believe it because it’s true.

You do not have to know who you are just yet; it will come in time. It’s okay to take on the interests of those you love in order to learn what fits you the best.

You can be supportive and try their passions on for size. You can discover yourself without compromising who you are. None of this is wrong.

We're all on a journey. As hippie-dippy and free as that sounds, it's true. Our lives are not instructional manuals, but more like crossword puzzles.

We're trying to find the thing that fits, and we don't always get it right. We follow the clues — what we like, where we came from, what our passions are — and trying to piece them together into a life that works and compliments itself.

Sometimes, we enter in the wrong answers. This does not make us stupid or unworthy of love; it just makes our journeys longer. We need to remember that. We need to learn to love ourselves in spite of the journey.

You fail. That’s something that happens to you all the time. You can’t get it right every time; success is a learning process.

It’s hard to convince yourself of that, but you’re trying so hard. Shouldn’t that count for something? You try and you try and you try; you fail and you fail and you fail. You struggle to love yourself through the failures.

You don’t always succeed, but you’re learning.

It’s a lot easier to get through the stumbles and spills if we don’t get angry at ourselves for them — if we understood that making a wrong turn every once in a while is okay.

If we didn’t make that wrong turn, we wouldn’t have learned the things we needed in order to eventually find the right way to go.

As you learn to love yourself, you start noticing the flawed parts of yourself. You think back to the things friends or partners didn’t like about you and you wonder, "Should I change these things? Will I love myself more then?"

You observe the weird way you do things and cringe. You imagine not doing things these ways and cringe even harder.

You watch yourself again and ponder. You are you for a reason, and that reason should not be discarded. Weirdness is also worth loving.

If you're standing in the middle of an abandoned city street, doubled over in heartbreak, your hands wrapped around yourself to try to stop the pain, let self-love creep in.

The pain is from someone else, anyone else, telling you that you are not worth loving, and you are howling it into the wind, into the skinny city houses, into the emotions of the air around you.

In these moments, love yourself with all your might. Keep wrapping your arms around yourself, holding yourself together.

You are here, and you love you. Listen to the tiny voice somewhere inside some remote cavity of your body that tells you it will be okay.

Self-love will never be easy; in fact, it may always be the hardest thing. We must learn to practice it every day, cut ourselves a break and remind ourselves that we’re doing okay. Smile in the mirror. Laugh.

Learning to love ourselves is the best way to learn to love everyone else, too. After all, we are our only guarantees.