Sorry if you were expecting a post on masturbation, but this topic is far more taboo: it’s about loving yourself and showing love to yourself. Self-love is rarely mentioned in everyday conversations – in fact, the phrase “she really loves herself” is likely to be used as an insult, a synonym for arrogance or selfishness. But there is nothing selfish or arrogant about loving yourself. You’re not placing yourself on a pedestal above everyone else; nor are you obsessing over your own issues while ignoring everyone else’s concerns. You are simply showing yourself the same consideration you would show a friend or close family member.
Self-love, as any other type of love, is demonstrated through consistent practice. It involves keeping yourself safe, showing yourself kindness and taking responsibility for your relationship with yourself. It’s about taking time to consider what you need and want. It means taking time to provide yourself with the things and activities which nourish you.
Learning to love yourself is a long process. I have been trying to practice self-love for several years, yet there are times when I believe I still hate myself. Mental health problems will affect how you feel about yourself: while I try to practice self-love regularly, there are times when anxiety and depression get in the way. The key is to keep trying to practice self-love when you are able.
What does self-love look like? It varies depending on who you are, but at its most basic it involves choosing healthier habits and avoiding dangerous situations. It can be as simple as going for a walk a few times a week and breaking off contact with people who bully you. For me, it includes making time to read and write, which are huge passions in my life. I also practice self-love when I play with my springer spaniel or stop to smell a rose. You can practice self-love in whichever ways benefit you, whether big or small.
Self-love is something we all need to talk about a lot more. If it had been discussed openly when I was younger, perhaps I would have realised much sooner that there is an alternative to hating yourself. You can learn to love yourself and practicing self-love is the first step to learning how. Start by deciding to do something you enjoy today, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.