Most people don’t love themselves…they don’t even like themselves. There are a variety of reasons for this, but most of them center on the fact that we tend to believe that other say about us. So, if you grow up hearing how awful or stupid you are, then even when you’re out of that situation, that’s what you’ll keep telling yourself.
Yet, with social media, we’ve seen the rise of selfies. Like anyone, I tend to get tired of seeing photo after photo that someone takes of themselves (unless they are traveling or doing something). Often, selfies are posted for positive attention. I do have friends and family who post selfies simply because they love themselves. I tend to post pictures of my work and other things under the My Day feature in messenger. I do what I love. I love me. With the technology we have, it makes it easier than ever to share what we look like, what we do, and even how we feel about ourselves.
Lately, there’s been a rise in links shared through Facebook about how selfies are linked to narcissism. That’s misleading at best. First, everyone has narcissistic tendencies. It’s just built-in. You can say it is cultural (for those of you in the United States, like me, or in other countries that center life on the individual instead of society). You can say it is human nature. Call it what you want. Everyone has the tendency to be selfish and to say, “What about me? What’s in it for me? Look at me!” That’s not narcissism. Loving yourself (even if you display it through selfies) isn’t narcissism. Narcissism is much darker. It is a diagnosable mental condition. I say condition as opposed to illness because narcissism is hard to treat and most narcissists do not change. They are out for number one at the cost of everyone else. Posting a selfie on a day that you love you isn’t narcissism.
It is okay to love yourself. It is okay to take a selfie because you love your outfit, your makeup, no makeup, or whatever. It is okay to admit to yourself that you are smart. It is okay to feel pretty. It is okay to be talented. It is okay to recognize your own creativity. The only time this is an issue is when you do it in a way that you purposefully make someone else feel bad. At that point, you aren’t loving yourself. You are trying to convince yourself that you’re okay when you know you aren’t.
How Can You Begin to Love Yourself?
So, in a time where we are inundated with messages from society and from others that we aren’t good enough, how can you begin to love yourself? The answer to that is easy in theory, but people struggle with actually doing it. I can say that I started doing this probably five years ago. It took probably two years before I began to see a difference. Now? Now I love me and I don’t care what other people think about it. Here’s what I did:
- Start each day with enough time that I don’t feel rushed. I was teaching various legal courses at the time. Classes started at 8 AM. I tried to be on campus and in my classroom by 7:30 AM. I started getting up earlier to get ready or to even just sit around and enjoy the quiet. Now that I work from home, I still get up early, but it’s rarely because I feel rushed.
- Employ positive affirmations. Yes, really. And, yes, I felt like an idiot when I first started using them. I started by finding some Buddhist ones about being peaceful because I was fighting a huge war within myself. Eventually, I began to add others that built me up as a person. I just read mine from a sheet of paper. You don’t even have to read them out loud. Just read them.
- I would stop negative thoughts about myself. This was probably the hardest one for me to do. If I said to myself that I was stupid for doing something or not doing something, I immediately stopped that thought and replaced it with something more positive. Even if what I did wasn’t the smartest, I didn’t have to be mean to myself about it. I wouldn’t ever talk to a child in a demeaning way…so why would I talk to myself (a mother of children) in that way? I would say, “Okay, so there was probably a better solution. What can I do next time to make this better?” I would also remind myself that I was not stupid. I’ve even been known to remind myself of past accomplishments and even the results of intellectual measurement (not the only indicator of not being stupid).
- I started to use meditation and binaural beats. I found some guided meditations on YouTube related to anxiety and self-worth. I made time for this every day. There are some really short ones out there if you are worried about the time it could take. You can make five minutes for this. I started a list of binaural beats on Spotify. Make sure you wear headphones. Look for ones you like related to anxiety, depression, self-worth, energy, success, or whatever it is that you need.
It really is okay to love yourself. Loving yourself makes you more confident in your decision making. It makes you happier overall, too.