Whoever told you that self-love is always easy, glamorous, or pleasurable lied to you. Beginning a self-love journey can be extremely uncomfortable. I don’t believe in unlearning; what you have learned is a part of you. Perfection is rooted in our society. How you look, feel, and behave is judged constantly through the media and in society. Those external judgements, the pressure, and the shame that you were taught is internalized and blooms things like negative self-talk, body shaming, insecurity, and struggling to believe that you are good enough, which many of us struggle with.
Learning how to practice self-love is work. It takes time, energy, and consistent effort to prioritize all the ways to self-love (trusting self, empowering self, taking care of self, being compassionate with self, accepting self, etc.). The reality is everyone is not ready for self-love. It forces you to look at your choices, your bad habits, and what you are allowing in relationships and that can feel really uncomfortable. You will know that you are ready to practice self-love when you are experiencing the following:
When I decided to choose self-love, I was completely fed up with myself. I was not taking care of myself and judging my past self. I was not expressing myself and settling in my relationships. I was tired of making excuses for my self-doubt and insecurities in my abilities. I was fed up with myself for allowing people in my life to disrespect me.
I was fed up with my own bullsh*t.
The lies that I was telling myself had become too comfortable, and my mind, body, and spirit were suffering. Being fed up with myself was the core of my life transformation. Choosing self-love meant making the choice to no longer settle for less than I desired personally and professionally.
When you become fed up with self-neglect, self-sacrifice, allowing disrespect, and your Inner Bullies winning, you are ready for self-love.
I am people pleaser. You probably are too. Disappointing others, being alone, and the fear of being abandoned, rejected and/or not being good enough allowed me to make choices in relationships that were against my values and what I desired. There were many things that I allowed in my relationships that were disrespectful (verbal abuse, gaslighting, manipulation, alcoholism, etc.). We are born loving ourselves. Most of us did not grow up in households that value, understand, and teach self-love, so in-time, we lose that self-love. Anyone can learn to self-love again but without boundaries and identifying what you have zero-tolerance for, your self-love practice will be limited.
When you decide to no longer tolerate disrespect; when you ditch the people pleasing, self-neglect and you are actively practicing boundary setting, you are ready for self-love.
I knew that I was ready for self-love when I could see perfection in everything. The pressure, critique, judgement and shame that I put on myself, because I didn’t have it all together, was fueling self-hatred. Perfection was exhausting and limiting. I was trying to obtain something that was not realistic. I was not meeting myself where I was. I struggled to be patient, kind, and forgiving of myself and my past choices. When I learned self-compassion and applied its practice to my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, that is when self-love became accessible to me.
When you make a mistake, when the outcomes to choices are not what you anticipated, when you self-neglect or fail at something you worked really hard for and instead of beating yourself up, you choose to be more kind, gentle, understanding, and patient with yourself, you are ready for self-love.
I was taught to pretend. I was taught how to make my life seem perfect and to lie if I was not okay and say that I was. I spent so much time hiding my truth and not just from others, from myself. I was really good at lying to myself about being happy and loving myself, but my choices did not reflect happiness and self-love. I didn’t find joy, self-love, and peace until I became transparent with myself. I became active in my blog and on social media; sharing my story and my truth because of that willingness and courage to be honest about my past choices and my current life situations.
When you make the choice to release yourself from looking perfect, you will become more transparent with yourself and others; that is when you are ready for self–awareness and honesty, the first steps in self-love.
Learning that self-love is a journey and not a destination was difficult for me to grasp. I wanted to arrive at self-love and be all-knowing. In 2017, I learned quickly that this thought process is the opposite of self-love. I was limiting my practice because I was seeking to self-love perfectly and that is not realistic. “Self-love is a path, a practice and a choice,” (Christine Arylo, Path of Self-love). You can choose to practice self-love on the journey that you are on. Self-love is a coping skill, not a cure.
When you choose to practice self-love as a lifelong journey instead of a destination, you are ready for self-love.
You can choose self-love when you are ready. Beginning a self-love journey is trying, uncomfortable, and difficult to navigate through. Challenging perfection and internal and external pressures, judgments, and shame that you experience is not easy. The signs shared above are a guide to help you gain insight into your readiness for self-love.
There is no such thing as practicing self-love perfectly. Your journey is your own. When and how you choose to practice self-love is your choice, but you have to be ready to do the Heart Work.
-Ta’lor L. Pinkston, LSW | The Heart Advocate 2023 ©