Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day has come and gone, love has been shared and cupid is resting his bow and arrow for another year. Love is a beautiful thing, and we’re big believers in making sure it starts at home - you need to love yourself first. As Queen RuPaul says, if you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?
And self-love is so easy, isn’t it? Show yourself some love. Appreciate yourself, be kind to yourself. Simples!
(It’s not that simple).
It should be, don’t get me wrong! But if you’re anything like me, showing yourself the same love you give others can feel like a mammoth task. I imagine most of us were raised to always be humble, polite and modest, and to always be kind to others. Inadvertently, we were raised to show love and kindness to others as a priority, and by default, put ourselves further down the list. And there’s no quick fix for this one.
Self-love can come in many forms. Pampering, relaxation, a good nap, time out in nature – all solid and achievable forms of self-love. But for the good stuff, the sweet, juicy, proper A-grade self-love requires us to go a bit deeper, and that’s not always comfortable.
To show somebody else some love or kindness, you take stock of their needs, and act accordingly. Boyfriend feeling down? Hug time. Overwhelmed BFF? Take them out for cake. And that’s exactly what we need to do for ourselves in order to show ourselves the love we deserve.
We need to get to know ourselves.We need to ask the questions. The questions which are potentially a bit awkward. The ones where we take some proper time out, do a good-ole-fashioned bit of reflecting and soul-searching, and ask ourselves – what do I need? What do I need that I’m not currently getting? Why am I not getting it? What beliefs, circumstances or maybe even people are the hurdles I have to overcome in order to have my needs met?
Yeah, like I said…not easy.
First comes the guilt pangs. “How could I think like this?”, “I shouldn’t be thinking that”, “I’m an awful person for even suggesting that!”. Putting yourself first comes with huge tidal waves of guilt for a whole variety of reasons. Nature, nurture, society, upbringing – the list goes on. But a very important thing to remember is this - guilty feelings are not facts.
Guilt is such a powerful emotion, and an incredibly necessary one. Sometimes we do things wrong, we make mistakes, we hurt people, and it's guilt that makes sure we don’t make the same mistakes again and helps us to right the wrongs. But guilt shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Like any other feeling, that’s all it is - a feeling. We owe it to ourselves to separate ourselves from the feeling, take a step back, and examine if it’s well-placed or not.
And if after doing that, you might find that the guilt is misplaced. It’s reared its head unnecessarily on this occasion, so let’s give it a polite “no thank you”, and wave it on its way.
This is what true self-love is. Exploring what you need. What you deserve. What you’re allowed and welcome to have. And this could be anything – the freedom to say no, the freedom to say yes, the freedom to simply share your feelings. These little acts can feel like Olympic-level feats of strength, but it’s these moments where we take the time to ask ourselves these questions, to understand our real needs and to make ourselves a priority that we’re showing ourselves true self-love.
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