Self love is not just about you. It’s about your unique perception of yourself and your place in the world, but more specifically how that place relates to others. The way you feel about yourself reflects everything about the way others will feel about you – and is therefore a measure of your ability to interact effectively with others. Self love doesn’t flow inwards, it radiates outwards, and transfers the essence of you to friends, partners, colleagues, family. Self love is the way you find inner strength. Self love is the way you give and receive love. Self love is the way you can be as generous to others as you can to yourself.
What self love is not
Self love is not narcissism. It is not introverted. It is not selfishness. It is not inwardly-focused nor self-involved. It is not a bad thing unless all engagement stops when self love is trapped in dispassionate ambition. Then it becomes something else altogether. Self-love is self-esteem – the powerful driver of every aspect of our behaviour and our experience of our place in the world. If you value yourself and your abilities and contribution – then surely you will value others as well. Is it a natural born thing? Or can we develop and nurture self-esteem in difficult circumstances or where none has existed before? And more importantly, can we teach ourselves to love who we are without complaint and self-criticism?
The value of self-esteem
How you view the value of self influences everything about you – your mind and your body and therefore your wellbeing and mental health.
- Self love helps you to develop and maintain a balanced outlook and positive moods. It gives you energy and the strength to handle challenges and learn new skills. It has a profound effect on the way you think, your emotions, values and goals.
- This in turn affects how other people view you – and all ensuing interaction stems from their perceptions. Your personal perception of self is key in how you will make choices in life and how you will take action. Good self-esteem gives you self-confidence – and this allows you to make mistakes yet maintain faith in yourself – to set goals and work towards them without letting setbacks hold you back. Self-confidence comes directly from self love and opens your mind to the control you have over your own life.
- As you age this self love becomes crucially important in managing your life and your choices. People with high self-esteem polished by life’s experiences and untainted by the passage of time, invariably cope with aging far better than those who are easily upset by changes and difficult decisions. If you have taken good care of yourself throughout life, then you are going to understand how important that mindset is to your good health and happiness. Old age is the very least of times that you should let that sense of self-worth go.
Love and relationships
Self love is your key profile for handling stressful situations. So many broken relationships can be traced to lack of self-esteem.
- If you don’t feel good about yourself, how can you expect someone else to feel good about you? People who do not love themselves cannot love others in the true sense of unconditional love. Often that ‘love’ is dependent on the other partner’s constant recognition and reaffirmation of the relationship. This creates endless yearning in one and exhaustion in the other. And conversely enough, unhappy people are invariably the ones who stay in unhappy relationships.
- Consider whether you are constantly blaming someone else for your situation or unable to handle criticism. Are you over-reacting? When self love degenerates into self-focus you become highly sensitive and defensive. Self love is about feeling secure in yourself and therefore secure in your relationship. It’s about honesty in communication and trust in self and each other.
Fixing what’s broken
Improving your life is about changing unhealthy habits – not least of which is how you view yourself. Learn to revisit your past and make better sense of your life story. Find a way to express insecurities and show self-compassion and self-care. Be kind to yourself. Separate self-worth from mistakes. You are not the sum of your failures but of all the things that make you unique, kind, compassionate, responsible, curious-minded, open to new learning and new opportunities. Self love lies not only in dreams of success, but in the affirmation of your value no matter the circumstances.
The final relationship
The most importance thing to understand about self love, self-image, self-esteem or self-worth – is that it will affect the whole of your life. And this is no more evident than when we enter old age. From the cradle to the grave, loving oneself is the most basic crucible of our humanity and happiness.
- It empowers one with assertion, self-expression, self-respect and self-acceptance – the foundation of confidence, happiness and love.
- Maintaining friendships, hobbies and alone time even in the midst of a relationship, is strong reflection a sound self-image.
- You must trust yourself to make the right choices without allowing anxiety to colour every engagement, constantly looking to others to support you.
- People without self love will always view themselves as victims and feed off misunderstandings and drama rather than the positivity of vision, empathy, good spirit.
- This mindset of healthy awareness, nurtured and directed by strong focus and determination, is vital to accepting and enjoying a vibrant, anxiety-free and contented old age.
The Helderberg Society for the Aged
The Helderberg Society for the Aged provides a variety of secure lifestyle options for elderly people in an environment of compassion and care. We understand that happiness is ensconced in a strong sense of self-worth and we work to engage, acknowledge and affirm the value of every individual through active participation in a range of events and entertainment that enliven, motivate and enrich. We widen the circle of happiness among the people we care for by working to instill a strong sense of belonging. Our services encompass Independent Living, Assisted Living, Home-based Care and Frail Care.
Find out more about us: www.hsfa.org.za