What is love? It’s one of the most powerful positive emotions there is. In 2009, psychologist Barbara Fredrickson identified the ten most common positive emotions as joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love. When I ask my friends what love is, they all have slightly different definitions. Sure, love is subjective. And that’s pretty humbling in my opinion, because love is not to be defined but to be felt.
We could debate what love really is, but in this article, I’m going to talk about love as the most profound emotion felt towards yourself.
via: Tumblr | Redefining Body Image
Take a moment to forget about the world that worries you, and look within. I suggest that you become self-admiring and self-involved in the most positive way. Give your attention to the love between you and you. Feel the love towards yourself and let your thoughts be about your glorious self. How do you feel?
Now, don’t worry if you are not able to adore yourself upon being instructed to do so. It is reasonable to feel annoyed with oneself, and that’s okay. If you’re obsessed with yourself, that is absolutely fine too. It is even okay if you do not have any particular feelings about yourself. The starting point is not too relevant. What is important is that you begin to self-reflect and self-accept. One way to go about this is to look at what you appreciate about your looks and your personality. For example, contemplating choices you have made for your body is something you can practice more. Reflecting on your diet, exercise routine, and choice of clothing should be a part of your everyday schedule.
Look in the mirror (don’t be shy, it only takes two seconds of insane courage) and reflect on what you see. Don’t think too much, and do not judge yourself. Reflect on one part of yourself, and then move onto the next. Start going into the details, such as your smile, your posture, your grace, any fine lines or wrinkles, visible scars you may have, your nails, or your collarbones. Take in your reflection—not critically or analytically, but with a nonjudgmental mindset. Just observe.
You could try taking photos of yourself from different angles, but this time, do not treat yourself with any contempt. Would you change something? You can either change what you cannot accept or accept what you cannot change. Make the decision and work towards the change you wish to see. Yet change isn’t always the answer. Coming to this realization may be difficult, but acceptance tends to be the most powerful change. Accept your flaws. Learn to accept those scars that are a part of you.
Fall in love with the parts of yourself that societal standards label as ‘not okay’ or ‘undesirable.’ Love that part of yourself because it is what makes you fully you. When we are in love with another person, we are in love with all of their flaws, too. We quickly fall in love with everything that is unique to them. They are imperfectly perfect. Their atypical freckles and asymmetrical nails are what make them different from all the other people with whom you are not in love. Their freckles and nails might revolt them, but that won’t stop you from falling in love. What harm would it do if they also learned to love such features? What harm would it do if you learned to love the things about yourself that make you unique? What harm would it do if you fell in love with yourself?
Let self-love be the first thing on your to-do list.
Why? Well, while you may fall out of love with others and may perhaps end relationships, you can’t break up with yourself. How could you ever walk away from yourself? You can’t leave yourself, and you can’t get over yourself like you would another human being. The only choice you have is to unconditionally love and accept yourself just as you are.
In a universe where #bodygoals is constantly trending, it can be a personal challenge to accept our flaws and imperfections—especially now, as the New York Fashion Week shows are happening and tall, thin models are flooding our Instagram feeds. Perhaps the first step to find self-love is to accept that this is the kind of world that we live in. However, there are so many things that are more important than looks! After all, there are countless happy and successful people who are not #trending on Instagram.
We all wish to see ourselves in a different light. Whenever I give my phone to a friend to take a picture of me, I have a habit of asking them to take the photo from “my best angle.” It’s hard to look ‘filterless’ in a world full of Instagram filters. I realized, after examining the photos that I would never actually choose to post on my Instagram, that I criticize myself too much.
Why should I be brainwashed by our society’s so-called beauty standards? Our imperfections are what make us unique; they’re what make us a Limited Edition. In his song “Wanna Be Cool,” Chance the Rapper says, “I don’t wanna be cool, I just wanna be me.” I can resonate with this quote because I’ve accepted what I cannot change about my body. And I don’t feel like I have to take myself so seriously all the time. Sometimes, I like to just burst out laughing (even at myself!).
Remember, only you are accountable for your self-respect and love. Ultimately, you have to make the conscious decision to fall in love with yourself.
Illustration by Rachel Jo