I Asked My Therapist What The Heck Self-Love Actually Means
We’re in a Golden Age of self-care. Staying in on Friday night with a bathrobe and a face mask is highly Instagrammable and tidying your space has never been so… cool. But despite our inward focus and proclamations to put ourselves first, I’ve found there’s very little meat on the bones of that elusive self-love unicorn.
Ok, yes. I’m currently in the throes of heartbreak and have been streaming several soppy playlists for about a month. But I’ve always found that there’s no better time to interrogate your self-esteem than after a break-up when everything’s raw and awful anyway. Everything sucks and you’d much rather wake up in the morning with someone next to you, rather than your man-sized pillow; you’re constantly looking for a plus-one and the thought of going out alone is terrifying. It’s prompted me to confront my fear of being alone and along that path, figure out how to love myself the way Kanye loves Kanye.
But here’s the thing: loving other people is so much easier than loving yourself. How do you text yourself memes? How do you give yourself a kiss? A hug? Actually wanna hang out with… yourself? I levelled this with my therapist and she delivered some real gems that reframed the way I thought about not only the act of loving but also my relationship with myself.
Find the thing you seek from your S.O. and give it to yourself
Learning to be by yourself – and be ok with it – takes work. My therapist asked me why I wanted to be with someone in the first place. Did I want validation? To be told I’m pretty? I was taken aback by this and had to concede that ultimately, I wanted those things. But my therapist also challenged me to give myself validation – to catch myself in the mirror and give myself a wink and physically say out loud, “You look hot!” She also pointed out that it would seem creepy and weird at first, but the more you do it, the more you’ll believe it. Yes, it’s kinda, sorta duh, but I’d never thought about it before; that self-love is an action, not an abstract idea.
Tap into parts of yourself and form a relationship with it
Ok, this one takes time to wrap your head around. But in order to make peace with all the things I don’t like about yourself, my therapist suggested I confront those things and sit with them instead of trying to push it further away. One way this worked for me was thinking about why I hated wearing heels so much. It was only one day when I was wearing heels and walking down the office passage, feeling very self-conscious, that it hit me: I hated that wearing high heels made me take up more space in the world. Space that I felt made me noticed more, made me stand out. I wanted to shrink. Calling this out from myself helped me understand this quirk and it paved a road to more self-discovery, self-acceptance, and yes, self-love. I like wearing heels now.
Like all relationships, loving yourself takes work. Since seeing a therapist, I’ve been doing the most self-care in my life: journalling, noticing small details, making notes. It gets exhausting, but me, myself and I are in this for the long haul – and I’m starting to fall a little more in love every day.
— Kat Nicholls (@BlueJayBlog) June 14, 2018