There’s a couple self-love myths floating around, and it’s time we debunk them.
I always had this sort of internal struggle and dialogue around the idea of self-love. What could possibly be the struggle with that, you ask – who wouldn’t want to be totally self-loving?
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be. I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around the idea of it because I figured that to be radically, wholly self-loving would mean I’d have to totally accept exactly who and how I am naturally, without ever wanting to do anything to change, modify, or improve myself.
I didn’t think I could ever get there. I still don’t think I’ll ever be that person. And truth is, I don’t want to be.
I enjoy making myself look a certain way at certain times, trying new products, styling myself differently. I wear makeup, shave, use self-tanner and teeth whitening strips, and put stuff in my hair to make it less frizzy. I exercise to strengthen particular parts of my body and wear clothing items to make me look a particular way.
I like to do these things that in some way or another modify who I am and how I look naturally.
And it’s not a goal of mine to get to a place where I don’t do those things. They’re not a problem, or a burden to me. In fact, they provide me enjoyment, joy, and fun.
So how do those two worlds live together? Can you really be radically self-loving if you also enjoy modifying certain parts about yourself?
That brings us to myth # 1.
Myth #1: You have to remain in your totally natural, untouched state, and fully love the way you look there, not modifying or changing anything, in order to truly love yourself.
But that’s not what self-love is about. It’s about knowing that your body is yours to do with it what you want. It’s loving yourself enough to know that you are worthy of doing what makes you feel your best and makes you light up inside.
And if that’s wearing makeup, doing your hair, and wearing certain clothes, so be it. If it’s not shaving, not using any products, going au naturale, so be it. If it means plastic surgery, tattoos, piercings, and products that lift, tuck, and plump, so be it.
As long as you’re doing these things from a place of self-love, rather than self-loathing or self-disgust, then it is self-loving behavior. It’s saying, I love myself and my body, and I’m going to treat myself in a way that makes me feel good and fills my cup.
I don’t think I’ll ever be the no makeup, no shaving kinda gal. Is that you? Awesome. Not you? Also awesome. You can love yourself enough to do whatever feels right for you. Want plastic surgery? Don’t want to shave ever again? Wear full makeup daily? Prefer au naturale? All okay.
You can live in both worlds, choosing what you want to do and when. You don’t have to fit into a box and stay there forever. And that’s pretty cool.
Now on to myth #2, and I hear this all too often.
Myth #2: You have to love yourself first before anyone else can.
Every time someone says it, I cringe because it’s such a harmful message to be spreading. The idea that you have to fully self-love before you can be loved is just plain inaccurate.
At your core, no matter what you think of yourself or tell yourself, you are loveable and worthy of love. If you are in the darkest, self-hating space, not feeling deserving of love or anything else, telling yourself and feeling horrible things, and you absolutely do not love yourself—you are still loved. There are people who care about you no matter what you say or think about yourself.
You loving yourself doesn’t have to come first.
Especially when you’re in one of those times of not loving yourself, of feeling like you’re not worthy or deserving—isn’t that when you need love the most? Isn’t that the time when you need others to show up and show you that no matter what you’re going through you’re still worthy and you’re still cared for? That’s part of what real love is. It’s showing that you can and you choose to love others even when they’re struggling, hurting, at their worst, not feeling the same way about themselves.
Think about this message we give to someone or ourselves if we believe that myth: I get that you’re struggling and not loving yourself right now, but remember that nobody likes you when you’re this way, so just shape up and start loving yourself and then other people can love you too.
In my humble and professional opinion, that’s complete bullshit.
Yes, by learning to love yourself you do become more capable of fully loving other people. Loving yourself helps you more openly receive love. It lays a good foundation for strong, caring relationships. As you love yourself more, you’re better able to trust and accept all that a deep, loving connection has to give. It creates a healthier, authentic kind of love because once you start to know your worth, things change. You know what you deserve. You can create healthy boundaries that support your needs. You can trust others with your emotions and vulnerabilities. You can believe them when they say they love you. You can be more openly yourself because you know you’re loved not despite your imperfections but rather because of them.
In the process—and it is a process—of learning to love yourself, you do open yourself up to fully loving and fully receiving love. But the idea that it all has to be there already, that you have to be in this amazing, beautiful, wholly self-loving space before any other love can come into your life, is a complete myth. You have to stop believing it because no matter what, you are loveable, worthy, and loved.